Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

16 Nov 2007

ESPN Numbers Crunching: Week 11

Here's this week's stat notebook for ESPN.com. Find out what opponents really think of the Philadelphia cornerbacks, the shocking truth about the Chargers and Jaguars, and yet another reason why Adrian Wilson rules.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 16 Nov 2007

14 comments, Last at 17 Nov 2007, 3:08am by admin


by Len (not verified) :: Fri, 11/16/2007 - 1:22pm

"The Cowboys have the best offense in the league ... when leading by more than a touchdown."

Better than the Patriots?! I know they're good, and as a fan I'm happy about that, but I can't see them having a better O when leading, the way the Patriots have played. This is amazing.

by Ryan (not verified) :: Fri, 11/16/2007 - 1:40pm

So I haven't been hyping Brown over Sheppard for years for no reason!

Sheppard takes risks. Sometimes they turn into picks, sometimes they turn into catches. Brown just plays consistently, mostly.

by AndyE (not verified) :: Fri, 11/16/2007 - 2:22pm

Len - not surprising, actually. When the Pats are ahead by a touchdown, they drastically slow down their offense. It's still good enough to score, and they play the whole game, but they put away a bunch of their tricks and just eat up huge swathes of clock while sauntering downfield. The Cowboys, on the other hand, when up by 7-14 points, are trying to pull out more of a lead, and don't spend nearly as much time with a 17+ point lead.

It's not surprising that to DVOA, the Cowboys look better in that one case.

by Oh, Mathematics (not verified) :: Fri, 11/16/2007 - 2:24pm

I think that, while it is true that Brown is a more consistent corner than Sheppard in general, the right side of the
Eagles' defense this year has mostly been manned by either a one-legged Lito or William James.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Fri, 11/16/2007 - 2:34pm

God the love for Marlin Jackson is fantastic--not even written up in the Indy game summary. Looking at their D improvements and his play against both run and pass.... any chance he makes pro-bowl with Baily and Bly and Samuel and... oh forget it, soo many established stud corners out there and all anybody cares abot is INTs.

Oh well, something for Colt fans to smile about.

by Independent George (not verified) :: Fri, 11/16/2007 - 3:01pm

#1 - I suspect the brief Matt Cassel experiment vs Miami might be deflating NE's numbers a bit.

by Thinker (not verified) :: Fri, 11/16/2007 - 3:33pm

Indy is the #1 defense close and late. Very small sample for NE, but it seems like one opportunity and 100% success has to be better than the Colts who got beat rather handily close and late by the Pats.

by ZasZ (not verified) :: Fri, 11/16/2007 - 3:56pm

Or it could be that WR1 vs Sheppard is a better matchup than WR2 vs Brown.

For example, if I'm Eli Manning, I'd rather toss it at Plax covered by Sheppard than at Toomer covered by Brown.

Maybe both corners are of roughly equal skill, which makes the quarterback's decision more based on his WR than on the cornerback he is matched against.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Fri, 11/16/2007 - 4:45pm

#7 That's like blaming Lot's wife for losing against the Big Guy when she was turned into a pillar of salt. OF COURSE that's gonna happen.

Joking aside, you make a good point; I wonder if sample size is the issue. IIRC, it's what messed up estimated wins for the Pats previously as well, since they had no close games before Indy.

by Jason H (not verified) :: Fri, 11/16/2007 - 8:24pm

I've been charting the Eagles this season and there is no doubt that Will James has been targeted by every team this season. Sheppard's been picked on a little of late, but I'm interested to see if he starts playing better after shaking off some of the rust from being out for several games.

by mattman (not verified) :: Fri, 11/16/2007 - 9:14pm

re #8 - the Eagles' corners play sidelines, not receivers, so sometimes it's Lita on the WR1, sometimes it's Brown.

But as has been mentioned several times, the fact that Sheppard was injured in week 1 and missed several games in favor of Will James, who's been so bad he was benched last week, probably has more to do with the skewed numbers. Overall, Sheppard and Brown are pretty close to equal skill, Sheppard has had the peak season of the two (2006) but Brown is more consistent and never gets injured.

by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 11/16/2007 - 9:52pm

Yeah, I don't get the Brown/Sheppard comparison. James has started the majority of the games for the Eagles so far this year.

by Marko (not verified) :: Sat, 11/17/2007 - 12:01am

"The Bears have thrown 12 deep passes (16-plus yards through the air) to Muhsin Muhammad, and he has caught just two of them. Both were in the middle of the field; he's 0-for-9 catching deep passes on the sidelines."

Not to be snarky, but what's the point of this note? Most of the deep passes to Muhammad that I can recall were nowhere close to him, so it's hardly his fault that he didn't catch them. On the deep sideline passes, I can recall several that were thrown out of bounds. Is that his fault? Muhammad isn't having a great year, but these numbers say more about the quarterbacking than they say about Moose.

"On short passes, the Chicago defense allows slightly more success on the right; on deep passes, the Bears allow slightly more success on the left."

You left out the most important point: "Chicago allows by far the most success on passes where Adam Archuleta has coverage responsibility."

by admin :: Sat, 11/17/2007 - 3:08am

My bad on William James. I didn't mean to suggest that Brown is better than Sheppard, just who opponents were throwing at. It makes a lot more sense remembering that Sheppard was out.