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Tom Brady's Tough Year

Over at Yahoo's Shutdown Corner blog they have a weekly feature called "Quarterback Power Ratings," which is a subjective ranking of the top ten quarterbacks in the NFL. Check out this week's edition and you'll notice that Tom Brady is not even listed in the top ten. He barely makes honorable mention.

Yet over here at Football Outsiders, our DYAR stats have Brady as the most valuable quarterback in the NFL this year, at least when it comes to total value. He's third in value per play, behind Philip Rivers and Drew Brees but ahead of Peyton Manning and Brett Favre.

Where's the disconnect? Well, there are two reasons. One is Brady's perceived struggles in the fourth quarter this season. That's not quite a myth. It's true that he hasn't been as good in the fourth quarter compared to the rest of the game, although he still has an above-average DVOA in the fourth quarter (16.1%).

The other reason is schedule. Tom Brady has played the hardest schedule of pass defenses of any quarterback with at least 300 passes in a season during the DVOA Era. He's played eight games so far against teams in the top ten in pass defense DVOA, with a ninth on the way this Sunday. He's played only two games against bottom ten pass defenses (Tennessee and Atlanta) with a third coming up (Jacksonville).

What makes this particularly strange is that last year, the AFC East quarterbacks played some of the easiest schedules of the DVOA Era. New England's out-of-division schedule got much harder, and all four pass defenses in the division have improved, particularly the Jets and Bills. We know why the Jets have improved (Rex Ryan blitz schemes plus Darrelle Revis becoming the best corner in the league) but I honestly have no clue what's going on with Buffalo. DVOA already controls for the fact that their poor run defense discourages teams from passing, and I'm guessing that rookie Jarius Byrd's league-leading interception total is a product of the overall improved pass defense, rather than the other way around. I would say, "Well, at least I'll learn more by watching them Sunday," except I'll be at the Linc with Mike Tanier on Sunday to see San Francisco play Philadelphia.

Anyway, right now Brady has 307 more DYAR than YAR. If the season ended today, that would be the highest discrepancy of any quarterback since 1994, breaking the record held by... Peyton Manning, in his rookie year of 1998. The Colts were in the AFC East back then, and Miami (1), New York (2), and New England (10) all had top ten pass defenses.

Brady actually hasn't had the hardest schedule of any quarterback this year, if you are willing to look at some guys with fewer pass attempts. Tampa Bay rookie Josh Freeman has a larger difference between his DVOA (-37.7%) and VOA (-47.7%). Four of his six starts have come against top eight pass defenses.

Here's a table of the ten biggest differences between DYAR and YAR since 1994. TO represents a total of interceptions and fumbles.

Year Player Team DYAR Rank YAR Rank Dif Passes Yards TD TO
2009 Tom Brady NE 1779 1 1472 4 307 509 3819 23 15
1998 Peyton Manning IND 579 13 311 14 268 603 3766 26 31
2000 Vinny Testaverde NYJ 431 13 169 25 262 614 3777 21 29
2002 Kurt Warner STL -95 37 -352 45 257 241 1312 3 19
2007 Sage Rosenfels HOU 599 15 373 17 226 246 1647 15 16
1995 Jim Everett NO 1264 5 1039 9 224 601 3837 26 19
1999 Jon Kitna SEA 451 12 248 16 203 539 3227 23 27
1995 Jeff George ATL 1238 6 1040 8 198 609 3981 24 18
2008 Matt Schaub HOU 863 12 672 17 191 407 2937 15 18
2006 Ben Roethlisberger PIT 616 11 428 14 187 516 3307 18 25


132 comments, Last at 21 Dec 2009, 2:58pm

1 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Brady has the same TD-INT radio as former FO punching bag Eli Manning.

Piling on stats from the Titans doesn't give him a better season than Peyton Manning or Drew Brees. Heck, I think Aaron Rodgers and Favre have had better seasons too. Brady was not himself early in the season...

I'm sure he'll do better next year, but this isn't the season to claim he's been the #1 quarterback... It will make you look biased.

Do you believe your DVOA to say that he's played better than Brees or Manning this year?

3 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Two notes:

1) Eli Manning has not been a punching bag around here for quite some time.

2) Take out the Tennessee game and replace it with Brady's average DYAR/DVOA from the other 12 games, and he would still rank third in the league with 1597 DYAR as well as fifth with 35.8% DVOA.

5 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

And if you were to do that exercise, to be fair, you should also take out every other QB's best game of the season and replace it with their average performance. I'm guessing that would be vs New England for Brees, and vs. St. Louis for Manning?

Actually, Aaron, have you ever considered looking at a "stabilized" rating for QB's (or teams in general) where you throw out the single best and worst performance for everyone and see how teams stack up? Kind of the way that Olypmic judges high and low scores are discarded? It might be insightful--neglecting the effects of the occasional good day and stinker...

P.S. Thanks for writing this mini-article! I've said it in other comment threads, but I really enjoy Aaron Schatz the writer, not just Aaron Schatz the statistician/administrator, and kind of miss some of the early FO days when you would write more content!

29 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

MJK, you kiss-ass. Why didn't you tell him he has dreamy eyes and a manly chin?

Though I really like your idea of lopping off the top and bottom performance (perhaps for an additional column in the tables, but not to replace the current metrics, simply because of small sample sizes--and it couldn't kick in until mid-season at least). Hey, we already have DVOA and DAVE, why not add a "normalized" DVOA column as well...?

32 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

It's my understanding that dropping off best and worst made DVOA less predictive. Do you want a worse stat because some people don't understand statistics?

36 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Why would knocking off best and worst games be logically a good idea?

Olympic ice skating judges can be biased. As I understand it DVOA controls for situations and quality of opposition. I don't see why if Tom Brady has an amazing game against a shitty Titans defense that should be discarded if it's already been controlled for.

51 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

I'm not suggesting that DVOA is biased. However, what can occur is momentary lapses, or an alignment of stars that lead to play that isn't "normal". The point of knocking off best and worst games would be to get a sense of how well a team plays under "normal" circumstances.

For example, imagine a case where a team is thin at LB. They have starters and maybe two healthy backups on the roster. Then, on Friday one of the LB's get's injured and can't play. Then, on the first snap, another LB gets injured and has to come out. Said team has had no opportunity to sign any replacements, or gameplan around their injuries, and is going to perform significantly worse that Sunday than they otherwise would, or than they would tend to for the rest of the year. (Something like this happened to the ?Bengals? I think, a year or two agao just before they played the Patriots). So we expect their opponent to have a great day. If you want to gauge how well a team has played over the course of the year, you probably want to throw out their game against the LB-less team, since there was an extenuating factor going on. It's just like if you're running an experiment, and you know something gets in and corrupts one of your results, it's reasonable to exclude that result. And sometimes, if you see a crazy outlier, even if you don't have proof that something extenuating happened, you assume that there was something like that going on and you get rid of it.

That's what I'd kind of like to see. People say things like "Well, if you ignore the one game against Tennessee, which was kind of a fluke, the Patriots don't look so good". OK, fine, but unless you watch every game all season (which no one person does) and have excellent clear metrics from differentiating "fluke" from "dominating performance" (which we don't), you don't know which games to exclude. So, assuming a positive or a negative fluke occurs rarely enough so that each team will have at most one per season, leaving off the top and bottom game makes sense. If said games were the one fluke, then they get excluded and keep the fluke from contaminating the data. If they weren't flukes but are in line with the general level of play, then excluding them has a relatively minor effect on your data.

I do recall that there was an attempt to see if getting rid of outliers made DVOA more predictive, and it didn't (although I'm sketchy on the details). But I'm not suggesting this to make DVOA more predictive necessarily...it's just something I'd be curious to see.

107 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

(Something like this happened to the ?Bengals? I think, a year or two agao just before they played the Patriots).

It was the Bengals. Also the Patriots about 10 years ago vs. the Dolphins where by the fourth quarter Lawyer Milloy had to play linebacker for them, since they were down to two (Special Teamer Vernon Crawford, and I think Bruschi, although it was possibly Katzenmoyer).

But more to the point, in the game you're referencing, I believe the Titans were missing all four starters from their secondary. Which you would think would be mentioned more in terms of that games one-sidedness.

7 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Eli Manning hasn't been a punching bag around here for quite some time
- Right, I commend you for that, that's why I called him a former punching bag around here. You know, there were some people that did actually put together a case for why people should believe in him. That person has a great track record with QB's, but then again, this is your site...

I'm not sure what to do with DVOA, but you do have one big outlier and stat run up pushing his stats up. You want to say that Peyton Manning ran up his stats in the Patriots game, but his team was losing... There is a difference between being down 2 scores, in a game that you are in... not garbage time and scoring, and piling on TD's when your team is up 35-0, 42-0, 49-0 ETC in meaningless action. I'm not sure how much you discounted his stats, but I'd say not enough.

I don't know anybody that things Brady has beem the best QB this year, better than Brees or Manning... Brady hasn't been as good as he has been in the past, and the Jet game, Bills game, and earlier games he was doing things you just wouldn't see from Brady missing wide open guys.

I know you guys are all about pointing out value, and hidden stats, underrated stuff, but I just don't see it with Brady this year.

12 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Brady was missing open guys a lot in the Jets game and the Bills game, true. Also a fair amount in the Denver game. But a couple of things. First of all, a lot of those open "guys" were Joey Galloway, who we now know was running the wrong routes most of the time. Also, Brady he was under a fair amount of pressure in those games, which is part of pass defense. We now know that the Jets and Bills both have pretty good pass defenses. In the Atlanta and Baltimore games, during the same period, he actually looked better. Not 2007 better, but not missing open guys.

Since then, he hasn't really been missing open guys and has looked more like himself and has been playing at a high level (except perhaps versus Miami two weeks ago). The difference is his receivers never seem to be open anymore, as I had alluded to. I had thought it a problem in the Patriots scheme, but maybe they really have been up against good pass defenses.

And I'll reiterate. I don't think anyone claiming that Brady has been the best QB this year. I think they're claiming that he's played well enough against a tough schedule that if everyone played a neutral schedule, he WOULD be the best QB this year. That's what the D in DVOA and DYAR is all about.

20 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

2) Take out the Tennessee game and replace it with Brady's average DYAR/DVOA from the other 12 games, and he would still rank third in the league with 1597 DYAR as well as fifth with 35.8% DVOA.

This is a decidedly un-FO thing to say, but third/fifth feels about right for this year. I base this entirely on what my eyes tell me, without looking at any stats at all, and is completely unscientific, but I imagine that's about where most people would rate him this year. Which, given the circumstances, isn't really a down year at all. It's just that people are still used to 2007. Everything's going to be a down year after that.

4 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Not being biased means not tweaking numbers to favor your favorite team.

It also means not tweaking numbers to unfavor your favorite team in order to prove you're not biased.

Context is everything. DVOA is not telling us that Brady has played better than Brees or Manning. Obviously he hasn't... that's what YAR and VOA tell us. What DVOA is saying is that IF Brees or Manning had had to play the same schedule that Brady has faced, they probably would have not played as well as Brady has (or, conversely, if Brady got to face their schedules, he may have played better).

You talk about piling on stats against Tennessee. That would be the game that Brady only played for 2 1/2 quarters, in blizzard conditions? I could as easily argue that Brees was piling on stats against Detroit, or Tampa Bay or Carolina (who, incidentally, Brees get's to play twice this season), or New England itself, with its porous pass defense and ineffective rush this year. I could as easily point out that Manning was piling on stats from St. Louis. Favre got to pile on stats twice against Detroit, and once against St. Louis and Cleveland. Rodgers also got Detroit twice, Cleveland once, and St. Louis once.

22 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

I don't want to imply that this is absolutely the way I feel about this, but I think that people discounting the TN game more than they'd discount those other pile-on games is likely because of two factors:

1) Tennessee just plain quit on that game.
2) Brady was still quite obviously trying very hard to accumulate passing yards and touchdowns in a game that was a) already decided and b) against a team not really trying to stop them

Right or wrong, I think that's why it might be more of an outlier than whatever piling on Favre did against Detroit, who still played hard, or Manning against St. Louis, when he started handing it off and grinding clock down when they certainly could've scored more. (In fact, wasn't that his first non-300 yard game? One could argue that he quite obviously eased off in that one - that game is a pretty bad example, I think.)

39 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Most of Brady's stats came before halftime. Five TDs in the 2nd quarter as I recall. What would you have liked him to do? Throw incomplete?

42 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Actually, I would have liked for him to stay in to get a 7th TD pass.

The Titans pass defense is pretty bad, but in that game they weren't even trying. They weren't playing like the 32nd best, it was more like the level of 75th best. I'm not sure that the D in DVOA can quite account for that (maybe it can, I don't know ). Their play, combined with what seemed to be a sense of urgency to get those records and score more when it wasn't necessary, makes that game seem much different to me than anything the other QBs have done this year against terrible opponents. I'm not going to act like those people who would say they should've just run it and let the clock bleed, but there also hasn't been another game this year in which a QB got that kind of opportunity. To my eyes it's simply not comparable to other cupcake games.

But that's just to my eyes. I'm not trying to argue with the stats - just to attempt to explain the perception.

47 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Interesting how we forget things as history passes ... I was watching an America's Game clip from 1994 49ers. The opening MNF game of the year. Jerry Rice entered it 1TD behind Walter Payton, 2 behind Jim Brown. He scored those two and then went to the bench. Late in the 4th quarter with the 49ers leading 37-14 they first team offense re-entered the game and Rice scored his 3rd TD of the night to get the career TDs record.

49 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Interesting how you're just assuming I'm some anti-Pats anti-Brady anti-Belichick troll. I don't care about any of that stuff. I'm addressing why that game might be skewing Brady's performance this year in the minds of most people watching him. I have no idea why Jerry Rice is relevant here, whether or not I think that's a dick move (given that it was game 1 and not game 16, I do).

53 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

I love phrases like "sense of urgency to get those records". They are borne entirely from projection on the part of the viewer, and they show an anti-Patriots bias (one that is quickly denied, of course).

I watched that game. I didn't see any "sense of urgency to get those records". Why should you think that records like that matter to the Patriots? Certainly you have no testimony to that effect from the people involved. So this thought is nothing more than a presumption.

What I saw was a Titans team that just couldn't stop turning the ball over, and I saw a Patriots team enjoying their first superior offensive performance in nearly 20 months. Why do football players have to justify to anybody when they want to score? Is this a burden placed on players in any other sport? If Alex Ovechkin gets three goals in one period, do people start berating him for "going after records"? If Albert Pujols hits three HRs in a game, do people start talking about the Cardinals "running up the score"?

The only people who did anything morally questionable that day were the Titans who quick playing defense halfway through the second quarter. Those are the people who didn't earn their paychecks that day. The Patriots did what they were supposed to do: score points and win the game. Why do people insist on finding a negative in that?

73 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

You're projecting my sense of morality and assuming that I think it's negative.

My point is only that it affected his counting stats in a spot where many others might have eased off at the expense of their numbers.

96 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Why do football players have to justify to anybody when they want to score? Is this a burden placed on players in any other sport? If Alex Ovechkin gets three goals in one period, do people start berating him for "going after records"? If Albert Pujols hits three HRs in a game, do people start talking about the Cardinals "running up the score"?

You know what... that is a good effing point. Or someone intentionally getting a double bogey cause they're up 8 strokes.

55 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Lets look at that game. By quarter, here was Brady's performance:

Q1: 9 passes
Q2: 22 passes
Q3: 6 passes
Q4: Did not play

(The total number of passes don't add up to his stat line because I included plays with penalties against the Titans--these were situations where, had Brady performed better, they would have let the play stand instead of accepting the penalty).

Brady took most of his snaps in the 2nd quarter, and did most of his damage then. But it was a close game going into that quarter, and during the 2nd quarter the Titans were doing their best to stop that damage from occurring. They certainly didn't go into the second quarter of a close game that they needed and say "we're just going to give up now and give up 4 touchdowns". In general, I don't think you really can exclude anything that happens before halftime as "garbage time" (excepting obvious "let's just kill the clock and go to halftime" plays).

I'll buy that the Titans may have come out after halftime and looked at the scoreboard and mailed it in. So if you want to throw out Brady's 3rd quarter performance, fine. But in that quarter, Brady was only 5/6 for 35 yards (and a TD). So Brady's 3rd quarter performance accounted for only 16% of his total snaps and TD's for that game, less than 10% of his total yards, and probably even less of his YAR and VOA. In other words, dropping plays because the Titans "mailed it in" just won't cause that much of a significant change to Brady's stats.

Now, you can argue that the way that the stars happened to align meant that the entire game was not representative. But if you're going to do that, based soley on the observation that the performance was far out of the range of the Pats performance the rest of the year, you really have to apply the same logic to every team that has an outlier game.

74 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

I think the quitting point came during the 2nd quarter, long before 52-0, but that's just my opinion. And they weren't starting from 100% either, as I thought during the first series that they looked like they just plain didn't want to be there, similar to the Steelers a week ago in Cleveland. (That part is hardly unique to that game.)

I've got no problem with also seeing sort of an fDVOA (f= figure skating scale, for lack of a more creative term) side by side with the other stuff. I'd be very interested to see what, if anything, changes. Maybe there's value in seeing both, though I think Variance probably covers some of that ground. In any event, I don't disagree with your final paragraph at all.

None of this is important. I'm on an advanced stats site talking about what I see with my eyes but can't quantify. Obviously I'm in the wrong here. I'm just wondering aloud about what might possibly be contributing to the gap between where the stats rate the guy and where most fans, even us, rate his performance this year.

77 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

"The Titans pass defense is pretty bad, but in that game they weren't even trying. "

They weren't trying, or they were outclassed? How do we tell the difference?

It seems like every team either plays "their best game ever" or "isn't trying" against the patriots.

79 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Both. Now that they have their guys back, they're back to mediocre... and would still be totally outclassed by the Pats.

I'd argue that the Saints did play their best game ever against the Pats, and obviously you know where I stand on the Titan effort. I don't think I've ever heard either of those accusations made otherwise.

87 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

While it may be very difficult, if not impossible, to parse out all the factors that lead to even one successful play in the NFL, it is absurd to claim that you can't tell the difference between the average Pats game and the enormous outlier that was the Titans game. Does it really "seem like every team" isn't trying against the Patriots? Really? Did the Pats score in the 50s against every team? Especially facing that kind of weather? Did the Titans cede 50 points to Peyton Manning and the Colts? It's just absurd to say you can't tell the difference.

In any event, the crux of the problem with DYAR (even though I love DYAR and think it is extremely useful for a comprehensive analysis) is that it assumes that there is a static "Defense" against which one can use as a measurement tool. The extreme example of the Titans D exposes this flaw beautifully. The Titans defense now is simply not the Titans defense that played in the Pats game. Personnel is swapped, non-swapped personnel becomes more experienced, the players do not "give up" because the game is out of hand.

I have mentioned before that this is the entire problem with DVOA as a predictive tool. DVOA, even weighted DVOA, is a referendum on the whole season's output, not a static photograph of *where the team is now*. DYAR, as useful as it is, is thus GIGO to that extent if you don't evaluate the DYAR results with that in mind.

108 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year


Team A plays the Kerry Collins Titans that might go 4-12
Team B plays the Vince Young Titans that might go 11-5
You don't think that matters?

If you are the Philadelphia Eagles, are you better off having the 49ers come to the Link at 1PM on a Sunday or are you better off going to their house for a night game? Different teams respond to situations differently. The Saints playing on grass at Lambeau might slow them down more than say a team with a big O-Line and power running game...

I don't think DVOA weighs stats from a winning/losing motivation standpoint as they should. It's not just throw away Tom Brady's best/worse game, and throw away Peyton Manning's best game/worst and THEN compare. What if Peyton Manning's best game was a 400 yard 4 TD game that was just going back and forth, and Tom Brady's game was blatant stat padding? One might be kicking azz, and one might be artificial stat padding ( I'm not saying that's the case here).

It's difficult to assign credit/blame to 11 guys on an invidual play, nevermind protect it out during a season.

Pre-2007 it was always argued taht Peyton Manning was a stat guy, where brady was a "winner". I argued stats matter LESS when you are winning ( as it changes your strategy), and that if Tom Brady "tried" to put up numbers, that he could as well so that you can't just argue that simple Peyton = statman and Brady = winner but can't put up the stats. Brady proved he CAN put up the stats, but Peyton is 14-0 right now. If Peyton Manning played "better pass defenses", I believe that his game would be elevated. Who'se better, the SEC football team with 2 losses, or the Boise State that just beats everybody they are scheduled to play?

93 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

I was there. They were trying. They just weren't succeeding. Yes, the Titans defense of that day was not as good as the Titans defense for most of the season. They had tons of injuries and were starting a bunch of rookies and nobodies. It looked like the safeties and cornerbacks were playing completely different coverages some of the time. And Kyle Vanden Bosch couldn't get any traction in the snow, which really hurt the pass rush. But come on, at least give them credit as professionals that they were TRYING. I don't think they meant to suck on purpose.

114 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

I can second that. I still have the Short Cuts on my DVR and watched it again just now because it seems that whenever that game is brought up, one of the explanations for the Pats' utter dominance is that the Titans D "just stopped trying." That's taking the Mark Schlereth way out and not really adding anything useful to the discussion of that game. If someone married to the "they just quit" explanation would care to post a video of the Titans quitting to support their argument, i'd be happy to take a look at it.

Well into the 2nd quarter & 2nd half - after the game is already decided - the pass rush was still breathing down Brady's neck, the secondary is still pressing, jamming, and trying to swat away balls. They're still trying (sometimes successfully) to stop the Pats on 3rd and 4th downs.

A more useful explanation than "they just quit" is required if you expect anyone to take you seriously. Better reasons have already been mentioned - poor communication between inexperienced players, or DBs not having traction enough to match receivers' cuts or utilize their full recovery speed, or a Patriots offense that is accustomed to practicing and playing in adverse weather. If you're going to try to pawn off "they just quit" as legitimate analysis, you either weren't watching the game closely enough, or you've just forgotten how much better the Pats were that day against a team that was, in fact, trying.

9 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

OK, fine you win.

The whole world is wrong, and the football outsiders are right. Their favorite player is the best, better than Brees and Manning in his worse year in years and coming back from Injury. If they had to play the immortal Tom Brady's schedule, they'd have worse stats than Brady. Don't ever question the outsiders because they are always right... just like they were with Eli Manning, the 07' Giants, Byron Leftwhich, Tavaras Jackson, Jason Campbell, the Broncos, the Saints, the Bears, and of course the Rams.

Dude, Schatz just said that if you took away the Titans game, that it insantly put Brady down to the #3 spot... but NOOOO, we couldn'd do THAT. Why should we exclude an outlier?

I don't think Brady is not in the top 10 this year, but #1... come on. That's a joke.

11 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

And you prove me right 1 minute later, not only by bringing Campbell and Leftwich into the conversation, but also by writing, once again, LeftwHich...

17 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

I always thought Chris misspelled Leftwich on purpose - like it was one of his many puneriffic nicknames. I'm pretty sure Chris is Jay Mariotti.

18 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

I honestly do not know how it's possible for someone to be corrected as often as Chris is regarding Leftwich's name and still get it wrong.

Unless he's just being an ass.

16 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

If you disagree with DVOA and/or the writers on this site on such a fundamental level, perhaps this is not the website for you. You may want to consider spending your time elsewhere; I hear other places on the Internet discuss football.

21 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

I said you're lost not because you're incorrect, but because of your inclination to make every discussion a confrontation and every argument a chance to prove to an uncaring world that you are a font of football knowledge.

Aaron never said Brady was definitively the best QB in the league this year, just that DVOA ranks him 1st in total value and 3rd in value per play. There's a difference between those two statements-- a difference you continue to ignore.

Also, Eli Manning, Byron Leftwich, and Jason Campbell were never brought up and are irrelevant to the point at hand. Yet, as usual, you feel you need to interject them into the conversation.

26 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

It must be a work of pure genius for the FO guys to design a rating algorithm that not only retrospectively favors Tom Brady but also prospectively! Perhaps we should dissect the algorithm to expose the built-in Brady favoritism.

Sarcasm aside, those accusing FO of pro-Brady or pro-Patriots systemic bias really should address that question: in what respects are the FO algorithm's pro-Patriot or pro-Brady?

27 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

in dyar he is number 1.

but for dvoa he is number 4.

I liked the article. I hate the patriots but in my opinion brady still scares the shiz outta me. There are 4 quarterbacks that are WAY better than everyone else and even if he is 4th out of those guys, that is nothing to shake a stick at. In my biased (but backed up by dvoa!) opinion I would rank the quarterbacks ...

30.everyone else

106 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

137. Kurt Russell from "Best of Times"?

* Was that even the name of that movie? Was it actually Kurt Russell? Probably been 20 years since I've seen it.

8 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Overall, you're interesting Chris, but you're starting to sound like a broken record with your war against Campbell/LeftwHich and for Eli. Quite sad !

13 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Yeah I am quite interesting. I gamble and make money ( most people don't, in fact if they tell you they do they are probably lying), and I also know the X's and O's of football from playing. I have strong opinions. My record on QB's has been pretty freaking good around here for the last 5 or so years with some pretty bold calls against the grain...

The same boilerplate complaints come out when the people who attend the church of DVOA defend it at all costs. Look man, if DVOA were perfect, then they'd quit tweaking it, and their predictions would most likely be better.

I might not know every team, or player in the NFL the way the collective FO community/market does here, but I've gone against the grain on QB's and been right and yeah I'll bring that up.

I don't even think saying Brady has been the 3rd best QB at absolute best is a stretch at all. Brady hasn't been Brady, and although you can't blame it all on him, did you watch the Patriots games earlier in the year? I know readers here look down to non footballoutsiders readers, but I don't think even 10% of people would say that Brady has been better than Brees or Manning this year and in this case I'd say the crowd is right.

23 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year


Don’t strain your shoulder patting yourself on the back…

CAPTCHA: Heedful Senator. Now that’s on oxymoron.

59 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

55% of the people will say Manning and Brees are the best QBs solely because the Colts and Saints are undefeated. If the Patriots had a better pass defense, you'd see Brady's numbers (hypothetically) shoot way up.

Brady got way too much credit at the beginning of the decade when the Pats' defense was much better. Now that the defense has fallen off a bit, the improvement in Brady's game is easy to overlook.

And yes, Brady was not impressive in the first two games of the year. But Brees, Manning, and Favre have all had their poor weeks, too.

75 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Brady had a pretty damn legitimate excuse for those first two weeks too. And even then he wasn't that bad. Just not quite right.

Sadly, that 55% encompasses almost everyone in the press with award and HoF votes.

10 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Don't you think it's reasonable for them to say, "He certainly hasn't played bad and he's faced an incredibly difficult slate of defenses?" That seems essentially true - maybe implying he's still #1 (I'm not sure that they do) is biased, but Brady is definitely being senselessly under-rated this year...

Also, is this a good time to just switch this altogether over to the Irrational Brady/Manning/(Brees) thread?

33 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Just proving that NFL East fans suck!

Well, other than me. And Key19. A couple other Cowboys fans. Ok, so Eagles and Giants fans SUCK! Just trust me on this.

98 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

You know, there are a ton of NFC east fans on FO. The Pats are probably still the most popular team, but I wonder if the NFC east is the most represented division.

118 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

It tends to be, and the Patriots aren't necessarily the most popular team. The Eagles were a few years back. The Patriots fans come and go - there was a huge surge in 2007, of course, and that probably pushed the AFC East into the lead that year (but not by much, and it was all Pats fans). In 2006 the NFCE led by a lot (probably ~20%, nearest is probably NFCN at probably ~16%).

The FO Awards have the 'census' info except in 2008.

99 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Why, thanks! :)

Of course, I don't really see us as "typical" Redskins fans -- just as Mike Tanier or Harris aren't really typical Eagles fans, nor Temo and Key19 as typical Cowboys fans. After all, I find most of the regular contributors here to be a much different (and at the very least, more interesting) breed than the typical fan. Of course, I've always been pretty skeptical of most generalizations of fan bases; how many people actually know a truly significant number of fans from all 32 teams?

109 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

I've actually been impressed with some of the commentary coming out of here by the Redskins fans of late. Not like the stuff puff hear on 980, but some great commentary.

105 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

There's nothing wrong with Eagles fans! We're courteous and informed, keep an even keel when regarding our team's performance, and we're ALWAYS respectful to our divisional rivals- we know it's the respect we have for the Cowboys, Redskins and Giants as teams, players, coaches and people that makes beating them WORTH something. Not for us the pointless abuse and sneering hatred you get with some other fans. Oh no.

We also really admire and respect how hard the PR game is, scorning the crude psychoanalysis and damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't approach that so many other fanbases have towards their team's press conferences and official announcements. We're not going to make a big deal and twist a player or a coach's words to make some spurious point.

Plus, we know that the occasional strange play-call here or wasted Challenge flag there really isn't that big a deal- if a game's that close that a borderline call or one play deserves the outcome, that's pretty much random anyway.

Overall, I'd say we're the class of NFL fandom.

Captcha phrase; 'has guzzlers'. Captcha's obviously channeling Andy Reid!

63 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Now, now.

C, Pat, and others viewed as "annoying" (and there are definitely some Patriots fans in that category as well!) often have some really good insight. Sometimes the most passionate people get under our collective skins because they are passionate (and sometimes biased). But it is that very passion (and sometimes bias) that makes them likely to post long, informative, and persuasive posts. I certainly wouldn't classify them as trolls. I don't always agree with everything they say, and often skip over posts that don't interest me so much (not ANOTHER debate about how Eli Manning is great and Jason Campbell sucks!), but they add a lot to the discussion, sometimes.

It would be nice if some of it was posted in a less argumentative and insulting manner, but I think we're all guilty of doing that on occasion (I certainly am not above baiting certain comments...)

One poster once commented that they come to FO to read insights of passionate fans from other teams. I can hear plenty about what Patriots fans think by reading the papers or talking to my friends from back home. But I can learn a lot of what Denver, or Redskins, or Jaguars (well, OK, maybe not Jaguars) fans think by reading comments here. I try to provide the same service to others regarding the Patriots (although there are enough Pats fans here that maybe a few less wouldn't be missed...).

In short, if C thinks he has insight about good QB play, based on his experience or something he saw on TV or some research he was doing, I love to hear it. But if he couches it in argumentative or aggressive or insulting language, I'll probably just skip over it and not feel like I missed anything.

88 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Amen to that. Chris and Pat can both be irksomely combative at times (frankly, I suspect I can too) but I would certainly put both of them high on any list of FO posters from whose comments I think I have gleaned worthwhile and original insights over the years. I think anyone's reading experience would be the poorer for ignoring either of them.

100 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

I'd second that. I've probably contributed to everyone's pain by replying the C's random Campbell shots a few times, but I still find a lot of his observations to be insightful, when he leaves the equine corpses alone. As for Pat, he may be argumentative, but it seems like he often has very valid points, even if the rhetoric can be a bit off-putting.

110 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Yeah my bad, I like reading Mr. Shush, DMB, Will Allen as well. Some good-original insight on the Vikings or teams that they are passionate about. I'm pleasantly surprised by the Eagles commentary here as well with lots of good guys, and of course there is no shortage of talk on the Patriots. You can't watch all the games, and it's nice to be able to read commentary from fans that understand their teams.

It's just if you see something, you feel like you are right, totally right, you post it on the football website that prides itself on non-conventional stats/value appreciation... You write over and over again taht Byron LeftwHich is not 1/2 as good as they make him out to be on TV, and you wrote over and over again on WHY... The long wind up.. the slow release.. not responding well to inside pass rush... the high percentage of dump offs/swing passes... followed by the predictable occasional jump ball... You end up RIGHT.

To me it wasn't a 50/50 maybe I will be right, maybe I will be wrong, it was a " I'll be shocked if this guy ever becomes good".

Yeah, that wasn't the only time, and yeah I'll bring it up. The pop media backed Byron, and the guys that run this site did as well and few people were pointing out all of those critical flaws in his game.

Yeah, I toot my horn, yeah, I'm annoying, but it's not like I'm making 20 predictions every year and getting 5 of them right...

I'm usually telling you why guys aren't as good as you think, but sometimes I see an Aaron Rodgers, or tell you why Tom Brady (2007) is even better than you think, so yeah, I usually come off as having a negative attitude but I love football.

117 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Brady has the same TD-INT radio as former FO punching bag Eli Manning.

1) Manning was never called below average by almost anyone at FO. He was called an above-average QB. There were multiple articles written that basically said "if Eli's last name was Smith, he'd be considered a very good pick."

2) E. Manning 2005/2006: 24 TDs, 17 INTs. T. Brady 2009: 23 TDs, 11 INTs. 24/17 is not the same as 23/11.

3) Having an "above average" QB year against the best pass defenses in the NFL should be a clue that he's having a very good year.

I'm sure he'll do better next year, but this isn't the season to claim he's been the #1 quarterback... It will make you look biased.

Not claiming he's the #1 QB will make them look biased.

Brady's easily going to pass 4000 passing yards, with under 15 INTs. Every single QB who has previously done this (at least in the past 5 years) has gone to a Pro Bowl. In what strange NFL universe are those stats a bad season for a QB?

Brady's basically on track to beat his 2005 season against much harder defenses.

120 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Wait, you were comparing him to Manning this year. Not so clear with the "FO punching bag" reference. That's like calling Brady a 'former FO punching bag' due to the fact that he was just a slightly above average QB before 2004. Manning's a well-above average QB - claiming that Brady's playing "well above average" when facing the hardest slate of defenses should be an indicator that he's having a very good year

But why is TD/INT suddenly apparently the end-all/be-all of QB comparisons? Brady has half as many fumbles as E. Manning does, 600 more yards passing, and he did it against harder defenses. There are plenty of examples of QBs with similar TD/INT in which no one would claim that the two had even close seasons.

Heck, Mike Vick had a better TD/INT (20/11) than McNair (16/12) in 2005. Of course, he also had nearly 700 passing yards fewer and a completion percentage 10% lower, and I think it's safe to say no one would think that Vick had a better season than McNair based on passing statistics.

2 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Subjectively, just watching the Patriots this year, one thing that has been frustrating is this. When I watch other teams on offense (both playing the Patriots and completely other games), I sometimes see decent coverage, but frequently I see a QB getting decent time throwing to an open receiver, i.e. on a comeback route, or who is open over the middle, single-covered with separation on an out, or unattended in the flat. Yet that has seemed to rarely happen to the Patriots this year, except against Tennessee and Tampa Bay. The Pats receivers always seem to have DB's draped all over them and LB's clogging the passing lanes.

It's nice to see the numbers saying that I wasn't imagining it. I had assumed that there was something in the Patriots' scheme that was tipping opponents off and allowing them to cover the Patriots better. Or that Brady's struggles throwing accurate deep middle passes this year and the lack of a good "seam" receiver had allowed pass defenses to scheme especially well for the Patriots. But maybe it's just a simple matter of them being unlucky enough to face pass defenses that are really, really good.

Of course, some overreacting "doom and gloom" Patriots fans will disagree and tell us all about how awful the Patriots have been on both side of the ball...

14 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Brady's always been overrated a bit; the problem this year has been 1. Injuries to his only decent receivers; 2. Playing difficult pass defenses; and 3. Pass protection.

In the record breaking 16-0 year, Brady had all day to throw; there is something very wrong with his offensive line now, which simply does not handle rushers (especially the tackles) very well. Robert Mathis -abused- the Pats blockers. The difference between 2007 and 2009 is basicaly that Brady doesn't have 6 seconds to throw every play. His pass protection in 2007 was -legendary-.

15 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

The issue is the right side of the line. Nick Kaczur simply can't handle speed rushers, and had no answer for Mathis, or Schobel, (or Peppers when he played on that side). And inside of him, Stephen Neal has continued his fragile reputation by being injured a lot and playing poorly when he has played. And his backups have been about what you expect from backup O-linemen...functional, but not outstanding.

Giving that right side help has been difficult. The Pats have had a lot of RB injuries this year...the best pass blocking RB's were probably Taylor and Morris going into the season, and they both have missed almost the entire season with injury. Faulk, when he's in, is usually running patterns. Keeping a TE back to help sometimes works, but it takes yet another receiver out of the pattern, and the Pats have been so thin behind Welker and Moss that they can't always afford to use the TE for protection...it just makes it possible to double up both Welker and Moss and forces the Pats to rely on Aiken to catch balls.

68 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

I would agree with that. He's probably the best pass blocking RB on their roster right now, except maybe for Sammy Morris (didn't see enough of Taylor to judge, but he's certainly better at pass blocking than Maroney or Green-Ellis). However, I think he's even a better receiver than a blocker. And, just subjectively, it seems like when he's in the game, he only stays back to pass block 1/3 of the time or less.

90 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Faulk is a superb pass blocker, which is particularly remarkable given his size: he's completely fearless. He didn't come into the league that way, but rather worked hard to become a great pass blocker. He's better than Morris -- indeed it was Morris who failed to put Pollard all the way down last year on the hit that cost Brady his season.

The way they often use Faulk is either to have him chip a DE or OLB on his way to a pattern, or else stay in to either pick up a leaker or release if there's no pressure.

28 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

A little disappointed Aaron didn't stress how QB DVOA really is only somewhat about the QB, but also about the line/scheme/receivers.

If there is any bias on FO that is where it shows up, not in the numbers themselves. When a case is being made AGAINST a guy who has good numbers we are reminded of the number's context. WHen a case is being made FOR a guyw ith good numbers the context suddenly disappears.

Personally I think it is more the passing offense than Brady that is #1. He is a top 5 or so QB, but his numbers look so good because of the scheme and because of Moss and Welker. I think if you put Manning/Rivers/Rodgers in there the numbers are even better.

40 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

You think Rodgers would outperform Brady in that exact situation with that exact line?

Look, I love Rodgers as much as anyone on this site, but I think that's ridiculous. He doesn't have Brady's pocket presence, or even half of it, and that's a large part of what makes Brady so effective, especially this year as his line has faded some.

Now, if you said you could drop Rodgers into a situation like Minnesota and possibly even see an upgrade from QB Vikings's excellent play, I probably wouldn't argue with you. That would play to his strengths. But swapping him into New England wouldn't. It wouldn't be as bad as sending him to Pittsburgh, but it wouldn't help.

Otherwise I agree with your point that people only use the context when it suits them. No stat is perfect, not even these ones. They're certainly better than the others, though.

80 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Sadly, this is a pretty big flaw the crops up often. If Brett Favre's good stats gets discussed, it will be explained that he has awesome teammates who are are bailing him out- if Brady's come up then doggone, he's the best QB in NFL. It's a slightly less juvenile, but no less perceptive form of typical homerism.

101 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

If there is any bias on FO that is where it shows up, not in the numbers themselves. When a case is being made AGAINST a guy who has good numbers we are reminded of the number's context. WHen a case is being made FOR a guyw ith good numbers the context suddenly disappears.

Agreed. I recall last year when Peyton Manning led the league in DVOA and was second in DYAR. The FO staff was quick to point out that Manning feasted on weaker teams during his run in the second half of that season, and seemed to imply that the MVP wasn't deserved because voters didn't bother to consider the competition.

Yet the "D" in DVOA and DYAR means that FO's own numbers are adjusted to account for the opponent. FO's own numbers had Manning as the best QB, yet this was ignored. Now FO's DYAR numbers say Brady is the best and third in DVOA, in spite of the impression many of us in this thread have from watching the games. Suddenly DYAR is again being hailed as the gold standard. Curious.

104 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

This looks like a classic case of various people reading their own perspective into what Aaron wrote. I interpreted his article not as saying "Brady's the best quarterback in the league this year" so much as "Brady's being unfairly written off this year; he's still one of the best at his position". Others have reacted with allegations of bias and homerism. But then, I'm by my own admission a biased homer so what do I know? Just that I'd be surprised if Aaron intended to say "Brady's still playing better than any other QB this season" as I don't think anybody believes that. He is however still playing well against a very tough schedule, and that's worth pointing out in response to the wailing and gnashing of teeth coming from many Patriots fans/others wondering what's happened to him.

If Peyton Manning was written off when having a season like the one Brady is, I'd expect the same response - and have seen it. Remember when he was a playoff choker according to pretty much everyone else? I'd also expect the context to be pointed out if Brady was being touted as MVP in a season where he faces a slew of awful defenses.

34 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

"Where's the disconnect? Well, there are two reasons. One is Brady's perceived struggles in the fourth quarter this season. ...The other reason is schedule"

Theres the third one that you always seem to forget when it doesn't agree with your point: DVOA/DYAR don't actually measure how good Tom Brady is. They measure how good Tom Brady is throwing to Wes Welker, Randy Moss, etc.

Brady's accuracy and pocket presence have been terrible this year. The reason his overall stats look good is that the rest of the offense bails him out of a ton of shit.

37 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

I think that's overstating a bit. Once he stops forcing the ball and gets back to hitting the open man, he'll be fine. Unfortunately, I don't no when that's going to happen. It was a little better vs. the Panthers, so I'm hopeful.

38 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

See, I disagree.

I think hes getting worse. His reads are getting shorter and shorter. Hes not going through his progressions. Hes staring down receivers.

Ben Watson spent half of that Panthers game running around wide open waving his arms, and Brady never even saw him.

41 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Well, it sounds like in the Carolina game Brady was in a significant amount of pain. Maybe he was cutting his progressions short because he wanted to get rid of the ball because he didn't want to get hit because he was worried if he got hit he'd have to leave the game? Remember, it came out afterwards he was a game-time decision to play in that game.

43 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

I've watched every Pats game this year, which I know you haven't, because everything you've said is hyperbole. His reads in the Panthers game were short because the right side of the line was collapsing every play. Kazcur is having his worst season of his career, and Koppen/Neal have not been great either. Brady has taken a beating the past month. This isn't San Diego where Rivers chucks it down field on a vertical fly route every play. Brady throws where the coverage dictates. Were his reads short in the Miami game the previous week? No, they weren't. He went downfield the ENTIRE game. Remember the Moss TD? Remember the two other Moss throws? What about the Welker throw down the middle of the field? What about the two Aiken throws (which weren't completed).

The fact is the Pats have held their two TEs in to block most of the season, so they havent' even been part of his progressions. Watson might have been open for the few plays YOU saw on TV, but did you analayze the game film and really study what happened? Watson being open as the 3rd or 4th read on a few plays you saw doesn't equate to "he's not going through his progressions and is staring down receivers).

When Brady has a great season the excuse is "he has too much time" (forget the fact that Manning, Brees or Favre have had just as much time this year -- shocker, great protection leads to big numbers). And when he doesn't live up to his 2007 numbers, everyone says "see he was overrated to begin with."

It's never as black and white as you people make it out to be. Brady gets too much credit and times and too much hate as well.

Shocker, people hate the Pats and Brady and use any shred of evidence (such as the above poster) to justify their bias and beliefs.

45 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Isn't Rich a Pats fan?

Just like any pass, which also involves a contribution from a WR, protection and time has a bit to do with the QB too. The 07 Pats line was pretty damn good, but they had lapses and even then Brady made himself some time. I don't think Manning is getting especially good protection this year, or at least not good enough to call it great protection and time on par with 07 Brady, but he's able to shuffle around and avoid what's there.

Not saying there hasn't been an obvious decline in the Pats line, especially on the right. Now they're starting to collapse with alarming regularity, which means that on the few occasions when the other guys don't dominate their battles, Brady is screwed. That's where they differ from the Colts. I don't consider anyone on that line extremely reliable, but they tend to only get beat one guy at a time. The tackles get schooled pretty regularly, but a good QB can avoid one rusher most of the time. Brady doesn't have anywhere to go to avoid those guys.

Never as black and white is right. Here I go agreeing and disagreeing in the same post again...

67 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Conley is a Pats fan who has been bad-mouthing Brady since late in 2007.

Given the general quality level of the Pats' receiving corps, it seems absurd to say that they've been "bailing him out". Yes, Welker is having a monster year, but you cannot simply say he'd be putting up the same numbers no matter who the QB was. And Moss is decidedly not having a monster year. Ben Watson disappeared for half the season, and their other options basically consist of Kevin Faulk and whatever flotsam showed up on the Rhode Island beaches that morning.

Brady is not a perfect QB by any means. But it is worth saying that, by an objective method (DVOA and DYAR), Brady is having a very good year that is getting underappreciated.

81 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Towards the end of the season and in the playoffs Brady's shoulder was hurt, and he started missing deep receivers a few times per game. Rich actually correctly noted that Brady's touch on the deep passes was not great, but he's been inexplicably anti-Brady since then.

127 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

I'm not anti-Brady. Hes a good to great quarterback. He's just not some Jesus-Cthulhu-Mothra hybrid where no one else on the field matters, like some people believe.

Brady's #1 and #2 receivers are a guy who may be the best to ever play the game, and constantly demands double and sometimes tripple coverage, and a guy who is always open, and never drops the ball.

People seem to refuse to believe that 2007 was more abotu Wes Welker and Randy Moss than it was some huge increase in performance by Brady. Football is an organic game, and there are thigns that matter outside the pocket.

At this point, this year, Brady isn't in the same class as Manning, Rivers and Brees. Hes just not. Maybe next year. He's bailing on reads (and part of that is that he can't trust the line, but he was doing it before htey started getting hurt), hes not stepping into his throws and that causing innacuracy, and hes forcing balls to Randy Moss when Moss is completely covered.

46 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Rich Conley's a Patriot fan, so I don't think his opinion is motivated by hatred of Brady and/or the Pats.

I thought the article made good points. As a Colt fan I can tell you that I'd rather play San Diego than New England in the playoffs. To me, New England's just lost a few close games which I attribute to the luck factor.

50 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Please tell that to most Pats fans and almost all Pats media outlets. The Pats have *lost* (or been solidly beaten) one game this year. They have been slightly outplayed or just a little bit behind when the clock ran out four times.

58 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

I think the feeling (at least among the fans) would be rather different if in the NYJ, MIA, IND, and DEN losses NE lost by exactly the same scores they lost by in the actual games, the games were nip-and-tuck the whole way, rather than NE blowing big leads late.

I think there's something different about losing a game that's been back and forth the whole way vs. time and time again blowing significant leads late in the game, even if the final score in both cases is the same.

61 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

dumbass, when you run out of time, thats called a loss. when ne won their super bowls did anyone say st.louis or car. or philly just ran out of time.

66 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Go back to the Week 14 DVOA thread which already addressed this.

Because of the amount of randomness in a football game, team A beating team B by a small margin in no way implies that team A is the better team (team A may well be the better team, of course, but that they had a narrow win over B isn't a particularly meaningful indicator of it).

65 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Your point is taken, but I have to laugh at the phrase "just a little bit behind when the clock ran out". That is classic. I think all losing coaches should use this as their opening remarks at post game pressers. "Dag gummit, we didnt lose this game, we just happened to be a little bit behind when the clock ran out".

69 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

As a Pats' fan, I have to agree. That phrase made me cringe.

The Pats have lost five games.

The Pats have only been soundly beaten once.

It's true that they were very competitive in the other four games, and could have won any of them.

It's also true that they've won a few games where the ball bounced their way, and they were the team winning in spite of not dominating the game. (The Bills game and the Ravens game are the most obvious examples.)

We have to get back to Parcells here: you are what you are. The Pats are 8-5. If they were slightly better or luckier, they could be 11-2. Or if they were slightly worse or less lucky, they could be 5-8. None of that matters that much. They are 8-5.

89 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

God, I wish Parcells had never said that, at least in public. In the sense that people generally take it, it simply isn't true. Obviously it's a good idea for a coach to convince players that it is the case in many circumstances, for motivational reasons, but that's the point: a coach's job is to say what he believes his players need to hear, not to accurately analyze the game of football in a public forum.

112 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

amen. I would read it as "Your record is what it is." Regardless of how much better you played than your record shows, it is what it is. Who cares if you could/should have won X more games? You didn't. It doesn't matter.

I think if someone reads it as "You are what your record says you are", well, that's not really helpful. Obviously all 10-6 teams have the same record; that's by defintion. It should also be obvious that not all 10-6 teams are equally good ... if it's not, well, I don't know what to say to that someone.

Look at the Lions. No, really. They're 2-11, soon to be 2-14, regardless of what Bears fans think. Are they better than last year's team? Doesn't look that way, not to me at least, neither by DVOA nor by direct observation. But a strict application of Parcells' comment might make someone believe that.

More accurately, the Lions are 2-11 partly because of two pass interference plays (the one that set up the clinching TD in Washington and that other one you know about) and partly because of a fake field goal attempt. They could easily be 3-10 or 0-13. Saying that they're better than, say, the '96 Jets because they have two wins is silly.

70 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

My comment about being behind when the clock ran out was a little bit tongue-in-cheek. I guess a wry and ironic sense of humor doesn't always translate to a comment thread.

Yes, obviously, being behind when the clock ran out = loss. But I was trying to point out the difference between losing because you were obviously the worst team, and probably would have lost the game in most cases regardless of how long it was, and losing a game that was close enough that it could have gone either way, and if the game had ended at the 45 minute mark, or the 1:15 mark, or if teams had five timeouts instead of three, it's impossible to say who the winner would have been.

52 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Honestly, as a biased Patriots fan, I believe the real issue is a) the Pats OL, which is hurt (at least 3 out of 5/6 starters banged up) and b) the playcalling, not a bad Brady or a baby Moss (what happened this week is purely polemic).

I never understood why they don't use Ben Watson as the 3rd WR. Kid is fast, and has made a couple of nice catches this year (and not many drops if any as far as I remember), but has been all but ignored the whole season. I never liked Ben Watson and think he is a bust, but at least give him a decent chance and throw some balls to him. He won't be worse than this combination of Galloway, Edelman, Aiken, Tate, Stanback.

71 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

The Pats face these questions about Watson every year, it seems. He must be a terrible blocker or maybe some other aspect of his play bothers BB, because for the past few years the Pats have been trying other TEs left and right.

I saw a Pats-Dolphins game from 1994 on NFL network recently. Ben Coates in his prime. *sniff*

As for the O-line, you are actually understating the magnitude of the problem. Light, Vollmer, Neal, Koppen, and Kaczur have all been injured recently. Also, Kaczur kind of sucks. I've been saying that it would be faster for the Pats to list their healthy O-linemen (i.e. Logan Mankins) instead of listing all of the injuries.

Oh yeah, the playcalling has been weak this season. Josh McDaniels is missed.

78 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

"The Pats face these questions about Watson every year, it seems. He must be a terrible blocker or maybe some other aspect of his play bothers BB, because for the past few years the Pats have been trying other TEs left and right."

The pats play a lot of 2 TE. Ben Watson has played roughly 80% of the snaps while hes been healthy the last couple years.

hes a great blocker too.

82 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

You're the first person I've heard to call Ben Watson a "great blocker". OTOH, I heard that phrase used to describe Daniel Graham all the time.

All I know is that Ben Watson's production has disappeared this season. He had 6 catches for 77 yards and 2 TDs in Week 1. Since then, he's had 25 catches for 281 yards and 3 TDs. I do know that we go through this every year with Watson. Will this be his breakout season? It never happens. And it's not like BB doesn't know what to do with a good TE - the Giants in the 80s had Bavaro and the Pats in the 90s had Ben Coates. Clearly at some point the thought "maybe we should use Watson more" must have occurred to him. But something is amiss - he obviously doesn't like Watson's play as much as Welker's or Moss's. (Or Faulk's for that matter.)

128 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

And you think its coincidence that Watson's receptions went down about the same time that Light did?

Watson is playing roughly 85% of the snaps. YOU CAN"T USE HIM MORE.

84 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Mmmh, I got the impression that in blocking situations the Pats prefer Chris Baker, or jumbo package with LeVoir, or RBs. I have rarely ever seen Watson next to a Tackle. But I might be wrong.

Still, I thought they would target him more often after the two TDs he had against the Bills in the first game, but wrong I was.

Are there any official stats on dropped balls from NFL or FO? I don't remember Watson dropping many this season.

64 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

they dont use ben watson because he sucks. everytime he tries to catch it looks like he has to feet under those gloves

83 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

"Honestly, as a biased Patriots fan, I believe the real issue is a) the Pats OL, which is hurt (at least 3 out of 5/6 starters banged up) "

FO would disagree with you considering that NE's O Line ranks 7th in Run Blocking and 2nd in Adjusted Sack rate. Almost every OC in the league would kill to have O Line issues like NE. I am pretty sure for example that GB would swap lines in a nano second

85 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Yeah but doesn't it sometimes look like Brady lacks trust in the protection?

The line has always been good - mobile, athletic version, but quality (even from Light and Kaczur) - but how they are inter-changing players there this season surely affects the quality of the play.

The inner three players - Mankins, Koppen, Neal - have always been my favorite Patriots players.

94 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Line statistics are interesting because they also seem to depend greatly on the skill position players around them. By standard and FO stats, the Colts have a very good line, but all I hear is Indy fans complaining about it.

97 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

I would say this is a function of context again. I wouldn't say "NE's O-line", I would say "NE's O-line with Brady at QB and Moss/Welker as WR's" ranks...

Just speaking from my subjective observations, I would put the NE run blocking as only average or slightly below. Until recently, they were very good in "power" situations (i.e. when you absolutely have to pick up half a yard), and they're pretty decent on sweeps and other wide runs. But they are woefully poor, especially on the offensive left, at inside and off tackle runs in what I would call "neutral, run-oriented" situations (i.e. 1st and 10 or 2nd and medium when they are not in a pure pass situation).

New England is very good at running draws and other runs out of spread shotgun formations, but not so good at power running. At least, not compared to teams like the Colts and Broncos and Chargers.

And as far as pass blocking goes, that is helped a bit by Brady.

86 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Just took a look at that blog. I cannot argue with Brees at #1, but a lot of the people he has in the top 10 are dubious. Roethlisberger? I guess if sacks aren't important. Romo? Orton? All better than Brady?

91 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

If only FO could isolate individual performances from the rest of the team. Very interesting how 2nd half Cassel was basically putting up Brady numbers and then travels to KC and only puts up numbers better than Russell

95 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

It is interesting. Cassel is a very extreme case. While we gripe about the Pats O-line, it's mainly a reaction to the unjust deification of that line in 2007. Most rational Pats fans will maintain that, on average, the Pats O-line is slightly above average (no better) at pass blocking, and slightly below average at run blocking. Their receiving talent in 2008 was amazing, and their running backs were pretty decent. Plus they had a HoF coach and a very good offensive coordinator.

On the other hand, look at Cassel's current team. While I haven't seen much Kansas City this year, comments from posters, sports articles, and the few drives I have watched with Sunday ticket make it look like KC has a tremendous pile of suck at O-line, and their receiving unit and running back corps both consist of Jamaal Charles. Their coach is a rookie, and they're in full blown rebuilding mode, with a tougher schedule than the 2008 Patriots had had. Cassel didn't just go from a good situation to a bad one...he went from a near-ideal situation to almost a worst case (Oakland or Chicago or maybe Washington are about the only places I can think of that would have been worse for him).

There's a converse as well--Brett Favre. Playing for the Jets last season, behind a mediocre line, with a suspect defense, middling wide receivers, and an overrated coach, Favre looked old and inept. Now he's playing for a team with an excellent O-line, good young receivers, one of the best running games in the league, a powerful defense, and a coach that isn't as overrated as Mangini was. And he's playing like he's young again!

102 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Still, both greg cossell and mike mayock have said at various times that brady has not had the same sort of bradyesque pocket ability and throwing ability as before. If stats show he's still been very good, I wonder if this season he has excelled in other areas to counteract those he has regressed in; keeping his overall performance about equal. This calls for a more subjective review rather than statistical.

103 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Brady is more than 20 percentage points lower in VOA this year compared to 2007, 15.8 points lower in DVOA. So your question does not not need an answer. It assumes a false premise.

He is still the most valuable QB (DYAR), fourth most productive (YAR), the third most effective (DVOA), and the fifth most successful (VOA). That's still very good, but not at his 2007 level of play.

Subjectively, Brady is a bit less mobile, has a few more bad throws. But mostly his lower rating is due to (a) a few games at the beginning of the year when he was readjusting to the game after a year off, and (b) playing the toughest schedule of any QB. (c) Not having as good a third WR target might be a factor, but in my opinion it's a lesser one.

111 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

And (d) throwing to Joey Galloway for a few games.

But overall, I think your analysis is spot on. Brady is pretty good this year, but not as good as he has been. Obviously not as good as 2007, but I would say not quite as good as 2004-2006, either.

I wonder how much his bumps and bruises are really hurting him?

115 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

As for comparing Brady's year to 2004-2006, Brady's FO stats are better this year. Of course, he has a better set of receivers now. But it's notoriously difficult to separate a QB's skills from his surrounding team. If I could do that convincingly, I could resolve the Brady-Manning debate and win a Nobel prize.

113 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

The only negative I've seen this year from Brady is a hesitation on the deep ball because he's scared of the pass rush. Natural, under the circumstances, but something he'd never done before. Otherwise he's the exact same guy.

119 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

One other substantial difference is that he almost never runs this year. In the past you could count on him picking up 1-2 important first downs with his sloth-like elusiveness and in particular the QB sneak in short yardage situations. Heck, a couple games they practically snuck the whole way down the field. Of course, you can't blame them given the circumstances.

121 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

I have a question - I know it's been answered before, but I still can't find the correct answer.

Let's say Brady is having a good year, but his backup sucks. As a result, wouldn't his DYAR be meaningfully high?
I mean the dropoff from McNabb to McMahon several years ago was pretty significant, whereas the dropoff from McNabb to Kolb is clearly inconsequential. Doesn't that kind of thing radically alter a QB's DYAR?

My point of view regarding Brady has always been - regardless of how objectively or subjectively you view things - he is a good QB in a system that values QB talent and surrounds him with top tier talent. As a result, Cassel proved you can pretty much stick anyone who is reasonably good into the system and get a very positive outcome.

Thus I don't think it's HIM so much as the system that is excellent in NE. Two years ago, there were several tweaks in talent and scheme which resulted in improved performance, leading to higher confidence, leading to a great season. However, as the season progressed those tweaks were better understood and thus defensed....leading to the inevitable "Upset of the Century" (which I still believe had nothing to do with Manning and everything to do with the Giant Defense in what was clearly the worst SB MVP decision in history).

Brady, this year, is clearly off. I noticed it in the first game of the year, and some of the things he was doing in that game were noticeably geared toward protecting his knee. I have seen him improve throughout the season, which is natural, but other parts of the team have started to falter (Moss I think is reverting to form, after several years of non-TO like behavior).

I know the numbers say he's "the best". I respect that. But the numbers don't win games. As my father once said to me, when we were looking at HOF QB statistics - "some of them were pretty mediocre, weren't they? But they won games and championships." Staubach was never particularly impressive in a manner of Brees, Peyton, or Brady. Nor was Aikman. But they found ways to win, and that's what mattered most.

Sometimes it's the unquantifiable intangibles which bestow "greatness" on people.

122 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

the R in DYAR compares the player in question to a hypothetical replacement level player, not his actual replacement. This is for two reasons. First, it's difficult to rate backups, as they have little playing time. And second, you wouldn't want to punish a player because of the skill of his replacement.
Edit: To put it another way, Montana's greatness isn't diminished by the fact that his backup was Young, he's still one of the greatest of all times, just he was also on a team that was really good at evaluating quarterbacks.

125 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

That's good to know, but I still think as a guide to determining whether or not Brady is "the best" this year, it's misguided.

When I look at Brees and Peyton, I see 2 QBs who have performed not only extraordinarily well all season, I see 2 QBs who have led their teams to quite a few 4th quarter comeback wins.

I don't want to get into a discussion of "clutch", because it's a concept I don't believe in (what were they doing the rest of the game, etc.). But considering their effectiveness in winning games, it's hard to simply say they were ineffective for 3 quarters and suddenly came alive. It's just as likely to say their defenses let other teams stay in the game and Brees and Peyton kept their own teams competitive enough to pull it out at the end.

DYAR is never going to be able to quantify this (or else we WOULD be having a discussion on the concept of "clutch"). My point in my original post (once the R was explained) is that objective measures of performance are great for determining a broad strokes approach to the game (yes, Brady is still a very good QB), but it isn't good enough to make fine line qualitative decisions. I'd still take Brees and Peyton over Brady this year. Simply because they are winning AND he's 5th in fantasy points, which we know is very important (LOL).

Actually, if you add Kolb and McNabb together (McNabb missing 2 1/2 games), Brady is 6th in Fantasy points. But that's not how it works. I just thought that was interesting to take a look at.

126 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

"Brady ... is a good QB in a system that values QB talent and surrounds him with top tier talent."

I'd question the top tier talent comment ... prior to the arrival of Randy Moss and Wes Welker who were the Pats WRs? Who are the offensive linemen? Who were the running backs?

Compare them to the 1980s 49ers who you could name Montana, Rice, Taylor, Craig, Rathman, Jones, Parris, Cross, McIntyre twenty years after.

Where is the top tier Deion Branch (SB MVP) now? Where's David Givens? Antowain Smith? Even Troy Brown is now just a distant memory.

I think the Patriots are very good at adapting their schemes to the talents of the players in them rather than picking up top tier talented (Moss, Welker, Dillon excepted).

129 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

Maybe I missed it above but the obvious flaw in the statistical method used on this site is that it assumes that a team is the same team all the way through a season, kind of like a video game. The correct question is did the New England Patriots play the toughest schedule for passing when the team that showed up for each gameday is measured?

There is no way that anyone has figured out to measure that. So they are taking a short-cut and saying something similiar, but altogether different, that their schedule had the toughest passing defense when measured by comparing ...etc....etc....etc.

Is it more accurate than simply looking at pass statistics; TD's INT, yards, %? Yes.

Is it useful for a possible explanation of Brady's reduced statistics this year? Possibly.

Does it accurately determine which quarterback 'played the best' this year? Not really.

130 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

I think you're right about the flaw. But of course it also assumes that the New England offense was the same all the way through ... imagine for example if your future Hall of Fame WR suddenly just starts missing practices and quits on the team ...

131 Re: Tom Brady's Tough Year

I find myself a bit confused about Brady's high rankings considering the Patriots offense's woes in the red zone and a good but certainly not stellar 3rd down conversion rate. The Patriots haven't been putting up a ton of points on the board either.

I have to ask: is Tom Brady's production suffering from playing top flight pass defenses or are those defenses seeing a rise because they are playing Tom Brady, Sanchez, Henne, and Edwards? Are offenses ranked based on the unadjusted rankings of the defenses they play, who are then ranked based on the adjusted rankings of the offenses they play, or the other way around? Both can't be ranked based on the adjusted rankings of their opponents.