Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

14 Dec 2010

ESPN AGS: Dolphins over Jets

This week's Any Given Sunday revisits Mark Sanchez's career progression (not as impressive as hoped) and the breakout season of Cameron Wake (more impressive than you might realize).

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 14 Dec 2010

21 comments, Last at 15 Dec 2010, 5:18pm by tuluse


by Mike B. In Va :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 2:41pm

I guess I have to give up on AGS actually being about the game anymore, huh?

by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 2:47pm

ESPN has asked us to write this piece as forward-looking as possible, which means they don't want detailed tape review of a game that is, to their readers, old news. They don't want a look back at the Dolphins-Jets game; they want a big-picture look at the future of the Dolphins and the Jets.

by Harry (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 5:10pm

Since ESPN is changing what AGS used to be all about anyway, any chance FO can bring back the old AGS under a different name for FO readers? I realize y'all probably don't have unlimited free time, but it used to be a great feature on this site.

by Sergio :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 11:30am

I'll pitch in for this game:

Both offenses sucked (QBs particularly so), Jets' turnovers came close to the goal line so they were turned into points, while Dolphins' TOs weren't.

Oh, and yeah, Cam Wake is a god damn beast.

-- Go Phins!

by Biebs (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 2:59pm

I find it odd that you call Neil O'Donnell a "horrible" QB and put Doug Williams in the group with Elway, Brady, McNair, and Eli Manning.

Also, I can only find the splits on ESPN, but as a Jets fan, the fact that Sanchez still hasn't completed 60% of his passes of 10 yards or less (including passes behind the line of scrimmage) seems like an incredibly damning stat.

I would have also guessed that Sanchez's first 2 seasons compare with Eli Manning closer than anyone else.

by Nathan S (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 3:31pm

I remember saying a while ago that I was afraid that the featuring of articles on ESPN Insider was going to move articles off the site, and it's just struck me today that it has happened, since I remember AGS being a regular part of FO, and really liked reading it here.

I know it doesn't help you guys economically to write for nothing but I don't want to have to support ESPN just to read FO articles about football. Apparently, given comment #2, ESPN is undermining the intent of the articles as well.

While there are other sources, smartfootball.com being my favorite (though he writes about college almost exclusively), I really miss the greater frequency of analytical articles here. I understand you all have families and a business to support, so can't criticize the desire to ally with the biggest sports network in the U.S.. Just reflecting, I guess.

by tuluse :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 5:31pm

Aaron has posted before that there are more free articles running on FO than ever before. So we may have lost AGS, but we've gained Word of Muth and Under the Cap.

by CraigInDC :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 3:45pm

It seems too harsh to call Jeff Blake, Neil O'Donnell, and Trent Dilfer horrible quarterbacks. Each had some better than average years and longer than average careers. Certainly, Sanchez should hope for more, but those guys weren't disasters.

by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:04pm

Calling O'Donnell terrible may have been too harsh. He had a career DVOA of roughly -4%. He was never in the top 10, ranking 15th to 42nd. (Not counting two years as a starter that we don't have DVOA for yet.) He was consistently below average.

We don't have advanced stats for Williams. His raw numbers are not special, but A) His DVOA would probably be higher than that because he was great at avoiding sacks, and B) He spent his prime years in the USFL. His numbers there weren't great, but I have no idea how to judge the talent around him there.

Dilfer, though... Career DVOA around -18%. Highest ranking was eighth in 2001 in Seattle, when he threw only 136 passes. Never again in the top 15, only once more in the top 25. Below replacement level six times, with -1,415 career DYAR. I stand by my claim he was horrible.

by ammek :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:43pm

Williams was consistently good at avoiding interceptions as well as sacks. Unfortunately, his completion percentage was consistently below-average, except for the brief period he played with Monk, Sanders and Clark at WR.

The 1978 Bucs passing game, with Williams at QB for half of the season, is fascinating for students of bad football. Tampa managed to complete 151 passes. Its leading receiver caught 32, and nobody else more than 23.

by William Lloyd Garrision III (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 10:30am

Didn't Doug Williams used to throw the ball away all the time though to avoid sacks and bad plays. Not arguing that he was something better than he was, but I always thought that he had a completion % back in those days that was a tick or two lower than it could/should have been with a different coaching staff.

But maybe not, I just remember always hearing that back in the day.

Regardless, I thought that pegged Sanchez just right. Like a "ligor" bred for it's skills in magic, Sanchez is a ChanO'DonnellFerotte-asuarus, bred for his skills in serviceable mediocrity. If he wasn't a pretty boy from USC, this would be more obvious to more people.

He's not going to fall off a cliff, like JamMrcus Russell, because if he were he would have done so by now.

by Biebs (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:07pm

I know it's easy to hate on the Offensive Coordinator when the offense doesn't perform, and I know that Sanchez and the Jets WR's were terrible. But this is a serious indictment of the Jets offensive gameplan.
In the first half on 1st down
9 of the first 10 calls were running plays.
1st Quarter - Yards Gained on Play: -1, 2, 4, 3, 1
2nd Quarter - Yards Gained on Play: 3, 4, 3 (direct snap to Brad Smith), 3
the only pass on the first 10 times the Jets had a first down was on 1st and 25

The last 3 times the Jets had 1st downs, they were out of the shotgun (2 incompletions and 1 sack)

In the second half on 1st down
1st play is a pass for 8 yards (First time the Jets ran a passing play on 1st down and 10 with Sanchez under Center)
2nd play is a pass on 1st and 20

4 straight 1st down runs (0 Yards, 1 Yard, 4 Yards, 3 yards)

Shotgun pass for 14 Yards
Run for 1 yard
Run for 3 yards

(with 8 minutes left in the game) Incomplete Pass (2nd time the Jets ran a passing play on 1st down with Sanchez under Center)

then two more runs for (3 yards and 2 Yards)

I can't be sure, but this is really horrific. I don't know if they ever did play action, but the bottom line is that
...when Sanchez lined up under center on 1st down and 10 the Jets called 19 runs and 2 passes.

Neither of the 2 passes were play-action (I believe, someone can confirm this), the Jets never gained more than 6 yards on any first down running play.

I've been fairly leniant on Schotty, but how much easier could he have made it for the Dolphins short of shouting "DON'T FORGET, ON FIRST DOWN WE RUN THE BALL!"

as a result, the Jets passed on 20 of their 21 3rd down plays. (Only had 3rd and short 3 times, passed on 2 of them, got the first down 2 of 3 times)

by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:30pm

I was intrigued enough to look this up. On first down this season, the Jets have run the ball 64.3% of the time, the highest figure in the league. Second-highest is Kansas City at 60.2% -- which means they're actually closer to sixth-ranked Tennessee (57.6%) than they are to the Jets.

Part of that is because they've been killing leads in the second half. If we look at first-half first downs, the Jets run the ball 61.8% of the time. That's still most in the league, but just barely above Buffalo (61.5%) and Carolina (61.1%).

by Biebs (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:44pm

"Part of that is killing leads in 2nd half"... I don't know about that, I can only think of one game where they were in a position to run out the clock (which is what I assume you meant to write).

I understand the weather was bad and Sanchez wasn't playing well. But they were in 3rd and > 4 on 18 of 21 3rd down plays, and ended up passing on 20 of the 21 plays. At some point, at least one play action pass, or slant, or anything, could have made a big difference.

It's all theoretical, but the first offensive play of the 2nd half was a pass for 8 yards, I don't really understand why they didn't try going back to it until 7 minutes left in the game (and even then, it was a long pass)

by Sander :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 7:16pm

It's interesting to note that that the only reams running more in the second half are behind Panthers QB (terrible) and Fitzpatrick (fairly terrible). Maybe this says something about the Jets coaches' feelings on Sanchez.

by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 8:00pm

Sorry, I guess I wasn't clear. Let's just do a couple of simple lists:

1. New York Jets (64.3%)
2. Kansas City Chiefs (60.2%)
3. Oakland Raiders (58.9%)

1. New York Jets (61.8%)
2. Buffalo Bills (61.5%)
3. Carolina Panthers (61.1%)

And here's another one:

1. New York Jets (55.1%)
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (51.5%)
3. Atlanta Falcons (48.5%)

by Sander :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 8:47pm

Sorry, sloppy reading on my part.

Though that just strengthens my point. THe Jets are running the ball more than any team in the league, including several teams run by completely incompetent quarterbacks. What does that say about the trust the coaches have in Mark Sanchez?

by Dingle-Doodah (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 9:45am

It says that the run must be established for Sanchez to have any shot at competency.

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 5:18pm

Completely incompetent quarterbacks like Matt Ryan? 3rd on the list for runs on first down while trailing in the 2nd half.

by Sergio :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 11:47am

Wait. Fitzpatrick is "fairly terrible"?

I know his DVOA isn't good (23rd), but hasn't the Buffalo passing game been good so far?

-- Go Phins!

by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 2:06pm

Um ... as long as Fitzpatrick is QB, his DVOA ***is*** the Buffalo passing game. And they have been much better since Trent Edwards was benched for Fitzpatrick, but remember that this is by far the best Fitzpatrick we've seen. He's never been above replacement level before.