Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

17 Oct 2005

2005 Quick Reads: Week 6

This week in Quick Reads, I've changed the format in response to some of your requests. I'm now once again listing every quarterback, plus the top five RBs and WRs. This week's ratings are topped by a couple of Bengals, while Tommy Maddox's rating will probably surprise you.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 17 Oct 2005

43 comments, Last at 19 Oct 2005, 5:11pm by B


by Wicked (not verified) :: Mon, 10/17/2005 - 3:38pm

They screwed up some of the headlines.

by geoff (not verified) :: Mon, 10/17/2005 - 3:44pm

Not that I've gone through the stats carefully, but I'm surprised that Michael Pittman didn't make the top 5 RBs. Low number of carries? Only one big run?

by Richie (not verified) :: Mon, 10/17/2005 - 3:45pm

Once upon a time, the Patriots had a quarterback chosen number one in the draft who never quite became the star they expected.

I don't believe that. I think he was definitely a big star in the late '90s.

by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 10/17/2005 - 3:46pm

It's nice to see Patrick Pass get some props. I think he's underutilized. The problem is, I don't think Pass is particularly good at pass protection (ironic, isn't it?) which is where the Pats really could have used some help. Brady was under a LOT of pressure and didn't look himself. I think if Dillon or Faulk had been in (both of whom are very good at pass protection), and staying in the backfield, Brady wouldn't have been as rushed and the WR production would have been better, more than offsetting the production they got from Pass.

by Peter Wiggins (not verified) :: Mon, 10/17/2005 - 3:48pm

"Once upon a time, the Patriots had a quarterback chosen number one in the draft who never quite became the star they expected. After an injury, he lost his job to a popular backup and was sent packing. He failed again with his second team, but then led his third team to two Super Bowl titles. Now replace Jim Plunkett, Steve Grogan, San Francisco, and Oakland with Bledsoe, Tom Brady, Buffalo, and Dallas. Could the ending possibly be the same?"

To be blunt, no.

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/17/2005 - 3:48pm

Ah. After 13 games, Joey's 28th for the week.

Granted, the offensive line had something to do with it, but still ...

by putnamp (not verified) :: Mon, 10/17/2005 - 3:48pm

OK, I know this was Shaun Alexander's day, but Matt should be a little embarrassed. How do you throw for only 168 yards against Houston, especially when your average pass comes with just 7.2 yards to go? Bright spot: four carries for 40 yards.

Hasselbeck was 5 of 7 for 47 yards in the second half, compared to the 21 run plays called while Hasselbeck was in.

He was 9 of 13 in the first half, for 121 yards, which isn't nearly as bad, although I believe its still short of his average. This doesn't make Hasselbeck's performance any better, but it hardly seems fair to suggest he be "embarassed".

by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 10/17/2005 - 3:49pm

The problem was never that Bledsoe wasn't a star. He was. The problem is that, with the exception of the SB run under Parcells when they had people like Curtis Martin, Chris Slade, Willie McGuinest, and Ty Law, the Pats never had a running game AND a defense to go with Bledsoe's arm. Lot of good examples of amazing QB's who played for teams with bad defenses and no running games, and only Marino ever beat those odds and was successful.

by Richie (not verified) :: Mon, 10/17/2005 - 3:50pm

regarding Drew Bledsoe

by JonL (not verified) :: Mon, 10/17/2005 - 3:50pm

Nice "Welcome Back Kotter" reference.

Quick question about opponent strength: does the system separate out turnovers vs. yardage? For instance, throwing for 180 yards but no interceptions might be considered (relatively) impressive against a team that averages one or two interceptions a game.

by princeton73 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/17/2005 - 3:54pm

Plus, Amani Toomer may be clinically dead.

that's harsh, man

(accurate, but harsh)

by Aaron (not verified) :: Mon, 10/17/2005 - 3:58pm

Re: 1. By "they" you mean "me." That was me messing up the HTML because of the new format. It should now be fixed.

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Mon, 10/17/2005 - 4:04pm

Almost certainly low number of carries. I much prefer DVOA to DPAR, personally, because DPAR rewards good QBs who throw 60 times more than AMAZING QBs who only throw 25 times.

For instance, Tom Brady's DPAR isn't far behind Plummer's, despite a 52% completion rate to Plummer's 71% and 6.5 ypa to Plummer's 10.9. Why? He also had 46 attempts to Plummer's 24.

I think that ranking players by DPAR has a lot of the same shortcomings as ranking them by yards- it awards compilers. That said, I think it's drastically BETTER than ranking by yards, because it only awards above-average compilers, rather than all compilers indiscriminately.

I would love to see you incorporate DVOA into the quick reads, though, Aaron. Either by giving a top-3 "most valuable per play" list (with a minimum cutoff, to prevent LT from being the #1 passer, of course), or simply by listing the player's DVOA among the other stats.

by Theo (not verified) :: Mon, 10/17/2005 - 4:18pm

Isn't anyone amazed that Tomlinson is NOT the best RB?

by DMP (not verified) :: Mon, 10/17/2005 - 4:47pm

Tomlinson runs, receives, and passes for TDs. Is Schottenheimer trying to get him a Heisman?

This will end badly if they keep making that call.

by zip (not verified) :: Mon, 10/17/2005 - 4:51pm


Nope, I watched the Bills game and noticed that McGahee was an absolute first-down machine, which FO stats (DVOA/DPAR) tend to love. See Engram, Bobby.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 10/17/2005 - 5:07pm


It still says "Top 5 QBs" at the top, even though all of them are listed.

by calig23 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/17/2005 - 5:12pm

Least valuable wide receiver
Plaxico Burress NYG 5 11 56 11.2 0 -3.6
He was the winner of the "receivers aren't communicating with Manning" sweepstakes. I noticed at least one pass where Burress stopped short and Manning threw ahead of that spot, and the two then glared at each other. Also fumbled one reception, giving Dallas the ball in the red zone.


Plax is a bum.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Mon, 10/17/2005 - 5:28pm


Not really.. are those two TDs plus the pass (which was accounted for) more valuable than the 4 TDs from Alexander, or the situational numbers put up by McGahee?

What is interesting is that Patrick Pass is up there, but the table says he had 7 Receiving Yards while the blurb says he had 7 receptions for 89.

Okay, I meant confusing.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 10/17/2005 - 5:32pm

Agreed. Plax's 200 yard game came against a team that insisted on putting a corner on him that was almost a foot shorter, even after Burress repeatedly burned him, over and over.. It wasn't surprising, and it was not an indication of skill.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Mon, 10/17/2005 - 5:38pm

If DPAR rewarded QBs with a lot of throws, explain how Mark Brunell is ranked so low?

I'm guessing it is because he should have had 450 yards and 5 touchdowns against the Kansas City pass defense.

Or maybe it was his fumbles. I'm pretty sure one fumble was during a sack and another when he was scrambling for a first.

Is Rock Cartwright still better than DeSSShaun Foster?

by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Mon, 10/17/2005 - 5:40pm

Actually, I like DPAR, for exactly the reason that Kibbles mentions disliking it. It rewards players that get leaned on heavily by their teams and succeed, not just those that are efficient with their success in fewer chances. I think DPAR takes into account both efficiency and work load.

by Aaron (not verified) :: Mon, 10/17/2005 - 5:56pm

Thanks for noticing the mistake on the receiving yards thing for RB. I've sent that fix in. I'll do a better job of this next week...

by bobman (not verified) :: Mon, 10/17/2005 - 6:04pm

Anybody else out there notice the statement of irony that Brady's arm and brain might not be enough to make up for a deficient D.
This Colts fan finds such a statement refreshingly open-minded (almost like the Jeter-Brady line of (t)reasoning) and richly rewarding. (Having said that, now I expect Manning to get picked seven times by the Rams in a few hours.... But their D will pull it out in the end.)
So it appears that teams generally win games, not necessarily individuals, and all the TB vs PM bile and vitriol can finally be put to rest...? Who am I kidding!

by Tyler (not verified) :: Mon, 10/17/2005 - 6:13pm

Maybe I'm missing something, but what does it matter who Tommy's interceptions were intended for? Unless Hines recently lowered his 40 time to be, oh I don't know, the speed of light maybe? Otherwise, there was no way that any reciever was going to get to the horrible balls Turnover Tommy was throwing yesterday.

by Jeremy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/17/2005 - 6:35pm

Re: #13,

I don't claim to know all the details of the DPAR calculation, but I have to think that Brady's was almost as high as Plummer's not because of his significant edge in passing attempts, but rather because of:

1) The situations in which those passes were attempted
2) Strength of opponent

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 10/17/2005 - 6:53pm

I’m guessing it is because he should have had 450 yards and 5 touchdowns against the Kansas City pass defense.

That's what I would bet. KC's pass defense is horrendous: +31.0%, 29th in the league. And this was last week.

Wait, it gets worse: KC is actually mediocre when it comes to defending 2nd receivers, and quite good vs other receivers. They're just really, really bad at defending 1st WRs and TEs. And amazingly, the top 2 receivers in the KC/WAS game? The #1 WR and TE.

Of course, the fact that Brunell had a pretty darned bad 4th quarter might add into it, as well.

by Vince (not verified) :: Mon, 10/17/2005 - 6:54pm

I may be in the minority, but I liked seeing the bottom 5 WR/TEs and RBs. It was good to know who was getting shot after shot after shot -- and failing.

by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/17/2005 - 7:48pm

I agree with Vince, except that if the choice is between all the QBs and the bottom 5 RB/WR, I'd go with the QBs. (Nah, let's make Aaron work more!)

I will also point out that in the Power Rankings last week, you were claiming that Dallas' weakness against #1 receivers was going to make Plax fantasy owners very happy. I can testify that this was not the case (but I won away, so no harm, no foul.)

by Rollo (not verified) :: Mon, 10/17/2005 - 8:28pm

I also liked seeing the bottom 5 WRs/TEs/RBs...and would even venture to say I'd rather see those than the entire QB list! That being said, I can see why putting in QB numbers and the attached explanations might do a better job of bringing the Fox readership at large around to DVOA - the QB position shows off FO's stats most smashingly.

by sippican (not verified) :: Mon, 10/17/2005 - 9:31pm

let's see-

Running back -out
backup- out
guy off street- check

left tackle- out
left guard- thrown out
additional OL bench after one sub- none

slot receiver/nickel back-out

best dt/de in league-out
second string de- out

middle linebacker-out
replacement-busted hand

outside linebacker- busted hand

four cornerbacks- out

strong safety- crippled
his replacement-hurt
guy off street- in

running back not even listed as inactive because injury list runs out of room.

lose on road by one score.

DPAR is a terrific statistical analysis. But statistics don't tell you as much as watching.

Belichick and Brady almost beat the Broncos with the taxi squad.

by Ron Mexico (not verified) :: Mon, 10/17/2005 - 9:39pm

Or, they almost beat the prevent defense.

The Patriots got smoked. The final score was in no way representative of the closeness of the game.

by MRH (not verified) :: Tue, 10/18/2005 - 12:12am

Re #27 - I've read, although not observed, that Cunningham (DC/KC) does not have cbs assigned to wrs but has them play a side of the field. A good NFL offense will try to exploit that by lining up its best wr vs. KC's #2 cb, which may explain the numbers - especially since so far KC's #2 corner is actually their 3rd best (maybe), w/Warfield suspended thru 4 games and inactive in game 5. Yesterday, I believe most of Moss' production came against McCleon.

Cunningham's schemes were very effective in 95-97 w/2 quality corners (Carter and Hasty). The last two years, they have not worked. If Warfield gets back in shape and in the coaches' good graces he could be a decent cb - or he could be exposed if offenses pick on him and avoid Surtain.

The TE thing is on the LBs and/or safeties - I can't say.

by pcs (not verified) :: Tue, 10/18/2005 - 12:38am

This game won Plummer the Adult Video News award for "best performance by a quarterback with a porn 'stache.

It appears Kyle Orton is working on one of his own. Sure, it was a little wispy thing, but it looked great against the Vikings.

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/18/2005 - 10:46am

guy off street- check

Patrick Pass has been with the Patriots for 6 years. He's not exactly a "guy off the street."

Patriots aren't the only team starting a third string running back.

by mistamaxwell (not verified) :: Tue, 10/18/2005 - 11:35am

Did you WATCH the Steelers-Jaguars game? Maddox was worth -4.9 DPAR only if the replacement is C3PO. Tommy's arm is weak, he can complete about 50% of his passes within about a 10 yard radius of him, and he can't complete anything outside of that. When the ONLY place you can possibly attack a pass defense is underneath a soft zone in the slot areas, and the defense knows this, you're in deep trouble. The Jags should be ashamed that they needed OT to win that game. Where was Charlie Batch?

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Tue, 10/18/2005 - 12:05pm

Vince, I'm with you. Seeing the stiff of the week for all of the offensive skill positions is nice.

by dryheat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/18/2005 - 12:23pm

As a Pats fan who was at Invesco on Sunday, I can report that New England quit. Q-U-I-T on both offense and defense by the beginning of the third quarter. Defensive guys weren't tackling, they weren't covering, they weren't running, and they weren't at all embarrassed. WRs were short-arming balls, OL weren't maintaining blocks, Zereoue clearly did not know where to lineup on several plays. In short, it was disgusting. In my opinion, it was a couple of huge plays by Pass (yes, against the Prevent) which finally caused the Pats to say, "Wait a minute, this game just might be winnable."

The Pats were decidedly the better team from the middle of the third quarter on, even with Denver switching out of the prevent. By all appearances, if Givens can hold on to that pass (one of the few well-thrown balls by Brady all day), the Patriots attempt the 2-pointer to force overtime.

by spaycecowgirl17 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/18/2005 - 3:56pm

Re: #31 & #38 - is there a connection here? If all a team hears from its fans is a litany of injuries and misfortunes, it gets pretty easy to use that as an excuse and "quit" on the season. That's what's happening with NO this year - they've given themselves a free pass (encouraged by the sports media). I'd hate to see that happen to the Patriots, because they've been so mentally strong during the Belichik/Brady era. They're not the only team to face injuries, even devastating injuries. Real champions get past it.

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 10/18/2005 - 4:41pm

There's a difference between a team quitting for half a quarter, and quitting for a season. The Pats arn't about to give up on the season and hang onto the "we've suffered to omany injuries" excuse. Although at this point, 10-6 and an early plyaoff exit is the best they can hope for, they'll go out swinging.

by Björn (not verified) :: Tue, 10/18/2005 - 8:04pm

RE: #31

Patriots fans, listen up.

You are not allowed to brag about how deep you are at all those positions for the last 4 years, and how you have done so well to fill al those positions, and then when you lose a game, blame the injuries. One way or the other, folks.

by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 10/19/2005 - 3:22pm

Charting the metrics for Pass in the offseason, I couldn't help but think he would be a great receiving or running fullback, and that Coach B would benefit greatly from using him especially if Dillon had issues.

He also was cheap!

I wrote that in here, and was villified. I also suggested that the Jets let the wrong free agent go at RB, and would have been better served with Lamont Jordan than the lotta-miles-on-his-legs NFL yardage champ. You can imagine the reception that got.

I think I can rest my case.

Pass will get votes for Pro Bowl, and unlike Alston, et al, will deserve it for his blocking, too, which has helped keep a beleagured Pats' o-line in place.

My only kvetch, Aaron, is that I think it's kind of unfair to single a player out for not performing well after he suffers a very serious injury.

That's why I make a distinction between Pennington and Brooks. I agree the Jets should have been more circumspect about signing him to that kind of money, but I credit them for bringing in a sort of decent backup in case (when) that shoulder conked out.

Unfortunately, he suffered a catastrophic injury, too, which is actually unheard of with the league's relatively low injury rate at QB.

Brooks, on the other hand, has never been worth that money. He would have been exactly what he was designed to be -- an outstanding replacement QB, making, say, $1.9 million per annum, backing up Favre, et al.

Before the salary cap, he would have been a Bono (the QB, not the signer).

One of the unspoken points I have tried to make is that it's ludicrous to pay large, upfront money to players manning positions that carry a very high injury rate. It's not that I believe dominant players at their positions don't deserve to get paid, but I think it's kind of inane to pay out $3.7 million in cap hit to a defensive back, no matter how great he is.

Even with Sapp's bonus, you have to remember that he's making about the median for a DT. He's probably a little long in the tooth to get those duckets, IMHO, but it's not breaking Al Davis' piggybank.

"Charles Rogers" is Millenspeak for "dead money."

I agree completely about Vanderjagt. I admire his field goal accuracy, but it's a pretty fungible position, and he doesn't kick off. The only saving grace is that he's not really making more than the median salary for a second- or third-receiver.

Is he worth that to a team? No. But on the Colts, he might be. It's not as if they need another WR.

As for Houston, what really adds insult to injury is that almost every starter is a high draft pick retread from another, more successful, team. If these teams did NOT want to keep a player on what is one of the most important positions in modern professional football, then why should you pay that kind of veteran free-agent money for them?

Ironically, Houston has OLs they've drafted pretty highly sitting on the bench. At this point, I would be more than tempted to start working these guys in A LOT.

They couldn't do any worse.

"Domanick Davis, Vernand Morency, or even Clark Kent won't make much of a difference in the running game as long as there is no one to block for them."

That kind of bugged me because I would lay at least six or seven sacks on Davis. It's his responsibility to pick up the safety blitz, and he has proven particularly inept at even going through the motions of falling in the pathway of a blitzer.

If Pass is one of the better blocking backs in football, then Davis is one of (if not the) worst blockers at his position I've seen in a long, long time.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 10/19/2005 - 5:11pm

Carl, did you mean to post that in a different thread? I don't recall any arguments in the off-season about Pass, but there are a lot of things I don't remember.