Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

20 Oct 2006

FOX Blog Wrap-Up, October 14-20

Here's a catch-all thread for discussion of this week's posts on the Football Outsiders FOX blog, free from discussion of whether or not it is fair for us to be "Blog of the Day" or whatever. Covered this week: How bad Edgerrin James and Rex Grossman were compared to the worst games in DVOA/DPAR history, odds on where Jim Fassel will end up next season, charting notes on the Houston Texans, charting stats on Champ Bailey (Weeks 1-3), and the Al Saunders Shuffle in Washington.

Posted by: admin on 20 Oct 2006

42 comments, Last at 23 Oct 2006, 10:41pm by Ashley Tate


by B (not verified) :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 3:23pm

In charting the Texans, you point out that Mario Williams drops into coverage frequently, like Peppers. Yet MDS's EPC article suggests that Peppers isn't very good in coverage. Is Mario Williams?

by DavidH (not verified) :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 3:26pm

decent article. notice i said 'article'. meanwhile, we're writing 'BLOGS.'

did that guy just basically say the quality of your post is too high?

by zip (not verified) :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 3:28pm


That's exactly what I was about to ask. Maybe next time Aaron can put in a paragraph about what he had for dinner, and how the latest episode of Lost made him feel.

by Nilblog (not verified) :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 3:32pm

Seems to me like the Redskins could develop into a good team as the season progresses and Saunders and the personnel acclimate to one another, which makes the Colts game quite important - win, and they'll simply have to finish the season strong; lose, and they'll be in the market for miracles.

As a casual observer of the Houston-Dallas game, I only noticed Mario Williams (or, as the #FO chatroom christened him, Princess Toadstool Williams) on plays in which he was conspicuously useless.

by JonL (not verified) :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 3:32pm

Good stuff. I like the blog because it allows for stuff that might not be a full article. Could Mario Williams' inadequacies as a pass rusher be why his coaches keep calling zone blitzes?

by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 3:38pm

Re #1- I think the point of the EPC was that Peppers was good in coverage, but GREAT as a pass rusher, so why use him in a sub-optimal role. Of course, we don't know what Mario Williams' optimal role is yet, so I guess the Texans are trying everything. Four straight zone blitzes seems odd though.

by DGL (not verified) :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 3:43pm

#3: What, you're trying to turn Aaron into Peter King?

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 3:44pm

Well, this isn't going to end well. Demonicume actually seemed like he was trying to say something nice about MT's "article". Who the hell are jcthomasva and DrPepperMD? And why do you have to poke the proverbial caged animals with a stick?

by ABW (not verified) :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 3:56pm

That one commenter sure seems to spend a lot of time on Fox blogs.....

Anyhow, I really like the Fox blog - it's great to see these little nuggets of analysis.

by admin :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 4:03pm

I ended up tossing one more post on this afternoon, a mailbag answer with charting data on Champ Bailey. Check it out if you missed it. As far becoming Peter King, I don't think I'll give television reviews, but maybe I'll talk about music or something, since I'm an ex-radio jock.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 4:11pm

Aaron, maybe you should retitle these blog recap threads "BOTD" just so we can have another acronym around here. ;-)

by Dennis (not verified) :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 4:31pm

You could also throw in who you talked to on their cell phone and add a few "immutable laws" that change every week, thus combining the worst of TMQ and MMQB.

Seriously, good stuff.

by Daniel (not verified) :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 4:31pm

Know what bugs me about all of these trolls? That somehow because I never played high school football, I can't possibly know anything about the sport. As if because some of these guys peaked senior year of high school, still trying to squeeze into their letter jacket at 25, going to crappy state schools and wistfully dreaming of making it as a walk-on...as if these guys contain some mysterious knowledge, that I, troglodyte outsider that I am, couldn't possibly have. What a bunch of a-holes.

by DMP (not verified) :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 4:58pm

I didn't know mutant haters were such quixotic gamblers.

Is there any way to compare the performance of the so-called "shutdown" corners? Seems like the ones who are supposed to be the best are always getting lower statistical scores because opponents avoid them. It could also be opponents many times end up throwing there way only on low-risk passes, further skewing their ratings.

by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 5:01pm

What ticks me off is they assume people haven't played football.

That, and theo ther commenters seem to think that a blog is only "special" if it has comments.

Last time I checked, I prefer blogs to have content, not snarky flamewars.

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 5:11pm

The Champ Bailey post reminds me of something. On his Int in the end zone vs Baltimore, the play was a designed jump ball for thier tall rookie WR, whose name I can't remember, and Champ Bailey was covering him. That means either Den recognized the play and put Baily on the rookie knowing he w0ould be the target, or Bailey always lines up on the left and Balitmore conciously decided to put thw WR on his side.

by Kal (not verified) :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 5:25pm

One reason that I like this site is because I played football, not in spite of it. It's the same reason I like Dr Z's columns - it doesn't just do surface analysis and basic statistical data.

It's interesting to see the Redskins so slammed for Saunders.

by MJK (not verified) :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 5:30pm

Having one corner significantly better than the other may very well make DVOA thinks your team is comparitively poor against #1 WR's. Opponents are going to do everything in their power to get matchups where their #1 WR is NOT covered by the good CB, and almost always throw to him when he's not, and almost never when he is. Since he is only thrown two when he's covered by the less good corner, plays that involve him will have a higher than normal completion percentage and hence a very high efficiency. Since he's never thown to when covered by the elite guy, there are no incompletions/interceptions to drag down the DVOA on passes to the #1 WR.

by BillWallace (not verified) :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 5:34pm

re: The Redskins.

As much as Brunell pisses me off, and as much as I agree that all the pre-snap shifting is useless or even counter-productive, this sites own stats show that the offense is not the problem. DC is #6 in offense DVOA and #26 on defense.

The complete collapse of our D for whatever reason is the problem. With a top 6 D like last season the skins would be 4-2 or better.

re: 16 I would say Bailey just always lines up there, and Baltimore decided to target him with that play anyways. This may or not be correlated with that OC being fired. If you're going to target Bailey you've got to go out and up or some other double move... he'll bite sometimes... just trying to beat him straight up is stupidity.

by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 5:57pm

The complete collapse of our D for whatever reason is the problem.

*cough* injuries *cough* lack of depth *cough*

this sites own stats show that the offense is not the problem.

I think there's a fair amount of truth to that, but I also think that if you could get offensive variance alone, you'd see that Washington's offense has been really, really inconsistent this year. That high offensive DVOA is almost certainly virtually all from the Houston and Jacksonville games.

by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 5:59pm

B --

Clarence Moore has been with the Ravens for three seasons now, and his only demonstrated ability to catch a pass is to use his 6' 6" height to grab a jump ball.

Bailey even commented somewhere that when he saw Moore, he knew exactly what the Ravens were going to throw -- it was in the Quotes thread. That McNair also underthrew it so much that Bailey had the better position just made me scream at the TV all the, er, more.

by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 6:05pm

it's interesting that most of the trolls seem to be the other blog authors.

that ryan leaf line is pretty amazing. does anyone know what down and distance the 4 yard completion came on? because it would be amazing for a qb to have zero successful plays in 20 attempts.

by BillWallace (not verified) :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 6:32pm

Yeah that's probably a major part of the reason, but I just don't feel like disecting it.

On the offense, there may be a lot of variance, maybe a little less than you think. But that's one of DVOA's successes, is sifting through the great (Jacksonville, Houston), and the bad (NYG, Dallas) and determining how good it is, and will likely be in the future.

One reason why there might be less variance than you think is that in their worst game, against the Giants, there weren't many total possessions, so the offense wasn't quite as bad as 3 points would normally indicate.

The offense didn't lose to the Titans either, that one was all on the D.

by admin :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 6:40pm

Next year, when we rank the defensive backs on "percent of passes targeted," we're going to adjust it based on how many games they missed, started, or came off the bench. We meant to do that last year, but ran out of time, so the "targeted" rankings weren't quite as valuable as they should have been.

If people want to whine that I'm some guy sitting at a laptop who never played football, I'm not going to argue with them. I am, in fact, some guy sitting at a laptop who never played football in any way that included tackling or goal lines more official than "that dumpster" and "that weird looking tree over there, no, not that one, the pine tree, yeah, that's a touchdown." There is a reason why I named this site what I named this site.

by Opiegrey (not verified) :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 6:59pm

Aaron and co. - I am putting this comment here, as its as useful a place as any I suppose.

Just wanted to point out why I almost never check FO on FOX, but come to FO itself several times a day. The discussions that occur here are ERUDITE in comparison to pretty much every other BB or blog or "national" sports site which allows commentary. The users at FO will lament their own team's shortcomings, but generally not slam their rivals (or if they do, it is with some legitimate facts to back them up). The humor is usually not sophomoric (excepting the Brady stuff last year, and Catholic Match girl this year).

You have somehow managed to create an inordinately pleasant place to come and discuss football for those of us who would actually like to discuss football. Whatever it is that draws the "right" kind of people (my opinion) keep doing it.

Keep up the fantastic work.

by doktarr (not verified) :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 7:26pm

Hey Aaron,

Could you re-lookup the second-worst (DPAR/PAR) QB performance in a winning effort that you have on record? As I said in the Rex Grossman blog entry, the Tommy Maddox game you mention was actually a loss, not a win.

by DavidH (not verified) :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 8:08pm

I also think that if you could get offensive variance alone, you’d see that Washington’s offense has been really, really inconsistent this year.

Luckily, you CAN get offensive variance. It's listed on the Offensive DVOA page (linked). Washington is 6th:

CHI 17.0%
SF 11.7%
PIT 11.0%
NYJ 9.5%
ATL 8.0%
WAS 7.7%

by Travis (not verified) :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 9:42pm

that ryan leaf line is pretty amazing. does anyone know what down and distance the 4 yard completion came on? because it would be amazing for a qb to have zero successful plays in 20 attempts

The completion came on the Chargers' first play of the game, so I guess it could be considered a minor failure. Leaf then finished 0 for his last 14.

by BillWallace (not verified) :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 9:43pm

lol @ Chicago... #1 in variance with a bullet!

Also interesting DC was #2 in offensive variance last season with 12.5%. I wouldn't call it 'offensive' variance as much as I'd call it 'Brunell' variance. And I think we can expect it to continue until his career is mercifully put down.

by calig23 (not verified) :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 9:55pm


I think the post does refer to it as a Baltimore victory.

Here's the quote:

So, you may ask, was the worst quarterback performance ever by a winning quarterback? Is water wet? I looked at the worst 30 passing performances of the decade, and every single one except Grossman was a loss. I looked at every game of -16 PAR or worse before I just gave up on trying to find another win. The only one close was Tommy Maddox in Baltimore's 14-13 victory over Pittsburgh in the final week of 2003, and that game is just the 24th worst PAR of the decade.

However, the score is incorrect, like you said in the blog comments. It was 13-10, not 14-13.

by Duff Soviet Union (not verified) :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 10:04pm

I just got around to reading the Grossman post about worst QB performances since 1997. Ahhhh...Donald Hollas. That brings back memories (slamming my head against the desk).

by kibbles (not verified) :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 10:12pm

I commented on the blog, but I'll post it here, too.

First off, My numbers are slightly different than yours when it comes to Torry Holt vs. Champ Bailey. I have Holt snagging 3 passes for 16 yards, and you have him grabbing 3 for 26. Not a big deal, either way, just something I wanted to point out.

Second, you said that Bailey had 12 targets in the first 3 weeks. You listed 3 against Holt, 3 more against the Rams in general (Jackson, Fisher, Bruce), 3 against the Chiefs, and two against New England. That's 11 total. Where was the last target coming from?

Yeah, I know, I'm picking nits like nobody's business, but what can I say... I'm a little bit compulsive sometimes.

Using my numbers for Torry Holt, and your numbers for the KC and New England games, it looks like Bailey allowed a whopping 2.36 yards per target through the first three weeks. That's absurd. Bailey for MVP!

Also, for what it's worth, last week against the Raiders was the first time I'd seen Bailey follow the other team's #1 guy to the Defensive Right (Offensive Left) side of the field sometimes (but not always). Prior to that, he played all of his snaps (or at least, all that I could see with the TV angles) on the Defensive Left side rather than matching up against the #1.

by Mike (not verified) :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 10:58pm

Probably because he's been so good that teams are afraid to match their best player up on him.

And yeah the EPC article mentioned once when Peppers dropped into coverage and Heap caught a 9 yard pass in his zone. What EPC failed to mention was Boller broke contain on the right side of the field and Peppers was forced to play the run while maintaining some semblence of his zone. He was not put in a very good situation to succeed on that play and Boller completed a nice pass to Heap. Peppers did the right thing on that play, because if he had covered Heap too closely towards the middle of the field then Boller would have had a nice run along the sideline. Instead he was in position to tackle Heap almost immediately after Heap made the catch. Sometimes you have to give those up when your scheme fails.

But yeah, Peppers has been a superior pass rusher this season, so dropping him into coverage TOO often is a waste. It's still good to do it from time to time so that the defense can't key, and he's made teams pay when he's dropped back in the past. He picked off Brian Griese a couple years ago and took it back for a touchdown when he dropped back. I belive that might have been the final margin of the game too.

by Keith Cockrell (not verified) :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 11:08pm

Wow! I never bothered looking at the FOX blog and I'm amazed at how much I missed. Great job. Very readable and, as always, well thought out.

by Sara (not verified) :: Fri, 10/20/2006 - 11:58pm

Wow. Just read the comments on the Rex Grossman blog. All I can say is, don't fret too much about the opinion of someone who describes, um, BILL O'REILLY as "intense intelligent statistical analysis." Yeah, okay. Thanks for playing. The blog is great, don't change a thing!

by Kaveman (not verified) :: Sat, 10/21/2006 - 1:00am

#32: Bailey or Coyer or both of them made a little joke about Bailey following Moss when he hasn't been following #1s this year. Something about people not expecting it.

Which would imply that he won't do it all the time, but only against the best #1s.

I worry a little about all this Champ hype. He has hands like a receiver and great instincts, but he plays very aggressive and gets burned badly sometimes. On the plus side, the lack of work this year isn't dulling his focus. Still, no question that I'd rather have him than not, even in exchange for Portis.

by doktarr (not verified) :: Sat, 10/21/2006 - 2:36am

RE: #30,

Maddox was playing for the Steelers. He lost.

by calig23 (not verified) :: Sat, 10/21/2006 - 10:24am


Right. I think he was saying that he couldn't find another QB who had won a game with such an awful performance. Maddox came the closest to actually winning (but didn't).

by Matt Weiner (not verified) :: Sat, 10/21/2006 - 11:06am

I was just reading Steelers '02 game recaps (link in name)... what was David Carr's PAR for the game where the Texans beat the Steelers 24-6 while gaining 47 yards? (Maddox lost two fumbles and an INT for TDs, and Randle El fumbled a punt to set up the FG.) I'd expect a QB's stats in that game to be Not Good.

Looking it up he was 3/10 for 33 yards, 4 sacks, 3 rushes for 6 yards, 2 fumbles (lost). I'm guessing that adds up to some nasty VOA but he didn't throw enough to get historically low PAR.

by Matt Weiner (not verified) :: Sat, 10/21/2006 - 12:23pm

Actually Carr didn't lose the fumbles, not that it makes a difference. Looking at the Game Log I counted one successful rush and two successful passes.

by Crushinator (not verified) :: Sat, 10/21/2006 - 12:47pm


The Steelers D will probably adjust that a lot too.

by Ashley Tate (not verified) :: Mon, 10/23/2006 - 10:41pm

#20 Washington was inconsistent on offense last year too.

Last year: #12 on offense and #4 on defense. This year: #6 on offense and #26 on defense (six games after putting in a new offensive system, no less).

Al Saunders is not the problem--unless you believe he emits a defense-discombobulation field that affects all defenses on the field equally!