Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

29 Dec 2008

2008 Quick Reads: Week 17

As is tradition, the final Quick Reads of the regular season takes a look at the best and worst individual players of the entire year. The identity of the top two running backs will surprise you.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 29 Dec 2008

21 comments, Last at 31 Dec 2008, 4:50pm by panthersnbraves


by Jim Glass (not verified) :: Mon, 12/29/2008 - 8:47pm

The best and worst of the year is nice, but some of us are interested in seeing how our teams and players did yesterday, the same way Quick Reads shows during the rest of the year.

For instance, the numbers for Pennington v Favre in yesterday's division title determining game (and "revenge match") would be interesting for a lot of people I'm sure ... but the space it needs instead goes to who was the worst TE of 2008?

How about making the "best and worst" total numbers for 2008 a separate feature? After all, there's no particular "quick read" in them.

Just a friendly suggestion.

by zip (not verified) :: Mon, 12/29/2008 - 9:50pm

I also would like to see the week 17 numbers, even without the usual commentary.

by ChrisH :: Tue, 12/30/2008 - 1:21pm

Same here. The only game I got to see all week was NE-Buffalo (which was on Sports+ in Paris, though with French commentary and no commercials/timeouts/halftime as it was edited down to under 90 minutes, which was awesome to watch). I know that Cassell barely threw the ball due to the winds and being in the lead, but I'd like to see how his numbers are since when he did throw, he was amazingly effective it seemed (and he rushed well).

by Bobman :: Mon, 12/29/2008 - 11:43pm

Dallas Clark, mumble mumble mumble.... okay, whatever.

by Jay Gloab :: Tue, 12/30/2008 - 1:06am

Nice to see Brent Celek get a mention. I'm hoping he forces LJ Smith out of Philly next season, and he could be the cog the Eagles offense has been lacking since 2004 when Chad Lewis retired. (In some ways I think Lewis was as valuable to that offense as TO.)

by Anonymouss (not verified) :: Tue, 12/30/2008 - 1:24am
    Williams had the 20 touchdowns, of course, but that number is inflated slightly by the fact that he had four touchdowns from the 1-yard line, a distance from which virtually all teams score when given four downs.

      Unless, of course, that team is the Carolina Panthers with DeShaun Foster at RB

by Youhatethepanthers (not verified) :: Tue, 12/30/2008 - 12:00pm

Football Outsiders hatred of the Panthers is pathetic. A first down is a first down but a TD only counts if it's from more than one yard out? Uh huh.

by Eddo :: Tue, 12/30/2008 - 12:26pm

The TDs count, don't worry. What the commentary is saying is that, while 20 TDs looks really impressive at first glance, it's not quite as impressive, as so many came from one yard out.

Really, who's a better RB (given the same carries and yardage totals): one who scores 10 TDs, all from the one yard line, or one who scores 6 TDs, but all of 15+ yards?

by Scott C :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 5:35am

Because 20 touchdowns from 8 yards out on fourth down is just as good as 20 touchdowns from 1 yard out on first down. Uh huh.

Don't be mistaken, the first down value assigned depends just as much on down as distance as the touchdowns. DVOA isn't stupid.

by Purds :: Tue, 12/30/2008 - 12:07pm

Was Steve Smith out 2 games for injury, or are those the first two games of the season out by suspension?

by Eddo :: Tue, 12/30/2008 - 12:27pm

It was a joke; Steve Smith was out for the first two games due to a suspension for the "injury" he gave to Ken Lucas.

by Purds :: Tue, 12/30/2008 - 12:40pm

I would have thought it was a joke if it were on the FO site, but I didn't think it was a joke as it was on the ESPN site. Got it.

by JasonC23 :: Tue, 12/30/2008 - 2:39pm

As always, the comments on ESPN are priceless and highly recommended.

by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 12/30/2008 - 3:41pm

So what ESPN comments do you disagree with or do you just want to make fun of ESPN? The one poster disagreed that Adrian Peterson is the best NFL back, not Derick Ward, they argued Ward's O-line and situation helped him achieve the better stats/DVOA and I'd agree with that. Kevin Faulk was criminally underrated for years, but he seems to be getting a lot of praise in the Pats games I watch.

The other person wanted to point out how many very improbable results stemmed from the outsiders prediction probabilites. The mother of all of these was the 2007 NY Giants.

by Scott C :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 5:47am

After watching DVOA versus various RB's over the years, I know that at LEAST half the DVOA of any RB is due to the OL. Exhibit A: Edgerrin James -- Colts vs Cardinals. LT 2006 vs 2008 ... (LT was hit behind the LOS on TWENTY SEVEN PERCENT of his run plays in 2008, and hardly at all in 2006).
The OL and offensive scheme / playcalling (as well as passing game efficacy) all contribute a lot to successful running plays.
Even two RB's on the same team can't be compared easily -- one might get short yardage carries and runs early in the game, while the other gets screen passes and pitch-outs and carries in garbage time.

In much the same way, WR's are dependant on the QB/OL. But there is more to tease apart there than with RBs, with much more sophisticated charting breakdowns.
Truthfully, DVOA/DYAR (and conventional stats) don't really tell you as much about the individual as they claim. But they DO tell you a good deal about the team.

by panthersnbraves :: Tue, 12/30/2008 - 3:59pm

Too bad there's no "bonus points" for RB's picking up blitzes. Both of the Panthers' RB's have looked good on pickup's lately. Earlier in the year, they were releasing for the flat route/short hook, and Jake was running for his life. Now Jake can count "one-Loozyanna, two-Loozyanna, three-Loozyanna - FLING" and the 'playmaker'* can out-leap everyone.

*For those who don't have the privilege of watching the Panthers play, Steve Smith introduced himself as 'Playmaker' in the lineup intro for one game.

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 4:13pm

Did he commit borderline pass interference on all his passes that game too?

by panthersnbraves :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 4:50pm

It's not on EVERY play....

by Will :: Tue, 12/30/2008 - 4:41pm

"Bruce Gradkowski, Browns (-139 DYAR). His performance in the final two games of the year earned him an incredible DVOA of -192.6 percent."

Is he really the best the Browns could come up with? At that point, why not just have Cribbs be the #3 QB?


by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 1:16pm

Scotty C. I strongly agree. That is why I get annoyed when people take the DVOA like a bible that Player X played well because he had a high DVOA.

Eli has consistantly outplayed his DVOA, while people like David Garrard and Jason Campbell weren't as good as their DVOA.

by MJK :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 3:55pm

Bill Belichick/Scott Pioli should be banned from ever drafting a TE higher than the fourth round.

First Daniel Graham and now Ben Watson have been busts. Not huge Ryan Leaf quality busts, but busts nonetheless. They're both decent blockers with a lot of athleticism, but below-average pass-catching abilities. You can get good blocking TE's with below-average pass catching ability on the cheap by the dozen.