Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

31 Oct 2005

Morning After: Plummer for MVP?

Len Pasquarelli is kidding, I think. I hope he's kidding. Plummer was great yesterday, but in general you don't give the MVP to the quarterback of a team built around its running game and defense. Pasquarelli also lauds the Chicago front office for putting together a defense that averages 24.8 years of age and has 10 of its 11 starters under contract for next year, and criticizes the Jaguars for being inconsistent.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 31 Oct 2005

37 comments, Last at 01 Nov 2005, 9:48pm by Browns Dude


by Drew (not verified) :: Mon, 10/31/2005 - 4:12pm

The game ball for Bruschi. Gee, I'm shocked. It's a good thing they awarded the game ball to him over less deserving people who earned it merely through their performance. Seriously, it's about time someone gave his comeback some pub.

by Ned Macey :: Mon, 10/31/2005 - 4:16pm

This Bruschi thing is bothering me for some reason. I'm confused what Bruschi has done that is so amazing. Did he have an arduous rehab I don't know about? Is he really risking his life? To me, guy had an extraordinarily scary thing happen to him. Now, he is completley cleared by all doctors to play. It seems like awful luck that becomes good luck only for how bad it could have been. I'm not sure what Bruschi himself did that is so amazing. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

by djcolts (not verified) :: Mon, 10/31/2005 - 4:19pm

You know, saying the Jags are inconsistent after they lose to the Bulger-less, Holt-less Rams is not very enlightening. If he was truly astute and saw that the Jags have won 5 divisonal games in their AFC South history, lost to Houston twice last year, they had a history of playing down to their competition BEFORE they lost to the Rams, then that would have been enlightening.

by rk (not verified) :: Mon, 10/31/2005 - 4:33pm

What's the deal with the story being told in first person plural. Is that the royal plural or is Len Pasquarelli in actuality several people?

by Len Pasquarellis (not verified) :: Mon, 10/31/2005 - 4:39pm

I am actually several people. Keep it on the down-low, though. It's something of a tax-dodge.

by princeton73 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/31/2005 - 4:40pm

is Len Pasquarelli in actuality several people?

no, he only LOOKS that fat

by Paul McGuire (not verified) :: Mon, 10/31/2005 - 4:46pm

I like when Bruschi flew around the Earth at impossible speeds and reversed its rotation so he could go back in time to just before the 1st snap and know where the play was going before even Holcomb knew. I am betting we see more of this play against the Colts next week.

by The Dude (not verified) :: Mon, 10/31/2005 - 4:47pm

I! The Royal "we"! You know, the editorial...

by princeton73 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/31/2005 - 4:57pm

I like when Bruschi flew around the Earth at impossible speeds and reversed its rotation so he could go back in time

yeah, but it was Belichick's idea

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Mon, 10/31/2005 - 5:00pm

I think most sportswriters are agog over Bruschi's comeback, because to someone of their age/weight, "stroke" means "death sentence." In that light, simply showing up and playing almost the entire game without collapsing is worth a game ball, let alone making some tackles and not blowing anything major.

The fact that a relatively young, extremely fit player can come back from a brain injury that would kill other people is quite amazing, and worthy of some note. But coming back from inury that would kill or cripple others, is also what relatively young, extremely fit players do. It why Bruschi plays in the NFL.

by Parker (not verified) :: Mon, 10/31/2005 - 5:15pm

RE: #7

That's classic. But shouldn't it start, "Here's a guy..."

It's a good story and worth some attention. I think the problem some people have with it, myself included, is that it was the ONLY story last night.

I DVR'd the game and then watched in being able to ff to the next play. Even doing that I was annoyed with how many shot of Tedi and his wife there were. And every time I saw Suzy I just knew she was talking about it.

Let's move on.

by seven year lion (not verified) :: Mon, 10/31/2005 - 5:25pm

The Bruschi thing comes down to two things really. First you have media sensationalism. There's no story told that isn't the _______est. When its about someone/something they like (Patriots, Brett Favre) the story is about how it's the best. When its about something they don't like (Randy Moss, BCS) its about how everything is the worst.

The second part is that the sportwriters feel the need to be right at all times. All week they were saying how important and emotional Bruschi's return would be. And when they told the recap stories on Monday..."Gosh, we were right!! Bruschi's return was so emotional. See, I'm telling you so it must be true." For another example look at all the stories during the pasat week about Mr. Mara and how Shockey and Tiki were the two giants closest to Mara, and how they were invited to his bedside. Then read the recap stories. Suddenly, when talking about how his closeness to players resulted in extra motivation/will to win/magic they only mention the guy who rushed for 200 yards and not the guy who had 3 catches for 29 yards. "See, there was an impact on those closest to him, we proved it and we were right. Now where's the buffet, I have to energize before I write my article about how next weeks IND-NE game will be a nail-biter unless its a blowout."

by Richard (not verified) :: Mon, 10/31/2005 - 6:15pm

I think it speaks to the role of sensationalism in contemporary converage that most people, myself included, did not take note of the story being overplayed. But as I read the comments in this thread, I agree with them all but realize I was merely changing the channel when these stories were being reported.

Was is a subconscious, somewhat passive response to my dissatisfaction with the coverage? I would like to think so, though I may merely be a chronic channel surfer.

All the same, it would be nice to find something which would capitvate me. I have gotten to the point where I want Meet the Press in lieu of pre-game converage, though this was not the case two years ago.

by kjbad (not verified) :: Mon, 10/31/2005 - 6:43pm

As a Sun Devil fan, I find it reprehensible that ESPN wasted so much air time on a former Wildcat like Bruschi. If he got the game ball, Suzy Kolber got the used jock strap!

"The Cardinals recorded zero passes defensed in the loss at Dallas..."

That HAS to be a misprint. Not one defensed pass in 60:00 of football?

by MMM (not verified) :: Mon, 10/31/2005 - 8:33pm

Re: Bruschi

I'm in social psychology. There's a theory in the field that essentially states that people prefer not to think about their own vulnerability. So you've got a high profile, healthy seeming individual that experiences a stroke - highlighting the fact that anyone could be as vulnerable. When he shakes it off and returns to the field he affirms that we all are, in fact, immortal just as we hoped and don't have to worry about that vulnerability thing anymore.

That's why everyone's jumping all over Bruschi's return.

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Mon, 10/31/2005 - 10:00pm

Here's your absolutely ridiculous stat of the week:

Last season, Drew Brees had 7 INTs, and the rest of the AFC West combined for 59. This season, Drew Brees has 7 INTs, and the rest of the AFC West has combined for 8. Kerry Collins and Jake Plummer, both of whom were tied for the most INTs in the league last season, both have fewer INTs than any starting QB other than Big Ben, who has only played in 2 and 3 fewer games, respectively, than Collins/Plummer. Collins opened the season with 5 straight games without an INT. Plummer hasn't thrown a pick in 6 straight games. Trent Green, who was 5th last season with 17 INTs, like Collins only has 3 picks in 7 games.

Must be something in the water out west.

by thad (not verified) :: Mon, 10/31/2005 - 10:01pm

re 14
yep, 0 pd's
actually I am amazed that someone else mentioned pd's

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Mon, 10/31/2005 - 10:26pm

Also, I don't get why the Plummer for MVP talk is really so ridiculous. In 2003, Plummer was 6th in DVOA and 8th in DPAR. In 2004, he was 12th in DVOA and 11th in DPAR. This season, he's 5th in DVOA and 4th in DPAR. I know there's this huge negative perception about Plummer from his time in Arizona, but the numbers say that since he's been in Denver, he's consistantly been one of the best QBs in the entire NFL. In fact, he spent 6 seasons, 84 games total, playing for a terrible team and building up a -24 TD to INT margin... and now, in 35 games in Denver, he's evened his TDs and INTs. That means he's +24 in TDs to INTs in 35 games in Denver. If he had played his entire 119 game career at that rate, he would currently be +82 in TD to INT margin.

What's more, he has a better winning percentage since he came to Denver than any QBs in the entire NFL this side of Tom Brady, Donovan McNabb, and Peyton Manning- three guys who people have no hesitation against mentioning for MVP.

If you look even deeper, he's not NEARLY as inconsistant as people make him out to be, either. In his first game as a Bronco, he threw 3 INTs and 0 TDs. Then, over a four-game span late last season, he threw 1 TD and 8 INTs. Outside of those 5 games, he has thrown 53 TDs and 19 INTs in the remaining 30 games.

Yes, he threw a left-handed INT against KC last season. I saw Trent Green do the same thing later in the season. I also saw Plummer throw a left-handed TD last season, too. In fact, let's continue comparing Plummer to Green. Plummer threw 20 picks and was widely considered "Jake the Mistake". Trent Green threw 17 and was widely considered the most underrated QB in the entire NFL. What gives?

In response to the arguement that the QB on a run-first team can't be the MVP, I disagree in Jake's case. He's the one that makes the running game work at such a high level. His ability to bootleg, and his uncanny QBing outside of the pocket, force teams to limit backside pursuit by DEs who are too busy defending against the threat of the bootleg. His playfake ability is as good as Peyton Manning's, and his QB rating off of playfakes is 120+. In short, no way would Denver's rushing attack be this potent if Brian Griese was still in town.

I think everyone just has too many preconceived notions about Jake from his time in Arizona, and they really aren't judging him fairly based on the work he does in Denver.

Do I think that Jake Plummer deserves to win the MVP at the midseason mark? Nope. I'd probably call Steve Smith, Tom Brady, and Tomlinson by #1, 2, and 3. I just don't think it's that ludicrous that he be included in the conversation. At QB, according to DVOA and DPAR, only Manning, Palmer, and Brady (plus Big Ben, but as few passes as he attempts, I don't think he deserves a place in the conversation) have been more effective passing the ball, and all 3 of those guys I would argue have better surrounding offensive talent, especially at WR (although with Brady it's close). And of those 3, only Manning has a better winning percentage. None of the 3 have fewer turnovers. None of the 3 have anywhere near as big of an impact on the success of their running game. None of the 3 have faced a tougher schedule. So why are the other 3 legit MVP candidates, but not Plummer?

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Mon, 10/31/2005 - 10:29pm

Bah, one more note. Denver's defense is 16th according to DVOA, so saying Denver is built around the running game and defense is a little bit misleading (although I do think DVOA underrates Denver's D, and my personal feeling is that they're top 10). That said, a big reason why Denver's D looks so good is because Denver's O hasn't turned the ball over in 6 and a half games.

by Bruce Dickinson (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2005 - 2:29am

Open Question:
As a Bears fan, why is it so strange that this article compliments them, citing the Eagle's cap-manager as a credible source?

is it because the offense isn't managed well?

by thad (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2005 - 2:42am

wasn't the running game pretty good befor Jake got there. I thought Davis did pretty well.
Sarcasm aside, he has improved a lot since he got to denver, a playoff win would go a long way.

by Gatts (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2005 - 3:51am

Click my name for the funniest thing ever, Tedy Bruschi's best moments from Sunday Night.

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2005 - 6:01am

Re #21: Yes, Denver's running game *was* quite good before Plummer got there. Davis had a very impressive season (I'm wondering if having a 2000 yard rusher is more or less impressive than having two 1000 yard rushers). Of course, John Elway was the same mobile, accurate outside the pocket, powerful arm and deadly downfield on the run model of QB than Plummer is. So they both ran the offense the same way. Denver's running game had to be scaled back when Griese was in town, though, because, while he is competant with in bootleg, he's not masterful like Plummer and Elway.

I actually think that the line play in 2003 and 2004 was the worst it's been under Shanahan's tenure (although still better than league average), but Plummer went a long way towards masking the deficiencies. Also, while Denver's line has always been amazing in runblocking, it's been undersized and gets pushed around a lot in pass protection. In 2002, Denver was 26th in adjusted sack rate, with 45 sacks. Since then, it's averaged 8th in the league in adjusted sack rate, and has given up 51 total sacks in two and a half years of Jake.

If Plummer/Shanahan wind up winning a playoff game this season, it won't dispel their monkey. Then it'll become "They can't win a BIG playoff game", and if they win a BIG playoff game, it'll be "they can't win the superbowl", and if they win the superbowl it'll be "They never would have won it without _______". See Manning, Peyton and Elway, John.

by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2005 - 6:57am

Just to clarify, this is the same guy who threw a pass left handed from his own endzone last season right?

The vast majority of NFL calibre quarterbacks will be very very good when given time and an above average running game. Believable play action will buy more tme than just about any blocking scheme, though the two are obviously intertwined.

I'm just failing to see the difference between Plummer and Kerry Collins, Chris Chandler and even perhpas Kurt Warner, all average or above average QBs turned into world beaters when given a much simpler job.

by Adam T (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2005 - 11:29am

All the focus on Bruschi and his importance to the defense is very disrespectful to Rodney Harrison, whose loss is far more devastating. I bet it's because the media just really wants to see a white linebacker succeed.

Re: Plummer... let's see if he can win a game against an opponent who shuts down the running game. My guess is he'll turn back into the left-hand throwing turnover machine we all know and love.

by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2005 - 12:40pm

I wouldn't say Warner fits there. Warner's job was only simple in that he wasn't getting sacked constantly. He still had to make perfect throws and manage what was, I'm told, a complex offense. For two or three years, he was great and a seat-filler like Chris Chandler couldn't have come close to what he did.

by TomC (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2005 - 1:21pm

What I find funny about the Bears love in the national media this week (not just by LP) is that for most of the 4th quarter, they were on the verge of blowing a 13-3 lead, falling to 3-4, and losing the division lead. Had Alex Brown not sacked Garcia out of field goal range at the end of regulation, or if the refs had correctly called the Lions' defensive TD, you'd be reading about the Bears what LP wrote about the Jags (can't handle prosperity, can't win the big game when it counts, "can't trust this team", etc.).

by OMO (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2005 - 2:01pm

Why all the attention for Bruschi?

He's from New England. He played for the Seahawks or the 49ers or Kansas City...the media would do a 5 minute "comeback" story and maybe do a "during game stat check"...but b/c he's from Boston or NYC...it gets jammed down your throat.

Seriously...most of you don't see it because you live in the NE US...but in the midwest...the East Coast Sports media bias is so obvious that unless the team is from NYC or Boston or has a likable character that the media can attach their wagon to (Farve)...it's nothing more than filler for the next...Yankee, Red Sox, Pats, Jets, Giants, Redskins story.

by X Coach T (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2005 - 2:08pm


I am guessing you are a Bronco Fan--at least I hope you are because I am!
To all the rest:
There are a lot of things about last season that people don't remember regarding the Broncos and how the season SD had could have been reversed easily. One was the SD game at SD. If Denver wins they are in first with a few games left. But they lost because, in a rainy day Rod Smith couldn't grab a tough 3 yard pass from Plummer. The ball went up in the air and SD intercepted it in the end zone. Denver played horrible that day and still had that chance to win. Also (I believe this was last year)Randy Moss caught a last second pass at the end of the first half and then lateraled it backward fo a TD. Denver lost by less than 7.
Denver's Defense has been a big reason for the playoff losses the last 2 years. Their play and even moreso, playing the Colts at their house. Has any team won a playoff game at INDY in since Manning became QB? Indoors and Astroturf--keys to success for INDY.
We need to look at all the elements before we say Shanahan/Plummer can't win a playoff game together. The Jets beat SD last year in the playoffs--I believe the get beat bad by INDY and Denver beats SD if the games were reversed.
Are we going to go through the whole year and wait to see if the Broncos can win a playoff game before they are considered a top team in the NFL?

by Noble (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2005 - 2:43pm


The northeastern US is a big market. The sports media caters to big markets. *shrug* Reality isn't fair.

by MDZ (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2005 - 2:44pm

The Titans won at the RCA dome on their way to the Super Bowl in Peyton's second season. I get your point with wondering when a team will get respect, but every other team in league history that falls short in the playoffs gets the same treatment. The only way they'll get the respect you think they deserve is if they win a game. I'm not saying it's right, but Denver isn't the first team to get this treatment.

by snwolfe (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2005 - 4:31pm

#27 TomC
no kidding. if that fumbled punt in OT doesnt bounce right back to Wade(?), everyone would be talking about the resurgence of Garcia, and the trials and tribulations of being a rookie QB. instead, orton manages the game so well and should be rookie of the year. Gotta love it.

by Not the snake (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2005 - 4:41pm

Plummer for MVP? Remember what an MVP is, it's a player that is more important to his team.

Take that player away and try to imagine how your team would do. I don't see a big dropoff with Plummer not being there.

But an MVP also has to put up strong numbers. While this may be a career year for the Jake, that doesn't equal an MVP season, and the season is still early....

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2005 - 5:03pm

There are two types of MVPs. There's the QB/RB who puts up incredible numbers (40+ tds, 4500 yards). This would be Manning, Marino, Warner. Then there's the guy who takes a flawed team, and carries them to the playoffs. This would be like Favre or Elway. Plummer, right now, is neither of them. He's got decent numbers, but nothing extrodinary, and he's clearly not carrying that team anywhere. He's like Big Ben last year, but doing a little more for his team. Possible MVP canidates right now are Manning, Palmer and Brady, but I think the clear leader right now is Tomlinson.

by Browns Dude (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2005 - 9:40pm

"this is the same guy who threw a pass left handed from his own endzone last season right?"

What's your point? On MNF last year, Tom Brady was about to be sacked, so he threw the ball towards a receiver and it was picked off.

Brett Favre has made the same embarassing play twice now.

You're gonna focus on on a play from Week 1 of 2004?

by Browns Dude (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2005 - 9:47pm

Brady's not so good. Isn't he the guy that threw 4 INT's in a game?

by Browns Dude (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2005 - 9:48pm

LT's not so good.

Isn't he the guy that had 7 yards in a game?