Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

08 Dec 2008

2008 Quick Reads: Week 14

Super show, Sebadoh!

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 08 Dec 2008

57 comments, Last at 09 Dec 2008, 7:26pm by navin


by Bobman :: Mon, 12/08/2008 - 7:55pm

I'd have thought Peyton would get dinged for his 4th down rushing failure/fumble. Not that I am complaining.... If he didn't get the TD on 4th down, the ball does to Cinn anyway, so the fumble is a moot point unless they return it 100 yards for a TD. In this case, Dallas Clark took care of that.

Okay, not entirely moot: did Cinn start their next drive at the 1 foot line or the 20? If Manning just went down, it's the 1 foot line, but his fumble might have given them 20 yards since it weas recovered by Clark in the EZ.....

Kinda curious to see how DET QBs (whomever they throw out there) fare next week with Freeney and Mathis on a tear. Looks like all 3 QBs are hurt in some manner, forcing them to pick their poison--the guy with the bum shoulder or the guy with the concussion.

by Spoon :: Tue, 12/09/2008 - 1:45am

Bobman, I think you've got your weeks mixed up. The Peyton fumble on 4th down occurred last week, against the Browns. This week against the Bengals Peyton completed a long pass to Dallas Clark, which Clark then fumbled into the end zone. Cincy recovered for a touchback, and started their next drive on the 20.

by The Hypno-Toad :: Mon, 12/08/2008 - 7:58pm

I started DeSean Jackson instead of Vincent Jackson. Awesome. What's funny is that I never even looked at his stats to find out how DeSean "earned" his -0.9... I just assumed it was an 11 yard reception followed by a fumble or something like that. An actual -9 yard performance seems worse somehow, even though the result is the same.

by Gold_Star_for_R... :: Mon, 12/08/2008 - 8:07pm

Where did THAT come from?
If you're referencing that weird pre-show intro of theirs, I once had a girlfriend call that "the most annoying thing (she'd) ever heard."
The relationship was over not long after.
Music to give your girlfriend a hard time by...

by bubqr :: Mon, 12/08/2008 - 8:08pm

Comparing Randall Cunningham to Sexy Rexy and Cade McNown ?

by Dales :: Mon, 12/08/2008 - 9:05pm

Unless the idea was to extend the definition of mediocrity to show its upper bound, while not doing the same for the lower bound (unless one of McNown or Rex is supposed to be that lower bound, in which case I would argue Randall is much further from dead center mediocre than either of those two are below, then I don't know why Cunningham was listed with the rest. It read like a "one of these is not like the other" game.

ETA-- Cunningham completed 58% of his passes, which is low, but had 7y/a and more TDs than Ints by a good amount and, especially for half a dozen years or so augmented that with some crazy rushing totals. Throw in that he was 30+ games over 500 for his career (yeah, I know, QB wins and all, but he impacted defenses the way Vick was supposed to) and that one of his best seasons happened after his legs had become not what they had used to be, and I have a hard time considering him mediocre.

Randall is in that neverland that exists between the mediocre and the hall of famers. And probably near the top portion of that group. He is not at all what I considered to be mediocre, and I hated the guy as a Giants fan.

Don't even get me started on the MNF play against Carl Banks...

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Mon, 12/08/2008 - 10:28pm

Not only was Cunningham lumped in with the mediocrities, Mike Vick was in the "successful" group. Now will somebody please try to make a cogent argument for Vick being better than Cunningham?

(Formerly "The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly")

by Dales :: Mon, 12/08/2008 - 10:51pm

I can't. Vick was supposed to be what Randall was supposed to be, but ended up as half of what Randall was, for half as long.

by Independent George :: Tue, 12/09/2008 - 12:24pm

Cunningham was a better punter, too.

by Matt W (not verified) :: Tue, 12/09/2008 - 12:11am

Especially in 1998 -- Cunningham led the league in DVOA and DYAR, and the Vikings went 15-1.

by dbostedo :: Mon, 12/08/2008 - 8:20pm

"...expected Dorsey to quit on his stool..."

I don't know where it is, but there's a fantastic joke in there somewhere...

by dianagram :: Tue, 12/09/2008 - 1:29pm

"You can't quit on your stool ... only your stool can quit on you!"
- failed slogan for Dulcolax, perhaps?

by silvermike (not verified) :: Mon, 12/08/2008 - 8:21pm

Is it time to declare JP Losman the QB with the least pocket awareness in NFL history?

by Mike B. In Va :: Tue, 12/09/2008 - 8:22am

I could have told you that two years ago. I think he's got a secret stash of Rob Johnson film somewhere...

by Carlos (not verified) (not verified) :: Mon, 12/08/2008 - 8:39pm

Well, usually I love your work, but the Eli and JC comments are they type of incredibly weak fact free nonsense I'd expect of others not you. How sure are you that Eli has some "placement" problem that causes drops? Did you even see the drops yesterday? Which of those were the QBs fault?

Did you see the Ravens game yesterday? JC was running for his life on every single drop back. Twice Mike Sellers literally couldn't decide which of two rushers to block, so he blocked no one! I've never seen a game in which so many guys hit the QB w/o being touched by an offensive player, and they pulled it off several times while rushing 3. That's what happens when you lose both starting OTs and your depth is so terrible that you're forced to play a backup center who's never started a game in 4 years as your LEFT TACKLE.

by MCS :: Tue, 12/09/2008 - 9:20am

You cite one specific game to refute the author's point. in doing so, you fail to address the key phrase in the his comments.

Actually, the author cited information from the last several years to make his point: "In addition, Manning's consistently led the league or been among the league leaders in dropped passes each year, regardless of whom he was throwing to. That would indicate there's an issue with Manning's ball placement and that he deserves some of the blame."

If you want to disprove his allegations, a good place to start would be to find some numbers (or other facts) that indicate that Eli is not, in fact, among the league leaders in dropped passes over the last several seasons. Regardless of the target of those passes.

by roguerouge :: Tue, 12/09/2008 - 10:16am

I've seen Manning, for years, periodically throw over the middle as if his receivers were all 8' tall. Does that count? And that observation was a regular feature of this site in 06 and 07.

by Dales :: Tue, 12/09/2008 - 1:07pm

Oddly, they have stopped making that observation this year.

Maybe they just got tired of making it. Or maybe he has improved in that regard.

by Carlos (not verified) (not verified) :: Mon, 12/08/2008 - 8:40pm

Well, usually I love your work, but the Eli and JC comments are they type of incredibly weak fact free nonsense I'd expect of others not you. How sure are you that Eli has some "placement" problem that causes drops? Did you even see the drops yesterday? Which of those were the QBs fault?

Did you see the Ravens game yesterday? JC was running for his life on every single drop back. Twice Mike Sellers literally couldn't decide which of two rushers to block, so he blocked no one! I've never seen a game in which so many guys hit the QB w/o being touched by an offensive player, and they pulled it off several times while rushing 3. That's what happens when you lose both starting OTs and your depth is so terrible that you're forced to play a backup center who's never started a game in 4 years as your LEFT TACKLE.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 12/08/2008 - 8:54pm

"Going 7-of-13 on third down is a good way to try to earn a starting job for keeps. Of course, whether San Francisco wants Hill to win the job is another story altogether. It'd be easier for them to commit to someone like Matt Cassel or even a college prospect like Matt Stafford if Hill fails as the starter."

Why the F**K would the niners give the Pats anything for Cassel? Shaun Hill is putting up better numbers without the aid of Moss and 6-yards-Wesley. Please don't let FO go all gooey eyed over this, the niners would be in contention for the NFC West title if they hadn't gone with the moron O'Sullivan for all that time. Hill for starting qb, and president, and hall monitor!

by MJK :: Mon, 12/08/2008 - 9:23pm

They wouldn't have to give the Pats anything. Cassel is a free agent after this year, and it's extremely unlikely that the Pats will franchise him unless Brady is hurt a lot worse than we know.

Your point is good, though. Cassel probably looks better in New England than he would in San Francisco. And some other teams are probably going to throw too much money at him in the offseason, so San Francisco would have to get into a bidding war if they wanted him. (I imagine if What's-his-name retires, the Jets might make quite a run at him, because...well, just because).

Stick with Hill.

by navin :: Mon, 12/08/2008 - 11:46pm

Tell me about it. I'm so pissed about the J"TO" era now. JTO's peaks were better than Hill's peaks, but man were O'Sullivan's lows quite terrible.

I'm even more upset about the end to the Arizona game and the debacle against Seattle. SF should have won both games, and would be tied for first if they had.

by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 12/09/2008 - 12:37am

Yeah...instead, we can't make the playoffs even if we run the table.

Would you ever have thought that those last few seconds of the Arizona game would have playoff implications? Yee Gods, we've come a long way in a couple weeks. It's such a shame we couldn't have started just a couple weeks earlier.

by navin :: Tue, 12/09/2008 - 7:26pm

I figured they had some sort of playoff seeding implications for Arizona :)

I think the next thing SF needs to address is ball security, especially fumbling. Dominating the Jets offensively is great, but it certainly helped to recover 4/5 fumbles. Gore particularly has had a propensity to cough up the ball. If Tiki Barber fixed his issues, then I'm pretty sure it's addressable.

by MJK :: Mon, 12/08/2008 - 9:16pm

any team with a quarterback of any mobility will be watching the game film on how Wallace stretched the ragged Patriots' linebackers thin.

It's easy. I'll tell you how that happened that right now. Play against the Patriots when they're missing their starting LDE, and they've lost their starting pro-bowl NT, one of their starting ILB's, their starting free safety, and their starting and backup OLB to injury during the first quarter of the game, and they're forced to start two LB's that that have worn cleats for one day in the last ten months. Then it's easy to run the LB's thin!

by Purds :: Tue, 12/09/2008 - 11:22am

Alright MJK, now you've gone TOO FAR. I'll say this in my best George Castanza's dad's voice (remember him telling Kramer that he invented the "stop short" grope?): "We Colt fans invented the whining about injuries cliche. We patented that way back in like '03 or '04, when we complained that we couldn't punch in the first and goal against the Pats in the regular season at the dome because at that point, we had only one healthy TE left and couldn't run the goal-line offense. And that's why we lost in the playoffs at Foxboro, instead of winning in the playoffs at home and going on to win the SB.

"So don't you tell us about the injury whine. We invented the injury whine, and we'd like a footnote whenever you try to employ it, though we'll admit you got it pretty much right here--the incessant list of positions, the exclamation marks, the innuendo about what would have happened if injuries hadn't doomed your team."

by Jimmy :: Tue, 12/09/2008 - 1:21pm

All of what you say is very true. It is easier to play against the Pats D when it is banged up. Is any of this going to change during the next month? If not, then it might be worth looking at the film.

by VarlosZ :: Mon, 12/08/2008 - 9:26pm

How much of Eli's value this week comes from the final, garbage-time drive against a prevent defense? It seems like he shouldn't be close to 10th in DYAR when the Giants spent three whole quarters failing on almost every 3rd Down.

by Never Retreat (not verified) :: Mon, 12/08/2008 - 10:00pm

Aaron (I think it was Aaron) addressed this in Audibles. He points out that it put NYG within a score of a win while leaving room for the onside, thereby eliminating garbage time. Legit argument. I still don't buy it having watched the game.

It is funny though, last year it felt like Eli was being bailed out by his receivers, this year it feels like his receivers are making him look bad. Yesterdays game aside, he's far exceeded my expectations. I still don't buy the argument that he is elite, but I no longer think of him as inept. Had he connected with that Hixon pass, which was a beautifully thrown ball, the complexion of that game would have been radically different.

by roguerouge :: Tue, 12/09/2008 - 10:19am

DYAR takes that into account, although it wasn't a perfect definition of garbage time, which, to me, is when one team is up three scores, not two. Then, even an onside kick can't save you.

by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Mon, 12/08/2008 - 9:33pm

While Eli's accuracy has been a problem during his career, I've seen plenty of (and I'm sure you have too Bill B.) horrendous drops on very catchable BIG PLAY balls. For example, there was Hixon and Smiths' drops yesterday, Toomer's drop in Arizona, Smith's drop in Buffalo last year, and Shockey's drops against the Packers. That's just my memory of the past 2 seasons.

Subtraction by addition? BRILLIANT!

by JasonK :: Mon, 12/08/2008 - 10:39pm

The other thing that generates a lot of drops for Eli is the Giants general lousiness in passing to RBs. Partially, this is a lack of touch on short passes (Tiki generally had soft enough hands to overcome this, and Ward has his moments), and, partially, it's lousy pass catching by Jacobs, Bradshaw, and Hedgecock.

by MCS :: Tue, 12/09/2008 - 9:27am

So, it's not that Eli can't throw. It's that every single Giant player that might have the ball thrown his way cannot catch.

by Dales :: Tue, 12/09/2008 - 10:36am

How do you get "every single Giant player" from "it's lousy pass catching by Jacobs, Bradshaw, and Hedgecock"? I did not realize that the Giants had gone to a four man roster (Eli and those three) at the skill positions.

Those three have catch percentages at or below 50%. Ward, who gets the same type of throws as them, has a catch percentage of 75%. It is possible, I guess, that Eli struggles throwing to RBs on those short passes. In fact, I would say that is a definite (as his rocket to Hedgecock when a floater was in order shows) thing. However, I think there is clear evidence that the Giants have a bunch of running backs who struggle catching the ball and are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

by MCS :: Tue, 12/09/2008 - 11:46am

My comment was based on both comments above, not just the RB comment. Also cited were big drops Hixon, Smith, Toomer, and Shockey. Basically everybody but Plaxico Burress was used as an example.

Does that mean that Eli can only throw to Burress? That Burress is more consistent than the others? Is it that the others have there drops at more inopportune times?

Funny thing is, based on the percentages on this very site, Burress is the worst of the Giant receivers with 53%.(Toomer 58%, Smith 69%, Hixon 70%)

I'm not looking for an argument folks. I'm just trying to understand how people keep defending Eli and saying that the drops are the fault of the receivers (and no, I haven't seen them play). Multiple receivers at that.

It's all about perception and understanding.

by B :: Tue, 12/09/2008 - 1:07pm

I've seen enough Giants games to come to the conclusion that the drops are equally at fault of the Giants receivers and Eli. Burress is a great example. I've seen him drop many easily catchable balls, and I've also seen him make some spectacular catches of badly thrown ones. The Giants don't have a surehanded guy who can seemingly catch anything thrown his way, but Eli has a tendency to overthrow his receivers.

by Dales :: Tue, 12/09/2008 - 2:18pm

Why do people keep defending Eli? Probably because he's developed into a pretty good quarterback. It's not that hard to understand.

Does he still have accuracy problems? Sure, especially on short throws and in windy conditions. But his completion percentage is a decent 61% despite that. That's just 2% behind Phillip Rivers, who does not play half his games in a wind tunnel.

Are *all* of the drops his receivers' fault? Absolutely not, but I don't see anyone claiming that they are. It is a strawman. What some people are saying is that his completion percentage would be higher if some of his receivers had better hands. Given that Ward has a very high completion percentage while Jacobs, Hedgecock, and Bradshaw do not makes this a defensible position to take. And while Hixon has made some great catches (the first two last week were awesome) it is hard to argue that his drop this week was anything but his own fault; Eli could not have placed that ball any better.

by Happy Fun Paul :: Mon, 12/08/2008 - 10:04pm

"From 1995 through 2007, the quarterback rating of starting passers against Green Bay on their home fields was 80.3; in Green Bay, that fell to 70.2. The 10.1-point difference is tied for the third-largest in the league. Strangely, the team with the biggest difference is Miami, which obviously offers little in the way of weather issues."

Miami actually has a pretty big climate-based home-field advantage, but it comes early in the season, when Miami can be oppressively hot and humid. I don't know that which players on the visiting team are affected the most, but quarterback potentially could be. (I've grown up watching Patriots QBs melt in Miami during September games, and being grateful whenever the scheduled Miami game comes later in the season.) I'd be curious to see win-loss record and opposing-quarterback ratings for Miami split by either "starting temperature" or "early vs. late season." (Same for Green Bay-- -- Lambeau in September is not the icy beast that Lambeau in December can be!)

Also, I note that your stat above compares a QB's performance "at home vs. Miami" vs "at Miami." Not only is Miami in September a bad place for a football team to visit, but Miami's division opponents (New England, New York Jets, and Buffalo) are bad places for Miami to visit in December. So the difference might be made up not just of a QBs-come-to-Miami-and-melt disadvantage but of a Miami-defense-goes-north-and-freezes advantage.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Mon, 12/08/2008 - 10:32pm

Miami also has the advantage of certain other distractions that many other cities do not enjoy.

(Formerly "The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly")

by turbohappy (not verified) :: Mon, 12/08/2008 - 11:48pm

I've heard this mentioned as a home field advantage for the Heat as well.

by roguerouge :: Tue, 12/09/2008 - 10:21am

I imagine that glare from the sun would affect the passing game too.

by BroncosGuy (not verified) :: Mon, 12/08/2008 - 10:42pm

Since Mr. Barnwell revels in bashing game announcers for their occasional grammatical miscues, let's hold him to the same standards. Please keep in mind the relative degree of difficulty. One person is speaking extemporaneously on live television while listening to another person in his headset. The other person has the opportunity to write a sentence, review it, give it some thought, touch it up, review it again, then move on. This entry's gem:

"To whom did the Saints give the ball to on third-and-3 with a four-point lead and the game hanging in the balance?"

On whom should I put the dunce cap on?

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Mon, 12/08/2008 - 10:53pm

You know, the ESPN commenters always jump on typos also, but I doubt any of them will catch this one.

(Formerly "The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly")

by Never Retreat (not verified) :: Mon, 12/08/2008 - 11:41pm

In all fairness, using good as an adverb is one of those mistakes that is less excusable. It's a mistake that usually suggests an ignorance of the difference between adjectives and adverbs. Usually.

by ammek :: Tue, 12/09/2008 - 4:58am

"And if this ever-changing world in which we live in....."

If Macca can, anyone can!

by SteveNC (not verified) :: Tue, 12/09/2008 - 11:47am

Isn't it "And if this ever-changing world in which we're livin'"?

by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Mon, 12/08/2008 - 11:23pm

Is there a weather adjustment in Eli/McNabb's #s? I recall Aaron saying that usually weather doesn't matter much, except for wind, and there were very high winds for that game.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Tue, 12/09/2008 - 9:04am

No. You're right that wind is the element that matters, but it is not incorporated into DVOA because it's hard to find reliable information on it.

(Formerly "The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly")

by joon :: Mon, 12/08/2008 - 11:55pm

five... five dollar... five dollar footloooooooooong...

by Stevie :: Tue, 12/09/2008 - 12:17am

I think the Andrew Walter comment was really, really dumb. Hey guess what, no one's staring Drew Stanton or Drew Henson either, maybe that should be a whole column? You could list ALL the backups who it would be really funny if they were starting in FF playoffs.
I'm glad Peterson's poor play was highlighted, the AP game recap just mentions him going over a 100 yards again not that he was very, very lucky and has a real problem fumbling the football.

by andrew :: Tue, 12/09/2008 - 10:05am

I wonder how much of AP's problem is mental, his two worst ball security games were against Detroit...

by Ryan D. (not verified) :: Tue, 12/09/2008 - 1:59am

Where would Steve Smith, Antonio Bryant, Deangelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart fit in these rankings?

by Key19 :: Tue, 12/09/2008 - 3:20am

Yeah, having Roy Williams as a #2 as T.O. fades into retirement was a horrible idea. And man, he sure sucked against the #1 defense while playing with a bum foot. It's almost like he was facing the #1 defense while playing with a bum foot.

Oh, and Patrick Crayton's such a huge talent that's being shoved to the side here! Without him, the Cowboys beat the Giants last year in the Playoffs and Romo is not even close to a "can't win pressure games" QB. I can clearly see why getting Roy to supplant Owens in the long run and filling in for Crayton now was such a horrible idea.

I realize he's not been a stud by any stretch, but come on. Can't we find anything else more recent to throw the Cowboys under the bus over than this trade? How about we blame the equipment manager for giving Witten a slipping shoe? Or Romo's parents for not giving him stronger pinkie genes? Or God for having the Steelers game be played in near-0 degree weather with 20+ mph wins? Nah, criticizing Jerry for a trade that brought in a player who has played 3 games with the starting QB and who scored the winning TD of one game with the backup QB in is much more fun!

by chubbypuppy (not verified) :: Tue, 12/09/2008 - 11:17am

As I have pointed out already Charles Woodson started at safety the WEEK BEFORE against Carolina as evidenced by the gamebook found on NFL.com


This may seem like a minor point but since the author has referenced it repeatedly I wanted to clarify this clearly incorrect subtext being conveyed. That the Packers moved Woodson to safety and immediately saw their pass defense collapse.

The previous week against Carolina it took a desperate heave to Steve Smith late in the game to make Jake's numbers look solid. If Woodson doesn't get his feet tangled he makes the interception easily.

Knowing the author I am sure I will be mocked for reiterating this point as some kind of "detail freak". But I believe in facts. Sometimes facts are hard to come by.

Not so in this instance......

by B :: Tue, 12/09/2008 - 1:17pm

So you're saying that Delhomme's 12/17 pass completion with a YPA of just over 10 and pass DYAR of 84 (7th on the week, despite not only having 19 pass plays (two sacks)) is a sign of the packers pass defense not collapsing? The facts seem to say otherwise.

by ammek :: Tue, 12/09/2008 - 1:49pm

The Packers pass defense collapsed before Woodson moved to safety, in the game against New Orleans. You know, the one where they put up 51 points.

Green Bay has played three consecutive bad games against the pass: two with Woodson primarily at safety, one when he was still playing cornerback. Other causes of the slump might include: copycat offensive schemes (bunch formations, screens to RBs, rollouts and bootlegs to exploit the pathetic pass rush); poor performances by Nick Collins, the 'other' safety; finally playing teams with half-decent #2 receivers after games against the Falcons, Titans, Vikings, Bears, etc.

by DEW (not verified) :: Tue, 12/09/2008 - 2:08pm

So, where would Antonio Bryant and the Panthers' RBs fit in after the Monday night craziness?