Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

09 Mar 2007

FOX Blog Wrap-Up: March 2-9, 2007

Here's a catch-all thread for discussion of this week's posts on the Football Outsiders FOX blog. This week: Ned Macey on whether all Denver running backs are created equal, Bill Barnwell on teams that historically draft a lot of players from the same university, Doug Farrar on FO stats for this off-season's big-money free agent linemen, and Mike Tanier asks "Are you smarter than a fifth grader?"

Posted by: admin on 09 Mar 2007

21 comments, Last at 20 Mar 2007, 1:15pm by Jacob Stevens


by SJM (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 6:09pm

I'm going to go against the grain and argue that the Skins were not totally ripped off in the Bailey-Portis trade. Clearly, the article shows that Portis was by far the best of the post-TD Denver backs. For those who say Portis isn't any better than Betts, Ladell can't stay healthy enough to be a feature back and he fumbles at twice the rate that Portis does.

Further, most people don't remember that Bailey was due to become an unrestricted free agent, and by rights the Skins should not have gotten anything for him. Portis was also only 23 at the time and entering his 3rd season. Bailey, meanwhile, was overrated and had a tendency to get burned deep (since corrected).

The real reason the Skins blew it was giving up a 2nd round pick. If they could have pulled off the trade without giving up such a good asset, it would have been a win for the Skins. But then they always have to throw in an extra pick or two.

by CA (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 6:17pm

Doug, in “The New Age of Millionaire Linemen,� you ask, “[C]an a guard really be worth this much?� It’s a great question, one that I have been asking since the Hutchinson deal (and one to which I strongly suspect that the answer is “No,� as anyone who has read my posts on this matter knows). Unfortunately, I don’t think this piece answers it. The article provides evidence of the comparative quality of these linemen to others at their positions, but it doesn’t give the reader a good sense of how significant that comparative quality is. Okay, ALY indicates that, say, Derrick Dockery is an underrated guard, suggesting that he may be worth more relative to other guards than conventional wisdom may hold. That certainly is valuable information, but it doesn’t say anything as to whether he is worth $18 million guaranteed. It’s an interesting piece, but its applicability is more limited than the introduction suggests.

by Nuk (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 6:21pm

Suggesting that Jake is dumber than a 5th grader is based on the assumption that he's an idiot with money, and he hasn't saved enough from a 10 (?) year career to last him the rest of his life.
I have no idea if that's true, but I know that if I'd made the NFL's minimum wage for ten years, I'd never have to work again.

by Ben (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 7:33pm


The point of the matter is that even a 5th grader understands that if someone is willing to pay you $5 mil annually for holding a clipboard, attending meetings, putting on a silly uniform and standing around for 16 Sundays a year, you take that deal.

by Doug Farrar (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 7:47pm

#2: Good points, and these are questions I've tried to answer in the short term to no avail. Problem is, player value is a very fluid concept right now, and I don't expect that to slow down anytime soon. This was more of a preamble to set a tone later on, when the new value paramaters are set to a point, and we can compare pre- and post-cap explosion.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 8:47pm

Not only that, but the concept of "worth" has to be evaluated in terms of FUTURE cap impact, not just in terms of guranteed money, or money likely to be paid. A huge majority of Hutchinson's guaranteed cash came in a roster bonus paid last year, and will have zero cap impact in future years. Since the Vikings had more cap space than useful places to use it last year (it is even more the case this year), one is hard pressed to argue that they overpaid for Hutchinson, given his future cap numbers are quite manageable.

In fact, unless one makes the case that a team signed the wrong free agent(s) in any given year, whether a team overpaid for a player should probably be just evaluated on future cap impact alone. If you don't use cap space this year, after all, it doesn't carry over into next year.

by Yaguar (not verified) :: Sat, 03/10/2007 - 3:24am

I liked the Denver RB post.

I think it's very telling to look at multiple backs in the same year, too. In 2004 Tatum Bell was 2nd in the league DVOA, Reuben Droughns rushed for 1200 yards with an average DVOA, and Quentin Griffin was 2nd to last in the league in DVOA.

That tells us a couple of things: Droughns had an average DVOA in Denver, and he's been -11 and -20 in Cleveland. Assuming the change is mostly attributable to the line, that means being in Denver instead of Cleveland could be worth about 15% in DVOA. That's a huge difference - the difference between Steven Jackson and DeShaun Foster last year.

The other thing it tells us is that Quentin Griffin really, really sucks.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Sat, 03/10/2007 - 8:47am

And if you want to know how good he really is, don’t look at the Minnesota line – check out at the Seattle line he left behind. Quite possibly the league’s best in 2005, the Seahawks’ front five dropped from sixth to 30th in Adjusted Line Yards, from ninth to 28th in Adjusted Sack Rate, and from second to 31st in Mid/Guard ALY.

Come on, the entire Seattle O-Line suffered injuries, and the biggest loss was the lack of continuity, leading to a bunch of jumbled OL lineups. A little intellectual honesty here, please. We've heard this "LOLSEAHAWKS :V" criticism dozens of times, and its been noted as many times that it was a lot more than just losing Hutchinson. What happens if you DO look at the Minnesota line? You see that maybe the record-setting Guard contract wasn't really worth it, don't you?

In my opinion it's NOT okay to speak to the DVOA-educated fans here through one side of your mouth, and the more heterogeneous fanbase of foxsports.com through the other.

by Doug Farrar :: Sat, 03/10/2007 - 9:21am

#8 - To be as specific as I can with the five directions charted, Seattle's Mid/Guard ALY went from 2nd in the league in 2005 (4.72) to 31st in 2006 (3.66). That was by the biggest individual swing. Part of that was Tobeck's decline and Spencer getting up to speed, but there's absolutely no question in my mind that losing Hutchinson and watching Floyd Womack try to replace him was the single most damaging aspect. Rob Sims came on later in the season and did well, but the Seahawks simply had no answer for the loss of Hutchinson. Beyond Jones playing with an ankle injury all season and Locklear missing time, losing Hutchinson's measurables and intangibles hurt the most.

I agree that the player turnover on the line was overwhelming, but I still say that the loss of one player was the primary difference. And I'm just as comfortable writing that here as I am on FOX.

by Eddo (not verified) :: Sat, 03/10/2007 - 2:14pm

4: It's not that simple. First of all, it's not only 16 days of work a year. Plummer would have to put up with Gruden (notoriously difficult to play for) for at least 5-6 months.
And money isn't everything. If Jake has enough to live the life he desires, then why should he do something he doesn't want to do just to make more income? Isn't his time and pleasure worth something?

by Erik (not verified) :: Sat, 03/10/2007 - 7:14pm

Re #2.
I agree that this analysis falls short of what it promises. All of the millionaires, except Dockery, come from teams with pretty mediocre interior lines (at least as far as we can learn from the Mid/ Guard ALY stat). Maybe they were all overpaid - we just can't tell from this article.

As for the seattle example, the drop in Mid/ Guard ALY could be becuase they lost Hutchinson or it could be due to other factors, but because the sample size is so small, it's impossible to offer anything other an opinion. A more interesting analysis would be to look at how teams with good Mid/ Guard ALY rankings have built their o-lines. Were teams able to build good running games by spending big money on FA linemen? Did they do it with high draft picks or were they able to do it by developing lower ranking, and cheaper, linemen. That would get at the central question -- are these guys worth it?

by the K (not verified) :: Sat, 03/10/2007 - 8:28pm

I probably said this in another thread, but I really think Henry will do extremely well in Denver. The one cut system they teach their RBs to use is very suited to his running style. He likes to go over and through people, and in all the time I watched him in Buffalo, he was never much of a dancer.

by putnamp (not verified) :: Sun, 03/11/2007 - 12:36am


Chris Gray played injured as well, by the way. The Seahawks used something like 10 different configurations for their OL over the season, I believe. It was a colossal mess.

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Sun, 03/11/2007 - 8:05am

Re #4: 3

The point of the matter is that even a 5th grader understands that if someone is willing to pay you $5 mil annually for holding a clipboard, attending meetings, putting on a silly uniform and standing around for 16 Sundays a year, you take that deal.

But they aren't just paying you to stand on the sidelines. They're paying you to stand on the sidelines, subject yourself to rigorous football training, stand a very high likelihood of getting put into a demanding and extremely dangerous game that you don't want to play (seriously, does anyone here think that Simms is a better QB than Plummer?), risk SERIOUS and PERMANANT injury, as well as open your entire personal life (everything from minor traffic violations to your new girlfriend) to intense and disdainful public scrutiny, all the while tacitly accepting that you will be the butt of every NFL-related joke for another season.

Anyone who claims that Plummer was an idiot for not taking the money is, himself, an idiot, and obviously never read the Denver papers. The amount of vitriol that was directed at this one person (entirely unwarrented, I might add) was SHOCKING and DISTURBING. If someone has more money already than they could ever possibly need, I would say that they're an idiot to subject themselves to all of that bull-you-know-what for nothing more than a chance to play a game that they apparently no longer have any desire to be a part of.

Good for Jake Plummer, and shame on all of you. I, for one, appreciate everything Plummer gave the franchise, and hope that he gets his wish and manages to fade entirely from the public eye, settle down somewhere, and live out the rest of his life in peace and happiness.

by cjfarls (not verified) :: Mon, 03/12/2007 - 5:41pm

I agree completely with Kibbles. For as much as he plagued my poor heart with crazy left-handed throws and general medicrity, Jake got way too bum a rap.

Jake did not handle the pressure of having Cutler breathing down his neck well (experience showed he doesn't handle any pressure situation well, so thats hardly surprising). However, he is what he is - a solid, yet decidedly mediocre starting QB. However in the Denver media, he was portrayed as Krenzelian... and probably a baby-eater too. I can't blame him at all if he just wants to hide away and retire on a ranch somewhere in the rocky mountains.

Most of the DEN fans who've posted here on FO have been supportive of Plummer's decision, versus others who say he's "dummer than a fifth grader". Is this because those of us in Denver are homers, or because we're the only ones who ever really see the hell our QBs (Elway included) are put through?

Unlike Philly & NYC, our local whacko-fans don't typically make national news, but I tell you they can be just as nuts as the "trade McNabb" idiots... rightly or wrongly, blame for our struggles last year were put on Jake... in Denver thats enough to drive anyone to retirement.

by Keith Cockrell (not verified) :: Tue, 03/13/2007 - 10:30am

Um, guys? Jake hasn't put in his retirement papers. Almost certainly he would take all that comes with the game of pro football if he could take it with a coach he liked and thought would help him succeed (i.e. Kubiak in Houston.

by RedRob (not verified) :: Tue, 03/13/2007 - 3:56pm

re: #14

I agree with you whole-heartedly and never understood the vitriol and ridicule directed at Jake Plummer. Sure, he was never the second coming of Joe Montana, but he is, at worst, a league average NFL starting QB.

by spatne (not verified) :: Wed, 03/14/2007 - 8:50pm


The point of the matter is that even a 5th grader understands that if someone is willing to pay you $5 mil annually for holding a clipboard, attending meetings, putting on a silly uniform and standing around for 16 Sundays a year, you take that deal.

Unless you'd rather not. If the reward for doing something you don't want to do (no matter how "easy" it may be) is something that you don't really need, then why do it? Especially if you have to make major life changes in the process?

by BillWallace (not verified) :: Thu, 03/15/2007 - 6:58pm

There's an error in the Wes Welker similarity scores. Most of those guys are black.

by David (not verified) :: Fri, 03/16/2007 - 10:44am

Did anybody else crack up at the comment demanding more coverage of the Patriots?

by Jacob Stevens (not verified) :: Tue, 03/20/2007 - 1:15pm


the more heterogeneous fanbase of foxsports.com

So if I'm here on FO.com reading this . . .