Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

15 Dec 2010

How Will Contenders Cope if QBs Go Down?

Maybe I am a little optimistic about the Jets in this article, but when you think about it, the quarterback doesn't matter much when the receivers cannot catch anything.

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 15 Dec 2010

29 comments, Last at 18 Dec 2010, 11:08pm by Jim Glass


by RichC (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 10:53am

". Brian Hoyer has knelt to end blowouts and seen some empty-the-bench action, and he doesn’t look like anything special"

I don't know whether he looks like "anything special", but he's looked fantastic in preseason, and actually looked good when hes been asked to throw passes.

The Patriots have carried 3 QBs through most of the decade. When they signed Hoyer, they cut their previous year's 3rd round pick about 2 weeks into the preseason, and have only carried 2 since. They clearly think this kid has some upside.

by nuk :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 11:05am

So, on a neutral field, you think the Painter Colts should be favored over the Croyle Chiefs. That would be a playoff game to dream of.

by joon :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 11:11am

the NFC west gag had me chortling indeed. low-hanging fruit, i know. but still, well played, sir.

by Jetspete :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 11:44am

Did Tanier write this piece solely to bash Mark Sanchez? Brunell hasnt been good in 5 years! And even though brunell is listed as the backup, should Sanchez get hurt i'd be shocked if Rex didnt use Clemens.

It is maddening that this article almost encourages Jets fans to root for Sanchez to get hurt. Pittsburgh went 3-1 this year without Ben (and mind you defeated 2 top teams and almost beat Baltimore). The eagles defeated Atlanta with Kevin Kolb. Those two are far and above the best suited to deal with an injured quarterback. The jets might actually be third or fourth on this list, but that's only because the rest of the backups behind NY are so painfully dreadful.

by Marko :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 2:18pm

Brunell is awful. Completely done. I can't imagine him surviving a game if he had to play, particularly outdoors in bad weather. Sanchez isn't very good in inclement weather, either, but at least he is mobile. Brunell was mobile, but now he is more like a sitting duck.

The Jets' last 3 games are at Pittsburgh, at Chicago and at home (against Buffalo), so the weather undoubtedly will be very cold for all three. There also probably will be some combination of snow and heavy winds involved. If Brunell has to play, I can't see him completing too many passes more than 5 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Good luck to the Jets when they face 9 in the box with Brunell at QB.

As someone below said, Philadelphia (wtih Kevin Kolb) clearly should be on top of this list.

by RickD :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 4:08pm

Ask any Redskins fan about Brunell.

He never had a particularly strong arm, but he could compensate somewhat with his mobility. Now he's got nothing. And that's been the case for quite some time.

And this is considered by Tanier to be a top backup?

Wait - is this another one of his joke pieces? It's hard to tell.

Kolb is clearly the most desirable backup of the ones considered.
Brunell might be the worst, though as pointed out above, Clemens is more likely to be used as a backup.

by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 4:55pm

Tanier is not rating the backups. He's rating the teams that could better survive with a backup. Since the Jets passing game is currently 24th in DVOA, I can see how they couldn't be much worse. Which is funny, but not a joke.

by Marko :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 5:18pm

Yeah, I got all that and suspect others did, too. But I still disagree completely.

by Sergio :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 11:59am

"If Thigpen gets another start, the Dolphins may call more Wildcat plays and designed scrambles to make better use of his speed: their game plan against the Bears was oddly uncreative."

Nope. Not oddly. Par for the course in Henning's offensive scheme (emphasis on "offensive").

-- Go Phins!

by milo :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 11:59am

[Chase] Daniel looked like a smaller, less-experienced Matt Flynn in college.

Daniel: 6'0", 225 lbs.- 1609 Attempts
Flynn: 6'2", 225 lbs.- 437 Attempts

That's quite an imagination you have.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 12/17/2010 - 1:21pm

He also looked awesome against the Texans in pre-season.

Waits for gales of laughter to die down.

Ok, but that at least means he's not Rusty Smith.

by turbohappy (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 12:10pm

I really can't imagine how Philly isn't at the top of this list. Interesting article though.

by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 3:07pm

Seriously! I know Kolb didn't set the world on fire, but he's gotta be ahead of Brunell and Bulger, if only because he has actually thrown the ball this year.

by Sophandros :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 12:38pm

There are a few inaccuracies in there, Mike. Still, good article that probably could have been summarized as, "If your starter isn't that good and you're still a contender, then you're OK. If your starter is all-world and you rely on him, then you're screwed."

Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

by The Powers That Be :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 1:06pm

"Whichever 7-9 team staggers out of this division as the champion will at least be able to absorb a quarterback injury without sacrificing (chortle) quality"

If that's true, shouldn't these teams be at the top of the list rather than the bottom?

by luvrhino :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 1:26pm

Mike could have left the NFC West off this list entirely, since it's offensive to call any of them contenders.

According to the latest DVOA Playoff Odds, the NFC West has a combined ~0.4% chance of winning the Super Bowl. That's pretty impressive given that it's only four games. It's equivalent to giving the NFC West entrant a 25% chance of winning each playoff game (.25 ^ 4 = .39%).

Does SF's 0.2% chance of winning the Super Bowl qualify as being a contender?

by Jetspete :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 3:10pm

secondly, why is miami even on this list? theyre not contenders! Playoff odds put them at <4%, and even if you dont buy into that, Miami's only path to the playoffs involves winning all 3 games, and either the Jets losing to buffalo or baltimore losing all 3 games plus a multitude of scenarios involving KC and Sd and indy and jac. A joke to even put them in here, especially since it places any sort of qualitative value on Tyler thigpen.

i just looked again, how is KC at the bottom of this list? an experienced croyle isnt better than matt flynn, the nfc west pile of trash, caleb ranie, etc? what a joke

by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 5:00pm

The Dolphins could make the playoffs by winning as little as 2 games. No, it's not likely, but they're still in the hunt. Which reminds me, weren't the Jets eliminated from the playoffs last year at this point?

by BJR :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 5:23pm

I just noticed that Miami has home games against Buffalo and Detroit then they play at Foxboro in week 17 when the Pats are likely to have already guaranteed number one seed. Would Belichick rest the starters? Sounds eerily similar to the Jets last year.

by RickD :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 4:14pm

So Mike, you really don't think there's any difference between Matt Hasselback, Sam Bradford, and Derek Anderson?

I'll admit that Hasselback and Bradford are far from elite (Hasselback used to be, and Bradford may well be so one day in the future), but both of them are considerably better than Derek Anderson (or any of the 'Zona QBs.)

At least, that's what FO's statistics tell us.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 12/17/2010 - 1:24pm

Agreed. If you don't think there's a big drop-off from Bradford to Feeley you need your head examined. For my money, he's already better than Sanchez, Freeman and probably Cassel, of the QBs elsewhere on that list.

by Arkaein :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 4:25pm

Hmmm, can't get behind much of this list.

As others have said, Kolb should have the Eagles clearly at the top of this list.

Also, while your placement of the Packers with Flynn is probably pretty accurate, I think your assessment of him is only about half right. He definitely lacks arm strength, but his mobility is pretty good. McCarthy was mad at Flynn for successfully picking up a 1st down on a scramble because he didn't slide, and last season GB ran a designed fake punt with Flynn getting the snap with a pass/run option, which he successfully converted with a run.

by johnny walker (not verified) :: Thu, 12/16/2010 - 2:47am

Yeah I have no idea what Tanier's talking about with the "lack of mobility" on Flynn. He's faster than Rodgers.

by Dean :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 4:28pm

The irony here (cue debate over proper usage of irony - which may or may not be present in this post) is that if Kevin Kolb had been listed as the top option, there'd be a littany of posts calling Tanier an Eagles Homer and trying to pretend he was worse than he was when he played back in September.

by CuseFanInSoCal :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 5:21pm

The Chargers at #6? If Rivers goes down, they won't win another game. Even against the bottom-feeders left on their schedule. The only reason that the Bolts have a semi-effective running game is because everyone stacks against the pass against them.

by bubqr :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 5:27pm

Kolb might be the top backup but the dropoff between from Vick to him would be noticeable. I would have put Baltimore and the Bucs (I still think J.Johnson can be a good QB) higher.

by The Anti-Dave (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 6:11pm

Edwards actually didn't start that game for Jacksonville--Garrard endured a concussion very early in the game (early 2nd quarter, I think). And McCown tore his ACL and would not be available.

by verify me, pls? (not verified) :: Wed, 12/15/2010 - 8:55pm

I disagree with the point that the Jets offensive line is very good. I believe they are the weakness in the running and passing games. Slauson and Hunter aren't really doing anything special, the dolphs sacked dirty sanchez 6 times - to think Brunell would be well protected is - well, just something to hmmm about.

by Jim Glass (not verified) :: Sat, 12/18/2010 - 11:08pm

Maybe I am a little optimistic about the Jets in this article, but when you think about it, the quarterback doesn't matter much when the receivers cannot catch anything.

The optimistic thing for the Jets in this scenario is that when a team loses the worst starting QB in the league at least it loses less than anybody else would.

Last week Sanchez's 38% completion rate and 40 rating didn't reflect his four fumbles, three of which his teammates recovered for him. As Quick Reads said when noting how opposing Ds have dropped more of his would-be picks than any other QB's, "If he's this bad when he's lucky how bad is he going to be when his luck runs out?"

After he finished as a league-bottom QB last year, it is uniminagable to me how the FO went into a "win now" season this year without even a credible veteran journeyman to serve as a backup or Plan B.