Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

20 Dec 2005

Boller Outplays Favre

Until last night, the only thing Kyle Boller had in common with Tom Brady was Tara Reid. OK, nothing's changed on that front, but after throwing three TDs on 19 of 27 passing, Boller may have earned the right to return as the starter in 2006. The performance was easily his best as a professional, and at one point John Madden even described Boller's throwing motion as "a thing of beauty." (Must ... fight ... urge ... to leave ... snarky ... comment.)

Posted by: P. Ryan Wilson on 20 Dec 2005

32 comments, Last at 21 Dec 2005, 1:38pm by M


by DJAnyReason (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 2:00pm

As a Pittsburgh Steeler fan, I am 100% thrilled that Boller played so well and hope he retains his starting job for 2006 :)

by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 2:01pm

There, there, Ryan, he'll have only an average day soon, and then you can go back to insisting he's the worst QB in the NFL.

Which, in a league that includes San Francisco, Chicago, Houston, Miami, Buffalo, Detroit and New Orleans, is as over-reaching as it always has been; but hey, what's a few DVOA numbers between friends?

by andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 2:04pm

The Viking playoff hopes hinge on containing Kyle Boller....

by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 2:13pm

Given the opponent adjustment, I'd be surprised if Green Bay's defense didn't have the worst DVOA game of the season.

by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 2:34pm

If Green Bay doesn't replace Mark Roman this offseason then this organization is legitimately out of touch with reality. Todd Heap ran the same pattern repeatedly (run out, turn the right, look for the ball) and Roman each time just watched. It would be funny if it were not so sad.

It's also pretty clear that another one of Sherman's draft picks is blowing up in his face. Punter BJ Sanders had another bad game in semi-cold conditions. Anyone else remember that they traded away a pick to move UP and take this guy in the THIRD ROUND?

Another reflection of Sherman is he has two guys on that defense who talk INCESSANTLY in Collins and Carroll and both get torched game after game. Collins is by far the better player but he was eaten several times last night. Carroll has to be the dumbest guy on the team. He can run with anyone (witness the kickoff returns) but the combination of penalties and inability to recognize anything make him a liability.

Oh, and that was a first round pick of Sherman as well. Took Carroll over Chris Gamble. Gamble who is taller, stronger, and runs almost as fast.

Packer fans who think this team just needs one good draft to recover are wrong. Thompson will be working to correct Sherman's failures until 2007.

by calig23 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 2:46pm

Steelers' fans love Kyle Boller. They also love Brian Billick.

They also miss Butch Davis, and every Bungle coach before Marvin Lewis.

by Oswlek (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 2:56pm

Seeing Boller so full of glee after that game, I legitimately felt bad about everything I ever said about him.

by pcs (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 3:05pm

This game was maddening. The Ravens would get in a groove -- out pattern to Heap, out pattern to Heap -- and stay there until they got into the end zone. The Packers would get the tiniest bit of momentum going, then promptly kill it by going deep to Driver in quintuple coverage on 2nd and 7.

To be fair to Madden, which is rare for me, I think I heard him say that Boller's motion can be a thing of beauty when he completes a pass but looks ridiculous when he doesn't.

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 3:06pm

Right, and I think Madden's right in that. What he's saying is that Boller's throwing mechanics lead to inconsistent results, which I agree with.

by zip (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 3:12pm

Farve isn't washed up, it's just that [a non-QB part of Green Bay] sucks and he doesn't trust [receiver or list of receivers].

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 3:44pm

Yuck. So much for using Lewis on my Loser League team - he not only played, but was the highest-scoring RB on my team, which was impressive because the other two drew the penalty ...

It's a good thing the Lions already played Baltimore. I'd hate to see a productive Boller against the current "defense" in Detroit ...

by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 3:52pm


I will reiterate what I have stated for the past five years:

--Favre needs a stern coach willing to confront him
--Favre's physical skills are still among the best in the league
--Favre's ball-handling issues can be directly traced to the broken thumb

Brett Favre has listened to two football coaches in his life, his father and Mike Holmgren. I am NOT saying that Favre is a problem in the clubhouse or defies authority. But Holmgren had to harass him constantly before the interceptions abated. And since Holmgren left Favre has become increasingly careless with the football.

The matter is compounded by the impact of the thumb injury. Favre broke his thumb before the 1999 season, and played the entire season without being able to properly grip the ball. I don't know this for an absolute FACT, but I am fairly certain that his fumble rate has increased significantly since that injury. Favre cannot close his hand as he used to and at times, particularly in cold weather, the ball will just fall out of his hand. Far more frequently than other quarterbacks.

Favre has abnormally large hands which for a long time gave him an advantage in bad weather. The results of the thumb injury have lessened that edge.

While he is less mobile, clearly his arm still exists. He can still take a hit.

But the fact that he CAN still throw well PLUS having milquetoast Mike Sherman as head coach means nobody is holding Favre accountable when he scr*ws up. And with the team struggling to make first downs there is NO margin for error.

And Favre is ALL ABOUT ignoring risk.

I also believe that Favre is of average to below average intelligence. He is football savvy, but I think when you see a guy do the same dumb thing repeatedly you have to believe there is an issue.

I met the Favre family. Umm, no brainiacs present.

The brains of the family belong to his wife, Deanna. A truly special person.

Barring a head coaching change I do not see this trend reversing itself. Sherman is either unwilling or incapable of managing his quarterback.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 3:57pm

I love how people make excuses for certain players, but don't cut a young player or a (insert favorite ethnicity here) player any slack...

by TomC (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 4:09pm

Soph - I agree 100%. Do you remember how harsh everyone was on Rien Long coming out of college. Don't try to tell me that had nothing to do with his being Armenian.

(Stupid anti-Armenian NFL).

by princeton73 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 4:11pm

and people were tough on Cade McNown because he was handicapped

by mawbrew (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 4:25pm

One of the problems with using a high 1st round draft pick on a QB that doesn't work out, is that it takes so darn long before you convince yourself he's not going to be the guy. Every time Couch, or Harrington, or Boller has a good game you convince yourself that he's finally getting it. Until the next game.

Unless a guy is mindnumbingly bad (ala Leaf), it inevitably takes four torturous years before a team is ready to give up and go in another direction.

I think Boller gets one more year (assuming Billick stays). Given all the abuse he's taken, I hope the promised improvement actually materialized. Frankly, I can't imagine how depressing it's got to be to see public speculation (by your own coach!) that you need to see a shrink.

by Samuel (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 4:43pm

Would the Packers be a better team without Favre? How the hell is anyone supposed to know. He won't let them find out. Yes, he is one of the great players ever, but he still makes rookie mistakes. In the first quarter, 3rd and goal he threw into at least quintuple coverage, but it was batted away. Madden even said "There are 7 black jerseys near that ball" but didn't say the word "Favre" at any point to follow up. Favre was successful at times because he took risks that others would not, but that was one pass where it was just suicide and was lucky it didn't take the field goal (their only points of the game) off the board.

I agree he needs a strong coach to tell him what's what, because that was tough to watch last night.


by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 4:48pm

While he is less mobile, clearly his arm still exists.

Are you sure? All of the passes last night that I saw weren't particularly strong. The deep passes looked awful - there was just no arm strength on them. The receivers and deep backs typically stopped because the ball was underthrown.

Beginning of the year, he definitely looked like he still had an arm. Now, I'm not so sure. Which means he probably can't make it through a full NFL season anymore.

by Michael Irvin (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 4:55pm

If Donovan McNabb played in Green Bay -they would have won the superbowl this year.

by Michael Irvin (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 4:58pm

...now where did I put that dang pipe ...

by NF (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 6:08pm

NFC Central Freak: Forget about the defense for a second. Do you think that with everyone on the offense healthy again next season, and a good guard drafted and an adequate guard picked up by free agency in the offseason, can the Packers give Favre a farewell tour that looks similar to the 2004 Kansas City Chiefs, who at least put a ton of points on the scorboard while the defense was letting a lot of offenses do the same?

by andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 6:43pm

In a word, "no". The packers should not be focused on conducting a farewell tour.

This mess is Sherm's fault.

by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 7:15pm

Andrew is correct.

The only players who might still be on the roster when Green Bay is legitimately competitive again are Nick Collins, Colin Cole, Chad Clifton, and Mark Tauscher. And that's without factoring in current contracts.

GB signing Kampmann to a long-term deal would indicate that they are willing to settle for mediocrity. Aaron is a high effort guy and definitely can start for a lot of teams. But not at a high price tag. He can be pinned too easily and manhandled by better lines.

I wrote earlier in the season and still maintain that considering all 22 starters there is only position where Green Bay holds a legitimate edge over Chicago. QB.

And you cannot compete for a division title with that type of talent gap.

I also am quite certain that if You Know Who were playing on the Bears this year MM would have 14 TD catches and Chicago would be the easy NFC favorite for the Super Bowl.

by M (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 7:52pm

This might be more of a question for the DVOA rankings, but has there ever been a team involved in two more lopsided games from the opposite side of the spectrum than this year's GB packers? The swing between their NO victory & Baltimore loss is 94 points. I have never heard of anything like this before. I also am curious if this year has had the highest AMV of all games in recent memory (average margin of victory). This year seems to be close to 12 points. The last year I remember being that high was 1990. Any takers on my question(s)?

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 8:02pm


No, that's about the average point differential. I'd have to go look up the full one, but I can say right now that if you look at all *intradivisional* games for 2001-2004, the average margin of victory is ~15 points. If memory serves, the actual average margin of victory is about 14 or so for that same time frame.

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 8:06pm

Check that - it's more like 11-12 or so. Different "mean"s.

by Arkaein (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 9:23pm

NFC Central Freak, I agree with you about 95% in your assesment of Favre and the Packers, but you are a bit too harsh. If the Bears can be contenders with Orton or Grossman at QB, I'm sure that there are a few Packers who could be on a contender:

Al Harris - he was awful last night, but has been easily the Packers best defender this season, shutting down several good WRs.

Samkon Gado - fairly good already with almost no experience and poor blocking. Give him another year and another blocker, and he can be a reasonable starter.

Javon Walker - obvious, but maybe you weren't counting him as a current player for the obvious reasons.

Donald Driver - avery good #2 WR, though he probably only has 1 or 2 good years left.

Of course they've got the usual assortment of young prospects. Will Whiticker might improve with a year of NFL level training under his belt and some hard off season work. They've got four rooking LBs and DBs in total, one or two are likely to pan out as decent players in a year or two. I also disagree about Aaron Kampman, although he's not the kind of guy you want as the star of you D-line he's probably a bit above average, and even superbowl champions have several starters who or only average.

Mostly though, I completely agree with your assment of Favre's decision making. He needs to relearn the art of throwing the ball away, though I maintain that with a healthy Javon Walker about 5 of his dumb picks are broken up, and a few may even turn into big gains. This at least give me hope for the offense next year.

by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 10:08pm

Re: 24

The 1962 Bears beat the Baltimore Colts 57-0, but lost to the Packers 49-0 for a 106 point turnaround.

by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 10:15pm

Post 27:

Al Harris is solid but does not compare to Vasher or Tillman.

Gado has played five games. Thomas Jones has a real track record.

With Walker out Driver is the number 1. And MM is a better receiver IF anyone could get him the ball.

I wrote Kampmann is a solid player. But if GB gives him premium money they don't understand how to leverage their resources properly. GB has about 15 million under the cap going into the 2006 season. They need to spend some of that money on the offensive line and draft AJ Hawk.

Oh, and purchase Ahmad Carroll a brain that functions. That would help.

by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 10:33pm

The average NFL margin of victory has been fairly steady in the last 20 years, ranging from a low of 10.75 in 1995 to a high of 12 in 2003. This year, MOV is up .26 points from last year, but is .44 points less than in 2003.

A full table (sorry for any poor formating):

Year Games AvgMOV
1950 78 16.86
1951 72 12.88
1952 72 14.28
1953 72 13.1
1954 72 15.39
1955 72 11.68
1956 72 12.99
1957 72 11.72
1958 72 14.21
1959 72 13.69
1960 134 13.26
1961 154 14.62
1962 154 13.66
1963 154 13.64
1964 154 13.14
1965 154 12.71
1966 168 14.43
1967 175 13.9
1968 182 14.78
1969 182 12.41
1970 182 12.92
1971 182 12.18
1972 182 13.1
1973 182 14.32
1974 182 10.87
1975 182 13.37
1976 196 13.66
1977 196 11.44
1978 224 10.81
1979 224 11.61
1980 224 11.07
1981 224 11.82
1982 126 10.63
1983 224 11.41
1984 224 12.35
1985 224 12.55
1986 224 11.91
1987 210 11.85
1988 224 11.31
1989 224 11.47
1990 224 12.11
1991 224 11.39
1992 224 12.44
1993 224 11.37
1994 224 10.42
1995 240 10.75
1996 240 11.51
1997 240 11.27
1998 240 11.53
1999 248 11.35
2000 248 11.8
2001 248 11.07
2002 256 11.13
2003 256 12
2004 256 11.3
2005 224 11.56

by Arkaein (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 11:14pm

NFC Central Freak, I might have agreed with you about Al Harris last year, but not this year. GB is currently #2 in DVOA against opponent's #1 WRs, but worse than 20th against all other types of receivers. That's basically due to Al Harris. There is the fact that other teams might find it easier to pick on other parts of the defense, which is why Harris doesn't get attacked much, but the fact that he has consistently shut down #1 WRs says it's a bit more than just opponents attacking elsewhere.

I'm sure Vasher or Tillman are good (haven't seen a lot of Bears games this year), but it's easier to make plays on defense when your given a great pass rush and have solid support around you.

by M (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2005 - 1:38pm

Thanks, Travis. I am surprised about 2003, but then I remember SF & Arizona.