Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

31 Dec 2007

2007 Quick Reads: Week 17

The final Quick Reads of the regular season, like in seasons before, looks at the best and worst quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends for the entire year, according to FO stats. This was the year Tom Brady, Randy Moss, and Wes Welker set records, Sage Rosenfels ran the gauntlet, Ronnie Brown gave us concentrated goodness, Chris Chambers did his best to show up Bill Barnwell, and a familiar trio topped tight ends for the fourth straight year.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 31 Dec 2007

36 comments, Last at 03 Jan 2008, 2:02pm by Rich Conley


by ZSGhost (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 10:30pm

I'm actually very interested to see Eli Manning's numbers for week 17 versus the Patriots. It must be high, right? I'm surprised it wasn't top three.

by kibbles (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 10:51pm

Shouldn't Peyton Manning's 2007 (135.7 DPAR) rank over Peyton Manning's 2000 (129.3 DPAR) as the #5 QB season of the DVOA era?

by The Original Sam (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 11:02pm

Was Quinn Gray really playing against backups in Houston? The announcers mentioned a few times that the Texans were playing their starters. If true, that makes Quinn Gray's performance at least noteworthy, since he was missing 3 starting O-linemen and the top 2 running backs. And they were making him throw repeatedly to Matt Jones, he of the 48% catch percentage.

by PhillyCWC (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 11:52pm

Brian Westbrook is Superman.

by Boggle (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2007 - 11:52pm

Why does the total DPAR for running backs not equal the sum of the DPAR for rushing and receiving?

by Al H (not verified) :: Tue, 01/01/2008 - 1:41am

The first-string Houston defense was out there for almost the entire game. Except for any injuries.

by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Tue, 01/01/2008 - 2:05am

And...Wes Welker wins the "Brandon Stokely 'Statistical Monster as Product of a System' Memorial Trophy" for 2007.

People talk about the lack of a Pats running game because Maroney gets 2 free yards on most runs because of the OL and Moss keeping the safeties deep.

by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 01/01/2008 - 9:39am

Was Quinn Gray really playing against backups in Houston?

Dude, it's Houston. Their starters ARE backups.

by The Original Sam (not verified) :: Tue, 01/01/2008 - 10:51am

They're professional athletes who won 7 other games. And what's the point of adjusting for opponent if you're going to disqualify one team or player's accomplishments anyway? Quinn Gray had a heck of a game, and he wasn't on the punt return or kick coverage units. He was missing half of his starting receivers, 3/5 of his starting O-Line, and LaBrandon Toefield started at running back. Richard Angulo I believe started at tight end.

If, after all that, Gray's DPAR was a top-3, then it seems unfair to discount it because it was "only" the Texans. If my opinion is that the Giants defense is too injury-filled to be considered any good then I can just as easily discount Tom Brady's game. What's the point?

by Mike (not verified) :: Tue, 01/01/2008 - 1:10pm

I think it says something about the Bills that they have no players in any of those categories.

We must be the most boring team in sports.

by Vermont Refugee (not verified) :: Tue, 01/01/2008 - 2:33pm

Looking at the distribution of big names way down on the RB & WR lists, I wondered if FO has ever tried to run a correlation plot of Salary/bonus numbers against DPAR. It might provide a nice start to the free agent discussion (since I follow the Boring Bills and live near Denver, the Free Agent sweepstakes is the only game that I can get excited about).

by jim (not verified) :: Tue, 01/01/2008 - 4:13pm

2: This was my first thought as well. What's the explanation?

by Ben (not verified) :: Tue, 01/01/2008 - 4:29pm

re:13 And just imagine what kind of numbers he would have had this season if he had receivers like Brady's instead of rookies and practice squad guys...

Yes, I know I'm evil.

by Otis Taylor 89 (not verified) :: Tue, 01/01/2008 - 4:57pm

I will never understand the Thomas Jones to Jets trade. The trade basically killed the '07 Bears as Benson can't play (as every FF owner found out early on this year). There had to be more to trade story, right?

R. Wayne had a hell of a year. He may not be Moss, Owens or even Edwards talent wise, but he's tough and was able to get seperation all year, even when Arron Morehead(!!) was lined up opposite him.

by shake n bake (not verified) :: Tue, 01/01/2008 - 4:57pm

Re 8

And the Colts WR depth got so bad they picked a guy off the Texans practice squad and played him once he learned the offense. If their starters are backups that would make their backups practice squad guys and Devin Aromashodu what exactly?

by Noah of Arkadia (not verified) :: Tue, 01/01/2008 - 5:30pm


"the Curse of 370 will take next year off. Thanks to Willie Parker's broken leg, no running back went over 325 carries during the regular season".

Well, if I were Parker, I would've much rather had 400 carries than 325 and a broken leg, looking forward to next year...

by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Tue, 01/01/2008 - 5:52pm

#16 - Broken legs don't typically have any long term consequences (except for the really horrific ones, like Charles Spencer's). The injury's ended Parker's season and possibly the Steelers' superbowl aspirations, but he should be fine next year.

The Texans' defense was minus the injured Dunta Robinson, which is a big deal - not many players in the league have a bigger drop-off to the ability of their backup. Starting SS Glenn Earl has missed the entire season too. Full strength otherwise. The starting Texans defense features three legitimately elite players - Robinson, Williams and Ryans, two talented rookies - Okoye and Bennett, one competent veteran - Weaver, and five replacement level performers. Correction, four replacement level players and CC Brown. If the gamecharting project ever leads to IDP DPAR, I fully expect Brown's to be double-digit negative.

Rosenfels' DVOA and DPAR are inflated because of the stellar numbers he put up in a single half against the league's #1 pass defense when it was playing prevent while sitting on a huge lead. Schaub is unquestionably the better player when healthy, which is not to say that Rosenfels is not a quality back-up who might be able to start somewhere.

Finally, I feel I should call attention to just how awesome Andre Johnson was when he was healthy this season. He ranked 10th in DPAR despite only playing 9 games. Pro-rate his stats for a full season, and he had 1513 yards (second, two behind Wayne), 14 TDs (4th=) and 49.4 DPAR (4th all time). He was 2nd in DVOA, behind only Anthony Gonzalez.

by Noah of Arkadia (not verified) :: Tue, 01/01/2008 - 6:24pm

I've always thought the 370 rule was a bit too mysterious and arbitrary. I know many agree with this, and I don't think anyone would really dispute that the disruptive effect of too many carries is a gradual process, and not something that happens from one carry to the next, and especially not at the same carry number for every player.

From there, I think 325 carries is a lot, and a broken leg to rehabilitate from can't help any, even if broken legs don't usually have a negative future impact. Can 75 extra carries really be worse than a broken leg? I really don't think so -and if I were a player, I would definitely pick the extra carries looking forward to next year. It'll be interesting to see what Parker's performance is like next year compared to 370-carry guys from previous years.

by The Original Sam (not verified) :: Tue, 01/01/2008 - 7:09pm


Based on your evaluation of the Texans' defense, I would have a hard time with the characterization that it was a "Week 17 'second-string quarterback vs. third-string defense' special."

It's one thing to exaggerate, it's another to just be wrong and discredit a backup quarterback's good play. If a playoff berth was on the line for both teams, the Texans' defense would not have looked any different. Jacksonville sat six starters on the offense NOT including the QB position, and their backup QB put up a hell of a game. Why can't they just give him credit for playing an outstanding game against a below-average defense instead of saying it was against scrubs?

by are-tee (not verified) :: Tue, 01/01/2008 - 8:11pm

Do you adjust receivers' TD stats? Because Cotchery had only 2 actual touchdowns, not 4.

by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Tue, 01/01/2008 - 8:46pm

Yeah, I think that's basically right. That was a bad Texans defense Gray was facing, but it was the best one they could put on the field, and that game meant more to the Texans than to the Jags. The franchise's first ever non-losing record was a big deal for fans and players, as was avoiding an 0-6 divisional finish.

by Todd S. (not verified) :: Tue, 01/01/2008 - 11:40pm

Gus Frerotte is listed with the Browns? I assume you meant the Rams...

by thestar5 (not verified) :: Wed, 01/02/2008 - 1:46am

Third article already that Aaron has said TO was the only starter the Cowboys rested, third aricle he's been wrong. Not to mention Romo was hurt. Seriously, what gives? You are wrong on this one Aaron, no matter how many times you try to repeat it.

by Scott C. (not verified) :: Wed, 01/02/2008 - 2:05am

#5: RB's probably have different total DPAR than just their Run + Receive numbers because some of them threw a pass or two. LT has 1 TD pass for instance.

by Scott C. (not verified) :: Wed, 01/02/2008 - 2:07am

#5, myself:

Correction -- hmm maybe it doesn't include passing DPAR. LT's run + receive numbers add up. His one pass is probably worth ~3 DPAR or so though.

by Tom (not verified) :: Wed, 01/02/2008 - 5:41am

Re DPAR not matching:

It's just rounding issues. If a back has 10.06 rushing and 10.06 receiving, it's gets listed as 10.1 for each, but when you add them together it's 20.1.

by Theo, Holland (not verified) :: Wed, 01/02/2008 - 6:29am

The comments on that FOX site are going to get me killed someday.
Just made a mental note to NEVER EVER read that garbage again.

by mrh (not verified) :: Wed, 01/02/2008 - 1:37pm

,i>Biggest decline: Steve Smith, Panthers and Darrell Jackson, 49ers. Smith learned that there's only so much you can do without a quarterback. Jackson had a catch rate of 44 percent and made the Seahawks front office look very smart.

I don't see how you can blame Smith's decline on QBs but not Jackson's when Jackson played with worse QBs (Dilfer/Smith) were #50/51 in DPAR and DVOA (I mignht have the ordr reversed). It would be interesting to see Jackson's dpar/dvoa with Hill at QB.

2005: 9/6
2006: 33/(30/40)
2007: 83/(50/51)

1st number is Jackson's DVOA, after the slash is the DVOA of his QB(s). Obviously the two are inter-related. But I wouldn't say the SEA front office was right about Jackson just because he was terrible with terrible QB play (just as the same point is true about Smith).

by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 01/02/2008 - 1:41pm


You'd think a website which routinely uses ridiculously maths formulas, equations and other kinds of mentalism would be quite good at a game of "Which Number is Higher". Obviously not.

by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 01/02/2008 - 1:47pm


I see your point stats-wise, as Jackson was only infinitesimally worse than Arnaz Battle, and just better than Ashley Lelie. On the other hand, any #1 receiver should be significantly better than Arnaz Battle and Ashley Lelie, especially one who reckons he's worth proper #1 money. And given Jackson's has 17.7 DPAR (9.1% DVOA) last year its safe to say a) he declined and b) he didn't perform to the level the 49ers hoped.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 01/02/2008 - 1:59pm

Re: 23

On offense (since it was mentioned in commentary related specifically to Romo), the only guy Aaron forgot about was Gurode. So really (relative to what most teams do when they rest their starters) Aaron wasn't very far off.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 01/02/2008 - 2:05pm

By the way, for all the talk of "New England doesn't have a running game," Laurence Maroney is sixth for the year with 30.3 DPAR (26.3 rushing, 4.0 receiving).

Aaron, you forgot to finish that quote. It should be "New England doesn't have a running game without the best passing offense ever."

by mrh (not verified) :: Wed, 01/02/2008 - 2:53pm

Re #30 - fair enough. I'm neither a 49er or Hawks fan and haven't watched Jackson all that much. Perhaps age and injuries have caught up to him. On the other hand, with terrible qb play, the first time outside a WCO system, and not much time to get used to the new system due to injury, it's possible Jackson might be a decent wr next year if he has better qb play and time to work into the new system.

I wouldn't give him wr1 money or anything. I just thought Aaron's comment blamed Smith's decline on bad qbing but Jackson's decline on him w/o being entirely warranted.

by nat (not verified) :: Wed, 01/02/2008 - 7:13pm

32 Wanker79: It should be “New England doesn’t have a running game without the best passing offense ever."

The same could be said of the Colts: Addai benefits from the threat from Manning's arm. Quite true for both teams.

But all that really says is that neither Addai nor Maroney are as good as Westbrook, Tomlinson, or Peterson, who have great rushing DPARs with average passing teams. Well, duh. And water is wet, too.

by Jeff (not verified) :: Wed, 01/02/2008 - 7:34pm

re: 18

once you understand the 370 rule, its easy to recognize that it might be applicable for a certain back at 350 carries, or 300 even. But how many people picked Larry Johnson early in their fantasy leagues and are now regretting it? The 370 rule is catchy and easy to remember.

willie parker (or any back) might decline even though he missed 370 carries. the 370 carry rule is not exhaustive. a broken leg is an easy thing for someone to point to as a reason to avoid willie in fantasy. it's harder to claim that 370 carries and (probably) a rushing title would be a reason to downgrade him for next year.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 01/03/2008 - 2:02pm

"On the other hand, any #1 receiver should be significantly better than Arnaz Battle and Ashley Lelie, especially one who reckons he’s worth proper #1 money."

You mean, like how Randy Moss was so good last year with shitty quarterbacking?....oh wait...

A WR can only catch balls that are thrown within a couple yards of him.