Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

22 Sep 2008

2008 Quick Reads: Week 3

This week's look at the best and worst games according to Football Outsiders YAR stats tracks the rise of Ronnie Brown and the decline and fall of the Cleveland Browns offense.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 22 Sep 2008

39 comments, Last at 24 Sep 2008, 10:05am by panthersnbraves


by drobviousso :: Mon, 09/22/2008 - 6:18pm
by drobviousso :: Mon, 09/22/2008 - 6:25pm

Now with new "median" row!

by Jimmy :: Mon, 09/22/2008 - 8:19pm

I dig your charts, it is just so easy to take a quick look at any QB and see how they performed that day on a per pass basis. I would say the existing FO stats are better if you want to observe a player over the course of a season, but for one game, my vote goes to Efyds/play.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Tue, 09/23/2008 - 10:45am

Remember that EYds/attempt is an existing FO stat. It's simply a translation of DVOA into another format. The difference is that DVOA contains more information (the comparison to average is built into the stat), while EYds/attempt is easier for a casual fan to grasp.

(Formerly "The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly")

by DrObvious - I promise... (not verified) :: Tue, 09/23/2008 - 11:25am

Is there an easy calculation based on the info in that article for DVOA? I don't think that there is, but if I'm wrong, I can include that in the sheet in the future weeks.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Tue, 09/23/2008 - 1:45pm

The best formula I can come up with is divide a player's EYds/attempt by a baseline (i.e. the EYds/attempt season average of all players at that position over a certain period like 4 seasons), subtract 1, and multiply by 100.

Am I missing something? It gives results which seem extreme, but maybe the DYAR seems extreme as well since opponent adjustments have not been included.

(Formerly "The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly")

by Temo :: Tue, 09/23/2008 - 4:47pm

You don't need to multiply by a 100. But in any case, it's a fruitless task for the guys near the top and bottom of the list. For everyone in the middle, it'll be still be off by a few percent, but it's not too bad a measure.

by PerlStalker :: Mon, 09/22/2008 - 9:07pm

Cutler's stats look good but the guy was seriously off target at the beginning of the game. If his throws weren't sailing over his receiver's heads, they were one-hopping. He settled down later in the game and had some amazing throws but in the first half, he was cover your eyes awful.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 09/22/2008 - 10:07pm

Wow. Check out the disparity with Romo's stats: 260 yards. 128 effective yards. That's just huge.

Watching the game, I didn't get the impression that Romo was doing that badly. Then I went back and looked a little more closely at the play-by-play, and holy cow, he pretty much stunk up the joint.

If it hadn't been for Austin's two passes and Jones's long run, we probably would be continuing to talk about how Romo folds under pressure. Jeez, what a duck of a game.

by Temo :: Mon, 09/22/2008 - 10:41pm

Really? We'd be saying that the guy who just out scored McNabb in a divisional game with much more emotion just folds under pressure?

Meanwhile Rodgers got a third of his yardage in garbage time against a prevent defense (got the ball down 18 with 5:24 left... prevent defense forced him to take 3:23 of the 5:34 to score one touchdown). Take away Aaron Rodger's 100+ yards of passing against a prevent defense in garbage time and Romo would probably have more effective yards than Rodgers.

How is that folding under pressure? And why is it Austin's two passes... like Romo didn't throw them.

His effective yards were down because of a red zone fumble and a red zone interception. He still posted a passer rating greater than Rodgers (82.3 vs. 80).

And no, I'm not saying he played well. Far from it. But he certainly at least equaled the other QB in that game, and saying that we'd be saying he folds under pressure would be gross selective memory.

by Arkaein :: Tue, 09/23/2008 - 2:05pm

Rodgers may have had a third of his yards against prevent, but he probably had a third of his attempts in that time as well, so it's not like the end of the game massively inflated his stats.

The one really big play he had, the 50 or so yarder to Driver down the right sideline came a bit earlier in the game.

Rodgers was consistently decent throughout the entire game, with no really big highs or lows.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 09/22/2008 - 11:14pm

I don't know why you're comparing Romo to either Rodgers or McNabb: saying that Romo "folds under pressure" says nothing about McNabb, who many people also believe folds under pressure.

Rodgers vs Romo is similarly bizarre. Just because one QB folds doesn't mean the other can't, either.

And why is it Austin's two passes... like Romo didn't throw them.

Of course he did. My point was that it's amazing how a few throws can change his play from "not that bad" to "awful."

by Temo :: Mon, 09/22/2008 - 11:52pm

I wasn't comparing him to McNabb per se... I was just saying that he beat a division rival under a more pressurized situation; they were counting on Romo to win that game and not Barber, whereas the opposite was true last night. Therefore, saying that a poor performance against green bay would have raised questions about his ability to perform under pressure would be engaging in selective memory.

As for Rodgers-- I was under the impression that when you said Romo had a "duck" of a game that he somehow almost lost the game, when really it was blowout going into the last 5 minutes of the game.

As for the Austin passes-- obviously consistent play is to be rewarded and Romo was anything but consistent last night. But it's not like those plays were somehow lucky; it was directly a result of the scheme the Packers were using the talent level of the two players involved. The coverage on TO was tight throughout the game and someone was bound to get open for a big play sooner or later. And Austin did a fantastic job of boxing out two DBs to grab that second catch for the TD.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 09/23/2008 - 12:16am

Pressure != emotional pressure. Pressure = pressure from opposing defense. Sorry, I should've recognized that misunderstanding. Lots of defensive coordinators have commented that Romo had struggled in the past when contained in the pocket with pressure. I think Romo actually admitted the same thing, too, when talking about his footwork in the offseason.

As for Rodgers-- I was under the impression that when you said Romo had a "duck" of a game that he somehow almost lost the game, when really it was blowout going into the last 5 minutes of the game.

No, when I said Romo had a duck of a game, I meant he had a duck of a game. I meant that, in general, Romo did more to hurt the team than help the team. Romo wasn't showing any consistency whatsoever - if the Packers had connected on a deep pass or two, and slipped ahead, Romo might not have been able to drive to win.

Regarding the deep passes to Austin, of course they were lucky. Any huge play like that is lucky, because any play at all has an element of luck to it. I have a general rule of thumb that any game that can be decided by removing 1 play from the game is essentially a tie, because there are always a half-dozen things which could happen. There's always holding which could be called, or any number of "coin flip" choices that the defensive/offensive linemen make.

by anachronist (not verified) :: Tue, 09/23/2008 - 9:34am

Romo settled down some in the second half, but I did notice a couple of times where he walked himself into trouble (his footwork problem recurring). The pressure from the pass rush did seem to make him a little jittery, but he also started out that way. I think he has a tendency to come out too amped up at times, which is probably a result of his relatively few starts.

But to discount 1 play or 2 is to damage the nature of the game. The TD pass to Austin showed Romo's ability to move around in the pocket, avoid pressure, and still see the field clearly.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Tue, 09/23/2008 - 11:03am

Romo's game won't look quite so bad when opponent adjustments are added in. When will that be, BTW?

(Formerly "The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly")

by Temo :: Tue, 09/23/2008 - 10:51am

I'll concede on the pressure point, now that you've clarified.

As for Austin... neither of his plays decided that game. They were up by 18 and Rodgers had completed 2 passes in the second half when they went into a prevent. Of course, one of those passes was a 50 yard catch by Driver which led to 3 points that you'd have to remove as well if you remove the Austin catches.

So remove two Cowboys touchdowns and 1 Packer FG and the cowboys would still be up 7 with 5 and a half minutes left. And I guarantee the Cowboys wouldn't have been playing 7 yards off the receivers and protecting the sidelines in that situation. The game still is not a tie.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 09/23/2008 - 1:42pm

Sorry, I must still not be clear.

I'm not intending to claim that the game was a tie, at all. That statement was just made to explain why I tend to look at a performance not just on its face, but also without a play or two.

What I'm saying is that Romo's performance looks "meh" with those two plays. It looks pretty freaking bad without them. Which means his performance is better than "pretty freaking bad," but nowhere close to "meh." It also makes me wonder what would've happened had the Green Bay secondary stayed healthy through the game.

The comment above about Romo's footwork getting a bit shaky again is what I was trying to get at. I wasn't paying close enough attention to notice it, but the fact that Romo's game was that iffy under pressure implies that he's still got work to do, and that the Cowboys offense is mortal.

by Temo :: Tue, 09/23/2008 - 4:54pm

Well, jeez if all you meant was that their offense is mortal, then I would have conceded that a while ago. Romo is anything but mistake proof, and he can be quite erratic... it's something that we'll live with if he continues to make plays and place among the top QBs in the league.

It also makes me wonder what would've happened had the Green Bay secondary stayed healthy through the game.

Nothing would have happened. They were ahead by EIGHTEEN. They won with Barber and Jones and blasting the Packers D-Line off the ball all day on running plays.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 09/23/2008 - 8:13pm

Al Harris went down first at 6:51 in the first quarter. The score was 3-3. He left permanently after 1:07 in the first quarter. With the game still 3-3.

I strongly disagree that the game was decided by the Cowboys rush offense. It kept them competitive. The deep passes won the game.

by navin :: Mon, 09/22/2008 - 11:51pm

I thought Garrard's last drive was definitely not masterful.

First of all, he took over 30 seconds to pick up 9 yards with the first down being awarded on a ticky tack call (especially compared to the non-call on Jacksonville's defensive touchdown).

Second, the big play for Jacksonville was an absolute fluke--a tipped pass at the line that resulted in a 30 yard gain down the field.

Finally, he hit a decent pass to get into field goal range. So really, the drive consisted of one okay pass.

by Anonymous (not verified) :: Tue, 09/23/2008 - 3:44am

.....Resulted in a 10 yard gain down the field, not 30. Which left it up to him to complete a few more passes in order to put them in range. And I'm sure he meant masterful in his accuracy with his short to intermediate throws. Garrard was, when he had the opportunity to throw, very accurate with his short throws. Unfortunately that's the only way our receivers were able to get open: short routes = short gains.

by sam :: Tue, 09/23/2008 - 12:27pm

Exactly. Keep in mind, he didn't have Dennis Northcutt, Jerry Porter or Troy Williamson - their faster receivers. He had Matt Jones (a possession guy), backs, a first-year player who now has one career catch, and tight ends. So while it's easy to say "look how Peyton got chunks of yardage vs. Garrard who had to dink and dunk"... On that drive, Garrard did not have anybody even close to Harrison, Wayne or Gonzales.

by navin :: Tue, 09/23/2008 - 1:41pm

It still took him about 30 seconds to get the Jags first first down on that drive. To me it's quite bad when you only have 1 minute to drive about 45 yards. The pass interference and tipped ball were quite fortunate. I will give Garrard credit for completing those two last passes, but I wouldn't call a nine and an eight yard gain "masterful."

by hector :: Tue, 09/23/2008 - 12:29am

Think about how impressive this was for a minute. Brees completed nearly 83 percent of his passes and gained nearly 9 yards on each attempt. Not each completion -- each attempt. In the middle of the game, Brees completed 14 consecutive passes for 174 yards and nine first downs. And that's against Champ Bailey and Dre' Bly, too.

If there are five NFL defensive players more overrated than Bly, I don't know who they are (Brian Urlacher just counts as one). Denver's LBs also look very weak in coverage; I can't wait to see MoJo against these guys in a few weeks.

I think you should comment on every player listed, it would only mean a few extra comments per week. Trent Edwards, to me, is an intriguing quarterback I think we all want to investigate further.

by Possuum (not verified) :: Tue, 09/23/2008 - 12:01pm

Trent Edwards: When the O-Line stiffened in the 4th quarter (and the Oakland D backed off a little) Trent distributed the ball to his 2nd, 3nd and 4th receivers (Reed, Parrish, and Royal) on mid range routes to raise his ranking with 17 4th quarter points. His 4th quarter stands out; 13/18, 1 TD, 0 INTs, 9 1st downs, and was a great recovery from 3 quarters of mediocre play.

by sam :: Tue, 09/23/2008 - 12:31pm

Considering how early this has to be turned into an editor, they may just not have comments on every QB - because they may not have seen enough to comment.

sam! or the original sam from the old FO

by Bill Barnwell :: Tue, 09/23/2008 - 1:34pm

I honestly don't have things to say about every quarterback every week.

by Jimmy :: Tue, 09/23/2008 - 12:54pm

(Brian Urlacher just counts as one)

OK how the hell is Ulacher overrated, unless you think him to be the greatest football player of all time in which case yes he would be overrated.

He played last year with a back injury that rendered him a shadow of his former self for half the year yet still finished the year with 5 sacks and 5 picks. In what was probably his worst NFL season. It was a glaring omission that he didn't make the Pro Bowl (which is a result of the voting starting at mid-season and finishing with three games unplayed). He has been the best MLB in the league for roughly four or five years (it depends on when Lewis started to decline,and I am no expert there) and will probably still be in two or three years (which may depend on how fast Willis gets everything down). If it weren't for there already being one of the all time great linebackers playing the same position when Urlacher entered the league he would have been the best in the game at his position since week three of his rookie year. The guy will be (and fully deserve to be) a first ballot Hall of Famer, he dominates in every phase of the game and is a team leader who works every practice like a rookie trying to make the roster. He is pretty much the prototypical football player - a defense consisting of 11 Brian Urlachers would probably be pretty difficult to score on.

I assume you still believe the nonsense that he can't take on blockers (which was never really true and certainly hasn't been true for at least five or six years) most of which was propagated by talking heads who extrapolated one or two plays they had actually bothered to watch to create imaginary weaknesses that never really existed. He has more asked of him in the scheme he plays than ony other MLB in football and gets more attention from opposing blocking schemes than any other MLB in football, yet out-produces all of them.

However I would agree that Bly has never been a particularly good corner (even when he made the Pro Bowl with the Lions he was giving up more big plays than he ever made).

by Mystyc :: Tue, 09/23/2008 - 2:48am

I'm curious what Ben Roethlisberger's passing DYAR is just for the plays when he actually got a chance to throw the ball.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 09/23/2008 - 4:33am

There were plays when he got a chance to throw the ball?

by Justin Zeth :: Tue, 09/23/2008 - 9:53am

There were plays when he got a chance to throw the ball?

There was only one I can recall. Roethlisberger had a few seconds to look for a receiver and decided to hurl a 50 yard interception into double coverage to his hands-free third wideout. Seeing the highlight on his Blackberry in Chicago, Sexy Rexy wept tears of joy.

The Steelers-Eagles game taught us something we should have already known about the Texans and Browns: They have no pass rush whatsoever. The Texans have Mario Williams, but that's all. The Browns have nothing. The Steelers have... just the worst pass blocking line I've ever seen anywhere, at any level. I was, honestly, hoping Roethlisberger had broken his wrist and would go on IR, before he ends up going there with a torn-up shoulder or a severe concussion. This isn't going to end well for him. And Byron Leftwich isn't going to last two quarters behind that line. I won't be surprised when Dennis Dixon starts 7 or 8 games.

The question isn't if Roethlisberger's going to get seriously injured; the question is just which body part. As a fan of outstanding quarterbacking, that makes me sad.

by countertorque :: Tue, 09/23/2008 - 12:22pm

Watching him get sacked vs. a 3 man rush was especially painful. I guess they should have gone max protect on that one.

by Mystyc :: Tue, 09/23/2008 - 1:10pm

You're underrating the 50-yard interception, I think. I mean, it gained 50 yards of field position and stopped him from getting sacked anymore that drive, which were two things that the offense seemed otherwise incapable of.

by jebmak :: Tue, 09/23/2008 - 11:17am

Is this the first time ever that a Dolphins QB has been in the top 3? Top 5? Seriously, I want to know.

Also, well played Donovan, well played. All of us who aren't complete idiots thank you for that gift.

by Richie :: Tue, 09/23/2008 - 12:07pm

I thought you were going to say that Gus Frerotte is the kind of remote control car that doesn't turn when you drive forward. All turns have to be made by going in reverse and turning to the right.

by zlionsfan :: Tue, 09/23/2008 - 12:53pm

Going in reverse, turning to the right ... I believe that would be the Kitnamobile.

Of course, it wouldn't matter which car was in that house. The carpet is all torn up and the tile is missing in places, and every now and then they leave the batteries in the remote too long and then you get all that gross stuff on the inside.

by Justin Zeth :: Tue, 09/23/2008 - 1:35pm

You're underrating the 50-yard interception, I think. I mean, it gained 50 yards of field position and stopped him from getting sacked anymore that drive, which were two things that the offense seemed otherwise incapable of.

It is extremely likely that that's exactly what Roethlisberger was thinking when he threw the ball.

by panthersnbraves :: Wed, 09/24/2008 - 10:05am

Should there be a Romo/McNabb Thread started?