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

Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

by Vince Verhei

The 2012 season in a nutshell: Calvin Johnson broke Jerry Rice's record. Adrian Peterson threatened Eric Dickerson's. The league was overtaken by a rookie class likes of which we may never see again. And the best four quarterbacks in football now are the same guys who have been the best four quarterbacks over the last half-decade or so, especially when viewed through Football Outsiders' exclusive statistical lens.

Using our core advanced metrics -- DYAR and DVOA -- we've gone through the full-season totals at each position and identified the best and worst quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends from this past season. There's also a look at which players have had their performance most drastically different from their conventional statistics, as well as those players who have had the biggest improvement or decline in their performance from a year ago.

Our annual disclaimer: Numbers are never perfect. While we certainly believe that our metrics do a better job of analyzing a player's performance than anything else you'll see, there are some things statistics can't account for. We'll point out where the data needs some missing context as warranted. Also, remember that DYAR is a cumulative stat, so players who miss time (like Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick, who each played very well for San Francisco) will find it harder to make it to these leaderboards.

(More information on these statistics is available here.)


Top 5

1) Tom Brady, New England Patriots: 2,091 DYAR (2,035 passing DYAR, 56 rushing)
2) Peyton Manning: 1,802 DYAR (1,800 passing DYAR, 2 rushing)
3) Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers: 1,488 DYAR (1,395 passing DYAR, 94 rushing)
4) Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints: 1,455 DYAR (1,444 passing DYAR, 11 rushing)
5) Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons: 1,271 DYAR (1,216 passing DYAR, 55 rushing)

Analysis: This is only the eighth time since 1991 (the first year in Football Outsiders' database) that a quarterback has exceeded 2,000 combined DYAR. Brees and Rodgers have done it once each, Manning has done it twice, and Brady has done it four times. Brady ends 2012 with his second-highest DYAR total, and the fifth-highest since 1991. Keep in mind that last season we modified our formula so the league average in any given season always comes out to zero. In other words, even accounting for today's record-setting passing environment, Brady, Manning, Rodgers, and Brees stand out from their peers like nobody else over the past 20-plus years. (Brees, by the way, joins Brian Sipe in 1979 and Lynn Dickey in 1983 as the only quarterbacks to lead the NFL in touchdowns and interceptions in the same season.) Ryan, meanwhile, set career highs in completions, yards, and touchdowns, as Atlanta won the most games in the NFC despite the collapse of their ground attack (which we shall discuss shortly).

Bonus Top 5: Rookie Edition

1) Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks: 1,014 DYAR (867 passing DYAR, 147 rushing)
2) Robert Griffin, Washington Redskins: 838 DYAR (729 passing DYAR, 109 rushing)
3) Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts: 379 DYAR (255 passing DYAR, 124 rushing)
4) Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins: 39 DYAR (37 passing DYAR, 2 rushing)
5) Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns: -266 DYAR (-290 passing DYAR, 24 rushing)

Analysis: Wilson surpasses Matt Ryan for the top rookie quarterback season in FO's database, and becomes the first freshman at the position to surpass the 1,000-DYAR barrier. (Ryan actually edged over 1,000 DYAR passing, but negative rushing value dropped him back below the line.) He also tied Peyton Manning's rookie record with 26 touchdown passes, and when you include his four rushing scores, only Cam Newton (21 touchdowns passing, 14 rushing) produced more combined touchdowns in his first year.

Griffin finishes fourth among rookies in DYAR behind Wilson, Ryan, and Ben Roethlisberger, while Luck is 13th. Luck set a rookie record with 4,374 passing yards, but he completed less than 55 percent of his passes with 18 interceptions, more than Griffin (5) and Wilson (10) combined. Tannehill had a pretty typical rookie campaign, but Weeden was a bust in his first season, and given his advanced age (he's a year and a half older than Matt Ryan), he will need to improve radically in his second season to salvage his NFL career.

Bottom 5

1) Mark Sanchez, New York Jets: -663 DYAR (-611 passing DYAR, -52 rushing)
2) Ryan Lindley, Arizona Cardinals: -484 DYAR (-482 passing DYAR, -1 rushing)
3) Brady Quinn, Kansas City Chiefs: -446 DYAR (-442 passing DYAR, -4 rushing)
4) John Skelton, Arizona Cardinals: -325 DYAR (-323 passing DYAR, -2 rushing)
5) Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs: -319 DYAR (-354 passing DYAR, 35 rushing)

Analysis: How bad was Sanchez? He was least valuable among quarterbacks in both passing and rushing value. You'd like to see quarterbacks improving in their fourth season, but Sanchez was worse than ever, and this is a passer who has never ranked higher than 20th at his position, and only once made the top 30. As for the others, well, it's the Chiefs and Cardinals, and they are every bit as bad as you've been led to believe. Skelton deserves special mention: He has now made the bottom six among quarterbacks for three seasons in a row. Obviously, Arizona is desperate for a passer, but it's painfully clear at this point that Skelton does not deserve a spot on an NFL roster.

Better than his standard statistics made him look: Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Stafford finished 22nd in passer rating, but 12th in DVOA. (Unlike DYAR, DVOA evaluates players on a per-play basis.) Sometimes these discrepancies can be difficult to explain, but sometimes they're simple: No quarterback faced a more challenging set of pass defenses this season than Stafford, and though passer rating does not account for that, DVOA does. Stafford threw an NFL record 727 passes this season, and 88 of them (more than 12 percent) came against the Chicago Bears, far and away the best defense in the league this year, especially against the pass. He also played the Seahawks, Cardinals, Rams, 49ers, Texans, and Packers (twice), meaning he played more than half his games against teams in the top 10 of Football Outsiders' pass defense ratings.

Worse than his standard statistics made him look: Robert Griffin, Washington Redskins
Griffin led the league in yards per pass with a higher completion rate and half as many interceptions as Wilson, which may have you wondering how on earth Wilson finished higher in our rankings. Strength of schedule is part of it. Wilson had to run the brutal gauntlet of NFC West defenses, while Griffin's schedule was somewhat easier than average. Without opponent adjustments, Griffin's DVOA was five points higher than Wilson's; with them, it was three points lower. Also, Griffin's yardage total was skewed by a small number of very big plays. Many of his completions were actually dink-and-dunk plays. All told, 27 percent of his completions failed to gain meaningful yardage towards a new set of downs. Of the 27 quarterbacks with at least 200 completions, only Jay Cutler, Brandon Weeden, and Christian Ponder had a higher share of dumpoffs and checkdowns.

Most improved: Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
One year ago we listed Bradford in the next section under "biggest decline," but he took many steps forward in his third season. He finished 16th in passing DYAR, after finishing 39th as a rookie and 43rd in 2011. Bradford averaged more yards and touchdowns per pass than he ever had before, and like Wilson, he had to play against the nasty defenses of the NFC West.

Biggest decline: Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
Rivers ranked in the top 10 in passing DYAR in each of the past four seasons. This year, he was 22nd. He averaged only 6.8 yards per pass, a full yard below his career average, and that's only counting the plays where he was able to pass at all before hitting the turf. Rivers was sacked 49 times in 2012, 11 times more than he had been in any prior season.

All 2012 quarterback numbers here.

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Running Backs

Top 5

1) Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings: 454 DYAR (459 rushing DYAR, -5 receiving)
2) Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks: 410 DYAR (361 rushing DYAR, 48 receiving)
3) C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills: 392 DYAR (301 rushing DYAR, 92 receiving)
4) Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers: 317 DYAR (268 rushing DYAR, 49 receiving)
5) Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants: 265 DYAR (230 rushing DYAR, 35 receiving)

Analysis: Not many surprises here. Although Peterson's season wasn't quite as impressive as his yardage numbers would indicate (as discussed last week, he is stuffed for a loss far more often than most elite backs), he still had enough rushing value to top the list of all players at his position despite finishing below replacement level as a receiver. With a surge in the final game, Peterson ends up with the 11th-highest rushing DYAR total since 1991, and the highest since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006. Lynch set career highs with 1,590 yards rushing and 5.0 yards per carry. Spiller averaged 6.0 yards on 207 carries. He and Peterson (6.0 yard average on 348 carries) are the fifth and sixth players in NFL history to top 6.0 yards per rush on at least 200 carries, joining Jim Brown, O.J. Simpson, Barry Sanders, and Jamaal Charles. Bradshaw's an odd case. He had only six rushing touchdowns on the season, but he led the league in red zone rushing value, as he constantly put his teammates in position to score while rarely crossing the goal-line himself. The two names who just missed the list also warrant mention. Joique Bell of the Detroit Lions finished a few decimal points behind Bradshaw. With 52 catches for 485 yards, he has become one of the league's premier receivers at his position. In seventh place was Washington's rookie sensation Alfred Morris. He finished fifth in rushing value alone, but was below replacement level as a receiver, and he failed to make the top ten rookie seasons since 1991.

Bottom 5

1) Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders: -234 DYAR (-155 rushing DYAR, -79 receiving)
2) Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons: -112 DYAR (-78 rushing DYAR, -34 receiving)
3) Rashad Jennings, Jacksonville Jaguars: -108 DYAR (-97 rushing DYAR, -11 receiving)
4) LaRod Stephens-Howling, Arizona Cardinals: -103 DYAR (-63 rushing DYAR, -40 receiving)
5) Ryan Williams, Arizona Cardinals: -85 DYAR (-85 rushing DYAR, 0 receiving)

Analysis: Honestly, it's hard to tell which of these backs was worst. Jennings and Williams both averaged 2.8 yards per carry. Williams didn't run very often, but he was so unhelpful as a receiver (57 percent catch rate, next to last among backs with at least 25 targets) that he still makes this list. Stephens-Howling was stuffed on more than one-third of his runs. McFadden's Success Rate was only 36 percent. Turner was probably the best of the bunch, but since he was still below replacement level and ran 222 times, he nearly made it to the very bottom.

Better than his standard statistics made him look: Danny Woodhead, New England Patriots
Woodhead made the top 10 among running backs in total DYAR, despite ranking 33rd at his position in yards from scrimmage. His 4.0-yard average is nothing to right home about, but he was the model of consistency. His Success Rate (55 percent) and Stuff Rate (13 percent) were both much better than league averages (47 percent and 20 percent, respectively).

Worse than his standard statistics made him look: McFadden
The Raiders runner gained nearly 1,000 yards from scrimmage, but it took him so many bad plays to get there that it was hardly worth it. He was stuffed 22 percent of the time and averaged only 3.3 yards per carry. And he gained 259 yards receiving, but only 4.0 yards per target. The average for running backs was 5.8.

Most improved: Gore
One year ago, Gore failed to make the top 40 in DYAR, DVOA, or Success Rate. This year, he was top five in DYAR, top 10 in DVOA, and top 20 in Success Rate.

Biggest decline: LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
McCoy was a top-five running back in total DYAR last year, but he had only 87 total DYAR in 2012. That's partly because he missed four games, but he also had four fumbles and was stuffed 28 percent of the time.

All 2012 running back numbers here.

Wide Receivers

Top 5

1) Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions: 470 DYAR
2) Andre Johnson, Houston Texans: 413 DYAR
3) Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers: 393 DYAR (295 receiving DYAR, 98 rushing)
4) Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos: 393 DYAR
5) Eric Decker, Denver Broncos: 389 DYAR

Analysis: Calvin Johnson leads the league in this category for the second year in a row. Although he broke Jerry Rice's record for receiving yards in a season, his DYAR actually plunged sharply due to a decline in yards per catch and touchdowns. This season just barely makes our top 20 all-time and is much lower than the 570 DYAR Johnson had a year ago. Andre Johnson makes the top 10 for the fourth time in six seasons. Cobb sort of took over Jordy Nelson's role of "Green Bay wideout who excels as the fourth option on most plays" this season. We'll have more to say about Thomas and Decker shortly under "Most Improved."

Bottom 5

1) Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals: -129 DYAR
2) Louis Murphy, Carolina Panthers: -118 DYAR
3) Mike Thomas, Jacksonville Jaguars: -97 DYAR (-135 receiving DYAR, 38 rushing)
4) Early Doucet, Arizona Cardinals: -95 DYAR (-96 receiving DYAR, 1 rushing)
5) Kevin Elliott, Jacksonville Jaguars: -94 DYAR

Analysis: Dear Larry Fitzgerald: It's not your fault. We know it. Everyone knows it. Individual receiving numbers often tell us as much about quarterbacks as they do about receivers. Really, it's probably not Mike Thomas' or Early Doucet's fault either. Kevin Elliott? Yeah, it's probably his fault. He had only 10 receptions (plus a couple of DPIs) in 33 targets before being waived in December. And Louis Murphy had only 25 receptions and one touchdown in 62 targets while playing with Cam Newton.

Better than his standard statistics made him look: Danario Alexander, San Diego Chargers
Alexander was 73rd among wideouts with 38 catches, but 16th in DYAR. He averaged 17.8 yards per catch with seven touchdowns, and he caught 60 percent of the passes thrown his way, slightly above average for wide receivers.

Worse than his standard statistics made him look: Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts
Wayne was fifth at his position with 111 catches, but 42nd in DYAR. He had a 55 percent catch rate, and led the league with 92 incomplete targets,

Most improved: Thomas and Decker
Thomas ranked 37th among wide receivers in DYAR in 2011. Decker was 71st (not a typo). My goodness, what on Earth could have happened in Denver that might have boosted both men into the top five? What personnel move could possibly explain the additional catches, the yards, the touchdowns? Perhaps Broncos wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert is a literal miracle worker who can make blind men see and uncoordinated men catch. Yes. That's the only rational explanation.

Biggest decline: Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers
Since entering the league in 2009, Wallace has ranked 16th, first, and fifth in DYAR. This year, he was 80th. He averaged 13.1 yards per catch, 3 yards less than his prior career low, and also had a career-worst 54 percent catch rate. Wallace began the year by holding out of training camp in hopes of getting a new contract. The Steelers refused to make an offer, a decision that looks brilliant with the benefit of hindsight. Wallace ended the season on IR with a hip injury. Wallace will be a free agent after the season unless the Steelers slap him with the franchise tag. Don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen.

All 2012 wide receiver numbers here.

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Tight Ends

Top 5

1) Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots: 268 DYAR
2) Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons: 235 DYAR
3) Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers: 193 DYAR
4) Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys: 183 DYAR
5) Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers: 136 DYAR

Analysis: What we have here is the best tight end in the game today, the best tight end of all time, a record-setter, and two solid veterans who had unusually productive years. Gronkowski leads all tight ends in DYAR despite missing five games. In his rookie season of 2010 he was second, and his 2011 season was the best of any tight end in our database. This season ends up 12th. For Gonzalez, it's his 12th season in the top five, and his ninth season in the top two. All Witten did this year was set a tight end record with 110 catches (albeit with a career-worst 9.4 yards per reception). In his eighth season, Miller had career highs in yardage (816) and touchdowns (eight) and was voted team MVP. Olsen also set career highs with 69 catches and 843 yards.

Bottom 5

1) Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions: -128 DYAR
2) Alex Smith, Cleveland Browns: -80 DYAR
3) Clay Harbor, Philadelphia Eagles: -78 DYAR
4) Kellen Davis, Chicago Bears: -53 DYAR
5) Evan Moore, Seattle Seahawks/Philadelphia Eagles: -53 DYAR

Analysis: Pettigrew had 59 catches for 567 yards, but a catch rate of just 58 percent (average for tight ends was 64 percent) and he fumbled four times. No other tight end fumbled more than twice. Smith's catch rate was an impressive 72 percent, but only two of his catches gained first downs, and his other 11 catches totaled – totaled – 20 yards. Harbor averaged 7.4 yards per catch, worst of any tight end with at least 25 receptions. He went on injured reserve in December, and his replacement was much, much worse. Davis' catch rate was only 43 percent. And finally there's Moore. The Seahawks threw him seven passes. He produced one completion, one DPI, five incompletes, and 6 total yards. He was waived in December, and Philadelphia signed him to replace Harbor, which sounds like some kind of sick prank on, well, everyone. They threw him two passes; both were incomplete.

Better than his standard statistics made him look: Gronkowski.
No one else comes close. There were 49 tight ends this year with at least 25 targets. Among that group, Gronk ranked 13th in catches, but seventh in yards, fourth in first downs, third in yards per catch and yards per target, and first in touchdowns. Meanwhile, he was 25th in incomplete targets.

Worse than his standard statistics made him look: Jimmy Graham, New Orleans
Pettigrew and Witten would also be solid choices here, but since we already discussed them, let's get to Graham. He was third among tight ends in catches, but eighth in DYAR. He was second behind Witten in targets, and led all players at this position with 50 incomplete targets. Graham was a very good tight end this year, just not as good as his reception total would indicate.

Most improved: Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars
Last year, Lewis was the least valuable tight end in the entire league. He was one of the few men in Jacksonville who actually improved in 2012. His catch rate of 68 percent was good for his position, and his yards per catch and yards per target were almost exactly average. And he did it catching passes (well, trying to, anyway) from Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne.

Biggest decline: Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers
Gates was hardly a bad player in 2012. He ranked 19th in DYAR, a perfectly fine starting tight end. But he had set the bar awfully high. Since coming into the league in 2003, he had never ranked outside the top 10, had been top three seven times and first overall four times. This year, he caught only 61 percent of the passes thrown in his direction. Gates will be 33 when next season begins, and his best days are almost certainly behind him.

All 2012 tight end numbers here.


150 comments, Last at 06 Jan 2013, 8:10pm

1 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Wow, that just makes me want give poor Larry a hug. But I can't say I hope it gets better.

3 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Somebody needs to make a sports movie about the 2013 Arizona Cardinals, so we can see Larry Fitzgerald and his new starting quarterback re-enacting the Matt Damon-Robin Williams "It's not your fault" scene from Good Will Hunting. Watching Fitz weep as he remembers the pain of the post-Kurt Warner era would make compelling cinema.

4 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Ok, obviously Ken Whisenhunt is Minni Driver, I'm guessing Kurt Warner would be Robin Williams if he grew a magnificent beard. But who's Ben Afleck? Is it Adrian Wilson, every season he shows up to the Cardinals training facility hoping Larry just isn't there?

7 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Whisenhunt as Minni Driver is okay, I guess, but I can't believe you missed the obvious Kurt Warner-as-Ben Affleck dynamic. I mean, Fitzgerald said he would think about Warner while lying in bed with his wife! If that's not bromance, I don't know what is. Also, Rod Graves would be Matt Damon's abusive father...instead of "burning him with cigarettes", he "failed to acquire a competent quarterback to throw him footballs".

5 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

I am sure I can look it up, but can someone give a quick synopsis of why FO went from ranking by DVOA (per-play stat) to DYAR (accumulation stat)?

15 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Yes it does, I guess the better question is in which way was DVOA used, since the introduction says "Using our core advanced metrics -- DYAR and DVOA -- we've gone through the full-season totals at each position and identified the best and worst quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends from this past season.". It seems like it wasn't used at all (which is fine, but the introduction should be changed).

19 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Technically, if you use DYAR, you're using DVOA. One is built from the other.

DYAR is the right stat for judging total value. Check the "our stats explained" link if you're curious.

But I agree that looking at DVOA fleshes out the picture. Peterson wasn't the top RB by being the most efficient. He did it by being an incredible workhorse while keeping near the top in DVOA. Brady may have led the league in both DVOA and DYAR, but his lead is larger in value than in efficiency. In his case, it wasn't that he hogged the spotlight by calling a ton of passes. Instead, he led the offense at a jaw-dropping pace. That's his 2012 story. DVOA could be part of many of the stories.

They did mention DVOA in the parts about over or under-rated players. But they could have done it better, and to greater total effect.

37 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Then again,I think it's harder to include DVOA in discussions about top receivers. Is Calvin Johnson really an average #1 receiver who gets thrown the ball a ton? Or does his skill have something to do with how often the ball comes his way? Personally, I'd guess the latter. His DVOA gets depressed because, when everybody's covered, "throw it to Megatron" is a reasonable strategy.

How about Gronkowski? His DVOA is only slightly ahead of Seattle's McCoy. Is Gronkowski just a McCoy with a lot of targets? Probably not.

Our best bet is to stick with DYAR for who is the most valuable. Look to DVOA and a host of other stats for how and why they were valuable.

6 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Biggest surprise for me is the gap between Griffin and Luck. Certainly that's not something the network sportscasters have recognized.

Brady ought to get more MVP consideration, but he probably lost any hope there with his two picks on national TV against the 49ers. If the Pats had held on to win after the epic comeback, maybe. Still, it would be nicer if the media at least said something to admit that his season was least as good as Peyton Manning's.

9 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

This. A hundred times this.

I know I'm a blatant fan girl, but I'm fairly certain that for all Bradys accolades, he's actually a bit underrated. It's getting to the level of how Manning was underrated in 2000-2006 compared to Brady. Recency bias maybe? Could we stop pretending that Rodgers/Brees have been at Brady (or even Manning)-levels "over the last half decade or so"? For the last two seasons, sure, especially Rodgers.

But here's the DYAR total for each QBs last 5 full seasons*:
Brady: 10,773
Manning: 8,234
Brees: 8,207
Rodgers: 7,019

Then, looking at DVOA, here are their rankings in their last 5 seasons:

Brady: 1st, 3rd, 1st, 2nd, 1st
Manning: 2nd, 5th, 6th, 2nd, 2nd
Rodgers: 4th, 1st, 4th, 9th, 14th
Brees: 5th, 2nd, 10th, 3rd, 3rd

I'm not having a hard time looking at those numbers and picking a QB "of the last half-decade or so". Over that span, Rodgers is actually closer to Philip Rivers, though that's obviously not how he's performing now.

* yeah, I know. If we just look at last 5 years and take out 1 season of Manning and Brady, 4 seasons of Brady still produced almost as much DYAR as 5 seasons of Brees, while 4 seasons of Manning produced close to 5 seasons of Rodgers.

16 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

I'm thinking part of it is simply that Peyton has the better story this year: a 36 year old (God, I feel old; I vividly remember him playing in college!), coming off four neck surgeries and adapting far more quickly than expected to a whole new team. That shouldn't factor in to the MVP voting so heavily, but it does. I root for Peyton, I think he's one of the greatest ever, and I hope he gets another ring before he rides off into the sunset. But I will readily agree with you guys that I think Brady is more deserving of this year's MVP. (And probably even a better overall QB, but since they're both such phenomenal, once-in-a-lifetime QBs who we're lucky to see play, I try to get into the Brady vs Peyton debate as little as possible; it always seems to involve arguing that one isn't all that great, which...no. They both ARE that great!)

24 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

There's no doubt that Manning is getting more attention because of he's on a new team and has the comeback story. If he was still with the Colts and there had never been an injury, there would be the same "same old, same old" response that we're getting for Tom Brady's season.

31 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Turns out when you replace a running back at QB with a Hall of Famer, the difference is a better story than a Hall of Famer producing another Hall of Fame calibre season.

40 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Keeping in mind that DVOA hates volume rushers with the heat of a 1000 suns, did Adrian Peterson recently die?

Minnesota went 10-6 with an offense that consists of a marginally good college team in the 10 players not named Adrian Peterson. Their #1 WR spent the year hurt, and their #1 QB couldn't have gotten the ball to him anyway.

20 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Next season will be a better barometer for measuring Brady vs. Manning, because Peyton will no longer have the fallback of "adapting to a new team" and "recovering from four neck surgeries." After a full season and two offseasons, Peyton should be fully integrated into the Broncos system with a clean bill of health in 2013.

Barring injury, I have a feeling both of these HOFers will play until they're 40, so we still have a few years left to enjoy them. And given their playing styles, I don't see any reason to think they'll decline very much, if at all, over the next couple years.

FWIW, if they both retired today, I would say Manning has had the slightly better career, if only because he carried the Colts on his back for all those years, while Brady has had the benefit of Belichick and The Patriot Way his entire career.

But anyway, in response to your post, I totally agree that Tom Brady has been the best QB in the league since 2007, and there really isn't any debate.

29 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

It makes sense to note that 2007 coincided with the Pats going to a more pass-heavy offense and acquiring Randy Moss and Wes Welker. That started a run of Brady having the better weapons and understandably, better stats. Just like when Manning had Marvin in his prime, a decent o-line, and Brady was working with Deion Branch, Manning's stats were better.

2007 was the year Marvin Harrison got hurt. The Colts had no real #3 WR since then. Even in 2009, he was working with a 4th round rookie (Austin Collie), and a 2nd year 6th round pick (Garcon), along with Wayne and Clark.

BTW, I'm not trying to defend Manning for having an inferior DVOA and DYAR since 2007, because I would accept the same rationale for why Brady had inferior ones earlier on.

What I don't like is then mixing that argument with "well, Brady won Super Bowls" when Brady had a defense that was, for the most part, drastically better in those early years where defenses had larger impact on games.

140 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Underrated, I'd probably say not. Considering most people consider Brady to be in the top 3 of current performing QBs no matter what metric or comparison is used. I would say most people use "who would I want on my team" as the metric and certainly it's a non-measurable value that Peyton, Brady and Rodgers bring to that.

One thing that I would find interesting in analysis is to look at how the Patriots and Packers offense plays into the DVOA value. Keep in mind with guys like Wes Welker, Julian Edelman and Randall Cobb (also Jennings now, Driver in the past, quick slant) all play into this idea of a "successful play" as defined by DVOA. What ends up happening in these situations is small sets of successful plays are built up in succession then perhaps one or two plays come back as average, then perhaps a failing play. Overall the drive ends on a positive note. In other offenses, there is a larger possibility of 2 or three unsuccessful plays (3 yard run on first down) with one successful play, leading to an overall lower successful play total. I know that there is supposed to be situation-adjusted factors that play a role but too many variables effectively play a role in what the "situation" is.

All stats have a bit of flaw. One flaw that may or may not be able to be solved is how offensive systems play into individual DVOA rankings.

I also have one question: For a team that runs more plays than another team, how does (or does it even) account for the possibility that there will be a higher total of successful or unsuccessful plays for these teams? For example, team A has 31 successful plays, and 30 unsuccessful plays (net of 1) in a game. Excluding value add bonuses, you would expect DVOA to be near 1.64%. Team B has 33 successful plays, and 32 unsuccessful plays (net of 1). Team B had the opportunity to be successful or unsuccessful 4 more times than Team A, yet has a less DVOA (1/65) 1.5% than team A because the net of 1 successful play is divided among 65 plays versus 61.

Perhaps this is too in depth, or perhaps this already makes perfect sense, but to me having additional opportunity or less opportunity to net 1 successful play should play a role in how teams are valued.

10 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

G** D*** Fudge Packers... The Bears deserve that playoff spot.

50 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Here is how Chicago deserved the playoff spot:
The Bears were 2-6 against playoff teams. They lost AT HOME to Seattle, Green Bay, and Houston.
The Vikings were 4-5 against playoff teams.

The Bears earned the 7 seed fair and square.

I wonder if Lovie would have kept his job if the Bears made the playoffs and lost in the first round.

69 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

I'm a Vikings fan, and I was disgusted by Cutler's play in the last game against the Vikings, at a critical juncture of the season. When your qb, and your highest paid player, goes to the hounds like that, you don't "deserve" anything.

79 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

It gets to the problem entailed in the cliche "Having the will to win", when the proper term woud be "Having the will to prepare to win". What I saw from Cutler that day was an undisciplined guy who hadn't prepared to win, and thus failed his teammates due to bad decisionmaking and bad mechanics. If you are going to be that guy, and the highest paid guy, at a critical juncture, it darned better well be balanced out by long stretches of absolute brilliance, like Stubbleface. Cutler's play disgusted me that day because I was under the impression that he had accepted the responsibility that comes with his situation, and it sure appears to me now that my impression was wrong.

81 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Maybe he's too distracted by being the star of the "Smoking Jay Cutler" meme.

I have to admit that I've never seen/heard of a fan of a team actually be offended by the poor play of the opposing quarterback (in the rare cases where that happens against my team, I usually just thankfully accept the easy win, while pointing and laughing at his ineptitude). You're like a samurai who is angry/offended when his opponent doesn't fight hard enough to provide a worthy challenge.

83 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

I think you're reading way too much into a handful of bad throws. I saw nothing from Cutler all year that made me think he was preparing any less than any other QB.

Reading into a QB's mental state based on a bad game is how we get all the "Tony Romo's a choker" and "Cam Newton needs to smile more" nonsense. I know you're better than that, Will.

87 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Since when is an observation that a guy is throwing with the mechanics of a damned drunk in a flag football league akin to an empty choker accusation, or a comment about facial expression? Could his performance been an anamoly? Sure. I just expected more from him this year, I guess, and that performance really topped it off.

91 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

You said Cutler was lacking "the will to prepare to win" and hadn't "accepted the responsibility that comes with his situation". Maybe you meant something different, but to me, it really sounds like you're questioning his work ethic and mental outlook. Unless you were at Bears practices that week, you really have no idea how Cutler prepared for the Vikings game.

I expected more from Cutler, too, but we know that he has several flaws, one of which is sloppy mechanics. He shares this flaw with many other quarterbacks I see on Sundays. I don't get what makes Cutler's play "disgusting", unless you find roughly half the QB play in the NFL to be "disgusting".

92 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

The guy is almost 30 years old and still throws with crappy mechanics with some frequency. This leaves us with some alternatives. 1) He's athletically lacking by NFL qb standards. 2) He's stupid. 3)He hasn't worked hard enough to reduce the frequency with which he throws in a mechanically poor way. Of these 3 alternatives, I believe the third to be, by far, the most likely.

Now, if this tendency to throw in a mechanically poor way was counterbalanced by mulitiple seasons of statistical excellence (forget Stubbleface; even Romo has accomplished that), I probably would not react to what I saw as strongly as I did. That's the point; Cutler needs to accept the responsibility that he has not produced in such statistical fashion, and endeavor to eliminate those obstaces to his doing so, which means being more disciplined in how he throws the ball.

As to being disgusted, if if makes you feel better, it is a sentiment I've expressed before with players who didn't endeavor to eliminate obvious weaknesses in their game, while being one of the most highly paid players on their teams. Like Adrian Peterson and horrid pass blocking (he's improved somewhat), or John Randle and playing the run. It seems to me that one of the respnsibilities of being a very highly paid guy, relative to one's teammates, is above avarage effort in a eliminating those drawbacks that harm a team's chances of winning to a significant degree, and that failure to do so, when it results in a team losing an important game, can reasonably result in disgust.

95 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

I don't think much of Martz as an OC, but I don't find it likely that he neglected to mention the importance of mechanics to Cutler, or did not communicate what good mechanics entailed. We know Cutler received sound instruction regarding mechanics in Denver. At some point a guy has to be responsible for his career.

Look, I'm not unsympathetic to arguments about a guy not being in a situation which is conducive to success, but when I see a guy at age 29, without a huge track record of success, getting paid the most, indulging in bad habits he should have abandoned years ago, and those bad habits are costing his teammates critical games, I get, well, disgusted.

101 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Well how can you defend Tony Romo who at times demonstrates some really slap dash mechanics? (Specifically I recall a dropped pick 6 where he threw an out to the right sideline with his feet pointing north of the strong safety, it was a late game but I can't remember who more than that)

I'd also suggest that Cutler's mechanics did improve quite a lot at the start of his time under Martz but then regressed through the year as he was beaten senseless. That isn't to excuse the regression, it's when you are under duress that you need to be able to rely on sound mechanics but he had improved and he just didn't seem to have the help this year. I would agree with you that it's probably past the time to keep waiting for Cutler to become the quarterback his potential suggested he could be, he should be much tighter by now.

103 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

I can defend Romo with the observation that he has never finished lower than an 11 rank in DVOA, despite those mechanics, and despite frequently being subjected to awful pass prorection as well. Are there qbs who perform well despite poor mechanics, or at least mechanics that are poor with more frequency than one would desire in a guy who occupies a very high payroll slot? Yes, of course. Unfortunately, there isn't much evidence that Cutler has performmed well. When the measurables say you are not getting it done in a manner consistent with how you are geting paid, it is incumbent on you to eliminate those negative factors which you control, which can result in you getting it done in said manner. It certainly appears that Cutler doesn't see it that way.

105 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Will, I understand your sentiments, but I think you are underselling how much coaching can affect qb performance. Think of Alex Smith between Singletary vs Harbaugh. Think about what Cutler looked like with Shannahan and now with Tice. We can go further, think about Drew Brees with Sean Payton or even Tom Brady who has many times credit BB and his coaches for really helping him learn how to prepare work on things. Even stubbleface was much better when holmgren was on his ass. I think Cutler's perceived attitude problem is maddening, but honestly, I still think the talent around him is terrible and his offensive coaches aren't great. Is he great? No, but if you could get him a coach who was on his ass, things might be different.

111 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Well, I never said that better coaching would not have made a big difference. The guy, however, has, as his highest DVOA rank while in Chicago, at 21, and that is his best rank by a huge margin. With a mostly terrific defense that has despertely needed him to minimize his deficiencies. He simply appears to have refused, or at least been reluctant, to do so, while being the highest paid guy.

113 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Judging qbs is hard. I've always had a soft spot for Cutler because while his mechanics border on terrible many times, I still feel like his upside on a good team is much higher than say Matt Schaub's is. The issues you have become magnified when he's asked to carry a team. We can debate whether he's being paid like a carry your team type of qb, but I just feel saying isn't getting it done is taking far too narrow a look at things.

Again, we really need to define exactly which qbs you feel can flat out carry a team through all sorts of problems. We learned that Tony Romo is good, but not good enough to do that. Ditto for Rivers. But which qbs frankly are? It is definitive that Eli can consistently do that? What about Ben? What about Matt Ryan? The truth is, even the very best qbs, we can only speculate. Only years after his retirement can we say Warner did.

114 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

I'd take Romo over Cutler in a heartbeat. He's put up some really impressive numbers, while behind a below average to bad offensive line, and with an owner who makes it damned near impossible to coach the roster well.

141 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

As a Packer fan (and meaningless owner) I have been absolutely using this as the reason why we lost the Minnesota game to justify why the Packers should destroy Minnesota on Saturday. There is no Bears team to knock out for Saturday's game.

14 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

"Perhaps Broncos wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert is a literal miracle
worker who can make blind me see and uncoordinated men catch. Yes.
That's the only rational explanation."

Of course. It takes a *lot* of coaching to get a receiver to the point
to handle the randomly placed passes of Ol' Noodle Arm...

17 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Seriously FO? You don't get why AP gets stuffed more often than other elite backs? I'll give you a hint, it rhymes with Mistian Fonder.

72 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

I don't actually think Mistian does rhyme, at least if you asked the average person on its theoretical pronunciation. I would've gone with a known word, like bastion.

106 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

This makes me laugh. Peterson was stuffed a lot in 2009 too, despite the QB-who-shall-not-be-named having a career year. In fact, Peterson has had a rushing success rate in tbe bottom of the league every year since he arrived. He gets stuffed a lot because that's what he does, regardless who's under center or whether the team is winning or losing.

112 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Teams were still loading the box to stop Peterson in 2009. The last time teams were not doing this was through the Chargers game in 2007, when 28 ran for nearly 300 yards, in an effort to educate one Ted Cotrell as to the advisability of constructing a game plan which takes into account the opponent's charaterstics.

21 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Matt Stafford is officially the next Drew Bledsoe. Both #1 picks who throw a crazy number of passes, inflating their reputations with eye-popping yardage totals despite mediocre efficiency. By 2025, Stafford will join Bledsoe, Steve DeBerg, and Kerry Collins on the Mount Rushmore of Stat Compilers.

35 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

I always though the "stats compiler" label for Krieg was kind of unfair...given to him by contemporary sports analysts because he didn't "win in the playoffs", which we all know is a dangerous way to evaluate quarterbacks. He also had one mangum opus half-season in '94 where he finished +35% (!) in DVOA, only to hurt his shoulder before the playoffs, and lost in the first round yet again.

59 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Also forgot to mention that Krieg suffered the misfortune of being in the same division as those great Raider teams in the early 80's, and then John Elway's Broncos in the late 80's, which prevented his teams from doing much in the postseason.

28 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

I don't remember Steve DeBerg ever having 'eye-popping' stats, I just remember him hanging around for a heck of a long time. He may have, I just don't remember it. I also think that Stafford can take Jay Cutler as his date to the coronation dance.

54 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Yeah, at least as long as Cutler is playing behind a bad O-line and throwing to at most one good wide receiver, I don't think Cutler will have deceptively good stats. If anything, I would argue that Cutler is better than his stats indicate. (Not to say that he's an elite or even a top 10 QB, but it seems to me that he often ranked below 15th in Quick Reads this season, and I'd argue that at the very least he's the 15th-best QB in the league).

58 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

I wasn't trying to argue that Cutler isn't good (I think he can be with the right supporting cast as you say), but I do find it interesting that many of the same people who point out the handicaps that Cutler is working with forget to do the same with Stafford (specifically the mediocrity of his offensive teammates outside of WR1).

34 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Drew Bledsoe took the Patriots to a super bowl, so if Stafford can somehow accomplish that, I will not be complaining about 650+ attempts and finishing "only" 10-12th in DVOA ranking. (By the way, Bledsoe only finished higher than 18th in DVOA exactly once in his Patriots career)

107 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

I'd rather have a Matt Stafford than a Joe Flacco who posts below-average stats at below-average efficiency, or a god-awful Mark Sanchez, or a Tim Tebow who pretends to be a QB.

25 How does Joquie Bell end up ranked higher than Morris?

Honest question. I looked and it comes down to his massive receiving DYAR. How does his ~465 yards receiving with no TDs end up being nearly as valuable as Morris's ~1500 yards rushing with 13 TDs?

26 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Somehow that ended up truncated. My question is how Joquie Bell finishes with more DYAR than Morris. I get that it's all receiving DYAR, but given their conventional statlines I just don't see how Bell's receiving (~500 yards, 0 TDs) gets him most of the way to Morris's Rushing DYAR (~1500 yards, 13 TDs). Opponent adjustment doesn't seem credible here.

30 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

It's another case of dyar not making much sense. Basically according to dyar Morris had a ton of negative plays and bell had fewer. The plays bell had we're mostly successful. Because so much of Morris running was after successful yardage and was big runs, he gets less value for that yardage.

If that doesn't make much sense, join the club.

33 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Oddly, most of Morris' yardage wasn't big runs. He didn't have a single play over 40 yards, which I think is the point at which DVOA/DYAR stops giving as much credit for yardage.

I think it kind of makes sense from DVOA as well, if you kind of assume that every play is the same (i.e. that for someone with 10% DVOA, every play is worth 10% DVOA, which I think is roughly fair once you are thinking of it as a whole season).

Morris had 330 plays that were basically 10% better than average (his rushes), and 16 plays that were 15% worse than average (his passes)

Bell had 80 plays that were basically 10% better than average (his rushes), and 70 plays that were basically 30% better than average (his passes).

Just for convenience, I'm going to say that those 16 (on average) bad plays cancel out 30 good plays for Morris. That leaves him with 300 good runs at about 10% DVOA. Bell would have 150 plays at an average of about 20% DVOA. So really, you can argue from a DVOA perspective as well that the two were sort of roughly equal -Bell was very effective in more limited opportunities, Morris was less good per play, but about equal overall.

It sort of plays out from a pure stats perspective as well - Bell had about 900 yards on 150 plays at good rates (5 yards per carry, 9 yards per catch) with only 1 fumble. Morris had about 1700 yards, at marginally-to-quite worse rates (4.8 yards per carry, 7.5 ish yards per catch), with 4 fumbles. When you consider that Detroit played a tough schedule (Stafford's comment) and Washington didn't (Griffin's comment I think?) it sort of makes sense that they could be kind of equal.

I would probably agree that Morris should probably be ranked higher, but I can see how its happened that he isn't.

If you look at it, Bell had something vaguely similar a Marshall Faulk half season - equal production in rushing and receiving, averaging about 20% DVOA. But he did it spread out over and entire season, which leads to the question over whether DYAR should have some measure (or at least consideration when analysing it) of longevity included - should a 300th carry of the season be worth more than a 30th carry of the season, because (I would assume) that on average a 300th carry is likely to be by a banged up back, whereas a 30th carry isn't?

36 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Manning vs. Brady by the numbers:

Opponent-adjusted: DYAR(total) Brady (2035, 1st)
Manning (1800, 2nd)
DVOA(Rate) Brady (35.1%, 1st)
Manning (32.7%, 2nd)
non-adjusted: YAR (total) Manning (1970, 1st)
Brady (1928, 2nd)

EPA (total) Brady (202.5, 1st)
Manning (171.5, 3rd)
EPA/P (rate)Brady (0.28, 1st)
Manning (0.27, 2nd)
WPA (total, "clutch") Brady (4.69 3rd)
Manning (3.75 6th)

completion%: Manning (69, 2nd)
Brady (62.9 12th)
success%: Brady (55.6 1st)
Manning (53.6, 3rd)
I think these numbers are interesting, as it seems like Manning
"padded" his conventional stats with a bunch of unsuccessfulcompletions
(15.4 % of his throws)

QBR: Manning (84.1, 1st)
Brady (77.1 2nd)
Manning is the clear cut #1 by QBR, which is kind of surprising as QBR derives from EPA and WPA. So the difference between Brady and Manning is probably the scouting part.

By the numbers I'd say Brady is the "Stats MVP", but it's close. Manning wins the dreaded eyeball-test( QBR, PFF), and combined with his better "story" he's going to become MVP anyway.

39 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

QBR is a strange duck. The QBR Faq spends a lot of time arguing that only cynics think it's subjective. It then goes on to explain that on each and every play, credit is assigned to one player or another based on blame-indicating factors determined by their "video tracking team".

That, coupled with other flaws such as "clutch" factors and a lack of opponent adjustment, make QBR an inferior statistic, a gimmick. The only good thing about it is that it has features to recommend it over the old Passer Rating.

Saying "QBR is a big improvement over Passer Rating" is a lot like saying "QB X is a big improvement over Tim Tebow or Kyle Orton". It doesn't really tell you anything.

61 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

What if one of those "blame indicating factors" is something like clear drops by WRs? If a QB throws a perfect pass, it bounces off the receivers chest and into the hands of defender who takes it back for a TD, its not like the QB should be blamed for it. Or a QB taking a sack (QBR includes sacks doesn't it?) due to a woeful snap from the centre.

I agree that clutchiness is pretty pointless, but I don't think just saying it involves people reviewing the tape therefore its broken is fair.

It is an odd duck though. It's like they've gone "right, lets make it entirely objective, but lets also make some of subjective just because."

64 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Let's remember that the stat started essentially as ESPN's 'better' version than conventional passer rating, trying to fill in teh holes that passer rating overlooked. The main one is passer rating doesn't include anything about sacks/fumbles, which QBR does. They then took it a couple steps further trying to isolate what the QB does (not giving them penalties for drops, isolating Air Yards from YAC, etc.)

The clutch part is bizarre as it credits players for playing a bunch of close games (assuming they play well late in those games). But I'm not sure how big that factor is. Then again, up until Rodgers in 2011, the best two QBR seasons they found were Peyton Manning in 2008 and 2009, where his conventional and FO stats weren't out-of-this-world, but he played and won a bunch of close games and comebacks.

86 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Including sacks and fumbles: great. (avoiding these is very valuable)
Clutch weighting: terrible. (has more to do with the QB's defense than anything he himself does)
Penalizing YAC: terrible. (QBs should throw the ball to get the most yards on the play. Good decisions should not be penalized)
Other forms of blame assignment: terrible. (No matter how many buckets you divide blame levels into, there will be a ton of plays that are subjective. Drop or awkward throw or wrong WR read or wrong QB read or "thrown where only the receiver could get it"? Who the heck knows? Way too subjective, and likely to be biased.)

And please don't say that only the most obvious cases will be anything except 50-50 blame. That just makes it more subjective. Who decides the "borderline obvious" cases?

Over all, QBR is a train wreck.

43 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Manning has a higher QBR because QBR doesn't include opponent adjustment. Notice that Manning also has higher VOA (without opponent adjustment).

That being said, the "player tracking" is not as subjective as you think it is. It's the same thing as FO game charting except that the charters are better trained, paid more than FO could ever be able to pay anyone, and charting live during games on Sundays. When they talk about splitting up credit, they are talking about things like not penalizing a quarterback when the receiver drops a wide-open pass.

Really, I understand how people feel about the clutch thing and the opponent adjustments, but otherwise Total QBR is pretty much what I would have done with DVOA if a) I had based it on an EPA model instead of the Hidden Game of Football "success points" concept and b) I could afford to have an army of live game-charters every Sunday. It's a good stat, and you learn something about a player's strengths and weaknesses from the places where it differs from DVOA.

48 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Not completely sure, but my guess is, even opponent adjustment kicks in, Manning would still have higher QBR, albeit slightly.

Reason behind my guess is, QBR separates WR performance from QB's. I know, it won't be perfect anyway, but considering that part is one of the biggest flaws of DVOA and DYAR, it's worth noting.

I don't think it's a coincidence that Tom Brady always has relatively low QBR than his spectacular DVOA & DYAR.

53 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

I appreciate that the "video tracking team" is trying to be consistent. But they are also employees of the organization that is promoting one story line for the season or another. They know which way the story is supposed to go, just like referees know which team is at home. They don't need to be consciously biased to skew the results. They just need to be human.

All they need to do is judge some off target passes as 50-50 blame, or some fifty-fifty passes as off target, or do the same with passes the receiver gets a hand on, and they've skewed the data set. If they are going to have any unconscious systematic biases, they're going to involve fan-favorites or bete noires.

We look to objective stats to avoid those biases, not to confirm them. When the objective stats point one way, and the trackers stats flip to follow the story line, I trust the objective stats to be unbiased.

60 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

So ESPN, which is located in New England, which has a definite East Coast bias, who's first regional site was ESPNBoston, is going to create a stat and skew it intentionally to devalue what Tom Brady does?

I always thought that it was the clutch factor that made PEyton's QBR numbers higher than his conventional or FO numbers (when the stat came out, I believe Peyton's 2008 and 2009 seasons were the two highest from 2008-2010) because those years included a bunch of comebacks and close wins. But the Broncos barely had any close games this year, so it probably comes more to the air yards and trying to isolate QB performance.

42 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

No one else noticed that the link on tight end Alex Smith linked to SF QB Alex Smith?

63 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

I dunno if you should bother. Can you really see both Alex Smiths (or Mike Williamses) featuring heavily in future articles?

That being said, I do remember when Alex Smith got drafted he was announced as something like Alex M. Smith, just to make sure people knew the 49ers weren't picking a mid-round tight end with the first overall pick.

68 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

This was an issue when there were two prominent players named Roy Williams. Not to mention two WRs named Steve Smith!

(And, lookie here, tall Steve Smith is still in the league!)

74 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

The whole RGIII thing came about because Baylor had a lineman also named Robert Griffin.

The other Robert Griffin was also active in the NFL this year. Spent a week on the Colts -- so they had Robert Griffin and Andrew Luck this year.

47 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Dustin Keller is worth a mention as he was incredibly efficient (3rd in DVOA with a 78% catch rate) despite playing with by far the worst QB. He's the only Jets receiver (WR, RB, or TE) to have positive receiving DVOA. I'm sure if he played more the underlying black hole of suckitude in which he was performing would have brought his numbers down, but still. I suspect his injury plagued season will bring his market value down far enough to make him a bargain as a free agent.

EDIT: Not sure where to post this, but looking at the new playoff odds report I'll put a few (hypothetical, if gambling were legal) benjamins on the Colts to win the SB at 500-1 odds if anyone is offering.

45 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

"Weeden was a bust in his first season, and given his advanced age (he's a year and a half older than Matt Ryan), he will need to improve radically in his second season to salvage his NFL career."

I've never understood the argument about Weeden's age, or at least, never understood any rational basis for it.

In NFL terms, it's not the years, it's the mileage. (See DeBerg, Steve) Sure he's 29, but he's only got 3 years of football on him in the 20s. In terms of football mileage, he's younger than Russell Wilson, who's only 24. Wilson also spent years playing high-level baseball, and took far more abuse in three years at NC State (his year at Wisconsin running the Montee Ball Express was pretty much a clean-jersey year) than Weeden did in 2.5 years at OK State.

As for just getting older, he's never been an especially mobile QB, so the argument that he's going to get slower doesn't seem to matter. The Mannings run like cold molasses, but that doesn't affect their passing. The only argument that makes any sense is that older QBs get hurt more easily. And while that might be true, he's a Browns QB. He's going to get hurt at any age.

49 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

The lack of abuse to Weeden's body is probably a credit, but when you step into your NFL career at 27 or 28 years old, you are already at your physical peak. As Weeden grows mentally into the role of NFL starting QB, he will be declining physically. With guys like Wilson, Luck & Griffin, as they improve on the mental side of things, they will also be climbing the physical-improvement slope.

Weeden is in a similar spot to Chris Weinke. Weinke started in 2001 as a 29 year old rookie. After starting for two seasons, he became a backup for three seasons to Jake Delhomme. The Panthers knew that he wasn't going to get any better.

51 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Mileage is important for RBs... not so sure about it as a concept for QBs (except for running QBs).

The problem with Weedon is agre-related learning curves... I assimilated new info, habits, etc. much better when I was 21 than I did when I was 30.

Weedon's only 3 years of football may be a good sign, because it may indicate he still has capacity to learn a bunch more... Think about the Immigrant dlineman with 2 years football experience compared to the guy who's been playing 15 years.... But that is undermined a bit in that he was considered one of the more "polished" QBs in the draft already, so there are likely fewer easy fixes that a NFL-caliber QB coach can identify and correct to help him improve.

Weedon is certainly not completely written off yet... As you say, he has the same experience as many QBs much younger than him that he is building off of, and many rookies do improve substantially with a year of experience... But next year he'll be 30, and if he's not showing big development by the end of the season, he probably never will. He doesn't really have the luxury of a 4-year learning curve like a 22 year old.

55 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Everyone makes good points, but if Weeden improves a lot next year, and the Browns get a few seasons of 2000-2003 Jeff Garcia-type play, they would probably take that (although they probably could have gotten him a round later).

77 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Kurt Warner and Warren Moon were 28 in their first real NFL seasons, and those were 28 with much more mileage. (Moon had a 16 year career, anyway. NFL median is about 3.5.) Jim Kelly was 26. The USFL and the World League messed up a lot of rookie QB ages.

But with Weeden, he's got a decent arm, and he's never been an "athlete" type. So regarding his physical peak -- who cares? That would be an issue if he were a middling QB dealing with 7 years of the typical injury history and cumulative wear and tear of an NFL QB, but he doesn't have that.

He may turn out to be a bust who was a bad pick, but that isn't because he's 29 -- it's because he's not good enough.

56 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

I think the three points to consider are :

-- Athletes are generally at their physical peak in their mid to late 20's, so you've mostly missed out on that time with Weeden.

-- He wasn't just sitting around resting up to play football during his time away from the game - he was playing another strenuous sport (although strenuous in a different way). So he's got "miles" even if they aren't "football miles".

-- Even if he completely pans out, his career value will be much less than it could have been because age DOES catch up to everyone eventually. Getting older isn't JUST about slowing down in running or scrambling. It's also about reaction times, arm strength/stamina/resilience, and yes, injuries.

The comment above is talking about salvaging a career - i.e. having a lot of good years. Not about having a small number of good years, which is much more likely given his age - unless he improves dramatically next year.

62 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

We believe that athletes are at their physical peak in their late 20's because that is when humans are at their physical peak. But athletes inflict more pain and injury and wear into their bodies than normal people. It makes sense to me at least that the late 20's is probably the apex when combining physical peak and strain from years of playing. The difference with someone like Weeden is the pain and strain he has inflicted upon himself from football is far less than someome of his age that is an NFL QB.

We don't have many examples to look at in terms of Weeden. The one sport I can think of with differing age starts is tennis, where some like Nadal are full-year pros at 17, while some like American John Isner played in college and didn't become a full-year pro till 22. Nadal seems to have passed his physical peak a lot earlier than players who weren't playing 80 matches a year at 18 (Federer, who is also a freak who never gets hurt).

67 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

That's true and a good point. But Weeden was still playing baseball, which isn't stress free. So he probably has some wear and tear from that - although less than if he played in the NFL that whole time.

But the fact remains that from a career value perspective, Weeden has a lot less runway than a younger player if his career value is to come out well. I.e. (and making up numbers), if a good QB's career is usually 15 years, Weeden starting at age 28 doesn't mean he'll be able to keep going until he's 43.

99 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Good "balanced" view from both of you. I'd argue that Weeden is effectively closer to the average 25 or 26 year old NFL player than 29 in terms of the beating he's taken over the years. Not the typical rookie (many of whom are at or near 24 on their first opening day, like his own backup Colt McCoy) but not exactly on his end days yet.

I just think the "but look at how his age compares to Matt Ryan/Flacco/Roethlisberger" argument needs context. He may or may not even start next year, but I'm willing to pin the Browns' problems on a whole lot of other fronts first.

100 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Hey, at least everyone here has gotten his age right.

On Orange & Brown Report, everyone thought he was 29 or 30 when he was 28.

And who can forget the official roster typoing his age as 129 once?

142 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

I would say the mileage argument comes about because there is lack of data to prove mileage is not directly related to age. How many 29 year old running backs, WR's, Linemen or other come into the league with only 3 years of mileage?

To say that age doesn't matter, only mileage does, ignores the thought that age is mileage.

46 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Under Top 5 Wide Receivers, why arent' Cobb and Thomas considered tied if they have the same DYAR total?

52 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Re RG3:

All told, 27 percent of his completions failed to gain meaningful yardage towards a new set of downs. Of the 27 quarterbacks with at least 200 completions, only Jay Cutler, Brandon Weeden, and Christian Ponder had a higher share of dumpoffs and checkdowns.

Isn't this just the kind of faux "statistical analysis" this site is meant to stand against? The second sentence is a meaningless cherry pick to associate Griffin with one middling QB and 2 awful ones. The first sentence pretends that what matters are individual plays qua individual plays instead of the entire portfolio of plays that make up an offense. RG3 led the NFL in Yards per Attempt at 8.14 -- that's led the league as in ahead of Brady, Manning, Rodgers. Not bad for a dink-n-dunker!

WAS was 4th overall in Drive Success Rate by FO's stats, so it's not like the offense was boom and bust. But, yeah, accurate context is way more boring than cherry-picked, meaningless bucketing that puts RG3 in the same sentence as Cutler, Weeden and Ponder.

There's plenty of legit reasons to say RG3 had a better season than you'd expect if it were replayed again, including fumble and INT luck.

57 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

All they are saying is that a few big plays skewed his DYAR (or YPA if you prefer) up to a point where they feel (yes, it's a subjective opinion) he looks better than he is. The dump off stats are just there in support of that opinion.

Using YPA to associate Griffin with Brady, Manning, et al is the same kind of cherry picking. But it's refuted by the same support (a relatively small number of long plays) that was already used.

Now I don't know what those numbers actually look like since they didn't say - there might be something unfair there. But if Griffin had what FO (or this particular author) feels are a number of uncharacteristically large plays, it's a fair assessment.

73 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

What? I didn't use YPA to "associate" Griffin w/ Brady or Manning. I said he led the entire league, and chose a stat that's both highly correlated with QB'ing excellence and one that isn't going to be "skewed" by a handful of big plays over a 16 game season.

To get to even Cutlers YPA of 6.99, you'd have to knock 500 yards off of Griffin's 3200 yards while holding attempts constant. That's, what, 10 passes of 50 yards? I'm not sure what FO is arguing here... maybe it's 5 passes of 100 yards!

Huh, maybe it's possible that throwing short to set up the long throws, especially the deep crossing patterns the skins ran so successfully, is actually part of the offense, unlike in, say, Weeden's case, where throwing short is the ONLY offense.

80 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

"one that isn't going to be "skewed" by a handful of big plays over a 16 game season."

Perhaps because it's not just a handful? I trust their stats on this, whereas you seem to be accusing them of making stuff up. Those short passes only accounted for 27%, so there's clearly room for a large percentage of the long passes to make up the difference.

"To get to even Cutlers YPA of 6.99, you'd have to knock 500 yards off of Griffin's 3200 yards while holding attempts constant. That's, what, 10 passes of 50 yards? I'm not sure what FO is arguing here... maybe it's 5 passes of 100 yards!"

Now you're just being irrational. First of all, they say that Cutler was worse. It could be that he was much worse, in which case there's no way to compare them. Second, you seem to be incensed at even seeing Griffin being compared to those three quarterbacks, when the only comparison being made is in the dumpoff and checkdown percentage. I'm sure that if you looked hard enough, you can find a specific-enough stat that matches up Rodgers, Brady or Manning with some of the worst quarterbacks too.

As someone who hasn't watched Griffin much this year, that stat was interesting to me, and certainly helps in understanding why he doesn't rate as high, but it hardly takes away from all the positive things he does for his team.

82 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

I'm sure that if you looked hard enough, you can find a specific-enough stat that matches up Rodgers, Brady or Manning with some of the worst quarterbacks too.

I might be able to do just that... and what would be the point? That Brady is something less than stellar?

Much of sports journalism and "analysis" is full of such factoid collecting. I come here for better (and buy the products for better), and when I don't get better, I call 'em on it.

89 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

"I might be able to do just that... and what would be the point? That Brady is something less than stellar?"

Wow. You don't believe that maybe, in certain areas that are important to the game, he is? I bet that a QB's coach would want to know these "factoids" that you dismiss, and see if they can be improved upon, either through practice or scheme. Just because you're a top 5 quarterback doesn't mean you can't improve further.

130 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Let me try again.

The authors point is that he doesn't think Griffin is as good as his stats make him look because of a "small number of very big plays" (presumably non-predictive or somewhat luck involved) compared to a high rate of dump-offs.

I think that a "small number of very big plays" could definitely skew his YPA, correlation or not. Although it would be good to know which and how many plays are actually being referred to.

The dump-off numbers are just in support of this and point out how few other QBs dumped the ball of as often.

If you want to disagree with that it's perfectly reasonable. But you're making a very similar type of argument to the author I think. To paraphrase :

Author : I think Griffin is over-rated by his standard statistics despite his YPA, because his dump-off rate is similar to Jay Cutler and Brandon Weeden.

You : I don't think Griffin is over-rated by his standard statistics despite his dump-off percentage, because his YPA is better than everyone including Brady and Manning.

That's all I was saying - the author used dump-offs to associate Griffin with Weeden, and you used YPA to associate Griffin with Brady in a similar fashion.

The argument is whether or not the small number of really big plays is significant, or non-predictive, or neither. And whether or not it shows up in his YPA.

78 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

"RG3 led the NFL in Yards per Attempt at 8.14 -- that's led the league as in ahead of Brady, Manning, Rodgers."

I think that Kaepernick should qualify as a quarterback (he started 7 games and played half of another), though a lot of sites don't agree, in which case he leads the league in YPA, not Griffin.

"WAS was 4th overall in Drive Success Rate by FO's stats, so it's not like the offense was boom and bust. But, yeah, accurate context is way more boring than cherry-picked, meaningless bucketing that puts RG3 in the same sentence as Cutler, Weeden and Ponder."

Drive Success rate is hardly accurate context. The drive stats page specifically says that the numbers aren't adjusted for strength of schedule, and Griffin faced one of the easiest pass defense schedules in the nation.

143 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

This is the same type of analysis they use when they compared CJ2K to other backs. He was the highest in the league in plays for a loss, or no gain, yet had phenomenal YPC and totals due to big runs.

In the quick reads it's about comparing perception to their non faux statistical analysis of DVOA and DYAR. FO stands by their DVOA and DYAR, but they often take opinionated approaches to say "Hey, look at this one measure to see where this person compared to this person. Also, take a look at how this person compares to this person." If you look at this in another light you could also compare Jay Cutler to RGIII...rather than RGIII to Jay Cutler. And for Bears fans, that's gotta be a good thing.

84 Reggie Wayne and Larry Fitz

I don't want to argue with the DYAR rankings because it makes sense in the context of the statistic - but it is dependent on the quality of the QB. While I understand the basic concepts, it's ultimately unclear to me how you derive DYAR and DVOA. If Fitz has the worst DYAR in the league, and Wayne on tape still looks like a top 10 performer and is getting knocked down quite a bit by Luck's inaccuracy, shouldn't we consider the utility of an adjustment of DYAR for qb play?

For example, should QB adjusted DYAR be calculated as: QDYAR = DYAR(wr) - DYAR(qb), or maybe a weighted calculation: QDYAR = DYARwr - (wrtargets/qbattempts) * DYARqb

88 griffin rushing dyar

i'm having a hard time understanding griffin's low rushing dyar. i fully admit that i may not understand enough about how values are assigned in calculating dyar.

how is it that a replacement-level quarterback would be expected to rush for almost 700 yards, even if given 120 carries, if the same replacement qb can only be expected to gain 242 on 94 in wilson's situation? can the defense-quality adjustment really be that huge? or are these figures altered more by down-and-distance considerations in this case?

the writer mentions his passing totals inflated by outlier large gains, and i imagine that's possible for his rushing numbers. but how can that account for a lower dyar? can a 76-yard touchdown on 3rd and 6 in the fourth quarter really have a similar or lower value than a 25-yard score when it's 3rd and 10 in the second? (i'm not assuming your tracking actually values these plays in this way based on their season totals, or saying these isolated runs should have anything significant to do with griffin's or wilson's year-long value; i'm just meaning to illustrate how long gains as a rusher can hardly be considered inflationary, just because they happen to achieve the same result as shorter runs while vastly outdoing the yards-to-gain standard.)

can it have anything to do with how griffin's actual replacement played such a good game within the same offense?

i ask out of sincere curiosity

90 Re: griffin rushing dyar

In reply to by larskolnikov (not verified)

This is easy: it's almost entirely due to his fumbles. FO has him listed for 7 fumbles on rushes, compared to 0 for Wilson. Griffin has been extremely lucky with his team recovering 10 of his 12 total fumbles, including an absurd two fumbles that went for touchdowns. The Redskins as a whole have recovered 20 out of their 26 fumbles, which is clearly not sustainable.

96 Re: griffin rushing dyar

that does make sense, thanks. and it seems fair, considering how fumbles can potentially flip field position as dynamically as long gains do.

of course i was looking just at the numbers in the article compared to official stats, and not looking at the FO stats page. seeing effective yards, fumbles and YAR helps me understand better what factors lead into these totals.

94 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

I know this will likely incite a riot, but I want to preface by saying its a legitimate question I have for pats fans. Firstly, let me start by saying I think Brady is an elite great hall of fame qb. That is inarguable. And yes I am a manning fan, but that hasn't stopped me from saying Aaron Rodgers is the best qb currently. ANd i think if we really handed out MVPs based on value, it would be Rodgers.

That said, I was curious to hear what Pats fans think when I say this. And again, I'm truly open to changing my mind but, there are a few reasons why I hold brady back behind the other three. Ignoring the subjective factors like his o line or his short passing game, I'd rather ask pats fans how they reconcile Matt Cassel and that 2008 season. Again, Remember that Cassel was doing his first start since all the way back in highschool. Of course, his passing dvoa fell well short of 2007 version, but consider what happens when we look at his passing dvoa in the second half of the year. Matt Cassel put up a 38 percent dvoa, good for 3rd in the league over that time span.

Now, I realize that even Cassel's 38 percent is well short of anything Brady has done. In fact, its almost half the production of Brady. Well, again, I'm not arguing Cassel is in brady's league. Far from it. But, look at what we know about Matt Cassel. Before this year he was considered a below avg starter, now hes not even that. This year alone his dvoa was a -30.5, despite having 4 more seasons of experience. How do Ne fans reconcile this paradox? Matt Cassel can lead a third ranked passing dvoa(over the 2nd half) and now is toast?

My opinion? Brady is an elite qb that is an system that maximizes Qb play, while the others are not. This is true for manning whos replacements(despite having far more experience) were really horrendous. And just to drive home this point, Curtis Painter, who everyone suggests is the main culprit for why the Colts were so bad, finished 2011 with a -33.1 % dvoa, slightly worse than Matt Cassel. And btw, while I mentioned that the difference between Brady and Cassel, dvoa wise, is about 30-35 percent. The difference between Manning and Painter?(close to a 60 percent difference).

97 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

I don't think that arguing that one or more of the big four don't really belong there is particularly controversial (especially here), but I think there is a much better case to exclude Rodgers than Brady from the club. Out of the four, Rodgers is:
*The only one who was not an immediate upgrade on his predecessor (granted, even ancient Favre was better than Brooks or Bledsoe).
*The only one who has been statistically outperformed by his backups (granted, small sample size).
*The one whose reputation is most based on a single season. Rodgers' offenses have consistently produced at a "Pro Bowl" level, with only one MVP type season. Manning, Brady, and Brees have all consistently put up MVP type numbers over the last few years.
*The one who has won a Super Bowl most recently, and postseason success is excessively weighted by many fans and almost all media when evaluating QBs.

Cassel 2008 is a pretty solid argument for Peyton-for-MVP, however.

132 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Can I put in a vote for excluding Brees instead of excluding Rodgers? Of the four, he has had by far the strongest supporting cast for several years now (maybe the Patriots have given him a run some years). But Manning in 2010 was on one of the worst offenses in football. See Blair White anywhere around the league now? didn't think so. And Rodgers has played with an offensive line almost that bad for a while, apart from Sitton.

115 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Good Lord, I hope you're kidding. Can I play, too?

Last year - not four years go when the rosters were hugely different - Tim Tebow put up a half season stretch with Denver where his win record was .875. That's better than Manning did this year. He did this despite (a) being a rookie (b) with less time to adjust to his team than Manning had (c) in an offense that was not built to his specifications (d) with a weaker defense (e) against a harder schedule. This year, Tebow lost his place as first backup to Mark Sanchez.

Yes. It's all really true.

Ergo: Manning is worse than Tebow, Mark Sanchez, and his backup.

Amazing what you can "prove" with cherry picking. Good spoof, bro.

117 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

You never heard me use the stat of wins did you nat? I believe I used your all time favorite stat DVOA to tell the difference. And btw, I didn't cherry pick anything, I took Cassel's second half dvoa split passing straight from this site and compared it to Tom Brady's best 4 year career average. Granted, the personnel was different, but its a bit amazing even when that is taken into account. Again, rather than insult me or insinuate things I said when I didn't, try to cogently explain why cassel was so effective in ne and so spectacularly poor outside of it. Tell me how you cassel can play 4 more years beyond his first start and be worse somehow. Tell me why he's better than Curtis Painter despite similar statistics on 2 win teams. And finally, tell me why the diff between brady and cassel is 30 percent in dvoa and nearly 60 percent with manning to painter.

Look, I get it. This is a sore issue for NE fans as it would be for other fans as well. I think my comment was more an open invitation to all pats fans to see how they reconcile these stats. I'm genuinely interested and if I hear a good argument, I'll be honest and accept it.

118 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Oh and in your haste to insult me, you made a bunch of factually incorrect statements.

Btw, I want to play just like you :

A) Last year Tebow was NOT a rookie, that was his second year and he had started prior to that. In addition, he had at least one full offseason not counting the lockout. Oh, and Manning had to overcome the rehab but we'll just pretend like that was a cake walk.

B) Tim Tebow started 13 games last year and won 8 of them, giving him a winning percentage according to my TI-85 of .615, worse than Manning's record this year even if we assume he loses his first round playoff game(maybe your calculator isn't as smart as mine is).

C) The offense WAS built around his specifications. Last I checked, the read option that McCoy ran with Tebow wasn't exactly to help Eric Decker catch passes.

D) None of this means anything because my fundamental point remains the same. Brady to Cassel(2nd half) = -33 percent dvoa drop. Manning to Painter = -60 percent Dvoa Drop. Tebow to Manning = +65.5 DVOA Increase. Gee, wonder which effect looks biggest, manning effect or brady effect?

121 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

I wasn't trying to insult you. I thought you were doing a trolling spoof, so I played along. I even said so.

In my spoof, I did forgot that Tebow wasn't a rookie. He's really bad, so it's an easy mistake. And it was all a joke anyway.

2008 is a long time ago. Of the Patriots offense starters, only Brady, Welker, and Mankins remain. It was all such an obvious cherry-picking non sequitur that I thought it had to be a parody.

Cassell in 2008 was a 53% drop in passing DVOA, unless you cherry-pick his best games as you did, and as I parodied. He went on to be a starting QB for several seasons, although not a good one. Painter was cut as a backup QB twice and may never play again. Using your logic, Brady is 53% better than a multi-year starter; Manning, 60% better than a failed backup. Or 65% better than a failed backup to Mark Sanchez. But it's stupid logic. It is truly a joke.

In fact, your whole premise doesn't deserve any more time.

123 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

nat, you're nothing if not consistent. Emerson would have LOVED you.

In any case, only an idiot would think Cassell's ability kept him a starting QB for several seasons, and not his salary. Let me put it simply:

Cassell signed for 6 years, $62.7 M, of which $28 M was guaranteed, and $40 M total in first three years.
Painter was waived when due a one-year salary of $565 K.....K, not M.

Cassell DVOA (your stat) from 2008 on: 1.1%, -29.3%, 8.4%, -25.9%, -26.2
Painter DVOA from 2011: -29.5


125 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Cassell's average season was 15% better than Painter's? His worst season was better than Painter's best (only)? His best season came with the Chiefs?

That should end the discussion, yes? Cassell is a lot better than Painter (or Tebow), while still being a below average starting QB. I doubt even you would claim otherwise. But who cares. It was an invalid concept anyway, even without the cherry-picking.

133 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Cassell is not "below average," he's terrible. Just terrible. And, somehow I miswrote his stats for 2012: his DVOA is -30.5% (-26.2% is VOA, not DVOA).

Cassell's DYAR and DVOA rankings (to see how close he is to average):

2008 (Pats): 18/20
2009 (Chiefs): 44/37
2010 (Chiefs): 14/16 !
2011 (Chiefs): 41/39
2012 (Chiefs): 36/36

No one is going to argue that Painter is any good. I think he was dead last in DVOA and DYAR -- not worth looking up. But you sound foolish when you try to assert things like that Cassell is below average. He had one average year not wearing a Patriot uniform, and for three years in KC there was an entire league of QB's better than him. Or, better yet:

Average ranks while playing for
NE: 18/20
KC: 33.8/32

That's "below average"? Yeah, for NE, but not for KC.

134 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

The spam filter didn't let me finish. Hopefully it will:

Look at the numbers. It is hard to take you seriously when we already know the exact way you will use stats: if they make Brady the man, that's a good stat. If it makes Brady just elite but not the best, it's an unusable, not important, distorting stat.

135 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Sorry to do this piecemeal, but the spam doesn't like something:

I may actually agree with your overall premise, that the Cassell experience doesn't prove that Brady is not elite. But, as you twist the stats to fit a pre-conceived notion, well, it's hard to take any of your statements seriously.

148 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Cassel has clearly regressed, but it's not accurate to attribute his success to any "system". He's just gotten worse as a player. He panics, is too quick to dump the ball off, too hesitant to use his legs to extend a play or make positive yardage. He generally looks shell-shocked. As previously mentioned, he took a 18-1 team that returned intact to 11-5 vs. perhaps the easiest schedule in history. But he did have some outstanding games over the 2nd half of the season. Randy Moss is a good place to start. So is coaching. He went to KC, got neither, and somehow lost all confidence.

The Patriots offenses don't make quarterbacks any more than the Saints, Packers, or Colts offenses do. History is littered with quarterbacks who regressed over time, perhaps because Coaches learn how to best defend them. Brian Griese looked like a Hall of Famer at the beginnin of his career. Rick Mirer had a promising rookie year. And there's a significant chance that several of this year's promising rookies will go down that same path once there is an offseason for the opposings defensive coordinators to study film.

124 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

I'm going to drop this subject after this reply because its becoming nasty and truthfully, I was hoping other pats fan would respond, not you because I frankly don't expect much from you at this point.

I'll finish by saying:

Again, painter was cut as a backup twice? No he wasn't. He was drafted, spent three years in the system, started two games in place of Peyton in 09 and then started in place of Collins before being permanently ushered out of Indy. Nowhere was he cut until 2011 when he joined the baltimore ravens. Matt Cassel was a multi year starter in the same way Mark Sanchez was. His numbers were abysmal with the chiefs in 2009, 2011, and now 2012. I doubt history will look on Mark Sanchez any differently than greg McElroy.

126 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Okay. Not cut, technically. Sent packing. Not allowed back into training camp. Worse than cut: not allowed to try out even, after years of loyal service.

From wikipedia: [Painter] was released after the 2011 season on March 9, 2012. After 2011 season, the NFL conducted a poll of the worst starting quarterbacks in the league and Painter received 97% of the vote.

I have no idea if that poll is for real. But, man, it's funny.

138 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

If you really believe Cassel is 30 percent dvoa wise better than Painter, I don't know what else to tell you. And more to that point, if you believe that replacing a truly elite qb with a below avg starter leaves you with a 30 percent dvoa difference, you're outright wrong. This is my last response to you.

116 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

I absolutely agree with you. Granted, I'm not a Pats fan, but Matt Cassel's 2008 season turned out to be a very revealing experiment. If a QB is truly "carrying the team", how can you reconcile his team going 11-5 without him, with a guy who hadn't started since high school?

To me, the difference between Brady and Manning ultimately comes down to this: Brady is an important part of the system, but Manning IS the system. It's almost universally acknowledged that Bill Belichick has been the best coach in the NFL over the last decade or so. Specifically, Belichick is known for picking the right players for his system and putting them in position to succeed. Brady has benefitted from that system his entire career. Even before the Pats were stockpiled with offensive weapons, Brady had a great defense behind him that afforded him the opportunity to play it safe and win 20-17 type games.

Contrast that to Peyton Manning's tenure with the Colts, and even this year with Denver. He's never had a great coach, certainly no one close to the innovator and tactician that Belichick is. Dungy was a conservative defensive coach who was smart enough not to screw up the offense. Same with Caldwell, provided he was actually awake. John Fox is Dungy 2.0. Manning IS the offense. He calls the plays, he holds his teammates accounatble, he elevates the play of everyone around him with his work ethic and undying quest for perfection. Peyton Manning is the unquestioned leader of his team, every year, with no exceptions. After NINE straight seasons of 10+ wins with Peyton at the helm, the Colts staggered to 2-14 without him. He was the glue holding that entire team together, and without him they crumbled.

If we could go back to 2001 and have Manning and Brady switch teams, I'd be willing to bet that Manning's Patriots would have 4-6 SB wins, and Brady's Colts would have zero.

122 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Funny thing is that the Pats, post-2008 have become the Early Aught Colts (minus the Special teams apathy). Terrible defense, limited possessions, terrific efficiency to overcome the limited opportunities, QB needing to be perfect for the team to win.

I disagree with your assessment of the 2008 "experiment." Cassel took a 16-0 team, played the easiest schedule in the league and yielded 11-5 and no playoffs. As a pats fan, Cassel (aka Rusher McFumbles) was terrifying to watch--like a teenage driver or a toddler on the steps. I don't believe Peyton Manning was worth 10-12 wins by himself, but I can see where Brady was a good 3-4 wins better than Cassel, and I'd say that's what the elite QBs really are 3-5 wins, which usually means the difference between the playoffs and the Jim Mora(tm) PLAYOFFS!!??!!?? Early in his career Brady benefited by a better team around him, but his 2010, 2011, and 2012 seasons were well-earned.

129 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

I simply can't comprehend how somebody can look at these two undeniably great players, at this stage of their careers, and delineate so strongly between them. There's long since been any worthwhile objective measure to truly separate them, so any argument is purely speculative conjecture.

FWIW Tony Dungy holds the record for consecutive playoff appearances by a coach (ten - with two different teams), which I think marks him out as a great coach.

136 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Agreed. Manning and Brady are both among the greatest QB's of all time, and it would be nice if we could all savior their twilight years in the NFL without it turning into a pissing match of which one is better.

FWIW, I think a lot of fans' overzealous arguments in the Manning/Brady debate are really just overreactions to the other side's overreactions. When you encounter a poster like "nat", who's as blatantly biased and irrational as a person could possibly be, it's human nature to want to counteract his bias by posting a counter-argument on the other extreme. Very similar to the firestorm debates inspired by Tim Tebow, where his irrational followers spawned an equally irrational group of haters.

137 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

I think my original post was meant for everyone but Nat who henceforth I absolutely will no longer respond to or comment towards. I never meant to disparage brady in any real way. I know that feels hard to believe, but its true. I am not naive nor am I blind enough to say P manning is the best and everyone else is magically a product of scheme. In fact, after his demolition of atlanta, I thought Rodgers had the absolute perfect blend of run and pass combo that I had ever seen. If his longevity permits, he might actually pass manning historically.

That said, I've tried my best to be unbiased. I see things with Brady I don't see with the others. This was only confirmed with Cassel but even that wasn't obvious. Remember, prior to Manning being hurt, Steve young had successfully scaled the joe montana mountain. Rodgers did so with Favre. the trouble was, Cassel never amounted to anything. In fact he was garbage, absolute trash to the point where he was replaced for BRady quinn! and yet, this man was able to lead a very successful pass offense in the second half. Btw, there is a very clear dilineation between cassel's first half dvoa split and his second half once he became acclimated with the offense. This phenomenon coupled with the colts absolute nosedive without manning leads me to believe theres more to a successful passing offense than just blindly saying, "all the credit belongs to the qb."

139 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

I am sorry you think I am blatantly biased and irrational. Given the nature of the discussion, I can understand. But I think you are being unjust, and I am hurt by it. Please hear me out.

I am a long time registered poster at FO. I routinely post answers to questions about how FO works (from a user's perspective) for the new or the confused, do research on topics of interest, concede points when mistaken, etc, all those things we associate with being a good FO citizen. I argue hard, but I try to argue fair. So when I saw your post, I gave a hard look the postings in this thread.

Post 13: neutral fact about how FO uses DYAR.
Post 19: reference to FAQ. Moderately uncontroversial interpretation of what DVOA and DYAR mean for Peterson and Brady.
Post 37: discussion of problems of using DVOA to judge receivers. Personal belief that DYAR measures value as FO intends it to.
Post 39, 53, 86: Why I dislike QBR.

So far, there's nothing you'd object to, I hope. Disagree, maybe. Object, I hope not.

Post 115: Here, I though the previous poster was making a joke, and I played along.

The previous post was a non sequitur, and featured cherry-picked data and typical trolling syntax. (e.g. I know this will incite a riot!) It was either a troll, a spoof of a troll, posted by someone who doesn't know why cherry-picking is bad, or posted by someone who knows it is bad and posted anyway. I choose the most flattering interpretation. I WAS WRONG. It was a mistake to respond. But it wasn't mean or biased to think the best of the poster.

Post 121: I admit my mistake. I apologize for accidentally giving insult. I correct a factual error I made in a spoof post. (silly to correct a joke, but I was trying to mend fences) I treat the original post as sincere, and give a counter argument. I WAS WRONG TO ENGAGE at this point.

Post 125: I use Purds' own stats - by averaging them - to "demonstrate" that Cassell is better than Painter. I reiterate that the whole discussion about Cassell is really a bogus joke. (a point that Purds later seems to agree with)

Post 126: I correct a technical misuse of the word "Cut". I make fun of Painter's wikipedia page.

It's clear I was wrong to engage in posts 115-126. I honestly thought he was joking, and would respond to my spoof with an equally bogus cherry-picking post "proving" that Tebow is better then Adrian Peterson, or something else as insane. We would all have had a great laugh.

As far as I can see, my only real sin was to be dismissive at the end of posts 121 and 125. It's a personal peeve, but I really hate cherry-picked data arguments, and tend to dismiss them out loud rather than just ignoring them.

Do I need to apologize for making fun of Painter's wikipedia page? Okay. Sorry.

If you (and anyone else) have read this far, I hope you can see why I think my biases in this thread were only against QBR and cherry-picking data. I admit those biases. I think they are good biases to have, although I respect people who defend QBR, and could be persuaded that I am wrong on that point.

If you are reacting to posts in other threads, I can't list them all. But as a theme, I tend to highlight objective stats and de-emphasize the subjective. I am curious about the uses and limits of statistical analysis in football. I try to give credit where it is due, and dislike credit going to the wrong players. (e.g. QBs getting Super Bowl MVPs when their defenses carried the day.)

I am a Patriots fan, but much more than that I am an FO fan. Yes, I think DYAR shows Brady as the best QB this year, by a full two games of value. Yes, I think DVOA puts Denver ahead of the Patriots but behind the Seahawks this year. Feel free to disagree with either of those. They may be wrong in some sense, but they aren't biased. They're straight up uses of FO stats.

Sorry for the long post. Keep active on FO, and keep loving football.

144 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

The two best parts of this whole back and forth are:

1. I read the whole damn thing only because I am a stats freak like the rest of everyone on this site.

2. In the grand scheme of things none of this matters. KC, IND, NE and whoever else mentioned in this argument walked away with exactly 0 Superbowl trophies in the whole period discussed. I guess Pats fans can walk away with their AFC championship hats and shirts but in all reality, it still means they're 1 win shy of being where they wanted.

145 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Labeling you as irrational was a bit harsh, and I'm sorry that you felt insulted by it. Forgive me, that wasn't my intention.

Honestly, I think what aggravates people about your posts is not what you're saying, but how you're saying it. Sometimes your writing comes across as arrogant and condescending, as if you're standing on your ivory tower and looking down on everyone else. Your tone implies, "I am right. If you disagree with me, you are an idiot." I will give you the benefit of the doubt, and acknowledge that you're not intending to come across in that manner, but some of your posts really have sounded petulant and dismissive, and it incites people to lash out at you.

You claim to be more of a FO fan than a Patriots fan. Given the content of your posts, I'm just not buying it, sorry. Every one of your "objective" arguments or pet peeves just happen to favor the Patriots, especially in regard to Tom Brady. In a vacuum, I would have no problem with you dismissing QBR, as there are plenty of legitimate reasons to be skeptical of it. But what a coincidence, QBR is the one major stat that always rates Manning ahead of Brady, and it's pretty transparent that's why you hate it so much. When you refer to QBR as "total garbage", it comes across as an emotionally driven overreaction. If QBR favored Brady, you'd probably be hailing its virtues. I don't think you argue fair, I think you argue in favor of whatever happens to benefit your agenda. That's being intellectually dishonest, I'll just leave it at that.

I'm not posting this response to chastise you or to make you feel bad; I'm posting it because I wanted to give you an honest assessment of how you're being perceived within this forum.

146 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

I objected to QBR in posts on FO when it was first introduced, 8/1/2011 for example, long before any pattern of it favoring any players could be seen. Please stop making unfounded accusations of bias. It's rude. In this case, it's also flat out wrong.

Truly. My opinions on QBR have nothing to do with specific players. Same for my dislike of cherry-picking.

147 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

I know I have violated my own policy but I'll go ahead and respond to Nat and try to be more civil. I never cherry picked anything. Again, I looked at Cassel's second half splits from a dvoa perspective and noticed that his performance in the second half in NE was so out of character compared to everything else he had ever done in his career prior to that point.(in fact, Nat claimed Cassel was just below avg, if you looked at his career week to week dvoa performances - they mostly fall into the -20 and more dvoa range - implying hes no where close to just below avg). In fact, breaking down the week to week data, you can see a clear delineation in Cassel's performance even before the second half. From weeks 5-7, he put up consecutive negative passing dvoa performances. From week 8 and onward, he posted only one below average performance, with the last 3 weeks posting ridiculous dvoa numbers.

Again, these performances ran so contrary to the rest of his career, we are left with only two options to explain them. A) the whole second half split is explained purely by random chance. His performances were totally luck based and completely irrelevant. B) that he was playing in NE where his natural level of qb play was significantly enhanced beyond his own capabilities. Nat has implied which side he believes, but I ask everyone else, which explanation seems more plausible?

And finally, take a look by contrast at Indy's pass dvoa splits week to week sans Manning: only 2 performances out of 16 registering a positive dvoa. Nat's explanation for the divergence in outcomes is simply Cassel is below avg, Painter/orlovsky/collins sucks. I leave it to the rest of you to decide if this feels like a satisfactory explanation.

149 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

So tell me what this system is that Brady is supposedly taking advantage of? Seriously tell me. They had one under Charlie Weis, a completely different one with Josh McDaniels, another with Bill O'Brien, and another with McDaniels 2. This supposed "system" is get the ball to the best players. And that's a credit to Belichick and the OCs, to be flexible and not force a system on the offense that they're not optimally equipped for. What it absolutely is not is a plug-and-play system where you can put in a free agent QB and generate like results.

It seems IMO that your argument hurts Manning, since he's been in the same system throughout his career, and at this point (for good reason) is allowed to do whatever he wants offensively, i.e. stay within his comfort zone/strengths.

I really don't care who wins the MVP - Manning is clearly worthy. But your argument seems off.

150 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Historically speaking, there isn't a good comparison to Cassel. Sure, he's regressed you could argue, but the results between his ne days and his chiefs days are so divergent its hard to say it was regression. Regression implies a stead decay, not some random outlier like his days in NE. Off the top of my head, there have only been two other examples of the team losing its hall of fame qb on the eve of the season. Both the 1999 49ers and 2011 colts suffered through a dismal year. Now, in the case of the 49ers, Garcia was horrendous, but you saw gradual improvement by the end of the year, similar to cassel. That said, his improvement continued, he didn't fall off the face of the earth the way cassel did.

As to what the "scheme" i am referring to. Thats hard to say and its long puzzled me. I mentioned this, but it goes beyond brady. The pats are able to maintain a successful o line and running game a lot longer than just about any other great pass offense. Comparing them to the saints, colts, or packers, each of those three teams have had regression on the o line and run game. Ne has never experienced this even once. Obviously, even if you assume brady is the best qb of them all, he can't be the reason why their o line continues to be dominant, otherwise we'd see the same phenomenon with the other great offenses.

My thought? I think its scarnecchia and his superb coaching that has allowed them to lose ppl on the o line and not suffer. Pats fans btw seem to agree with me that scarnecchia is a big part of why the offense doesn't regress(while giving brady is due which I do as well btw).

119 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Firstly, 1 don´t see why this has anything to do with this years MVP. Even if we'd agree that Manning was always better and always will be better than Brady, it wouldn't change the mvp discussion this year. Secondly, you are cherry-picking. Cassels DVOA for the whole 2008 season is 1.1 %. He had a better season with the 2010 KC Chiefs (8.4%), framed by three pretty bad seasons. ALL you can tell is that hes a below average Nfl-qb, who had some good games stringed together at various points of his career. Mannings backups on the other hand are really bad qbs, as shown by their lowly stats and the fact that no one ever tried them as a starting qb. Still, i dont know what that has to do with Brady vs Manning.
As for the drop-off in wins following the injuries of both qbs, people assume that there is a linear correlation between qb skill and and record. I don't think thats proven. Even if you assume a linear correlation between qb skill and "strength of team", I would think record/teamstrength is more of a bell curve. In this case, the same drop in team strength would lead to fewer losses for a 16-0 than for a 11-5 team.

98 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

"Cobb sort of took over Jordy Nelson's role of 'Green Bay wideout who excels as the fourth option on most plays' this season."

Ummm, the author clearly has not been watching the Packers. They designed a bunch of plays specifically for Cobb in the offseason, and the offense pretty much revolved around Cobb, with Cobb often as a primary read, the entire second half of the season.

Frankly, the offense had been starting to revolve around him too much, ala Jermichael Finley in the begining of the 2010 season.

102 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

I'm going to be the contrarian here: is it not at least possible that Larry Fitzgerald just isn't the guy he used to be? He did have some injuries over the years and it's possible he's just lost a step. (And no one could blame him if he became more than slightly disinterested.)

Is it not possible that one reason the Cardinals offense was more like the CardinLOLs offense this year was because Fitzgerald isn't an elite receiver anymore?

127 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review


If you look at the Arizona season as having been split in two after week 6 (when Kolb left), there is a very distinct picture. The Cardinals after week 6 were 4-2, and Kolb had thrown 8 touchdowns, 3 INT, and Fitzgerald, after a slow start in two games Arizona won, was averaging almost eight receptions and 100 yards per game over Arizona's last four.

Then Kolb went out, Skelton, Lindley and Hoyer took over, and the season went to hell in a handbasket.

But Kevin Kolb was actually showing a lot of promise, and making Larry look every bit like Larry Fitzgerald, in the first month and a half of the season. People forget that because Arizona ended up being so terrible, but - especially if Arizona hires Andy Reid as expected - there is no reason to believe Kolb can't be a successful quarterback at least along the lines of Alex Smith or Joe Flacco.

128 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Kolb's DVOA was -23% this year. If you call that "promising", I'd hate to see what you call "dissappointing". The best QB on the roster has thus far been a below average starter at best, and hasn't stayed healthy more than half the season each of the last two years. The other two QB's do not belong on an NFL roster. So I would still say Arizona's QB situation is a mess.

131 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

Kolb's DVOA was affected by the fact that he took a lot of sacks behind an historically-terrible offensive line. (A line that improved to merely terrible as the season went on). Even a decent couple of veteran-minimum pickups would improve the line this offseason and reduce those sack numbers. His traditional stats indicate that when upright, Kolb can be a mediocre quarterback.

120 Re: Quick Reads: 2012 in Review

I hope that one of these years you guys are able to isolate sacks a little better and not charge them all to the QB the same way because Rodgers was more impressive to me this year than he was last year. There just isn't a good way to quantify it. He played almost the full year without a healthy WR core, no running game behind most of the year and a line that was swiss cheese and still put up elite numbers.