Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

05 Oct 2011

Days of Struggling Rookie Receivers are Finished

One of two analysis-heavy off site articles I have brewing this week. This one demonstrates that I really rank receivers by how easy their names are to spell.

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 05 Oct 2011

17 comments, Last at 06 Oct 2011, 1:01pm by Arkaein


by ebongreen (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2011 - 11:23am

I've watched every GB game so far this season, and I regularly shake my head watching the pass offense and think, "Oh my God, that's so mean. They make it look so easy. Doesn't anyone think of the poor defenders and defensive coordinators?"

And Rodgers is such a contrasting personality from the Favre/Brady/Manning types, too. I'll remember Manning as a Terminator QB: you know he's coming downfield through the glare in his eye and the set of his jaw. My impression of Brady is that he displays the same determination, but with a more vocal style. Favre was the exciting and ***-loving rah-rah dude.

Rodgers, OTOH, seems so casual in-game about his level of excellence. "Yep, I'm going to put this ball right where I want it. And the next one. And the next one. And the one after that. We're going to score. I'm going to go back to the bench when I'm done, and come out next time and do the same thing. What you do on defense barely matters: we might as well be runnning seven-on-seven drills on Nitschke Field." And he's got the receivers (and blockers) to more-or-less make it so.

Favre made the Packers exciting to watch, in part because you never knew what was going to happen. It could be awesome or catastrophic, but it was never going to be ho-hum. Rodgers makes Packers football … almost boring to watch, because you know exactly what's going to happen. You know they're going to score; all that's missing is the who-and-how, and whether the defense will hold the opposing side to fewer points.

I know he's enjoying his run, what with the Belt and all, and he should. But still - in the moment, he both makes it look easy and is easy-going about it. In a league full of players who are full of themselves in both good and bad ways, it seems so novel.

by speedegg :: Wed, 10/05/2011 - 12:16pm

Hmm, think Rodgers was the same way at Cal. They didn't get recognition because of USC.

by Nathan :: Wed, 10/05/2011 - 12:27pm

I really like Rodgers, but I think he's got some cockiness to him. It's an effortless sort of cockiness, sure, but it's there. It's very Cali. Very laid back, I can't believe I'm this good vibe. A little cockiness is good in a QB.

Also he's the best QB to watch from the cable cam, no doubt about it. He's in kind of a different category of ball placement.

by Keith(1) (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2011 - 12:35pm

I have seen all but one Packers game this year, and words pretty much do not describe what their offense does. Out of every catch, every touchdown, every play, my favorite has to be the Greg Jennings "touchdown shrug." It was against the Broncos, and I am pretty sure there were four defenders on his side of the field. He simply just runs forward, catches the ball for the touchdown, and then shrugs, almost asking "Why was I even open?"

Every play is like that, but that particular play just summed it up. How is anybody on that team open, ever? It seems that each play is like that -- unless the defense for the other team is penetrating fast, Rodgers is too good at finding that open guy. And if there is no open guy, he makes an open guy by threatening the run, by faking guys off, or simply just throwing the ball on a rope to a guy where only he can get it.

Just ridiculous.

by Mike B. In Va :: Wed, 10/05/2011 - 1:02pm

I remember watching the '99-'01 Rams and thinking the same thing - "How are these guys this open?". It's a glorious thing to see an offense that's working well enough to be virtually unstoppable.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 10/05/2011 - 1:53pm

The answer to that, as demonstrated by Belichick, was "Marshall Faulk."

Granted, in later years, in a very similarly-structured offense, it was "Kurt Warner."

by beargoggles :: Wed, 10/05/2011 - 5:06pm

It's a good comp:
Rodgers = Warner + Mobility (and therefore minus turnovers; not sure how the actual sack comparison holds). Can he avoid concussions and sustain it? He was a little too aggro with his touchdown runs it seems, you'd think McCarthy would tell him to slide a little more.

by Keith(1) (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2011 - 2:27pm

Maybe I am just remembering the highlights, but it felt like for the '99-'01 Rams were running the Official Route of Raiders Football on a majority of plays. Then again, if you are actually good, that actually works.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 10/06/2011 - 12:28am

It wasn't so much that they ran it, it was why it worked.

The simple answer is that you can run 4 deep routes and make it work because defenses could only afford to keep two deep safeties. You needed 9 guys short to contain Faulk. Two guys were always open.

by ebongreen (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2011 - 3:02pm

I thought Greg's expression wasn't so much, "Why was I even open?" but more "How can I possibly be this open?" That the Broncos coverage somehow neglected to have anyone within five yards of him as he made the catch was astonishing. It's got to be the easiest touchdown - possibly one of the easiest in-game balls - he's ever caught.

And yes - it's a fabulously-tuned offensive machine. The offensive-touchdown-to-punt ratio is better than 1:1. (17 OffTDs, 14 punts) Adding in field goals makes things look even more lopsided.

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 10/05/2011 - 5:11pm

The most effortless offense I've seen is the 99-01 Rams. Some of their numbers (especially early in the 2000 season) really seem like box scores from Madden. This Packers team comes close, a lot like Manning in 2004. That years Colts team threw it deep more, but it was that same amount of "our guys will always be open and our QB will always make the throw." Obviously, they met a match in New England's defense, but until then, it was incredible.

by QQ (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2011 - 6:47pm

To me the Difference Between GB's Offense and NE's Offense is that GB wins through Superior Talent whereas NE wins through Superior Scheme. NE has of course many very good players, but their scheme with picks/rubs/crossing patterns and precision also helps the Offense whereas GB simply rolls out 3-5 players who are all Dynamic and can consistently win 1 vs 1 on the outside.

As a fan, I wish that McCarthy could also implement a superior scheme although being scheme reliant is riskier since it is more susceptible to eventually being figured out.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 10/06/2011 - 12:32am

GB's system is less built on scheme precision than scheme variety. GB throws the kitchen sink out there. They'll go from a 1940s-style inverted wishbone on one play to a 5-wide running routes that are a lovechild of Coryell and Walsh on the next.

by Nathan :: Thu, 10/06/2011 - 11:26am

I love that full house they line up in.

by Anonymouskb (not verified) :: Wed, 10/05/2011 - 9:21pm

MM doesnt dink and dunk passes in and expect in bbs case wes welker to run after the catch really padding bradys stats. Rodgers does throw the slant or against the bears a quick pass to jordy who stiff arms his way to a solid 10 yards but rodgers is constantly hitting players down field with nearly perfect passes.. imo he has had 1a bad read on a pass this year which was his first int.. rodgers and thr packers offense will put up a good fight for best of all time. Cobb tho looks like he can be special. Reminds me of a more elusive raw jennings. Once this guy learns the scheme and perfects his route running he could possibly be better.. possibly

by Arkaein :: Thu, 10/06/2011 - 1:01pm

If anything Cobb reminds me of Percy Harvin, sans migraines.

Both guys are WRs who look like RBs in the open field, both in raw strength as well as their ability to keep their balance when hit and shrug off arm tackles.

He won't win Offensive Rookie of the Year like Percy did (Newton seems like a lock to run away with that, and the article pointed out several WRs who would otherwise be good candidates), but that has more to do with limited reps than innate ability or per-play production.

by Hank (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2011 - 11:10am

Is it possible that the balance between offense/defense, slowly chipped away by rules, and most recently given a large push from the extended lockout has now shifted to the point journeyman QBs excel, rookie WRs contribute and we might as well throw out analysis of previous seasons as they will be considered part of a different era?