Quick Reads
The best and worst players of the week according to Football Outsiders stats.

Week 6 Quick Reads

by Bill Barnwell

The most important play in Sunday's Broncos-Jets game didn't officially happen, but it might be the basis for an entire offensive scheme. The 46-yard pass interference penalty in the fourth quarter drawn by Santonio Holmes against Broncos safety Renaldo Hill on fourth-and-6 turned what looked to be a sure Jets loss into a miracle win. But in the NFL play-by-play, you'll find it listed as "No Play". Neither Holmes nor Mark Sanchez get credit for the yardage, even though it moved the ball just as effectively as a catch in the same situation would have.

When it comes to adding these yards into a player's total, we've come down on the agents' side. Those yards should belong to Holmes, who was prevented from making a catch by Hill, who grabbed his facemask. But after the pass interference penalty totally shifted the course of the game, both Football Outsiders's Tim Gerheim (over e-mail) and ESPN's Bill Simmons (via Twitter) wondered whether a team could build an offense around drawing pass interference penalties.

The answer? Well, it depends on how frequently you can draw them.

We can categorize the result of each long pass with one of seven general outcomes: Completion, incompletion, interception, defensive pass interference, completion resulting in a fumble recovered by the defense, other defensive penalty (like illegal contact or holding), and other offensive penalty (like offensive holding offensive pass interference). To keep things simple, we won't worry about the final three options.

In 2009, teams threw the ball 25 yards or longer down the field 1,261 times. They completed 350 of those passes, for a completion percentage of 27.8 percent. On those completions, they picked up an average of 42 yards and scored a touchdown 117 times. The pass fell incomplete 744 times, or 59.0 percent of the time. Teams threw interceptions on the passes 9.7 percent of the time.

As for defensive pass interference? It just doesn't happen very frequently. Those 1,261 bombs yielded just 45 pass interference penalties. Only one -- the bomb to Calvin Johnson that resulted in a game-winning touchdown on the subsequent play for the Lions in Week 11 -- took place in the fourth quarter with two minutes or less left to go. Overall, only 3.6 percent of the passes resulted in pass interference. That's just not frequent enough for a team to rely on the pass interference call as a reliable offensive weapon. If you threw 30 times a game, you could expect to pick up about one pass interference call a game, but you would also be throwing three picks.

Let's say that you built your offense around acquiring behemoth receivers that could get downfield and turn every jump ball into a nightmare for the defense. You'd have just built the 2008-09 San Diego Chargers, a devastating downfield passing attack. In those two seasons, the Chargers threw the ball 25 yards or more downfield 96 times, but they picked up just six pass interference calls. Even that elevated rate of 6.3 percent wouldn't be anywhere near enough to justify throwing downfield 25 or 30 times a game.

The other factor that comes into play is the Law of Unintended Consequences. Teams that know of your game plan would provide far more safety help, lowering the completion percentage for your downfield passes. Just like they do for Hail Mary passes, referees aware of their potential complicity in this DPI scheme would be less likely to actually call a pass interference penalty, rendering your strategy moot.

While Holmes's play drastically changed the complexion of the Jets-Broncos game, plays like that just don't happen all that often, especially in such a dramatically important context. And while Holmes deserves credit for his work, relying on defensive pass interference as a primary offensive weapon is more likely to produce losses than wins.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
1.
Matt Schaub HOU
25/33
305
2
0
173
174
-2
Once the Texans went down two touchdowns in the third quarter, Schaub took over. Before that point, he was 10-of-14, but it was for 91 yards and all of two first downs (along with a touchdown). Half of his yardage came on a throw to Andre Johnson against blown coverage. Afterwards? 15-of-19 for 204 yards, with 11 first downs and that game-winning toss to Johnson in the back of the end zone. As for the other debatable pass interference call of the week? It's been overblown. It's true that Brandon Flowers didn't deserve to be charged with defensive pass interference, but Andre Johnson caught the pass anyway. And Johnson didn't do enough to come close to justifying offensive pass interference. These two teams may very well meet again in the playoffs, so Flowers may have a chance to get his revenge.
2.
Kevin Kolb PHI
23/29
326
3
1
157
149
7
Let's revisit our Week 3 Quick Reads debate. In his two starts since Michael Vick went down, Kevin Kolb's completed 73.3 percent of his passes. Vick was at 58.4 percent in the two games he completed. While Vick unquestionably has the stronger arm, he averaged 8.8 yards per attempt; Kolb's at 9.6. Vick threw five touchdowns without an interception, better than Kolb's four scores versus one pick, but Vick fumbled twice to Kolb's lone fumble. For all his elusiveness, Vick took a sack every nine dropbacks; Kolb's taken one every 13. On the other hand, Vick is clearly the better rushing quarterback, but all in all, Kolb's produced 2.64 points per drive, even with David Akers missing three field goals. Vick produced a near-identical 2.63 points per drive. The soft factors favor Kolb: He started against pass defenses ranked 12th (Atlanta, 27th last year) and 23rd (San Francisco, seventh last year) this year, while Vick was against teams ranked 15th (Detroit, 32nd last year) and 30th (Jacksonville, 31st last year). Finally, Kolb spent most of Sunday without DeSean Jackson and didn't have left tackle Jason Peters, either.

So why should Andy Reid stick with Michael Vick? Because just as benching Kolb after one half of poor play was short-sighted and didn't give the team a proper chance to evaluate Kolb, benching Vick after an injury doesn't give the team a proper chance to evaluate him. Going back-and-forth just erodes each player's confidence. What if Vick comes back and plays poorly? When does Reid go to Kolb? Philadelphia loves their backup quarterbacks more than any other city in America. No matter who ends up getting the job, they may not get it for very long.
3.
Drew Brees NO
21/32
263
3
1
149
148
1
Sabby Piscitelli is the weak link of the Buccaneers defense when he starts. If you had to pick a strongest link, though, you might look towards Barrett Ruud, Stylez White, or cornerback Aqib Talib. Talib plays on the left side of the defense, meaning he covers the wideout on the right side of the field. And yet, on throws to wideouts on the right side of the field, Brees went 4-of-5 for 108 yards, with two first downs and two long touchdown passes. On throws to the other side, where the more conservative Ronde Barber holds down the fort, Brees was just 4-of-8 for 34 yards.
4.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
16/27
257
3
1
143
143
0
Roethlisberger's 16 completions resulted in 10 first downs and three touchdowns. That's a great ratio, even against the Browns. His airmail interception in the red zone is what kept him from rating as the league's best quarterback in his return. Although Heath Miller fantasy owners must have been excited to see their tight end catch a touchdown pass after seemingly disappearing from the offense during Roethlisberger's absence, Miller only got four targets. It's still too early to say, but the Steelers might need Miller to block more frequently than he did a year ago.
5.
Peyton Manning IND
25/38
307
2
0
134
134
0
Peyton was downright unstoppable for a time after a couple of early near-interceptions (thanks, Carlos Rogers and Kareem Moore). He had a stretch where eight consecutive dropbacks yielded either a first down or a touchdown, and while that was aided by an absurd Pierre Garcon catch, Peyton was Peyton. The Redskins had no answer for him until the final drive of the game, when the unlikely figure of Philip Buchanon defensed two of Manning's three shots at sealing the game.
6.
Matt Hasselbeck SEA
25/40
242
1
0
122
122
0
Much like the Saints were able to beat the seemingly superior target of Talib, the Seahawks were able to take advantage of Bears stalwart Peanut Tillman. Hasselbeck repeatedly went to Deon Butler and Mike Williams against Tillman. On passes to the left side of the field, where Tillman operates, Hasselbeck went 11-of-14 for 107 yards, with five first downs and a touchdown. Although they threw 18 times to the right side, those 18 attempts only yielded 10 completions for 88 yards.
7.
Matt Cassel KC
20/29
201
3
0
99
95
5
The book is out on throwing at Texans right cornerback Kareem Jackson, so teams throwing to his side of the field is nothing new. Matt Cassel threw 17 passes to Jackson's left side of the field, but only five to the right side of the field, where Glover Quin operates. Jackson was also responsible for a pass interference penalty on fourth down in the first quarter that kept a drive going. Cassel was actually 5-for-5 for two first downs and a touchdown when he went to the right, but the final five of his 17 attempts to the left side fell incomplete. Cassel was also 5-of-6 for four first downs and a touchdown on throws to his tight ends; while it's tempting to assign those numbers to the absence of DeMeco Ryans, three of the successful plays came in the first quarter.
8.
Chad Henne MIA
23/38
231
2
1
83
78
5
The Packers defense is a lot easier to play against when they don't have any semblance of a pass rush. A team that had sacked opposing quarterbacks once every ten dropbacks before Sunday let Henne dropback 38 times without taking him down once. It's an example of when opponent adjustments aren't as accurate as they should be; the fifth-ranked pass defense that the system sees isn't the one Henne faced on Sunday.
9.
Kyle Orton DEN
14/34
209
1
0
82
70
12
The Jets mostly devoted Antonio Cromartie to Brandon Lloyd, with the gimpy Darrelle Revis and a gang of backups assigned to the other Broncos wideouts. In the first half, Cromartie lived in Lloyd's back pocket, and Lloyd was 0-of-5. In the second half? Lloyd got back in the swing of things. After a 19-yard DPI within the first minute, Lloyd caught four of the five passes Orton threw to him, gaining 68 yards and four more first downs. 29 of Orton's 35 attempts went to Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney, or Eddie Royal.
10.
Eli Manning NYG
20/30
177
2
0
78
78
0
11.
Joe Flacco BAL
27/35
285
2
0
70
79
-9
That fearsome Patriots pass rush got to Flacco three times in his first ten dropbacks. Flacco was 6-of-7 for 81 yards when he stayed upright there, though, and when the Patriots stopped getting the pass pressure, Flacco settled in for a nice game. Once Flacco started the fourth quarter with an incompletion in the end zone, though, the Ravens just stopped moving the ball through the air. In the fourth quarter and overtime, Flacco went 7-of-12, but he only gained 59 yards and accrued just two first downs. His rushing DYAR resulted from a five-yard scramble on third-and-6 and a stuff on third-and-1.
12.
Kerry Collins TEN
11/16
110
1
0
70
70
0
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
13.
Josh Freeman TB
25/43
222
1
0
66
76
-11
Freeman enjoyed most of his success on passes up the middle, where he went 11-of-116 for 110 yards. To either sideline, he was 16-of-31 for 127 yards. Teams also attacked the middle last season, when Darren Sharper was often a liability in centerfield. With Sharper set to return and move college cornerback Malcolm Jenkins either to cornerback or the bench, it will be interesting to see if teams continue to try and exploit New Orleans up the middle. With Tracy Porter on the shelf and Jabari Greer hobbled, the Browns (Week 7) and Steelers (Week 8) might actually enjoy more success going at the edges.
14.
Shaun Hill DET
9/15
91
1
0
64
64
0
15.
Sam Bradford STL
18/31
198
1
0
62
60
3
Sam Bradford on throws to the left: 10-of-14 for 127 yards, with six first downs and a touchdown. Sam Bradford on throws to the right: 6-of-15 for 48 yards and three first downs. Guess which side Antoine Cason is responsible for? In all fairness, Cason played well to start the season, but this was his second poor game in a row, and even he described the way he played as "unacceptable". He's quickly becoming the obvious target in the Chargers secondary.
16.
Colt McCoy CLE
23/33
281
1
2
62
54
8
McCoy was much better than it would have been realistic to hope for, showing poise in the pocket against a predictably fearsome Steelers pass rush. Five sacks and two interceptions on 38 dropbacks isn't great, but at least he didn't fumble. 166 of his 281 passing yards, on the other hand, came while the Browns were down two scores or more in the second half.
17.
Aaron Rodgers GB
18/33
313
1
1
53
39
14
Rodgers only picked up three of the 11 third downs he faced, but six of those opportunities required 10 yards or more to pick up. You can't blame that on the running game, though; the Packers picked up 5.3 yards per carry on the ground on first down, and only three of their 12 attempts there went for fewer than four yards. In fact, most of the concerns about Green Bay's rushing attack are overblown. Since Ryan Grant went down with his injury, the Packers have averaged 5.6 yards per carry on first down. Last year, they averaged 4.6 yards per carry on first down. Some of that is Brandon Jackson's 71-yard run this year, but if you take that run out of the Packers' totals, they're at 4.4 yards per carry on first down this year. If you remove the biggest run on first down from last year's totals -- a 62-yarder by Grant -- they averaged 4.3 yards per carry.
18.
Tom Brady NE
27/44
292
1
2
48
46
3
Brady also struggled on third down, as he only converted one of the eight he faced in regulation, the touchdown pass to Deion Branch in the fourth quarter. He also missed on his first two chances in overtime before converting his third and final third down, a pass to Branch that set up the game-winning field goal.
19.
Tony Romo DAL
24/32
217
3
2
30
16
14
Completions are nice, but they aren't everything. In-between his first touchdown pass to Roy Williams and his game-tying throw to Dez Bryant, Romo went 15-for-19, but it only netted him 117 yards and three first downs (along with his other touchdown pass to Williams). Only 13 of his 24 completions (54.2 percent) were considered successes; the rest of the league was at 75.2 percent.
20.
Alex Smith SF
18/32
196
2
0
11
17
-5
Last week, the criticism of Alex Smith was mostly unwarranted. This week, he was pretty awful before throwing two touchdowns on his final four attempts. He mixed in two intentional grounding penalties and a total of six first downs on his previous 30 dropbacks, and while he didn't get much in the way of help from his offensive line, it's the Raiders. Incredibly, he was 0-for-5 on passes to Frank Gore, with only one of those passes thrown ahead of the line of scrimmage. I can't remember the last time I saw a running back go 0-for-5.
21.
Donovan McNabb WAS
29/45
246
1
2
10
8
2
McNabb was effective on first down -- 15-of-21 for 83 yards -- but it's pretty hard to win when you only convert one of the 11 third or fourth downs you come up against.
22.
Brett Favre MIN
14/19
118
1
0
10
10
0
Two defensive pass interference calls for 34 yards help matters (thanks, Mike Jenkins!), but with just 25 dropbacks, Favre took three sacks and lost the handle on a handoff. On those plays that weren't DPIs, Favre produced only four first downs and a touchdown. Randy Moss exploded for five catches and 55 yards.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
23.
Matt Ryan ATL
23/42
250
2
1
2
4
-2
Ryan spent most of the game playing catch-up and didn't do very much of it. He was weirdly awful on second down; he didn't complete a single pass there for more than seven yards, and while he picked up an eight-yard DPI to Harry Douglas and a 1-yard touchdown pass to Tony Gonzalez on consecutive chances in the second quarter, his other 12 shots on second down produced a total of 16 yards and zero first downs.
24.
Philip Rivers SD
22/37
249
1
1
-3
-3
0
Seven sacks in 44 dropbacks. That came despite the return of left tackle Marcus McNeill, who appeared to be responsible for two sacks. Noted cipher Jeromey Clary, the right tackle, allowed two of his own and should probably be benched after years of poor pass protection for Brandyn Dombrowski, who was effective during McNeill's holdout. The devastating Rams pass rush -- along with injuries to Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd -- prevented Rivers from extending drives. He only converted two of the ten third downs he faced.
25.
Jay Cutler CHI
17/39
290
0
0
-5
-14
9
Here's a good example of where DVOA probably isn't underrating big plays. A 58-yard pass interference penalty is a good way to start your day. Cutler also had a 67-yard completion to go with back-to-back completions of 34 and 36 yards. Those four huge plays, though, weren't enough to get more than 13 points for the Bears; otherwise, Cutler picked up 153 yards on 42 dropbacks, with almost as many sacks (six) as first downs (eight). This is an extreme example of boom-or-bust, of course; you would normally expect your quarterback to convert at least one of the 12 third downs he faced, and Cutler was unable to do so.
26.
David Garrard JAC
7/12
49
0
1
-5
-5
0
27.
Drew Stanton DET
20/33
222
1
1
-17
-30
13
28.
Mark Sanchez NYJ
17/30
198
1
2
-23
-23
0
Sanchez does pick up credit for the 46-yard defensive pass interference call that won the game for the Jets. The interceptions were inevitable, but Sanchez was wildly inconsistent against one of the league's worst defenses. A 10-of-11 stretch in the first half was nice, but he followed that by mixing in 22- and 41-yard completions with six incompletions, a sack, and an interception.
29.
Trent Edwards JAC
14/24
140
0
2
-49
-53
4
30.
Jason Campbell OAK
8/21
83
0
2
-99
-94
-4
Let's break down Campbell's day by quarter. After a ticky-tack 46-yard defensive pass interference penalty to start the game, Campbell went 5-of-7 to finish the first quarter. Not bad. In the second quarter, he went 0-for-4 with an interception. About as bad as you can get. In the third quarter, he got an incomplete grade because he didn't throw a single pass. The Raiders only ran three offensive plays, taking a 10-yard penalty in the process. Campbell did his part with a seven-yard scramble on third-and-long, ending the drive quickly. In the fourth quarter, he missed an open Louis Murphy deep by about a foot for what would have been a 98-yard touchdown, but then he completed a pass to Zach Miller that bounced off of a 49ers' linebacker's hands and into Miller's. The incompletion was a much more impressive and positive throw than the completion. After that play, Campbell was 1-of-6 for seven yards with another pick and a fumble on a sack. That's three potential turnovers (the Raiders recovered the fumble) on 24 dropbacks against a mediocre pass defense.
Five most valuable running backs
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Chris Ivory NO
159
0
17
0
50
40
10
The Saints' nominal starter isn't exactly a versatile back. He can't pass block; at least, he can't pass block well enough for Sean Payton to trust him with Drew Brees's life. He had 15 catches for 51 yards in three years at Washington State. He's already fumbled three times on 45 touches this year. What he can do, though, is run between the tackles and pick up consistent positive yardage, and with guards Jahri Evans and Carl Nicks in front of him, that's what the Saints need right now. 11 of Ivory's 15 runs went for more than five yards, and eight of them went for first downs. He even picked up 17 yards and a first down on his first NFL catch. While a minor ankle injury in the fourth quarter forced him to the sideline, Ivory did enough work during the first three quarters to finish as the best back of the week.
2.
Arian Foster HOU
71
2
26
0
41
40
1
The Chiefs had exhibited wild improvement against the run before Sunday, when the Texans took over on the ground on Sunday. A 38-yard touchdown run by Derrick Ward saw the former Giants back tiptoe through most of the unit, and Foster was efficient and effective without ever ripping off a huge run. He scored on both his carries inside the five-yard line, converted both of his attempts in third-and-short, and added a couple more first downs on second-and-6 and second-and-7.
3.
Peyton Hillis CLE
41
0
49
0
37
15
22
Admittedly, it wasn't the most exciting performance of the day. But Hillis converted a third-and-1 and was able to maintain a 33 percent success rate against one of the league's best run defenses. His best work was as a receiver, where he went 6-of-7 and extended drives by converting on both his third down chances.
4.
Danny Woodhead NE
63
0
52
0
35
20
15
From Jets spy to the Patriots' Ahmad Bradshaw? Bradshaw made his name by closing out games in the fourth quarter for the Giants, and while Woodhead's team wasn't in the lead, he picked up first downs on four consecutive carries in the fourth quarter. That includes a first-and-10 and a second-and-11. He also had two conversions in the passing game and pulled off one of the rare plays that results in positive YAR despite serving as an "unsuccessful" play, gaining 19 yards on a third-and-20 reception.
5.
Ahmad Bradshaw NYG
133
0
10
0
28
24
4
Speak of the devil! Brandon Jacobs may have vultured the rushing touchdown that Bradshaw's fantasy owners were hoping he would pick up, but Bradshaw had six carries for 61 yards in the fourth quarter, including a 45-yard run directly after a Lions turnover that totally shifted the momentum of the game back towards the home team. He even picked up a first down as a receiver, his third of the season.
Least valuable running back
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
1.
Ray Rice BAL
88
0
38
0
-34
-9
-25
To an extent, Ray Rice will always look worse by advanced numbers because the Ravens rely on him as a dumpoff and safety valve in the passing game. While DYAR might see a two-yard catch on third-and-10 as a negative play, it's better than a sack. On the other hand, all those meaningless catches and yards inflate Rice's raw numbers, too. Rice caught eight of the ten passes thrown to him, but only two of those passes went for more than four yards, and only one was considered a successful play. The even bigger disappointment: Rice's 28 carries produced just two first downs. His long run of the day was only eight yards. That's how the Ravens got 13 possessions against one of the league's worst pass defenses and scored just 20 points.
Five most valuable wide receivers and tight ends
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Jeremy Maclin PHI
7
7
159
22.7
2
80
Four first downs and two touchdowns; the 83-yard catch is the one that folks will remember, but Maclin did a nice job of coming back to Kolb and catching a pass in tight coverage (from Brent Grimes, even) for the first touchdown. It was even more promising that Maclin was effective despite the absence of DeSean Jackson for most of the game.
2.
Dwayne Bowe KC
6
9
108
18.0
2
58
A punchline for his poor play as recently as the pregame shows on Sunday, Bowe's confidence came back with the opportunity to play one of the league's worst pass defenses. He was able to hold onto a 17-yard strike from Matt Cassel for a touchdown in the second quarter, and followed that by running through half the Texans' defense on a quick slant for a 42-yard score (with 35 yards after catch) in the third quarter. Five of his six catches came on third down, and the ones that weren't touchdowns all resulted in first downs. Things shouldn't get much more difficult next week; Jacksonville's pass defense is almost as bad as Houston's.
3.
Patrick Crayton SD
6
7
117
19.5
0
48
Normally, Crayton would be the fifth option in San Diego's passing attack; Antonio Gates, Vincent Jackson, Malcom Floyd, and Legedu Naanee are all in line ahead of him. Unfortunately, all four of those guys were either holding out or hobbled on Sunday, which gave Crayton his chance for a big game. Five of his six completions went for 14 yards or more, and each of them picked up first downs.
4.
Greg Jennings GB
6
7
133
22.2
1
45
The completion percentage is nice, but they include gains of two, five, and nine yards. On the other hand, it also includes an 86-yard touchdown pass, and those can make up for a few worthless completions.
5.
Roy Williams DAL
3
3
36
12.0
2
45
Is Williams finally coming through for the Cowboys? Something seems so right about him producing in the middle of a nightmare season, but his touchdown streak is nothing new. Williams had touchdowns in three consecutive games played in 2009, and as a member of the Lions, he pulled off the feat in 2006 and 2007. Five scores in three games is nice, but there's probably no new stripes on Williams.
Least valuable wide receiver or tight end
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
1.
Hakeem Nicks NYG
3
7
8
2.7
0
-33
Even stars like Nicks have a bad game or two during their breakout seasons. Nicks spent most of his day against Broncos castoff Alphonso Smith, and although Nicks has about four inches and 30 pounds on Smith, the Lions cornerback was able to limit Nicks to three catches for eight yards and a 10-yard defensive pass interference penalty. The Giants instead chose to attack the guy Smith was replacing at right cornerback, Jonathan Wade. It was Wade in coverage on Mario Manningham's long touchdown catch.

Comments

121 comments, Last at 21 Oct 2010, 5:33pm

1 Re: Week 6 Quick Reads

Team,

The rare advantage of being awake at 11:29pm in Sydney Australia, you get to read this article soon after release....must get a life, must get a life.....

Willsy

2 Re: Week 6 Quick Reads

I don't know what difference it would have made, but the fumble charged to Favre really was Peterson's responsibility. The ball was placed where it should be placed, and Peterson acted like it was a play action pass that was called. The biggest problem with the Vikings pass game right now, even though Favre has missed some chances for big plays, is the inability, especially by the running backs, to make proper adjustments for stunts. It's like watching a college team sometimes.

5 Re: Week 6 Quick Reads

" and Peterson acted like it was a play action pass that was called"

Are we completely sure it wasn't?

10 Re: Week 6 Quick Reads

In reply to by RichC (not verified)

As much as I love to ridicule Favre, it pretty clearly looked to be a run play. The receivers were all blocking when the fumble occurred.

18 Re: Week 6 Quick Reads

Yeah, when everyone else is blocking as if it is a running play, we can be reasonably sure that it was a running play. Irrationality about all things regarding the amateur photographer is really too predictable.

24 Re: Week 6 Quick Reads

Give us some more penetrating inquiries, Rich. Along with the accurate and rational chracterizations of distances, of course.

3 Re: Week 6 Quick Reads

Johnson didn't do enough to come close to justifying offensive pass interference
Really? The defender was flagged for throwing his hands in the air with his back to the ball. Why did the defender throw his hands in the air and not succeed in turning to see the ball? Because Johnson pushed him.

It was classic offensive pass interference. Johnson did something precisely to prevent the defender from making a play on the ball. It worked.

17 Re: Week 6 Quick Reads

I think the bigger penalty (or lack thereof) came on Ward's TD run. During a replay it clearly showed Tamba Hali getting held so bad his jersey stretched out about 30 or 40 sizes. To top it off, the official was staring right at it.

This is not to say the Texans didn't have some strange calls against them. I still don't know how the penalty on Wade Smith was a leg whip.

4 Re: Week 6 Quick Reads

Sharper will see the field, but Jenkins won't go on the bench.

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

53 Re: Week 6 Quick Reads

Yeah--my read on the Saints' nickel package is Sharper & Jenkins as the safeties, and Porter, Greer, & Gay as the corners (this assumes that all are healthy--admittedly, somewhat of a stretch). I also assume that Sharper will only see the field on obvious passing situations for the first few weeks in order to get him in "game shape."

6 Re: Week 6 Quick Reads

Regarding Kolb and Vick....

"Going back and forth just erodes each players confidence."

Does it? I'm not trying to be a smart ass, but is there some specific proof to this or is it just assumed? I'm intrigued.

12 Re: Week 6 Quick Reads

It's an interesting question. Why do some coaches seems to be able to rotate QBs in and out and still win (Reid, Fisher) or at least stay competitive (Schwartz) (ok, I'm a Lions fan), while for others (most?) it looks like a sign of desperation even when it's forced by injury (say, Cable)? Is it an organization or coaching thing? I really don't know.

14 Re: Week 6 Quick Reads

In reply to by Parker (The Fi… (not verified)

I'm guessing what he means is that any time one of them starts to play poorly, even for a half, going for a replacement would start to erode confidence (Correct me if I'm wrong). If Kolb starts and goes 1-8 with an INT in the first half, Reid might feel obligated to switch to Vick (or vice versa), and THAT would erode the confidence.

That's how I interpreted the comment, anyhow.

58 Re: Week 6 Quick Reads

In reply to by Biebs (not verified)

As far as I know, Reid has only ever benched a starting QB for poor play once: McNabb being benched for Kolb during the 2008 game against the Ravens. There's some conspiracy that Reid wasn't even 100% responsible for making that call, and that he was pressured by the owner/front office guys calling down to the field.

While I think Reid is perfectly fine making decisions about who's the starter when injuries are involved, I don't think he's the type to bench his starter for poor play.

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In reply to by >implying impl… (not verified)

The Eagles organization has a lot of flaws, but I don't think owner interference with coaching decisions is one of them - especially during a game.

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I've always been very skeptical of that long held belief. I'm Canadian so I grew up watching the CFL as well as the NFL. In the 70s, 80s and part of the 90s it was commonplace for teams to use two QBs. Teams like Edmonton that won 5 Grey Cups in a row alternated between Warren Moon and Tom Wilkinson while being the greatest team the league had ever seen. Joe Thiesman shared time with I believe Greg Barton. Ottawa alternated Condredge Holloway with Tom Clements.

It was just the way things were done and it sure didn't seem to harm the development of Moon and Thiesman.

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The Eagles did it within memory, alternating between Jaws and Cunningham. I can't say it helped Jaws' confidence, nor did it produce spectacular results.

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I've always felt that teams would do well to have two different types of QB's. A pocket passer with a mobile running QB. It would force teams to scheme for both types of offence. You can go with the style that best fits against the opponent.

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It would certainly suck for defenses to have to gameplan against Kolb and Vick. The only worry is that you'd have to split first-team practice time somehow, so you might end up with both your quarterbacks getting fewer reps with their receivers. (Unless you could split up the wide-outs, too, so each QB got used to some 1st-team guys and some 2nd-team guys, with substantial (but fewer) reps with the others....)

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Here's the thing, though: all off-season, Reid was saying that almost exactly this was going to happen: Kolb would be the starter and Vick would play 12-15 snaps a game and be passing the ball very frequently. Everyone said "Yeah, more wildcat," but Reid explained he intended to use Vick as a passer as much as a runner, which really isn't how the pseudo-wildcat subs have played in the NFL... I wish that Reid's plan hadn't gotten derailed...

54 Re: Week 6 Quick Reads

I have a feeling this is similar to all the talk about "swagger" and "momentum": a dubious claim based on little or no evidence that seems to presuppose the idea that NFL players have the emotional stability and maturity of 2 year olds. First off, I've never even seen someone try to find real evidence for this.

Second, there's some ambiguity in the claim itself. What kind of confidence are we talking about that is supposed to erode?

1) Their confidence in their abilities as a football player?
This seems like a big stretch, considering the people we're talking about have been playing football for many years. If they really started to lose their confidence in their abilities whenever they faced a career setback, they never would have made it to the NFL in the first place.

2) Their confidence that they won't be benched if they have a bad game?
This seems a bit more believable, but I'm not sure it really matters that much. If they keep playing well, then it doesn't really matter, and I doubt many players go into a game expecting to play poorly. So it won't be relevant until/unless they do have a bad game. In that case, if they aren't benched, then they won't have much reason to continue worrying in the future, so their confidence problem would probably solve itself over time. If they are benched, then it would seem their lack of confidence was justified, and they'd have no reason to feel confident.

And really, do they need to feel all that confident that they can play poorly and not lose their jobs? All but the most firmly established starters would risk being benched if they played badly enough, and neither of these guys are even close to that level yet. I'm ok with them believing they're on a relatively short leash for now.

64 Re: Week 6 Quick Reads

In reply to by Parker (The Fi… (not verified)

Yeah I am always horrified to see stuff like this on this site. The writers love to poke fun at this type of stuff until they need something to write. Then out come the cliches because it is easy and people are lazy.

In what other type of job do you constantly worry about micromanaging your employee's confidence. Mostly they are concerned with getting paid, and I don't think this is very different in the NFL.

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In general, the way "confidence" gets written about in sports tends to be wrongheaded, I suspect. I think it is more likely that the confidence is in large measure a result being better than the oppostion, as opposed to the other way around.

83 Re: Week 6 Quick Reads

The writers love to poke fun at this type of stuff until they need something to write. Then out come the cliches because it is easy and people are lazy.

I don't think this was a case of a writer just needing something to write and making some random comment from the cliche bank. I think Barnwell (who I consider one of FO's better writers, btw) was being sincere when he said that. And that's what worries me.

If this were just a case of lazy writing, I could deal with that. I understand what it's like to have a deadline, and sometimes you just need a few sentences to fill in some space. Not ideal, but I get it.

But I think Barnwell's statement reflects what he actually believes about the situation, at least approximately. And the fact that he seems to believe in the claims he makes about confidence, despite the lack of any evidence, is what bothers me. He has a hypothesis about confidence that he's using to analyze the Philly QB situation. Great. But instead of testing that hypothesis, he just assumes that it's true. That's not lazy writing, that's lazy science. And that has no place on a site that was built on questioning conventional wisdom.

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I'm trying to figure out a way to test that hypothesis, actually. The problem I see is figuring out a reasonable proxy for confidence, and coming up with a useful sample size.

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I agree that it would be very difficult to test confidence levels directly, but I don't think that's really all that important for the argument he was making. He was clearly implying that the loss of confidence would be caused by certain measurable events (namely, switching between starters frequently), and that it would result in some measurably bad events (like the failure of one or both of the QBs to play well in the future).

So, to test this hypothesis, he would need to look at the previous examples of QBs being switched out for their backups frequently, and then show that the negative effects that his hypothesis predicts actually occur. Now, this wouldn't be conclusive proof, because it would only show correlation, not causation. But still, correlation would be a start. And sample size is a problem, but I don't think it's a prohibitive one, at least in finding some concrete evidence one way or the other.

There have been a lot of QB controversies over the years, and in some of them, QBs were moved back and forth into the starting lineup fairly often. None of those QB controversies are going to be perfectly similar to the Philly QB situation, but I suspect several will be similar enough that we could at least get a general idea of what to expect.

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No matter which QB Andy Reid starts, half of Philadelphia will be irate.

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I'd change that irate figure to 65-70%. Maybe starting, I dunno... Mike Schmidt, would bring that irate percentage as low as the mid 40s...

49 Re: Week 6 Quick Reads

Bobman but probably 15-20% of those 65/70 are going to be upset no matter what happens. So if we assume Dean's figures are after removing the high percentage of completely irrational Eagle '''Fans''' then half is probably right or so. It sounds like more though as the completely irrational Eagle fans are a loud vocal minority.

8 Re: Week 6 Quick Reads

While I was (pleasently) surprised by the Seahawks at Bears, I couldn't help but thinking that this looked like a classic "trap game." To put it kindly for quite some time now the Seahawks offensive line play could be described as "marginal" at best. We've seen Peppers taking over games, but certainly the Bears have other talent as well. Even if Okung's play is taken as ernest improvement and as particularly poor as the Bears line play has been, it's impossible to believe that the coaches and the players for the Bears watched the same team I have for not just this season, but for the past few seasons.

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Pete Carroll has come under some ridicule, most of it inaccurate or unfair, especially at the NFL level. The guy is really a pretty good coach, particularly on the defensive side. It really wasn't surprising that he would have his team ready to slap around a team which blocks as poorly as the Bears do.

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Who would this be a trap game for? The Bears or the Seahawks?

Usually a "trap game" is one where one of the two teams is considered to be significantly better than the other.

42 Re: Week 6 Quick Reads

Bears; since the Seahawks for quite a while have been more than a little vulnerable to deep digs in particular, can at best generate pressure only sporaticly off talent, and even against a very poor O-line like the Bears must continually manufacture it via saftey blitzes and the like. To say nothing about poor performaces against screens, depth at corner, on the road, and after bye weeks. It's not all horrible news, I can see how the Seahawks, my Seahawks, might be diamond in the rough. But right now they're VERY VERY rough.

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Kolb had a great day, but he doesn't really deserve credit for playing without Peters or Jackson considering that King Dunlap dominated John Abraham and Jackson had two TDs before his injury.

Hail Hydra!

39 Re: Week 6 Quick Reads

It's funny, I was just watching the game again and Dunlap didn't really dominate - he had help on almost every single play. In fact, almost every lineman had help on every single play: the Eagles were keeping 7 guys in to block on most downs (with the RB leaking out after a while) and the Falcons were not blitzing, so it was 7 on 4, over and over again. Watch all of the big plays, it's 6 or 7 on 4. (and in a few cases, 5 on 3 - in Maclin's long TD, it's actually 6 on 2 because the Falcons bite so badly on the play action.)

And that doesn't seem like a terrible idea for the Eagles going forward: Maclin, Avant, and Jackson (who will hopefully play again for the Eagles this season) are talented enough that if you give them time, one of them will get WIDE open. It goes against Reid's RB-centric passing philosophy, but man if it didn't kill the Falcons. The Eagles could do just about whatever they wanted...

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Of course, the biggest help to the o-line play, was that Andy finally remembered to run the ball more than five times a half.

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Was at the Bucs game and wanted to make a point about Drew Brees -

Not that I want to defend Sabby, but he barely saw the field in this game. In that game, Brees had a fairly clear strategy - Without Tanard, Cody Grimm starts and he just can't play that deep zone well enough to run a cover 2. Both long TDs came when the Bucs showed a cover 2 look and the second they showed it, Brees just went deep at Grimm. The Bucs started hiding him with more man and cover 3 looks, but its just not what they're meant to be doing on D and it got them picked apart. Grimm is going to be a year long problem for the team.

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I was wondering which team would provide us with the worst QB on a week when the Panthers, Cardinals and Bills all had a bye. Step forward the Oakland Raiders!

22 Re: Week 6 Quick Reads

I started Jason Campbell over Matt Schaub since Campbell was playing a generous SF D and Schaub was playing a KC D that just stifled Manning and I have Arian Foster. Looked good for 1/2 of football as Schaub did nothing in the first half.

Then they kept playing....

I still won, but lesson learned. Then again, Schaub is on bye this week and there are no QB's available, so I'll be going back to the Campbell/Gradskowski sinkhole.

15 Re: Week 6 Quick Reads

What [Chris Ivory] can do, though, is run between the tackles and pick up consistent positive yardage...

Also, he can hit people upside the head with a liquor bottle.

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Could you guys give the full rankings for RBs and WR/TEs? No comments are needed, it would just be nice to see how everyone stacks up.

19 Re: Week 6 Quick Reads

Did Henne steal Bill's lunch money as a child. First he calls for his benching in the first quarter, now he complains when he goes on to have a nice game :)

27 Re: Week 6 Quick Reads

Maybe. But he's right. Henne had all day to throw. Kevin Kolb in week one, say, did not.

It's easy to attribute the difference to the Packers' defensive injuries and the Dolphins' superior offensive line, but a large part of it was strategic: Miami kept six or seven in protection for most of the game, even though the Packers were without Clay Matthews. Dan Henning figured that someone would get open, even when the Packers dropped six into coverage. And he was, mostly, correct.