Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

22 Aug 2011

MMQB: Todd Haley Hates Fantasy Football

In this week's edition, PK tells us about Todd Haley's disdain for fantasy football, Tony Dungy's guarantee, Josh McDaniels' moment of zen, Terrell Pryor's likely destination, Cam Newton's job security, Maurice Jones-Drew's thought experiment, and Mike Munchak's breaking of the Joe Paterno barrier.

Posted by: Danny Tuccitto on 22 Aug 2011

33 comments, Last at 25 Aug 2011, 7:23am by FrontRunningPhinsFan


by tuluse :: Mon, 08/22/2011 - 2:21pm

I defended Haley's use of Thomas Jones during the regular season. It kept Charles healthy, and they made the playoffs. So it made sense to me. Get into the playoffs with as healthy and strong of a team as you can. However, once he got there, Charles got all 9 carries. That's basically just throwing the towel in right there.

by Harrison Bergeron (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2011 - 2:41pm

In the Chiefs' playoff loss, the problem was less Charles not getting enough touches than the Chiefs as a whole not getting enough touches. Due to the Ravens going on lengthy drives, the Chiefs only ran 40 offensive plays; Charles touched the ball on 10 of them.

In the regular season, Charles touched the ball on 26% of the Chiefs' offensive plays, while in the playoff game (in which the Chiefs trailed by a significant margin for much of the second half), Charles touched the ball on 25%. In a reversal of their regular season usage patterns, Thomas Jones touched the ball on only six plays in the playoffs.

Perhaps if the Chiefs' defense had been able to get the Ravens off the field occasionally (the Ravens had 26 first downs and were 9-17 on third downs), Charles would have had more of a chance to make a difference.

by tuluse :: Mon, 08/22/2011 - 2:44pm

The fact that Charles didn't have 10 carries in the first quarter is an indictment on Haley in my opinion. They should have force fed him the ball right from the get go. Of course I think Cassell sucks and even when down 20 points their best option was to keep giving it to Charles.

by jonnyblazin :: Mon, 08/22/2011 - 4:28pm

If i remember right Charles was doing pretty good until Mount Cody sat on him. Maybe he was shaken up after that, b/c he was scary early on.

by nkowal :: Wed, 08/24/2011 - 2:45pm

I don't mind Jones getting some spell touches. I mind Haley continually pounding his head into the wall running Jones to spite people. He says its all about the team (and I agree), but you also need to put your team in the best position to win, and running a back who is not effective (3.7 ypc is NOT effective) is not helping the team out.

It seems Haley is so concerned with focusing on the team (and being anti-individual) that he refuses to acknowledge that he's swinging *too* far the other way.

There is a balance which can be found, but it's not where it was last year. And if the Chiefs want to do something with a much tougher schedule this year he needs to realize that.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 08/24/2011 - 7:05pm

Apart from anything else, you'd think he'd try and find a complementary back or backs who didn't comprehensively suck. You want to keep Charles fresh? Fine. But keep him fresh with someone who's at least replacement level.

by Sergio :: Mon, 08/22/2011 - 2:24pm

Gahhh, I knew it!

-- Go Phins!

by are-tee :: Mon, 08/22/2011 - 2:34pm

"The Eagles were awful Thursday night. And in Week 6 of the regular season, you'll laugh about it."

I couldn't agree more - there's very little correlation between performance in pre-season and regular season. The problem with that is it makes all his other observations about teams and players kind of meaningless. For example, John Beck might turn out to be a much better QB than people thought, but you can't infer that from his performance in two pre-season games.

by Harrison Bergeron (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2011 - 2:45pm

To defend PK's (hypothetical) line of thought, he may have been saying that although Philadelphia looked bad, we are fairly sure that they aren't that bad, because they looked much better last season. However, since we don't have any information one way or another on John Beck, it could be a good sign that he looks good in the preseason. Even though the preseason is relatively meaningless, I'd rather have an inexperienced QB who can pick apart preseason defenses than an inexperienced QB who can't.

by tuluse :: Mon, 08/22/2011 - 2:45pm

There was an article on FO a long time ago that showed that when the starters are playing, pre-season does have predictive power.

by Aaron Brooks' Good Twin (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2011 - 3:38pm

Vick has thrown 3 INTs in a game once in 98 career games. I'm not sure how predictive that pre-season game is going to be.

by GlennW :: Mon, 08/22/2011 - 4:16pm

I'd be more worried about the Eagles' undersized starting defensive front 7 getting manhandled by the Steelers' mediocre, banged-up and inexperienced O-line. Last week in here I was reading an Eagles' fan's critique of this part of the team (for which he was mostly mocked as a Chicken Little), but based on what we saw in this game-- physical mismatches on both lines, as opposed to something more fluky like Vick's performance-- it at least has to be of some concern.

by Aaron Brooks' Good Twin (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2011 - 4:38pm

It's a calculated risk. The Eagles are building to beat teams like the Patriots, Packers, and Saints. That philosophy tends to put you at a disadvantage against teams like the Steelers, and is a bit of a toss-up against the Ravens, Steelers, and Giants (teams with power running games, but also either substandard receivers or turnover-prone QBs).

by DRohan :: Mon, 08/22/2011 - 10:55pm

The Steelers have a power running game? Was Thursday night's game played in the 1970s?

by Aaron Brooks' Good Twin (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2011 - 9:40am

The Steelers were the 5th heaviest running team last year, by percentage of rushing attempts. In the modern NFL, they are a power rushing team.

by Turin :: Tue, 08/23/2011 - 2:46pm

Both GB and NE specialize in creating mismatches via personel/formations. I would expect that either would spend a lot of time in 2-TE, 2-back formations to keep Phillie's shutdown corners off the field. If the Eagles d-line and linebackers end up being that weak, they'll either get steamrolled in the running game, or shreaded by teams who have multiple average-to-good receiving tight ends and running backs.

by MJK :: Wed, 08/24/2011 - 12:57am

Ummm...explain? I follow a lot of Patriots, not so much Eagles.

The Patriots this year are ramping up for a balanced attack splitting the run with the pass. They have probably three good young running backs, at least two good young tight ends that have shown power blocking and excellent, athletic receiving skills, a couple of tackles and at least one guard that look to be absolute beasts, and who run primarily man-blocking running attack, and one of the best quick-pass QB's in the league with two very good possession receivers. According to FO's stats, their run-blocking was very good last year, and their run game was extremely efficient. They do not rely on the deep pass, or even the moderately deep pass--the deep bomb, the 15-yard crossing pattern, and 20 yard comeback are probably Brady's weakest throws, while the quick screens, short crosses and outs, and inside seam passes are his good throws.

All in all, it seems like a team that is built to beat the Patriots is one with big, powerful corners that mug Deion Branch off the line, very good safeties or coverage linebackers who can contain the TE's in the passing game but still contain the run, and powerful defensive tackles that can overwhelm the Patriots somewhat undersized center and right guard.

The Eagles, on the other hand, seem built to stop a team more like the Texans--teams with one really good WR that you take away with good CB play, and that rely on lighter, quicker O-linemen to handle a zone-blocking running game that a fast, aggressive front like the Eagles can counteract with speed.

Against the Patriots, I would expect to see lots of two or three TE sets, with a heavy dose of trap plays to get the aggressive defense to overcommit, seam passes to the TE's, and short passes to Welker and the RB's. Basically, keeping the Eagles CB's out of the game and leaning on their safeties, which I don't think of as the Eagles's strong point.

But I'm not an Eagles fan. Am I mis-characterizing them?

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 08/24/2011 - 5:53am

Your comment prompted me to look up the listed weights of the Patriots and Texans starting offensive lines. You're right that the Patriots line is heavier (by 19 pounds in total), but what interested me is that that extra weight is concentrated almost entirely in the guards. Winston and Vollmer are essentially the same weight (though Winston is shorter and thicker), as are Myers and Koppen. Duane Brown is actually significantly bigger than Light - thicker, rather than taller (or shorter and thicker than Solder, if you expect Solder to start). But Mankins and Connolly each have around a stone on Smith and Brisiel. I wonder if that's typical of the difference between zone blocking and man blocking lines.

Regardless, in my experience the defenses the Texans struggle against are not the ones with fast, active fronts (see Arian Foster vs. Colts run defense) but the ones with massive nose tackles who physically overpower Myers and blow up plays in the backfield (Jets - healthy Kris Jenkins edition). I would expect a Texans offensive gamepland against the Eagles to involve a lot of runs towards Samuel's side of the field (Kevin Walter's blocking vs. Samuel's run defense = major mismatch) and in the passing game a focus on isolating Daniels, Foster or James Casey against linebackers or safeties.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Mon, 08/22/2011 - 4:45pm

Woah, hold on there a minute. Do you mean to say that the Steelers have upgraded their O-line all the way up to mediocre?

by GlennW :: Mon, 08/22/2011 - 5:12pm

I'm being generous. Or perhaps I should be more specific and say that the Steelers' O-line is mediocre in the running game, which is where the Eagles defensive starters were having their hats handed to them, even after the Steelers plugged in a rookie (Gilbert) and perennial inactive (Hills) at LT due to injuries. (Come to think of it, the Eagles' vaunted secondary didn't look good either, but at least there I'd fully expect their talent to come together with more playing time. I'm not so sure about the middle of the defense.)

by tuluse :: Mon, 08/22/2011 - 4:20pm

Glad I didn't say that single preseason performances will exactly match how players will play in the regular season then.

by JIPanick :: Mon, 08/22/2011 - 9:29pm

I won't laugh about it. I almost certainly won't even remember; if I do, I won't care.

by Lance :: Mon, 08/22/2011 - 2:59pm

If PK is right that the Chargers-to-LA deal isn't as likely as first reported, I'm happy. The Chargers have a long history in San Diego, and it seems like a crime to uproot them. Same goes for the Bills or Vikings. For me, it makes far more sense to take Jacksonville. The team has little history, and exists in a small market that is already has two franchises in the state-- one of which has a fairly rich history that many Jacksonville residents already identify with.

I've heard that due to various financial penalties that it would be difficult to move Jacksonville. But for me, I'd hope that a new ownership group plus the NFL's money, etc., could remedy that and send what is a small market franchise with little history or tradition to our country's second-largest TV market, and spare other franchises with long storied histories (but that happen to be in small markets) from the agony of losing a team.

by dryheat :: Mon, 08/22/2011 - 4:09pm

I've thought that San Diego was destined to LA for three or four years now. They were born in LA, they would remain close enough where a significant portion of their fan base could still attend games with regularity, and their stadium is the worse of the dozen or so I've been to, with no new stadium apparently on the way.

While you're right that many Jacksonville-area residents are likely Dolphins or Bucs fans, it's also true that San Diego has a mostly transient population that roots for other teams. In fact, when I was there for a Patriots/Chargers game, the crowd seemed to break down 50% Chargers fans, 25% Patriots fans, and 25% Raiders fans rooting against the Chargers.

by FrontRunningPhinsFan :: Wed, 08/24/2011 - 10:32am

There are a ton of Dolphins fans in Central FL (Orlando and surrounding areas) who would love for Jacksonville to move. I'd say the ratio is at least 5-1 and that's being very generous to Jacksonville. Unfortunately, the NFL (or whoever makes these decisions) wants Orlando to be a secondary market for Jacksonville rather than Miami. Orlando being a secondary market, if J-ville and Miami play at the same time, we get the Jacksonville game rather than Miami. Upsets a lot of fans to the point where there have been seasons where network local affiliates try to get approval to play Dolphins games instead but to no avail. I'm sure it helps Directv and the local sports bars quite a bit though.

by Jerry :: Wed, 08/24/2011 - 6:30pm

Where do the Bucs fit into this (aside from the other conference/network)?

by FrontRunningPhinsFan :: Thu, 08/25/2011 - 7:23am

It doesn't affect anything as far as TV goes. Orlando is a secondary market for the Bucs as well, so we get their games. But like you said its on FOX instead of CBS so it doesn't make a difference.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Mon, 08/22/2011 - 3:07pm

Ugh. Maybe I'm paying too much attention to football. I instantly knew way too much about:
Mortty (Ivy),
Crezdon (Butler),
Baraka (Atkins),
Da'Mon (Bok, j/k that's a Ferengi, Cromartie-Smith),
Sunny (Harris),
Weslye (Saunders) and
Swayze (Waters)
of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I take some solace in knowing that had he done the same with any other team I would probably not have gotten many.

by drobviousso :: Mon, 08/22/2011 - 5:22pm

Well, you did one better than me. Every time I see Atkins, I think Geno, so I can never remember his first name.

by Michael LaRocca (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2011 - 6:42pm

Todd Haley isn't the only one who hates fantasy football

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 08/22/2011 - 7:50pm

McDaniels has the Rams looking pretty decent right now, and I think that with just the offense to worry about, he might be able to succeed. But the comments in that section were almost comical in how they seek to revise history.

"I called my wife and said, 'This is it. This is the place I want to be.'
"Not only did they have the quarterback in place, obviously, with Sam Bradford, a guy who has the chance to truly be special."

He had a top young QB in place in Denver with Cutler, but before even meeting him face-to-face he'd decided he wanted Matt Cassel more. He had the third-rated offense in the league and completely gutted it--new line coach, new linemen, sent the #1 receiver away, sent the QB away, sent Peyton Hillis to Cleveland for Brady Quinn who never played a down for the Broncos.... It's hard to imagine any of that being handled any worse by any coach. If none of that shook his confidence or caused him to rethink things, the Rams are going to eventually have problems.

"Josh's mindset is, if the defense wants to play us a certain way, fine; we'll do something else to make plays,'' said Bradford."

This is the same guy who with the Broncos kept getting stuffed on 3rd and 4th and short because he couldn't figure out how to get a yard or two and who couldn't score in the Red Zone. Under McDaniels the Broncos were absolutely terrible about adjusting to the defense.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Wed, 08/24/2011 - 5:19pm

Cutler is a "top young QB"? You could have fooled me.

by rots (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2011 - 4:58am

@sundown - i would strongly disagree with what you said about the broncos under mcdaniels being absolutely terrible about adjusting to the defense.

That couldnt be more wrong..They were absolutely terrible in every aspect of the game. Not just adjusting to defenses. Get the facts right.

I hope Mcdaniels gets leprosy this season.. The litany of wasted first round picks (including the trading of a 1 to teh seahawks for Thomas) so we can get a 2 in return and draft alphonso smith has set this franchise back years and years.