Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

03 Dec 2010

Week 13 N.F.L. Matchups

My editors were kind enough to insert a Manningface montage. Is it possible to appreciate the Mannings and still love Manningface? I hope so.

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 03 Dec 2010

30 comments, Last at 06 Dec 2010, 9:00am by Kevin from Philly


by Michael LaRocca (not verified) :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 10:30am

If you don't stop it, one day your face will freeze like that.

by RichC (not verified) :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 11:35am

"Nothing in the world can bait him into saying anything interesting during the week"

Except, you know, when they ask him actual football questions. That doesn't fit the media's story though.

by PantsB (not verified) :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 4:34pm

I thought BB responding on what the coaches did while the players had Wednesday off, "We played golf," Belichick said with a grin. "Golf, bowling, a little badminton tournament, ate some watermelon, played cards. It was nice....Totally about the Jets, other than the pony rides and canoeing."

by Fan in Exile :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 11:44am

I just hate it when writers speak for fans. I'm a Broncos fan, and although I'm not happy with 3-8 obviously. I am happy with the general direction of the team. Every poll taken on MHR has also come out in favor of giving McD more time. I wish writers would stop stoking the pressure to get somebody fired when it's clearly to early to judge.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 12:04pm

Really? I mean, fair enough, you and your fellow Bronco fans are entitled to your opinions, obviously, but as an outsider it sure as hell seems to me like McDaniels ought to be fired. Coming on for two years after he started breaking up an elite young offense in order to acquire extra resources to upgrade a historically awful defense, the offense is older and substantially worse, and the defense is still historically awful. What's to like?

by tunesmith :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 6:34pm

The thing is, outsiders don't have much of a shot here because there's been such a slew of anti-McDaniels conventional wisdom from the very beginning. McDaniels got fleeced on the Cutler-for-Orton-plus-picks trade. Orton can't throw the deep ball. Losing Marshall will hurt. McDaniels is an idiot for starting Lloyd. All proven wrong, but no one really tried to notice. A lot of it is just the young whippersnapper not learning his place, or some crap like that.

Now the sniping is about McD dismantling the offensive line, McD ignoring defense in favor of rebuilding offense, the 5-16 record over the last 21 games, and how dumping Nolan was obviously such a bad move. There are rebuttals for most of those but they usually fall on deaf ears. A couple of samples:

1) McD dumped Hamilton and Weigmann - Weigmann didn't play well in 2009 and wasn't exactly building for the future, and Hamilton was a concussion waiting to happen, currently out for the year in Seattle due to concussion, and both players replaced by a 2nd and 3rd rounder respectively. McD also didn't make the decision to dump the old OLine system, Bowlen did by hiring a coach that already had his own offense (something he's proven quite good at).

2) The biggest problem with Denver's D right now is actually the secondary, and McD has actually brought in something like 10-12 players through the draft or free agency, just for the secondary. The secondary is bad right now but it hasn't been for lack of trying. McBath and Smith were rated highly, it just happened to work out that one became professionally injured, while one turned out to be an undisciplined freelancing freak.

3 and 4), Nolan was actually around for that 2-8 stretch in 2009, no one seems to want to ding him for that. Oh, but that wasn't his fault, it was the talent? Well McD brought in a completely new starting DL (Bannan, Williams, Vickerson) that knocked the former 1st string back to 2nd string. Oh, but McD has completely ignored the defense in favor of the offense? Wait, I'm confused. Additionally, Denver was among the least injured teams in the league in 2008, and injuries matter in a W-L record. The second-biggest problem with Denver's D is called "Lack Of Dumervil". Dubious penalties affecting the Jets and 49ers games, whatever - bad luck happens, and we had good luck in 2009.

Here's the thing, most of us Denver fans are painted as kool-aid drinkers because we're paying attention to what's going on with the stats, and have to keep rebutting a bunch of ridiculous stuff. The reality it would be easy to make up about twenty random allegations about someone's personal life, and if the person starting rebutting them one by one, by the time they got to #6 or so, it would just start sounding like a bunch of excuses. You didn't have sex with the goat, well then what about the donkey? Donkey, goat, well CLEARLY there was some barnyard activity going on there.

The team's improving... early in the season, the red zone sucked, now we're tenth. Early on, the O-Line sucked, especially at run-blocking, now (With an average experience of 1.4 years) they've improved a lot over the last three games. We've had major injuries in the secondary - four rookies last week in the dime defense - and it's just going to take patience. Getting rid of a coach when the players have shown every indication of buying into his system, would absolutely be the wrong move.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 11:43pm

Here's the thing. 23.4% defensive DVOA through Week 12. McDaniels has had two off-seasons to acquire personnel. He hired the defensive co-ordinator at the start of this season. Sure, the defense he inherited was terrible. I would not regard a fairly bad - even really quite bad - 2010 defense as indicative of a problem on the team-building front. But 23.4% defensive DVOA should never, ever happen, injury to key pass-rusher or no, and certainly not outside a coach's first season. Trust me on this: I'm a Texans fan, I know what that shit looks like. Orton is older than Cutler was in 2008. Lloyd is older than Marshall was in 2008. Moreno is older than Hillis was in 2008. The offense is nearly 10% DVOA worse than it was in 2008. If the additional resources gleaned by allowing the offense to become older and less talented have not brought about a substantial improvement on defense, what on earth were they for? Above all, is there any indication whatever that anyone on the Broncos knows how to evaluate draft prospects?

My greatest fear is that the remarkably 2008 Broncos-esque 2010 Texans end up firing Kubiak, replacing him with Brian Schottenheimer, trading away Foster and Schaub, utterly failing to fix the defense, and spiralling back into suck.

by tunesmith :: Sat, 12/04/2010 - 2:01am

Sounds like you have some perspective on defensive DVOA scores. But I just can't help but keep coming back to the injuries. Leaving Dumervil out of it, we had a streak of games, corresponding to our worst defensive performances, where we had our other starting OLB out, a starting DE out, a starting CB *and* his backup out, a starting safety *and* his backup out. I don't think all seven of those were out at the exact same time but it was really, really close. That's got to impact things. I see some injury reports out there where they've got only one or two names on it, one of which is probable, and it's like witnessing sunshine in a Seattle winter.

by Noah Arkadia :: Sat, 12/04/2010 - 12:30pm

Everybody has injuries but, as fans, we only pay attention to them when things go bad. See GB, Miami, etc.

by Noah Arkadia :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 1:26pm

I agree with Mr Shush and would love to hear a short (emphasis on short) defense of McDaniels. I mean, I know that behind a post like that there are hundreds, even thousands of words begging to get out, but the truth is I'm not going to read them. Something short with substance will be enough.

by zerlesen (not verified) :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 3:52pm

I'm a Broncos fan who doesn't think McD should be fired. I also don't think that hiring him and empowering him to completely reshape the roster was necessarily a great plan, but that ship sailed after the 2008 season. It's counterproductive to get bored partway into a rebuilding project and then start yet another rebuilding project.

If there's anything to be salvaged from this season - the rookies on the O-line, the rotating cast of replacement linebackers, even (God help me) Tebow - we stand the best chance of profiting from it in the future by letting McD serve out his contract, rather than cleaning house again. I don't see an interim coach being able to do anything else short-term to improve either the offense or the defense: the thing that, in my opinion, is most likely to cost McD his job at the end of next season (should he make it that far) is his unwillingness to draft on D. (In which case I suppose we should be calling him simply "Mc").

by tunesmith :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 6:50pm

Pass offense has improved over last year, obviously.

Run offense is back up to where it was last year, with a massively younger line, and they're improving. Moreno is one of the best in the league in receiving RBs and has improved.

Get a good blocking/passing tight end in there, and the offense will be scary with how it disguises scheme.

DL has improved over last year - last year's entire first string is now second string, and Williams is the only old guy. One more draft will help.

Linebacking and secondary have gotten worse, mostly due to injury and age. However, we have a lot of rookie/youth - McBath, Bruton, Thompson, Vaughn, McCarthy, and will likely have one or two more names come in from the next draft. The age turnover was going to have to happen, and it's happening now.

by manwith7talents (not verified) :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 3:03pm

Well I'm a Broncos fan and I think McDaniels should have been fired weeks ago, or better yet never hired in the first place. I think the general direction of the team is heading directly into the toilet, and if we give McDaniels more time he will only succeed in destroying a running game that used to be the best in the league, while doing nothing else to improve the team. Worst coach the team has ever had. Fire him.

by MCS :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 3:20pm

Ever? That's a mighty long time. Worse than Frank Filchock? How about Max Speedie?

As a Broncos fan, perhaps you can provide some evidence as to your assertation that McDaniels is the worst ever.

No sarcasm, I'm honestly interested.

by The Ninjalectual :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 4:53pm

I just hate it when writers speak for fans... I am happy with the general direction of the team

The vast majority of Broncos fans want to see McDaniels' blood. I was at the Rams game over the weekend and every player got cheered during the introductions; McD loudly got booed. Every other status I see on Facebook is calling for his dismissal. Tanier is accurately describing what fans think, and you are in the very small minority here, Fan in Exile.

So you're happy taking Moreno over Orakpo? You're happy giving away Peyton Hillis and Alphonso Smith for free? In response to the above debate, McDaniels is indeed the worst coach on a short list of Broncos coaches. No coach has managed to give away talent like McD has. McDaniels is even worse than Matt Millen was in Detroit when it comes to team management.

McD is a very good offensive coordinator, maybe one of the best in the league. Who else could get Randy Moss production out of Brandon Lloyd? But he is so bad at managing the rest of the team, it doesn't matter how good he is with the offense. The team has no defense because of him.

by Drunkmonkey :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 5:49pm

In all honesty, I'm pissed at what they gave up to get Alphonso Smith in the first place. And while I know that does translate into wasting picks, since, yes, the Broncos got absolutely nothing for him, giving him away for free was the best thing that could happen in that horrible situation.

by tunesmith :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 6:41pm

No coach has managed to give away talent like McD has.... McD is a very good offensive coordinator, maybe one of the best in the league. Who else could get Randy Moss production out of Brandon Lloyd?

That's kind of nonsensical. Critics are basically 1 for 4 on this critique with McD - Cutler, Orton, Smith, Hillis. You basically rebutted yourself with those sentences in the case of Cutler and Orton. People were piling on about Smith until Thanksgiving happened. So, Hillis and a bunch of hand-waving are basically the explanation for this "pattern" of McDaniels'.

by zerlesen (not verified) :: Sat, 12/04/2010 - 9:29am

"McDaniels is even worse than Matt Millen was in Detroit..."

It's his second year.

by Noah Arkadia :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 11:57am

"The Dolphins have spent this season trying to convince themselves that they are not a smash-mouth running team, that Chad Henne is the next Tom Brady and all of that bullish Wildcat running from two years ago was just a phase."

That is so funny because it's exactly the opposite. The Dolphins have spent the year trying to convince themselves that they are a smashmouth running team despite the fact that they've been pretty average running the ball. They've only been really successful on offense when they allow Henne to air it out, instead of trying to force him into the Chad Pennington mold. Last week's 180 yards on the ground? Take away the Ricky outlier and they averaged 3 yards a pop.

by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 1:04pm

The "Out of Ideas" signal was hilarious. As a Bears fan, it sickens me that DeAngelo Hall got 2/3 of his picks against us. Ugh.

by BigCheese :: Sat, 12/04/2010 - 1:15am

My thoughts upon reading he had 6 INTs for the season and realizing that meant just 2 outside of the Bears game were: "That's so depressing."

- Alvaro

by wr (not verified) :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 1:36pm

Wouldn't it be more appropriate for a cock to crow if
Favre said "I'm done" three times in a row (mirror or not)?

by Kevin from Philly :: Mon, 12/06/2010 - 9:00am

I thought it was a "Gremlins" reference. Also, if you feed Favre after midnight, he gets a new mysterious life-threatening injury, wich he manages to play through the following Sunday (and just have fun out there).

by chisox24 (not verified) :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 5:19pm

Has anyone else noticed the somewhat snide comments that writers have been making about how the Eagles lost to the Bears? Almost every phrase includes the words "slipped" and "turf". Seriously, is it that hard to admit that the Bears were simply a superior team in every phase of that game? It is possible for a team who is ranked lower in DVOA to convincingly beat a team ranked higher. The answer does not have to be injury luck or home turf advantage.

by BigCheese :: Sat, 12/04/2010 - 1:27am

It was the turf man, I tell you! It wasn't Julius Peppers harrasing Vick like Biff on prom night, it was all the turf!

Also, notice how the Packers lost the "team to beat int he NFC" title to the Falcons, but the Eagles just lost it. And should Atlanta lose, the implication is made that the "title" will go to the freakin Bucaneers, who have yet to beat a winning team, instead of the team that beat the Packers and the Eagles and hung tough with the Giants while playing a concussed Jay Cutler for one and a half quarters and then downgrading to Kerry Collins...

If the Bears win the next three, it'll be becasue the Pats were coming off a short week and their toughest game of the season, and the Jets are missing their safety, not because they've actually stopped trotting out insane game-plans and have gotten their offense to mediocre to go with the best Defense/ST combo in the league...

- Alvaro

by jebmak :: Sat, 12/04/2010 - 3:04am

To be fair, if Atlanta loses, the Bucs will have beaten someone with a winning record.

And, the Bears have lost to two teams with losing records. The Bucs have lost to zero.

Not that I think the Bucs are much, if any, better than the Bears. I just tire of that soundbite.

by BigCheese :: Sat, 12/04/2010 - 3:14pm

For the record, I dont' think the Bears are the best team in the NFC (I still go GB), but they're definitely a contender in my mind, not the bad theam that got incredibly lucky that they are made out to be. And certainly not worse than the Bucs.

And they should have lsot to ONE losing team... freaking Lovie and his fear of losing two challenges in a row...

- Alvaro

by tunesmith :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 6:53pm

I should point out that right now, I'm seeing "Tanier: Don't laugh, 6-10 can win NFC West" on the front page of msnbc.com, just below the fold. Nice job!!

by jonnyblazin :: Sat, 12/04/2010 - 3:20am

I'm confused why Tanier thinks the Ravens offense consists of screens and bombs and little else. I don't think they throw that many bombs, Boldin, Housh, Mason, and Heap have been working the intermediate routes pretty frequently and Flacco has been hitting them consistently. I think their offense is pretty methodical, good at getting lots of first downs.

by Gus (not verified) :: Sat, 12/04/2010 - 3:59pm

It was pretty poor analysis, in my own n00bish opinion. I've been wondering why Boldin hasn't been getting open lately, and that's a problem if it continues. But Mason, Heap, and Rice have been good, and Housh seems to have a knack for drawing PI. xD