Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

27 Dec 2013

Bill Barnwell's All-Pro Team

People often ask us if we're going to do a Football Outsiders All-Pro Team. It's not something we do on a regular basis but if we did one this year it would look a lot like the one that Bill Barnwell put together for Grantland. It's hard to think of where I have disagreements with his squad. Maybe Dontari Poe deserves a mention? I would probably want to pick a strong safety and free safety instead of just two safeties, which would take off Eric Weddle and add Eric Berry. And I might make a couple of second-team changes. (I love A.J. Green but I think Jordy Nelson has been better than him this year.)

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 27 Dec 2013

36 comments, Last at 21 Jan 2014, 6:04pm by UGG Ascot Boots


by MilkmanDanimal :: Fri, 12/27/2013 - 1:16pm

Yeah, I'm a homer, but Gerald McCoy has really had an amazing year on a defensive line that really isn't featuring much other than him. Then again, it really has been one heck of a year for DTs in general. I'd have to guess that's the hardest position to pick on an All-Pro team this year, just because so many guys are having great years.

by Tim Wilson :: Fri, 12/27/2013 - 7:25pm

Yeah...Jason Hatcher and McCoy don't even get mentioned, but it's tough to argue with the interior DLs that he has on the list.

by Michael LaRocca (not verified) :: Fri, 12/27/2013 - 2:00pm

My All-Pro Team features Tebow to T.O. because winning is optional. We just want to steal the media circus from Washington.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Fri, 12/27/2013 - 2:12pm

The Dallas Cowboys laugh at your attempt to steal the media circus.

by Jeff88 (not verified) :: Fri, 12/27/2013 - 3:36pm

I would go Gerald McCoy as well. Also Watt is having a fantastic year worthy of DPOY honors again. The problem is he doesn't have the fancy sack numbers of last year.

by RickD :: Fri, 12/27/2013 - 7:58pm

It's sad how overrated the sack statistic is.

Most defenses have at least 1000 snaps so far. There are two players with more than 13 sacks, i.e. two players who have sacks on more than 1.3% of their defensive plays (roughly speaking).

Sacks are nice, but you certainly cannot count on them to be anything but a rare event.

by Lance :: Sat, 12/28/2013 - 7:08pm

I've always wondered about this. A good sack year is what-- 16 sacks? 20 is really good. But that's more or less one a game. ONE SACK A GAME. Out of 30 drop-backs, what sort of significance is just one sack a game?

Obviously a player who can put together lots of sacks in a season is a danger and offenses have to look out for him, and that may adjust blocking and routs, even whole game plans, etc., etc., etc., but really: is getting 16 sacks that much better than getting 13? Or 10?

Sacks are cool, and obviously team-wise it's good to have more. But noting when one guy has ca. 0.9 sacks a game and comparing it to the one who has 0.86 sacks a game seems silly.

by Purds :: Sat, 12/28/2013 - 7:32pm

However, the low sack number often hides a large number of pressures that do effect the game more regularly, and in addition, those with the most sacks usually draw more blocking attention, again influencing the game pretty dramatically. I can see what you mean about what is the difference between 16 and 13, and I can agree there doesn't seem to be much difference there, but 16 and 10 are quite different, I would guess, when you add in the other influence each has on the game.

As a Colts fan, I am more interested in Mathis and his 8 forced fumbles than I am in his sack total. Those strip sacks very often do change game salat least temporarily, like an interception. They are not always recovered by the defense, but when they are, they often lead directly to points (defensive TD, etc). One of Mathis's FF ended up as a safety, and so while not a TO, it was still a game changer in the temporary sense.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Sat, 12/28/2013 - 11:38pm

This. Sacks are sort of a shorthand for pressures/hurries, and great pass rushers absolutely affect the offense on the majority of dropbacks even if they don't register a stat.

by Sifter :: Sun, 12/29/2013 - 5:58am

I hear what you are saying, but the vast majority of snaps don't get hurries or pressures either. Looking at the first PFF article I can find on it (from end of NOV). At that time they had the best D LINE for total pressure (Seattle) with 27 sacks, 42 QB hits and 134 hurries for 203 total pressures on 1561 snaps. About 13% of snaps there is significant pressure, and that's for the best team. For Atlanta, the worst, it was about 7.5%.
Of course good pass rushers change blocking schemes etc., but I think even they would acknowledge there are there for 'big plays' rather than every down contributions.

by Hurt Bones :: Sun, 12/29/2013 - 10:14am

1561 snaps would be all defensive snaps not all defensive passing snaps. So the percentages would be nearly double. The important number is how often a team got pressure on passing snaps. not on all snaps.

by Sifter :: Sun, 12/29/2013 - 6:00am

The main factor with sacks is that they are most often drive enders and/or turnovers. So 1 sack isn't a lot in itself, but it generally stops 1 drive. Therefore, rather than saying 1 sack in 60-70 plays is a drop in the bucket, look at the 11 or 12 drives per game as the unit instead and suddenly sacks become a bit more significant. Still, I agree with your general argument...highlighting 5 sacks as a bad year vs 10 sacks as a good year seems ridiculous to me.

by Jerry :: Sun, 12/29/2013 - 6:59am

Sacks are good, and they're easy to count. Because so many other aspects of defensive front play are harder to quantify, we've been left with sacks as a proxy for defensive quality, and that's where I have a problem. I'd probably prefer a lineman with half as many sacks who's stout against the run to a guy who can only rush the passer, but there's no statistic for that.

by tuluse :: Sun, 12/29/2013 - 2:19pm

FO defeats and stop rate.

by drobviousso :: Fri, 12/27/2013 - 3:52pm

No Zeitler, even on the second team? He's looked pretty damn good when I've watched him play this year.

by Ram (not verified) :: Fri, 12/27/2013 - 4:18pm

I have a couple of quibbles, actually. I don't think Wilson is deserving of second team QB - Rivers has shouldered a much heavier burden and done it beautifully. I also can't accept that with four total spots, there's no room for Joe Haden at cornerback.

by RickD :: Fri, 12/27/2013 - 8:01pm

A bit disappointing to see Wilson listed there. So Barnwell picked the QB of the winningest team in each conference, eh?

Wilson's been good, but a few have been considerably better, including Rivers and Nick Foles.

by Ram (not verified) :: Fri, 12/27/2013 - 8:14pm

I have Manning first by a wide margin, followed by Rivers, then Brees. Foles is DQed from my list for the small sample size.

by RoninX (not verified) :: Mon, 12/30/2013 - 2:59pm

Feel free to be disappointed, but I don't think that is his logic by any means. I mean Manning has had one of the all time great QB seasons and Barnwell is an efficiency guy, and Wilson's efficiency + rushing threat puts him up there with anyone you want to name. That said, there is a legit argument to be made regarding a QB that is forced by circumstance (or offense) to throw lots of passes and and still be successful. Its an interesting argument to have and I wish Barnwell had spent a few characters discussing his second team selections across the board.

by max :: Fri, 12/27/2013 - 5:43pm

Who is Bill Barnwell? And what are his qualifications to assess the performance of professional football players?


by dbostedo :: Sat, 12/28/2013 - 9:44pm

Well, you could look it up. He's a sportswriter, and basically has the same qualifications that most sportswriters do.

He also used to be a writer on this very site.

by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 12/27/2013 - 5:46pm

"Charles has nobody around him, but are Alex Smith and Dwayne Bowe really that much more fancied than Nick Foles and DeSean Jackson?"

This is the sort of thing Barnwell would have mocked in his time here. Are two supporting casts equal because he name two players? No, it's a stupid point; on offense I'd take pretty much every other Eagle over every Chief.

Graham isn't really a TE is he? He's played more snaps at receiver and isn't much of a blocker though I suppose the TE/WR question should really come down to whether you have the ability to block in-line at all. I'd still take Davis; he is the far superior blocker and whenever he's been missing the 49er offense has stunk to high heaven.

by Ram (not verified) :: Fri, 12/27/2013 - 5:51pm

KC's O-line is so much better, it isn't even funny.

by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 12/27/2013 - 7:12pm

I don't agree. I'd take every Philly lineman. Perhaps if you even bothered to venture an argument.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Fri, 12/27/2013 - 7:52pm

I'm with you, Karl. FWIW, the most recent Pro Football Focus O-Line rankings I can find had KC 23rd and Philly 1st. Evan Mathis in particular is a great player, much better than anyone on KC's line.

by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 12/27/2013 - 10:59pm

Yes, it's not close really.

by Ram (not verified) :: Fri, 12/27/2013 - 7:24pm

Check the rankings on this very site. KC's line is the #2 ranked run-blocking line (17th in pass protection). Philly's is #26 (30th pass protection).

by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 12/27/2013 - 7:51pm

I love FO but the line stats are not very good. For one, they don't reflect sacks taken by Vick when he was doing a dreadful job under center which will make the Eagles look worse.

Peters > Albert
Mathis > Allen
Kelce > Hudson
Herremans > Asomoah
And I think Johnson has had a better rookie year than Fisher, Ben Muth said Johnson has improved over the year.

by Ram (not verified) :: Fri, 12/27/2013 - 8:07pm

Which would matter if we were discussing how the line was helping the respective QBs. We are not. Vick's sacks are not relevant.

by tuluse :: Fri, 12/27/2013 - 5:53pm

I agree with you. Graham should basically be treated like a wide receiver.

by andrew :: Fri, 12/27/2013 - 7:37pm

Jimmy Graham and his agent agree with you (if the Saints put a franchise tag on him, he argues his contract should be based on wide receiver salaries, not tight end).

by RickD :: Fri, 12/27/2013 - 7:31pm

Barnwell thinks this is Peyton Manning's best season.

I thought that FO stats didn't support this conclusion?

by kamiyu206 :: Fri, 12/27/2013 - 11:09pm

No, but argument could be made. Personally I'd put 2004 and 2006 over 2013, but it's not that unreasonable to say this is his best year. DYAR wise, they are close.

by panthersnbraves :: Sat, 12/28/2013 - 12:55pm

Nice to see Thomas Davis get Second Team nod. As he mentioned - 4-3 OLB's don't get the flashy numbers that 3-4 rushing OLB's do, and TD is kind of in Keek's shadow, but the two of them are doing some remarkable playing this year.

by lester bangs (not verified) :: Mon, 12/30/2013 - 10:02pm

Incredibly weak that you can't comment on a lot of Grantland articles. At least you can do it here.

by UGG Ascot Boots (not verified) :: Tue, 01/21/2014 - 6:04pm

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