Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

01 Oct 2012

Mandatory Monday: Newton Watch

I evaluate Cam Newton based on his body language this week. Have I crossed over to the Dark Side, or is it satire? Here's a hint: it's satire.

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 01 Oct 2012

16 comments, Last at 01 Oct 2012, 8:47pm by DisplacedPackerFan


by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/01/2012 - 10:12am

Greenway was hilarious on that play. When he was about six inches from making contact with Megatron, he tried to slam on the Wiley E. Coyote airbrakes, and stop himself in midair.

by Independent George :: Mon, 10/01/2012 - 10:48am

Anybody else have trouble accessing the site?

by crw78 :: Mon, 10/01/2012 - 12:06pm

No, no problems.

by nuk :: Mon, 10/01/2012 - 3:29pm

Trivia question:
The Keenan McCardell comment made me wonder what player has the most career receiving yards without ever leading his team in receiving yards for a season. Turns out it's not McCardell, since he led the Bucs once. Anyone know the answer? I got tired of looking, and haven't found out yet.

by nuk :: Mon, 10/01/2012 - 3:55pm

OK, I caught my second wind and found the answer.

by Dean :: Mon, 10/01/2012 - 4:30pm

Just a guess, but Ricky Proehl?

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Mon, 10/01/2012 - 5:03pm

That was my first thought so I looked and he was ruled out right away as checking his 1990 (rookie) season his 802 yards did lead the Phoenix Cardinals, ahead of the 797 by Roy Green and 724 of Ernie Jones. I don't feel like digging further, I did a few spot checks of folks above him on the all time list (he is 55th) and bumped into a few guys that only had a single season leading their teams. But I've only looked at like 10 and there were at least 25 others where I knew without needing to check that they had led their teams at least once. Though Ricky might have the most yards of anyone who never had a 1000 yard season.

by nuk :: Mon, 10/01/2012 - 5:40pm

I didn't keep track of that when I was looking, but you're probably right about him being the top of the sub-1000s. I was surprised when I saw his yardage list that he led the Cards a couple times.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Mon, 10/01/2012 - 5:50pm

Well since that one is much easier to check I did, and yep Ricky Proehl has the most receiving yards in NFL history without having a 1000 yard season. I thought maybe some of the guys who played a lot in the 60's might due to shorter seasons and less overall passing but Biletnikoff and Charley Taylor each had one season over 1000.

by Red (not verified) :: Mon, 10/01/2012 - 3:57pm

Holy cow, that sounds tough to figure out. Might it be someone who played with Rice on the 49ers?

Also, Tanier, proper English is 'an historic,' not 'a historic,' although having said that I prefer to use the latter. Just picking on you.

by InTheBoilerRoom :: Mon, 10/01/2012 - 5:36pm

Only if the 'h' is unsounded, as in honor or honest. The point of using 'an' is the unnatural and abrupt flow of using 'a' and then a vowel sound. It is equally abrupt to use 'an' and then a sounded 'h', as with "an historic" vs. "a historic".

Likewise, you don't always use 'an' when preceding a vowel. For example, when making a statement such as "a useful tool" you would not use 'an'.

by nuk :: Mon, 10/01/2012 - 5:36pm

Oh, that's one of my peeves - since I pronounce the h, it seems to me like it should be "a historic."

And if you want to know the answer to the trivia question, he's #73 on the all-time list.

by BigCheese :: Mon, 10/01/2012 - 6:31pm

Umm... no. Ernest Givens led the Oilers in recieving in his rookie year.

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Mon, 10/01/2012 - 4:45pm

Another fun article, though it's gotten me wondering about the Packer's running game. It's not good, there is no explosion but it still feels like it's better than the last few years. I just don't see Benson getting no gains or losses as much and he does seem to "fall forward" and get an extra yard when he gets tackled. Grant and Starks always seemed to get hit and that was the end so a 1 yard run for them is a 2 or 3 for Benson. Benson doesn't break a tackle and get 12-20 yards like Grant and Starks would do at times though. I'm actually quite curious as to Benson's DYAR for the Saints game.

First half on the left, 2nd half on the right.

01. 1-10 : 2y - 11. 1-10 : 3y
02. 2-08 : 5y - 12. 1-10 : 3y
03. 1-10 : 5y - 13. 1-10 : 7y (called back for holding)
04. 2-10 : 4y - -------------
------------- - 14. 1-10 : 9y
05. 1-10 : 4y - 15. 2-10 : 3y
06. 1-10 : 3y - 16. 1-10 : 8y
07. 1-10 : 5y - 17. 1-10 : 3y
08. 2-05 : 7y - 18. 2-07 : 4y
09. 1-10 : 5y -
10. 1-10 : 4y -

I believe this is the proper source of FO success rate:

* In general, a play counts as a success if it gains 40% of yards on first down, 60% of yards on second down, and 100% of yards on third down.
* If the team is behind by more than a touchdown in the fourth quarter, the benchmarks switch to 50%/65%/100%.
* If the team is ahead by any amount in the fourth quarter, the benchmarks switch to 30%/50%/100%

So that is U, S, S, U, S, U, S, S, S, S, U, U, NP, S, U, S, S, S for 11/17 or 64.7% success. But the unsuccessful runs were off by 2, 2, 1, 1, 1, 3 yards. They weren't horribly unsuccessful and I can not remember the last game where a GB running back had a give without any 0 or negative yard runs.

It was really an odd thing to see for a Packers running game. The worst situation Benson put the team in was 2-8, 3-6, 3-7, and then a couple of 2-7. The 3-6 and 3-7 came off of 2-10 runs so the passing game had already failed. If you swap those to 1-10 one of them was a success.

Benson's game is the model of just successful enough most of the time. DVOA likes that, but there will be virtually no "bonus" for him and while that game is a dream for boosting AGL (since the line will get credit for almost all the yardage) like I said I still feel like Grant or Starks would have had a couple of negative runs or that some of the 5 yard runs would have been 2 or 3 yard runs. Then again like Tanier said, it was the Saints... Though Benson has been somewhat similar to that against Chicago and Seattle and they had good run D.

Still as uninspiring as it is, I'm happy to have a back that only gets what is there and doesn't lose anything if there isn't anything. There has to be a way to make that into a successful offense. Though McCarthy and his love for the big play might not.

by ammek :: Mon, 10/01/2012 - 5:45pm

To be fair, the Packers' running game in 2009 and 2010 was similar — rarely stuffed, but just as seldom able to break off a big run. It was Starks who transformed it into more of a boom-and-bust operation (with the help of some youthful offensive line play). But I agree that, so far, where Grant would pick up a gain of 2, and Starks usually 0, Benson is getting 3.

Another development is that more runs between the tackles are being called. This is partly to suit Benson's skillset; partly because Benson instinctively looks to cut inside; and mostly because McCarthy has no faith whatsoever in his left tackle to deliver the big block on a stretch run.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Mon, 10/01/2012 - 8:47pm

It was closer to this, but they still didn't have a game like Sunday, and I admit they likely won't have a game like that again this year either. I also missed the 7yard run Benson had on a 2-5 with about 2:00 left in the 2nd quarter. I think that might be because ESPN has really screwed up the play by play for this game and I was referencing that, but PFR has a good play by play. So that makes the game even a bit better.

But yes, Starks is way more boom and bust, though like you agree, Grant didn't have that little something Benson has to get that extra yard or two. Hopefully we'll see some 10+ yard runs again, Benson is still getting used to a style of offense he has never really been a part of. I think Sunday stood out because not only wasn't there much in the way of bust, there was no boom either, it was just so "slightly above average".