Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

07 Nov 2005

2005 Quick Reads: Week 9

Here's the latest Quick Reads at FOXSports.com with DPAR for all quarterbacks in Week 9 plus the top running backs and receivers. This week, find out why Eli Manning is having a historic season. Not historically great, just historically odd. Plus, I channel Trent Reznor and reveal how Atlanta can win the Super Bowl.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 07 Nov 2005

40 comments, Last at 09 Nov 2005, 1:58pm by CaffeineMan


by Ryan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 4:53pm

Quick editorial note: For Drew Brees, you list "Season stats for Drew Brees in the first half of games" for both stats. I'm just guessing that the latter stat should be for the the second half of games.

by White Rose Duelist (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 4:54pm

Something fishy about your entry from Drew Brees:

Season stats for Drew Brees in the first half of games: 43.5 DPAR (most in the league), 8.1 net yards per pass, eight touchdowns, four interceptions, two sacks.
Season stats for Drew Brees in the first half of games: 7.8 DPAR (14th in the league), 5 8 net yards per pass, seven touchdowns, four interceptions, 11 sacks.

Was one of those supposed to be "second half"?

by JonL (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 5:00pm

Yeah, what was the deal with the coverage of Brunell last night? I mean he's no Brian Bollinger or even Peter Ramsey, but you would have thought the man invented the forward pass.

by CrazyBoB (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 5:03pm

Aaron, love the work you, and all the guys do here on FO. Now that the butt kissing is ut of the way, I was wondering how much Trent Dilfer, or any qb for that matter, get penalized for a desperation int at the end of a half. and what would his DPAR look like if it had just been knocked to the ground.

by charles (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 5:17pm

I have nothing to say about Jake Delhomme, so I just wanted to point out that according to the website bio for Panthers cheerleader Angela Keathley, the best part of being a Top Cat is "making friends." Yes it is, Angela. Yes it is.

Thanks Aaron, i just spit coffee all over my screen laughing out loud.

by jd (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 5:29pm

re: Elisha--

Why does a low completion % and excellent TD to INT ratio mean he needs to get more accurate or he'll start throwing picks? Doesn't this mean that he's so accurate he only throws balls his receivers can get to? Or alternatively that he has tremendous decision making ability and instead of forcing picks he throws the ball away more than most QB's?

by Michael David Smith :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 5:34pm

CrazyBoB, Hail Mary interceptions don't count against a quarterback. Aaron treats those as if they were just knocked down.

by Jerry P. (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 5:48pm

Nice Nine Inch Nails reference.

by ChrisFromNJ (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 5:50pm


Not really- Looking at the games, you can see that Eli is actually a very inaccurate passer, and he really depends on the size and playmaking ability of Burress and Shockey far more than his own skills. However, to his credit, he seems to be aware of this, and gears the gameplan to take advantage of this.

For example, Eli throws a lot of jump balls, especially against man coverage, knowing that even if it will often end up as an incompletion, Plaxico's size advantage will at least mean that an interception is well nigh impossible. (This thus contibutes to low completion %, low interception %, and loww YAC for Burress all at once.) And yes, he does throw the ball away a lot, which also contributes.

Actually, when I first saw the "Eli is having a historically odd season", I was wondering if it had to do with the contrast between his fourth quarter stats and his "quarters one through three" stats- this is the third time in four weeks that he has to have acquired a fourth-quarter QB rating nearly double what he had going into the last period. A mixed blessing, of course- he can play well in crucial situations, but what is he doing the rest of the game?

by Chris Owen (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 5:52pm

My simplistic answer for Eli's odd stats is to blame Kevin Gilbride. He calls a lot of aggressive, downfield passes where the risk is less that you're throwing into traffic, risking interceptions, than it is that you're simply not going to make too many of them. Shockey and Burress are good enough that Eli is able to convert a higher than normal percentage for TD's. Burress also helps out on those jump balls, preventing interceptions.

This is pure speculation, and I'm sorry that I'm too lazy to look this up, but I believe that Eli's TD throws cover more yards than the average. He also struggles in the red zone, and as jd suggests, Eli might be showing maturity and skill by throwing the ball away rather than forcing balls into traffic.

by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 5:52pm

Given Braylon Edwards comments last week about a QB change, I'm wondering if every pass Dilfer through his way was over the midle and high.

by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 6:00pm

Why does a low completion % and excellent TD to INT ratio mean he needs to get more accurate or he’ll start throwing picks? Doesn’t this mean that he’s so accurate he only throws balls his receivers can get to?

Then he wouldn't have such a low completion percentage if he were so accurate, unless his WRs had an inordinate amount of drops. If he doesn't throw the ball that a receiver can't get to, it's not added to his total thrown passes and thus wouldn't effect his percentage.

Or alternatively that he has tremendous decision making ability and instead of forcing picks he throws the ball away more than most QB’s?

I'm not great at math, but this would mean that he's throwing balls out of bounds probably twice as often as every other QB in the league.

This might effect it if he is throwing the ball out of bounds more, but not by the ridiculous percentage difference that he has between himself and the league average.

by BlueStarDude (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 6:37pm

Aaron - Great commentary. I bet Martz is jealous of Alexander's ability to do crossword puzzles while dodging inept tacklers.

Did FO do an article about the importance of the area between a team's own 20-yard line and 40-yard line? I don't remember that one, and would be interested to read more about how it breaks down.

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 6:47pm

When the best receiver you have on the field is Scottie Vines, you have a problem.

True; however, when the QB whom you think will give you the best chance to win the game is Joey Harrington, you have a bigger problem.

by Michael David Smith :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 7:04pm

zlionsfan, you really think the quarterback is a bigger problem than the receivers on that team? If so, why wasn't Garcia any better?

by James (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 7:15pm

Season stats for Drew Brees in the first half of games: 43.5 DPAR (most in the league), 8.1 net yards per pass, eight touchdowns, four interceptions, two sacks. Season stats for Drew Brees in the second half of games: 7.8 DPAR (14th in the league), 5 8 net yards per pass, seven touchdowns, four interceptions, 11 sacks.

Hmmm, coaching could be the problem? :(

by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 7:23pm

Doesn’t this mean that he’s so accurate he only throws balls his receivers can get to? Or alternatively that he has tremendous decision making ability and instead of forcing picks he throws the ball away more than most QB’s?

If so, he's the first quarterback in decades to fit that description, unless you think Jay Schroeder and Tony Banks had tremendous decision-making ability.

by Mshray (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 7:46pm

"Plus, I channel Trent Reznor and reveal how Atlanta can win the Super Bowl."

I think there's a Ministry reference crying out for insertion here.

But seriously, thanks for the great analysis. For an example of not-so-great, did anyone else see the NFL Blitz on ESPN News where they broke down Shaun Alexander's game? After showing the highlight of his 88-yd TD, they then cut to a graphic showing that broken out by left-middle-right he gained something like 32, 24 & 107 yds. "So as you can see he was most effective going to his right," says Dave Revsein (I believe it was him) in a very unconvincing voice.

D'OH! He had 173 yds on 23 carries, 85 yds on 22 carries (which further breaks down from left to right as 32-24-19) & 88 yds on one carry on which he went right and then cut back to the middle. To paraphrase Inigo Montoya: I do not think this analysis means what you think it means.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 8:02pm

So what it means is that Seattle has a very balanced and talented offensive line, to go with a good running back?

Let me indulge my "told you so" a little, by the way - someone last week was insistent that the Seahawks would tank it to Arizona because it was a divisional home-game for Arizona, and of course no matter how butt-awful a team is, they will obviously win against their divisional rivals at home because those divisional rivals are so also butt-awful that they cannot compete.

That person was an Eagle's fan, though, so I should probably cut him some slack, since he's in for another roller coaster of a week.

by TomC (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 8:03pm


by TomC (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 8:05pm

Um, that was actually in reference to post #19, not to the assertion that Eagles fans are in for another tough week.

by TomC (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 8:06pm

And by "post #19", I mean post #18. Time to go home now.

by jd (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 8:21pm

I was playing devil's advocate but the point I was trying to make about Eli was that I don't see why a low completion % automatically means his INT's are going to go up in the future. Having watched every game Eli has played I know he's not an accurate passer. But that's not the only reason his % is so low and that doesn't mean he's going to start throwing more picks in the future. I think ChrisFromNJ has it exactly right and based on the context of why the numbers are such I dont see a big increase in INT's as very likely unless Plax goes down.

by stevem (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 8:58pm

Aaron, great point on the Proehl catch. Proehl deserves credit for making the play, but the reason he was open was because the Bucs were throwing everything at Smith. I saw one replay where it looked like a corner and BOTH safeties were keying on Smith.

by admin :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 9:09pm

Steve, credit where credit is due I stole that from Mike Tanier. It's in Audibles.

JD, the issue here is not that a low completion percentage automatically means he'll throw more interceptions. The issue is more one of probability. If Eli Manning is doing something that hasn't been done before, is it more likely that he's a very different kind of quarterback, or that there will be some regression to the mean? For all I know, the regression to the mean will be more completions, not more interceptions. But while it is possible for his numbers to stay like this, it is highly unlikely.

by Matt (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 11:22pm

The few times I've been able to watch Eli this year, it seems to me he throws into double and triple coverage a lot. I was surprised he didn't get picked off more in the Washington game. I don't see how he can keep avoiding getting picked if he keeps doing this, tall receivers or not.

by Jay B. (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 11:27pm

Aaron, if you have the numbers handy, how did Reggie Brown score in DPAR last night?

by MRH (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 1:13am

Leading WRs of the QBs in the random stat (by # of rec):
Schroeder, OAK, 90 - Mervyn Fernandez, Willie Gault (Tim Brown only caught 18 passes in 16 g)
Green, WAS 98 - Michael Westbrook; Leslie Shepherd
Banks, BAL 99 - Qadry Ismael, Justin Armour
Vick, ATL 02 - Finneran, Shawn Jefferson
Eli, NYG 05 - Burress, Toomer

Some replacement level guys, players who had seen better days, and a few who had decent years. But it would seem fair to say that the wrs weren't helping most of those qbs out.

Here's the scary thing from Eli's standpoint: of the other 4 guys, only Green had a season with over a 60% comp rate EVER in their careers.

by John (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 1:46am

While I think it is very politic of you to say that Eli Manning may go either way with his TD/Int ratio or completion %, I think, as MRH insinuated, that his completion %--which is based on hundreds of attempts--is likely a truer indicator than his TD/Int ratio, which represents a handful of plays and thus subject to more random noise.

It seems to me that the Eli Manning story is setting up to be rather tragic. Now, not only will he be a NFL failure with a HOF brother but before everything comes crashing down he will get whiff of success, fame and adulation. I guess he'll have to console himself by sleeping on top of a pile of money, with many beautiful women.

by Charlie Batch (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 3:45am

First week and I am already up to #22. Just you wait and see what I do to the Browns. I'm starting for someone in 2006, that's for sure.

by Jim Ryalto (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 8:25am

On Eli: The niners dropped at least two INTs on Sunday, one that would have easily went 90 yards the other way for a score. And these were "it hit the DB in the hands" drops, so I think it's fair to say that Eli has been lucky so far with his TD/INT ratio and is due for a regression to the mean on that one. He just isn't that accurate and sooner or later it's going to bite him.

by James, London (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 9:54am

Re # 13. The essay on the importance of the 20-40 yard line is in PFP. If you don't own it, you should. It's great.

by JasonK (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 11:00am

Re: #10

Gilbride (QB coach) doesn't call the plays for the Giants, John Hufnagle (OC) does.

Personally, I think that Eli's completion percentage will rise if he ever learns to check the ball down every once in a while. He loves to throw the ball to where a double-covered Burress or Shockey can maybe get a fingernail on it, instead of dumping it off to Tiki or whoever and pick up an easy couple of yards. Part if this is probably that they run a lot of heavy-protection schemes, so the outlet guy isn't always there.

That said, he has been very lucky this season-- I've seen opposing DBs drop a number of picks (and one or two others come back on defensive penalties).

by JonL (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 11:54am

RE: #33

Shouldn't it be part of the QB coach's responsibility, though, to help Eli Manning learn make better decisions and not throw into double coverage quite as much?

by james (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 12:15pm

Last night I was watching the mnf game with passion. I was leading the fantasy contest on sportsbook.com(2000 dollars to the winner, free contest) with a team of manning, mcnabb, brady, alexander, tomlinson. I couldn't beleive my luck when Manning would not stop throwing while they were up so much. I was thanking god.

I just had to look at my team on paper, so I check my email.


Maybe it wasn't by accident but I wrote P. Manning down on paper when i was deciding.

I think that is the worst luck ever. Well not ever, Skins D with fumbles is the worst luck ever, but the worst luck I've ever had.

by Mike (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 1:34pm

Eli unquestionably has been the beneficiary of good fortune this year, with regard to his low interception total.

While he's clearly better than he was last year, and even earlier in the year (in the first game he appeared to be attempting to throw picks), he's still physically inaccurate, and he still makes at least his share of bad decisions.

I've said numerous times this year that "Eli is trying to throw picks, the other team isn't cooperating." He's been lucky, along with his real improvement.

As long as Eli is inaccurate, he should attempt to follow the "Donovan McNabb model." While being inaccurate is clearly a negative for a QB, it doesn't preclude you from being a good QB, as long as you recognize it and take steps to minimize the impact.

McNabb is not an overly accurate passer, but he recognizes it, and he makes throws where, if they are inaccurate, they will turn into incompletions instead of picks. Targeting a deep ball a little farther than normal, to minimize the risk that a shallow ball ends up as a pick, or leading a receiver with a trailing DB a bit more than normal.

Inaccuracy naturally causes incompletions and picks. Only game planning and play selection can reduce the incompletions caused by inaccuracy, but a QB can reduce interceptions at the physical execution level by being aware of his limitations.

by dbt (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 3:13pm

#36: Orton did quite a bit of the overthrow the deep ball against the Saints, and it nearly got him two picks I can think of, one was barely off the safety's fingertips.

by dutch (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 5:17pm

I had check your qb ratings twice. You guys must think Big Ben suuuuccckkks.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 7:57pm

How do you figure? He's ranked first overall in DVOA. I know he's good (I first saw him when he was a senior in high school, and he's always been awesome), but how good is he that being rated #1 isn't good enough?

OK, I'll assume that you're a new reader, and don't know what the stats actually mean. DVOA is the per-play stat, and in that category he's first by a good margin. That's good. DPAR is a cumulative stat, where each play has a certain value, and the more plays you're involved in, the higher (or lower) it can go. In that he's rated 13th, which is above average. But notice the column over to the right labeled 'passes'. See how he was involved in about half as many pass plays as anyone above him? That would be why he's lower, just less opportunities to rack up points in that system.

by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 1:58pm

Hey Aaron, what were the QB DPAR's for the Monday night game? Or is it somewhere else on the site?