Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

12 Mar 2012

MMQB: Peyton and Griffin

Peter looks at the inner dynamics of the Peyton Manning trips and also discusses how the St. Louis-Washington trade went down on Friday night. Finally, for good measure, a little dash of the Mark Sanchez extension.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 12 Mar 2012

49 comments, Last at 13 Mar 2012, 4:31pm by silentrat


by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 9:04am

And there's a quarterback named Matt Flynn out there who threw for six touchdowns in the last game of the season -- more than Starr, Favre or Rodgers ever did in a game

Didn't Favre throw 6 in a game for the Jets? Check your facts PK.

by FrontRunningPhinsFan :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 9:09am

You are wrong. No way he would ever miss something like that with Brett Favre. It must have been sixTEEN in one game.

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 9:23am

I think this is probably sloppy writing, rather than sloppy fact-checking: he meant in a game for the Packers - hence the selection of Starr, Favre and Rodgers, rather than any other great quarterbacks who never threw six touchdowns in a game.

by Jimmy :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 9:42am

according to the well-worn draft-trade value chart -- even though that chart has to change now because very high picks are paid much less since the approval of the 2011 CBA, including a rookie wage scale.

That trade chart was created in 1989 or 1990 or so by the Cowboys. Before free agency. Before rookie salaries started to grow inexorably large. If salary cap costs greatly concerned your valuation of top picks you shouldn't have been paying it any attention for a while. It may be the case that talent distribution is once again the primary focus of draft pick value (and this is a good thing) but that would make the chart more correct, not less.

by Pied :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 10:19am


"Manning lost two of three to Rex Ryan after Ryan took over the Jets"

No he didn't.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 8:13pm

His record still says that though, so it must be true.

by Podge (not verified) :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 9:57am

That factoid of the week is just bizarre. I mean... I don't get it. Bruce Springsteen played a gig and someone was there?

Actually a bit of a disappointing column this week, because the stories of this week are usually the stuff that King does better than anyone else - getting the stories behind things. And what he's got on them isn't very interesting.

by Anonymous9301930 (not verified) :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 10:07am

Perhaps it was because he was on vacation in AZ. And I'm not sure what new insights he could have gleaned from the Manning situation at this point.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 10:27am

When King stops ruminating about which very old baby boomers are attending another old baby boomer's concerts, or giving us profound insights as to travelling for hin job, he can actually be a decent reporter. The cover story piece, for instance, about the Saints' debacle he wrote last week, was really good work. That sort of quality is pretty rare in his column, however, which is why I've read it about three of four times in the past year.

by Jerry :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 4:26am

That's the difference between his magazine pieces and the much less tightly edited online columns. Some of what appears in MMQB is good stuff that can't get into the magazine, and some is not-so-good stuff.

by Sophandros :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 3:20pm

To be fair, Bruce Springsteen isn't the typical type of performer to appear at the Apollo...

Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

by bubqr :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 10:11am

" The biggest one: stockpile draft choices so you can control drafts"

"Be bold, as Dimitroff was when he dealt multiple picks to move up in the first round last April to draft Julio Jones"

My brain exploded

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 12:03pm

A better way to put it, perhaps: actively trade to get to the spots where you think the best value is to be had, be it by moving up or down, rather than adopting the Denny Green-style stand-pat-and-take-BPA approach.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 12:26pm

I wish Denny Green had consistently adopted a BPA approach in Minnesota. As he consolidated his power there, locking out personnel guys who had good track records going back almost 30 years, the Vikings started drafting guys at the top whose greatest attribute was being at a position of need. Thus, the Dimitrius Underwoods, Duane Clemens, and Derrick Alexanders were reached for. Yeah, he hit a homerun with Randy Moss, but drafting an obviously all-time athlete in the 2nd half of the first round isn't exactly a stroke of genius.

by zerlesen (not verified) :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 10:45am

"Look at Eli Manning. When the Giants made the trade with San Diego in 2004, the common wisdom was GM Ernie Accorsi overpaid. Now, with Eli Manning having won two Super Bowls and played such clutch football in both championship game victories, it's apparent that the Giants, if anything, underpaid for him."

It's true, you can't overvalue swagger.

by Jimmy :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 10:47am

Or the frictional coefficient of the top of Davids Tyree's helmet.

by are-tee :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 11:58am

It's not apparent the Giants underpaid for Eli when you consider they could have kept Rivers for nothing. Based on how Rivers played his first few years, they might have had more success with him than Eli.

by erniecohen :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 2:01pm

Correction, they got Eli for Rivers plus Shaun Merriman and Nate Kaeding. Rivers alone has about 50% greater DYAR than Manning. Throw in the other two, and this is an extremely lopsided trade.

NYG got destroyed in this deal. The only reason nobody notices is that everybody credits the QB for the performance of the team in the postseason.

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 2:13pm

It's not really fair to take the trade as Eli vs. Rivers, Merriman and Kaeding. There's no guarantee the Giants would have taken those players. It should be viewed as Rivers + average picks at those draft spots. Which is still lopsided based on performance to date, but is not certain to be so when Eli and Rivers hang them up.

by erniecohen :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 5:22pm

I brought up the particular players because even though everybody at the time said that NYG overpaid, PK is claiming that in retrospect they underpaid. So including the particular picks is appropriate when evaluating the deal from the SD perspective, but perhaps not from the NY perspective.

I'm wondering why anybody thinks that Rivers will not continue to outperform Manning. After dominating him for 5 years straight, they were about even this last year. (see the analysis below)

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 9:30pm

True. In 2001, the Packers traded Matt Hasselbeck, their first (17th overall) and seventh-round draft picks, to the Seahawks for their first (10th overall) and third-round draft picks. The Packers then drafted Jamal Reynolds with the #10 pick while Seattle drafted Steve Hutchinson. With their third round pick, the Packers got Torrance Marshall. So Seattle got Hasselbeck and Hutch, and Green Bay got Reynolds and Marshall. I'm sure every fan could point out a trade that turned out this imbalanced for their team both positive and negative.

by Sophandros :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 3:23pm

What you're saying is that this is a perfect example of why focusing only on results is a flawed way to analyze a decision.
Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 3:28pm

There are some real concerns about how Rivers would have interacted with the press in NYC. He's prickly with the low-pressure environment of SD. How would he fair in the Bronx Zoo?

by chemical burn :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 6:40pm

Yeah, being here in NYC, it really is clear that Eli's charmingly dopey "aw shucks" unflappability really is a perfect match for the press. You can't get him angry, everything slides off his back, he seems to have zero self-consciousness and no cares about his image. He's perfectly suited for an environment that eats vain celebrities alive...

by JMM* (not verified) :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 2:29pm

I look at it as they could have kept Brees "for nothing." It would have cost a draft pick to get Rivers that could have been used for another player or it could have been traded for additional picks or players.

by alsep73 :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 4:49pm

Actually, they'd have traded down with Cleveland, acquired an extra pick or two, and taken Roethlisberger. Accorsi wanted no part of Rivers, for the temperament reasons cited below.

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 7:17pm

With 20/20 hindsight, that might not have been a great call either. New York has a lot of co-eds and a lot of paparazzi . . .

by alsep73 :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 8:20pm

Yup. Ben has two Super Bowl rings himself (though was even less responsible for the first one than Eli), and Rivers has had the much better career statistically. Personality-wise, though, it's easy to see both of them being a nightmare under the New York spotlight.

I'll certainly grant that the Chargers made out very, very well with the trade. As a Giants fan, I've got no complaints, though.

by erniecohen :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 5:15pm

It is just incomprehensible to me how anybody can seriously consider Manning to be in the same class as Rivers over their career. Rivers is on pace to be one of the all-time great QBs. Manning has been an above average starting QB recently, below average if you count over his whole career.

Here are their year-by-year DYAR and DVOA comparisons, starting from 2006 when Rivers first became a starting QB (Eli was really bad before 2006 anyway). In addition, for each year I've included the QBs whose DYAR and DVOA difference from Eli closest matches the difference between Manning and Rivers:

2006: Rivers + 385 Rivers + 14% DVOA Trent Green, Drew Bledsoe
2007: Rivers + 621 Rivers + 20% DVOA Andrew Walter,
2008: Rivers + 490 Rivers + 15.9% DVOA Jeff Garcia
2009: Rivers + 810 Rivers + 24.8% DVOA Matt Moore
2010: Rivers + 860 Rivers + 23% DVOA Rex Grossman
2011: Manning + 66 Manning + .7% DVOA Matt Stafford

In 2011, when everybody is saying how Manning is finally "elite" and Rivers had such a down year, they were approximately equal in value, both total and per play. For the previous five years, Rivers had been destroying Manning. These are not small differences.

Manning has fewer DYAR over his career than ... Matt Schaub, despite the fact that Manning has started for two years more than Schaub has. Romo has 25% more DYAR in two fewer years. Since Eli has been in the league, he has 40% fewer DYAR than Carson Palmer, even though Palmer lost time with an injury and a holdout.

Manning is often compared to Roethlisberger. But there is no comparison. Roethlisberger has about 35% more DYAR than Manning, in about 7% fewer pass attempts.

Eli Manning is not a great QB. If you think he is, please either give some real evidence, or also confess that you consider Bradshaw one of the top 5 QBs of all time.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 5:24pm

If you don't think Manning was a great qb in 2011, you are putting way too much emphasis on DYAR's ability to measure the performance of a quarterback. I happen to agree that Rivers has been the much better qb for his career, by the way.

by tuluse :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 6:47pm

Eli was great in 2010 too. He had something like 10 passes tipped by his receivers and intercepted.

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 7:20pm

This. Rivers has been by far the better player to date, but Manning really was excellent in 2011, whatever DYAR says.

by Subrata Sircar :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 8:35pm

Perhaps this amuses only me, but I could see Rivers winding up as Ken Anderson - a guy who put up great seasons that nobody appreciated, because his teams never won (and because of perception issues) - and Manning as Terry Bradshaw - a very good QB elevated to demigod-hood because of his team's superlative defensive play.

It seems likely that this is how the Hall of Fame voting would play out with bog-standard aging curves from here on out, anyway.

I too think Rivers is underappreciated, but the way to fix that is not to say that Manning didn't step up his game in 2011 (or 2010), and to try to pave over Rivers' 2011.

by erniecohen :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 9:02pm

You are exactly right about Anderson and Bradshaw.

As for Manning in 2010, the problem is of course the 24 interceptions. Now, there is such a thing as bad luck; if you throw 24 interceptions, you could argue for a standard deviation of about 5 (though that is a bit optimistic), so maybe he was really unlucky and 8 of those interceptions were bad luck. Turn those into a incompletions, and you have a good year, but still not a great year; you have year comparable to what Matt Schaub did in 2010 - top 10 QB, not top 5. And 8 interceptions is a whole lot of doubt to give someone the benefit of.

Do you have some other reason to believe that Manning was a great QB in 2010?

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 10:36am

The other thing hurting Rivers' perception is that SD pushed out Drew Brees to make Rivers the starter -- and Rivers turned out to be not as good as the guy he replaced.

So he was traded for a QB with two rings for his new team, and replaced a QB with one ring for his new team, while Rivers stands alone in SD, like Gollum to the Lord of No Rings.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 2:34pm

Year: Rivers - Brees
2006: 17.9 - 25.1
2007: 6.9 - 17.0
2008: 35.6 - 33.9
2009: 45.9 - 41.0
2010: 34.0 - 19.3
2011: 22.5 - 44.5

I know you're just talking about perception. And I know DVOA is talking about a passing offense and not actually about the QB, but these numbers seem to support my impression, which is that they're both pretty darn good with Brees being a bit better.

by erniecohen :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 8:42pm

DYAR and DVOA say that Manning was indeed a very good QB in 2011 - by far the best year of his career, by a very wide margin. Not close to the year that Brees or Rogers had (they about doubled him in both DYAR and DVOA), or even Brady, but still a very good year.

The problem is that this is the first time that Manning has been anywhere near this level. In his best year ever, he was nowhere near the top 3 in the league.

By contrast, 2011 was the worst year for Rivers since 2007. However, DVOA and DYAR say that Manning and Rivers had roughly equal value. Do you dispute this? If so, please give some objective evidence for your contention.

For that matter (this is specifically for Will), why do you think that Manning has a brighter future than Rivers going forward?

by erniecohen :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 8:42pm

DYAR and DVOA say that Manning was indeed a very good QB in 2011 - by far the best year of his career, by a very wide margin. Not close to the year that Brees or Rogers had (they about doubled him in both DYAR and DVOA), or even Brady, but still a very good year.

The problem is that this is the first time that Manning has been anywhere near this level. In his best year ever, he was nowhere near the top 3 in the league.

By contrast, 2011 was the worst year for Rivers since 2007. However, DVOA and DYAR say that Manning and Rivers had roughly equal value. Do you dispute this? If so, please give some objective evidence for your contention.

For that matter (this is specifically for Will), why do you think that Manning has a brighter future than Rivers going forward?

by Will Allen :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 10:40am

Largely because I have more faith in Floyd Reese than A.J. Smith. Also, my sense of it, which could be wrong, is that Rivers is more Favre-like in his willingness to take hits while delivering the ball, and Eli has become more like his brother, being able to avoid big and constant hits, even when getting mediocre protection. I see the changes in the Chargers o-line on the horizon, and I think Rivers may end up getting battered pretty good, as he gets into his 30s.

(edit) Jerry Reese, not Floyd. Gotta cut myself off after one bottle of scotch.

by erniecohen :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 10:53am

Fair enough. But why Floyd Reese? Is there a blockbuster trade coming that you know about that we don't?

I think I agree that Rivers is at greater risk for injury. On the other hand, because he is a substantially better passer, he can sustain greater decline in his level of play before being benched, and so should have a longer career (barring injury, and ignoring the reality that people will always want to give Manning more chances because he is a "winner").

Overall, I think I would take the bet that Rivers will have more DYAR over their careers. (I'm pretty sure you don't want to bet on DVOA.) Should we bet a gallon of gasoline, or is that likely to be too large a wager by the time this is settled?

by Will Allen :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 11:09am

I think A.J. Smith has some talent evaluation ability, although the record is a bit more mixed than some think. I also think he is enough of a meathead to install an obvious incompetent like Ted Cottrell as a dc, after getting into an nonreconcilable dispute with an arguable HOFer head coach like Schottenheimer. I think AJ Smith has had the best qb, in a very weak division, for years, by a wide margin after Cutler left, and the Chargers have still managed to only have one year in the last four where they won more than nine games.

I don't think much of AJ Smith, so I think Rivers is likely to suffer at his hands on the back nine of his career.

(edit) I don't think Rivers is a substantially better passer any more, and my only comment on Eli Manning being better was from 2011 onward. I'd take that wager.

by Mr Shush :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 11:25am

Over their whole careers, I agree. I'd want . . . maybe 4/1 to take that bet. But that's still a meaningful chance that Manning does. And from 2012 onwards, I'd maybe call it 55/45 in Manning's favour.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 11:30am

Yeah, I could easily forsee a situation where Eli has 8 more productive years, and Rivers only 2 or 3. I'm not saying it is a likely outcome, but it isn't wildly unlikely, either.

by erniecohen :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 12:56pm

Is it possible that we are all in hell? Maybe hell is just having to watch people on earth say stupid things with no effective way to shoot them down?

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 11:34am

PK has finally written a Seinfeldesque column - four pages about absolutely nothing.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 12:45pm

Now, now, without The Airing of Grievances, usually related to how awful it is to travel the nation on Time/Warner's dime, Kingian Seinfeldian harmonic convergence has yet been reached.

by fmtemike :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 3:51am

Jeez. The state park overlooking the Quinnipac campus is Sleeping Giant, not Giants. All you have to be able to do is read.

by OldEuropeJoe (not verified) :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 10:48am

After having read the coments I decide to skip the column this week. That was the discussion saved me 10 minutes.
Thanks everybody.

by silentrat :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 4:31pm

same here