Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

09 Oct 2006

2006 Quick Reads: Week 5

The game between the Cowboys and Eagles ended up a lot closer than the personal competition between Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens. T.O. had the lowest DPAR of any receiver this week, and Drew Bledsoe had the lowest DPAR of any quarterback. So, who gets the blame? Plus: Eli Manning and Alex Smith play well, and Vince Young needs to play more shotgun.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 09 Oct 2006

59 comments, Last at 13 Oct 2006, 12:47am by Crushinator


by BlueStarDude (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 9:51pm

Bledsoe didn't have a good game. The O-line didn't have a good game. And Owens looks like he'll hurt the team in so far as the offense will now be overly conscious of trying to get him the ball.

But Dallas was still only one play a way from sending the game (on the road, against a very tough Eagles team) to overtime. The situation could be a lot worse, esp. given this is a fairly young defense that will only get better, and the Dallas media (and much of the fan base) need to stop overreacting.

by Luz (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 10:08pm

um.... uh... chris brown was inactive this week....

by paytonrules (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 10:32pm

That's cause the comment is last weeks if I'm not mistaken #2 - unless Ron Dayne had the exact same yardage/carries as last week.

by Harry (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 10:37pm

I was at the Rams - Packers game and I have to say in person neither QB looked particularly impressive. Bulger in particular was just plain lucky - if Harris knew how to catch a football he would have had at least two picks.

by Jason (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 10:41pm

There's a potential mistake in McNabb's numbers in your week 5 Quarterback tables, unless I'm missing something. You're showing that he has 1509 yards. Per FOXSports and ESPN he has 1602.

by navin (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 10:43pm

How much of Terrell Owens' bad performance is due to Drew Bledsoe's horrible day. I saw a couple passes that Owens would have made a big play on if the pass had been catchable.

Re: SF-Oak... So all the Niners performances were defense adjusted? If so this bodes well for the San Fran offense. I don't know what the heck happened against the Chiefs, but this falls in line with the other three games. Maybe it's playing in the early game.

One last thing... Is it possible to split the blame on a botched handoff? Last week McNabb was credited with the fumble for the botched handoff between him and Buckhalter. Maybe this doesn't matter in the long run because it might not happen frequently enough. (I'm not sure how it shows up in the official play-by-play either.)

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 11:11pm

The play-by-play doesn't list the intended handoff target, so no, it's not possible.

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 11:12pm

AJ Hawk missed an interception. It would have been a fine play but it was there.

Charles Woodson had an interception. Not a hard play.

Al Harris dropped the easiest interception known to man.

Bulger got a 40 yard pass play when Tony Fisher, yes THE Tony Fisher, juked his way past a defender at the line of scrimmage and the rest of the defense was so shocked that Tony Fisher(!) was running free they took forever and a day to react.

Favre missed on five throws that would have made this game a Packer win. 2 were easy TDs if he's on the mark.

And while Jennings had a pretty good day he dropped a ball that would have gone for 30 plus yards. Ouch.

The more a Packer fan watches this game the more a dull ache grows in one's cerebrum. This game was just SITTING there.

But that's the sign of a bad team. The Rams gave them multiple chances and the Packers said "No, no...YOU have it".


by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 11:25pm

How much of Terrell Owens’ bad performance is due to Drew Bledsoe’s horrible day.

Not much, I'd imagine. Bledsoe was fine throwing to other receivers.

I have to say, I don't know how anyone can easily defend Owens for that game. Was Bledsoe having trouble? Sure. But even ignoring the short-armed dropped pass, Owens just stood and watched as Sheppard intercepted the pass intended for him.

By the end of the game, Owens just looked like he didn't care anymore.

by DrewTS (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 11:31pm

Sweet! All three of the fantasy RBs I started this week show up in Quick Reads -- Frank Gore, Fred Taylor and ... Ronnie Brown. Hey shut up, I won.

by Moridin (not verified) :: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 11:35pm

Harrington's comment was a good one; too bad he doesn't play as well as Falco.

by thad (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 12:15am

"By the end of the game, Owens just looked like he didn’t care anymore."

Yeah but what about the intensity and emotion he showed on the sideline? :)

Seriously have you noticed K. Johnson is just crushing him in
DPAR, DVOA, Catch percentage...everything.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 12:20am


Damon Huard should print out, laminate, and frame that article. He outdid Manning, Brady, and Roethlisburger.

by Jason (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 1:06am

Grossman's winning, he has a good TD:INT ratio, lots of yards, yada yada, so everyone's finally jumping on the bandwagon because it's fashionable when before it was fashionable to forget he was a first round pick with barely a handful of actual NFL games started, call him injury prone and underestimate his chances being anything more than useful. As someone who wanted him to show what he really had, I'm glad he's had success, but now I feel the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. If you've watched any Bears game, you've seen the propensity to backpedal (though there has been some improvement) and to throw off his back foot. You might have also seen some balls that could very easily have been picked, especially in the last couple of games. I've also noticed his completion percentage is nothing spectacular. Yes, he's thrown some balls away (and sometimes he even does that badly). Yes, he's had some drops, but also he's thrown a a number of balls high off of (open) receivers fingertips. I think he's been lucky. Even a couple of those go for picks and his 'breakout' doesn't really exist. Then I remembered the article last year about Eli being fluky in that his poor completion percentage would portend far more interceptions and eventually that happened. I wonder if Grossman's running the same risk. Also, look at all his receivers. Backs Jones and McKie have negative receiving value. Moose, Berrian and Davis all have very poor completion percentages and Clark's isn't so great for a TE either. It's astounding his value is so high with those 'peripherals.' Thanks Berrian for getting open deep every game. Any chance of a similar FO analysis of Grossman to project where his season might end up because I highly doubt he'll end up with a 100+ rating if he continues to throw the ball this way?

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 1:12am

Seriously have you noticed K. Johnson is just crushing him in
DPAR, DVOA, Catch percentage…everything.

I'm just not actually convinced that Owens is a good receiver anymore. Everyone always talked about him being such a hard worker, always keeping himself in shape: except he slept through meetings at Philly, missed most of the offseason (and clearly didn't give a damn) at Dallas... he might be staying in shape, but the older you get, the more your fundamentals matter, and I think Owens's poor fundamentals are starting to show.

by David (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 1:38am

I think part of it is just that they threw to him twelve damn times in one half. Given the attention the Eagles paid to him and Glenn all day, there's no way that doesn't equal a lot of passes forced into coverage.

by queequeg (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 1:40am

re:15 it'll be interesting to see if owens does start to have some real fundamental breakdown in his game, and i wonder if he'll start freelancing his routes to get open, naturally increasing the frustration for both the passer and himself.

by Rollo (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 2:44am

14: Great post, you summed up my thoughts about Grossman. He sure seems awfully similar to Eli in his good luck at dropped interceptions so far.

by Kevo (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 5:38am

I think he showed in the Vikings game what happens when he gets pressured. He backpedals and throws up a prayer, occasionally into the waiting arms of a defender who takes it into the end zone. It's a wonder the Bears won that game.

by max (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 7:46am

#4 Harry

Just curious, since you were at the game, what did you think of the officiating?

Sure looked bad on TV.

by StereoChemistry (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 9:15am

Damn, I was hoping to get the FO's take on how well Bruce Gradkowski actually did, and while the 9th ranking is it's own commentary, it would seem after Audibles and Quick Reads that no one got to watch the game.

by Moses (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 9:23am

re 1: Bledsoe didn’t have a good game. The O-line didn’t have a good game. And Owens looks like he’ll hurt the team in so far as the offense will now be overly conscious of trying to get him the ball.

But Dallas was still only one play a way from sending the game (on the road, against a very tough Eagles team) to overtime. The situation could be a lot worse, esp. given this is a fairly young defense that will only get better, and the Dallas media (and much of the fan base) need to stop overreacting.

I told my Cowboy friend part of this.

But the Owens thing is still a bigger problem than the Cowboy fans want to admit.

Yes, he skews offenses because he demands so many balls. He's like a guy who hit's .250 with power. You get all these homeruns and go "ohhhh ahhhh" and forget that he's hitting .250 with runners in scoring position... And while the reasons are complex and multi-dimensional, much of it has to do with Owens.

But the second part is his ever-growing prima donna affect. Owens has been reported to already being back to his childish ways including a tirade right after the Eagles loss. And while you'll want to blow it off as a "competitor venting steam," for Owens it's not. This will grow, and grow, and grow as he continues to obsess after each loss and struggle. Then one day: POW! And Owens is PROBLEM #1.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 10:17am

21: That's because FO hates the NFC South. ;)

by ChrisFromNJ (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 10:35am

Re: Eli

Yes, he's been facing some fairly soft defenses. The Colts aren't known for their defensive prowess, the Shawn Springs injury kept the Redskins in beatable vanilla schemes all day, and we all know about the fourth quarter garbage/comeback time against the Eagles and Seahawks.

That being said, if you give him these easy schemes last year, he'd struggle mightily to make even 60% of his passes. The numbers are bound to go down, but there has *clearly* been a heck of a lot of improvement, especially in his decision-making.

One interesting note to file under the "Regression to the Other Side Of The Mean" category: despite his 67% completion percentage, Eli has thrown five picks so far, more than the league average. An interesting (if far fainter) mirror image of last year's statistical anomaly. And I suspect that the interception rate will fall along with the completion rate- defenders seem to be having good luck so far. An example: at some point in the Seattle game(don't remember when, it's all a blur to me), a well-thrown pass to (I think) Burress just popped out of his hands and into a waiting defender's arms.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 10:56am

Owens has been reported to already being back to his childish ways including a tirade right after the Eagles loss.

Reportedly, that tirade included him screaming "Why did the Cowboys sign me, anyway?!?"


by irishfan (Ireland not ND) (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 11:18am

Re Rams – GB: I am not going to say the rams were totally dominant in this one cause neither team was. The rams in my opinion deserved to win and bad officiating nearly cost them the game. For the 3 rd game (yes third) the rams were denied a clear touchdown by the refs (and to make it worse 2 of them were non reviewable so nothing linehan could do) as fisher was not out of bounds on his reception (that would have given Bulger an even higher DPAR number). Also pass interference on witherspoon in the final drive was ridiculous.

There was really only 1 clear cut interception missed by GB and the rest would have been pretty amazing plays by GB and in my opinion worth the risk as there are not many DB’s or WLB’s who make them interceptions. Don’t forget Favre should have also been intercepted in the endzone when witherspoon dropped a pass.

Rams are playing fairly good football and should improve as the year goes on. They have a great record (especially with Bulger, Holt and Bruce starting) at home and they have already won two on the road. They have four wins with games to come at home against SF, Arizona and Minnesota. That should be a given seven wins with any 3 from the remaining 8 enough to get into the play offs. Don’t be surprised if it happens.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 11:25am


You have to be kidding me. THat ball was 15 yards short, there was no way he could have done ANYTHING to prevent Shephard from picking that off.

I dont think TO had that great of a game, but Bledsoe underthrew him by 10+ yards more than once

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 11:56am

Sheppard was at most 5 yards from Owens when he made that interception. In the air. Leaping. Owens never made towards Sheppard - he just lightly tagged him when he hit the ground, and walked off the field. No tackle to try to break the ball loose, no nothing. It was just too easy.

by Mike (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 12:05pm

What was JP's PAR this week? I really want to know what that Bears defense does in terms of opponent adjustments.

by TomC (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 12:15pm

My theory on Grossman is that he puts a special spin on the ball that makes it easy for WRs & TEs to catch but very difficult for DBs (or LBs or DEs) to intercept. Antoine Winfield should be very proud that he hung on to his pick 6.

by Kevin (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 12:37pm


Maybe you don't like T.O. and that's okay, but don't be like Buck and Aikman and blame him for everything. The last INT was 5-7 yards underthrown and what did you want him to do considering the ball was caught/controlled and the defender was on the ground already? Put his shoulder into Sheppard's back so he could get a personal foul and you could complain about that too?

I'm a Giants fan and could care less about T.O., but I find it ridiculous that people go out of their way to blame him for things that aren't his fault. Aikman embarrased himself doing that on Sunday and 99.9% of the people who defended Troy for that hate T.O. anyway.

by navin (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 12:40pm

Re: 26,
San Fran is going to beat the Rams in Saint Louis, especially if the Rams overlook that game again.

The Rams' weakness stopping the run matches the SF's strength on offense--running the ball. Also, SF seems to have the Rams number since Nolan was hired.

by irishfan (Ireland not ND) (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 1:00pm

Re 32 - perhaps they will. Anything can happen. The rams will be clear favourites for that game though - should be favoured by 7 or more. Things balance out in the end. The rams should lose @ Carolina, @ San Diego and @ Seattle but maybe they win one of those and lose at home to SF. I still say the rams hit 10 wins for the season. And in all likelihood they win the 3 home games I mentioned above. They would have beaten SF this year if Pace did not leave hurt half way through and they had to put in a line that never played together before (probably never practiced together either). Imagine that - the Rams should be 5-0!!!

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 1:16pm

The last INT was 5-7 yards underthrown

From video replay, Owens was 3 yards away from Sheppard. Owens had already stopped for the ball when Sheppard jumped in the air. He could've easily made back towards the ball and hit Sheppard when he landed.

Which would not have been a personal foul, and might have jarred the ball loose. Probably not, but hell, Owens couldn't see how well Sheppard had the ball controlled.

and what did you want him to do considering the ball was caught/controlled and the defender was on the ground already?

No, it wasn't.

by Wayne Kerr (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 1:29pm

Hold on, Gradkowski was ninth?

How did that happen? Why wasn't there a comment about this?

by Rocco (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 2:16pm

For reference, here's video of Sheppard's INT:


Regardless of what TO could or couldn't have done, can we all agree that it was a horrible throw by Bledsoe?

by navin (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 2:31pm

I don't think that Pace's injury is the reason Saint Louis lost. If we're blaming injuries, I believe Larry Allen and Jonas Jennings were hurt for San Francisco in that same game, but that didn't stop the Niners offense.

The Rams easily could have lost to the Packers and Cardinals as well, late fumbles saved them in both games. I would be ecstatic in your shoes, and would be happy with anything more than eight wins this year.

by Crushinator (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 2:50pm


I watched the game, if it helps.

Gradkowski looked good. He looked good in preseason too except for one bad game.

He's a rookie and his weaknesses right now are that he doesn't know the playbook or defenses well enough yet, but I'm pretty confident he'll succeed. He has a good enough arm to throw it deep and is pinpoint accurate.

I think he'll have a little bit of an up and down year as teams get more footage on him and he'll have to adjust. But from just a physical standpoint, he has all the abilities to succeed in the NFL.

by max (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 2:54pm

# 37 navin,

"I would be ecstatic in your shoes, and would be happy with anything more than eight wins this year."

Well, yeah, that's reasonable.

And if I were a Niners fan, anything more than 4 wins would make me ecstatic. That is, of course, given that they beat the Rams twice.

by MTR (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 3:45pm

Sorry Pat, I dislike TO as much as anybody but I don't see he's at fault on that one (unless he ran the wrong pattern). In fact, it looked just like the cases where the receiver stops for an underthrown ball but the defender's momentum carries him past the play, only with the roles reversed.

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 4:35pm

I never said Owens was at fault. It's clearly Bledsoe's fault. But Owens clearly didn't give any effort whatsoever to try to stop the pass. Hell, it's a deep pass - wide receivers have to be DBs if something goes wrong on those passes.

by TBW (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 6:09pm

I have to agree with the TO bashers about Lito's first INT. He was either slow to pick up the fact the ball was underthrown, or just didn't care it was underthrown.

Any chance it could have been a timing route where TO was supposed to stop suddenly and turn for the catch, but he forgot and kept running ? Maybe Bledsoe put the ball where he was supposed to, but TO didn't run the right route.

by Molloy (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 8:34pm

There's no way Owens could have defensed that Shepard INT. The whole thing happened much too fast. Owens was running so hard that when he turned to look for the pass, his momentum was still carrying him toward the end zone; it looks like he acutally skidded backwards after he turned around. By the time Owens was able to stop, Shepard already had the ball wrapped up and was clearly falling backwards. Touching Shepard after he hit the ground was about all Owens could have done.

Of course, Blesdoe being Blesdoe, maybe Parcells should introduce a new tactic where recievers have to stay with the guy defending them in case they have to break up an INT, har har.

by Steve (not verified) :: Tue, 10/10/2006 - 11:41pm

I appreciate your insights on Grossman and his eerie similarities to Eli of last year.

It's been quite a ride so far for this long time Bears fan and I need to be brought back down to earth. I don't want to fall too far when they lose (Please God...don't let them have to deal with the pressure of an undefeated season).

Please remember one important detail though. We won 11 games last year with a horrid offense and an average special teams squad. Probably would have been 12 games had we not sat our starters in Week 17.
But our defense is the constant. So if Rex slips a bit (and he will), you can throw it out the window anyway.

I like our chances to win it all with The Monsters of The Midway watching the back of even an average offense.

by Harris (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 12:01am

I'm not so sure that it was a bad pass so much as a terrible read. Dawkins was ready to hammer Owens right about the time the ball would have gotten there. Maybe Bledsoe read the safety and threw short to give Owens a chance to come back. Of course, that means Bledsoe didn't see/recognize the corner underneath, so clearly something went wrong. In the interests of peace, I'm more than willing to blame Owens and Bledsoe for that pick.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 11:40am

By the time Owens was able to stop, Shepard already had the ball wrapped up and was clearly falling backwards.

That's not true. There's a picture of Owens staring right at Sheppard, who's still in the air here. There's no reason Owens couldn't've tackled Sheppard there, with the hopes of jarring the ball loose.

by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 11:44am

Just a hunch -- if Quick Reads waited until Tuesday, Plummer would be #28 and McNair a distant #29. Is that right?

by Travis (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 11:56am

Re: 47

Nah. Plummer had 5.5 DPAR (adjusted from 2.0 PAR thanks to the #1-rated BAL pass defense), which would rank fifth, while McNair's -4.0 DPAR would put him ahead of Losman and 5 others.

by Steve Sandvik (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 1:07pm

46-oh come on, Pat. I can get cherry-picked still shots that make a lot of things look true that aren't. That's while he was still stopping on the video. Maybe he could have played it better, but that still shot doesn't show *anything* other than that he had turned around. Not to mention that Shepard caught the ball up high and brought it down, so it's already way too late. I'm no TO fan, but you're being absurd here.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 1:51pm

Feel free to try to find one that shows TO doing anything on that interception.

Maybe he could have played it better,

He didn't do anything. He sat there. He could have tackled Sheppard, lunged at him, anything. There was absolutely no effort whatsoever.

Did it make a difference? Probably not. That doesn't make it not right, just like Ben Watson's rundown of Champ Bailey.

I’m no TO fan, but you’re being absurd here.

Absurd is a bit much, given that I'm not exactly the only one with that opinion. If you disagree with it, fine, but that doesn't make it absurd.

by mactbone (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 2:44pm

Well Pat, when you a vocal Eagles fan and TBW, who I've never seen, are the only ones I've seen attack Owens for this (on this page), then yeah it is absurd.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 2:56pm

TMQ does as well, as did several other NFL writers.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 3:31pm

TMQ does as well, as did several other NFL writers.

You're not exactly strengthening your case there, Pat.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 5:23pm

Oh, come on. That's a bit critical.

by Steve Sandvik (not verified) :: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 6:28pm

How come the Ray Lewis interception against the Raiders where Randy Moss had to literally jog the other direction to avoid being involved in a potential tackle a few weeks ago didn't get this level of scrutiny?

by Crushinator (not verified) :: Thu, 10/12/2006 - 2:15am


Because the Raiders suck.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Thu, 10/12/2006 - 11:01am

Re: 55

Because Randy Moss is irrelevant.

by MJK (not verified) :: Thu, 10/12/2006 - 12:21pm

There's an NFL team called the Raiders?

by Crushinator (not verified) :: Fri, 10/13/2006 - 12:47am


At the rate they're going, they'll be Division I-A before long.

I think that should be a new NFL rule. If any team goes 0-16, they have to go through a year at NCAA level.