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

Week 1 Quick Reads

Week 1 Quick Reads
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Vincent Verhei

Tennessee's 42-14 demolition of Tampa Bay wasn't the most exciting contest of Week 1, but it might have been the most important -- not for what it means in 2015, but because it was the beginning of a new era for each franchise. The Buccaneers and Titans were the NFL's two worst teams in 2014, and each turned to a new passer at the top of the draft last April in hopes of turning things around. If all goes according to plan, Jameis Winston will lead the Bucs to their first Super Bowl since the halcyon days of Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp. It's a similar story in Tennessee, where any Lombardi Trophy won in the next decade will likely come via the hands (and feet) of Marcus Mariota.

Between the two of them, Winston and Mariota have thrown a total of only 49 regular-season NFL passes, so of course it's far too early to draw any meaningful conclusions about the fate of either franchise or they're respective saviors. That said, it's hard to imagine how early returns could have been any more different. Mariota's Titans scored touchdowns on five of their first six possessions, and the reigning Heisman Trophy winner finished with 13 completions in 16 attempts for 209 yards, throwing for four touchdowns with no interceptions. Winston, on the other hand, struggled badly. His very first NFL pass was intercepted, and he finished up 16-of-33 for 210 yards with a pair of touchdowns to go with two picks.

By our numbers, Mariota was not the best passer of the week, nor was Winston the worst. Both quarterbacks, though, made very powerful impressions, for good or ill. Was Mariota's game the best debut in the DVOA era? Was Winston's the worst? It's hard to say for sure, but the answers right now appear to be "quite possibly" and "no, but it sure was awful."

Time constraints stopped us from checking every rookie debut in our database, so I looked at the 55 quarterbacks between 1989 and 2014 who threw at least 200-ish passes in their rookie campaigns (Eli Manning threw 197 passes in 2004, so I went ahead and included him), then looked at how they fared in their first game with at least 15 pass attempts. (Those same time constraints stopped me from checking rushing data.) Not surprisingly, most rookies struggled in their first extended playing time -- 31 of those 55 finished below replacement level. This wasn't always the first game of their careers. In Matt Ryan's case, it wasn't even his first start. Ryan went 9-of-13 for 161 yards and a touchdown against Detroit in Week 1 of 2008, good for 37 DYAR, but for the purposes of this study I'm counting his debut as his 13-of-33, 158-yard, two-interception game against Tampa Bay seven days later. None of those 55 passers, though, matched the 155 passing DYAR Mariota posted against Tampa Bay. (In fact, Mariota's very first game will likely wind up among the top ten rookie games in DVOA history, a list that currently features Russell Wilson in first place.)

As for Winston, though few quarterbacks have gotten off to a worse start, he was a far sight better than the worst debut we have seen.

Very Good Rookie Debuts, 1989-2015
Name Year Tm Week Opp Cmp
Att Cmp% Yds Avg TD Int Pass DYAR
Marcus Mariota 2015 TEN 1 TB 13 16 81.3% 209 13.1 4 0 182
Jeff Garcia* 1999 SFO 4 TEN 21 33 63.6% 243 7.4 2 0 148
Robert Griffin 2012 WAS 1 NO 19 26 73.1% 320 12.3 2 0 135
Cam Newton 2011 CAR 1 ARI 24 37 64.9% 422 11.4 2 1 132
Patrick Ramsey 2002 WAS 5 TEN 20 34 58.8% 268 7.9 2 0 112
Josh Freeman 2009 TAM 9 GB 14 31 45.2% 205 6.6 3 1 110
Mark Sanchez 2009 NYJ 1 HOU 18 31 58.1% 272 8.8 1 1 83
Kerry Collins 1995 CAR 5 TB 18 32 56.3% 234 7.3 1 1 79
EJ Manuel 2013 BUF 1 NE 18 27 66.7% 150 5.6 2 0 70
Vince Young 2006 TEN 2 SD 7 20 35.0% 106 5.3 1 0 62
* Though technically an NFL rookie, Garcia had five years of experience with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League.
Very Bad Rookie Debuts, 1989-2015
Name Year Tm Week Opp Cmp
Att Cmp% Yds Avg TD Int Pass DYAR
Brandon Weeden 2012 CLE 1 PHI 12 35 34.3% 118 3.4 0 4 -285
Jake Plummer 1997 ARI 9 TEN 21 40 52.5% 195 4.9 2 4 -168
Jameis Winston 2015 TB 1 TEN 16 33 48.5% 210 6.4 2 2 -143
Ryan Tannehill 2012 MIA 1 HOU 20 36 55.6% 219 6.1 0 3 -127
Matthew Stafford 2009 DET 1 NO 16 37 43.2% 205 5.5 0 3 -127
Tony Banks 1996 STL 2 SF 6 17 35.3% 69 4.1 0 0 -95
Donovan McNabb 1999 PHI 9 CAR 8 20 40.0% 68 3.4 0 1 -94
Blaine Gabbert 2011 JAX 3 CAR 12 21 57.1% 139 6.6 1 1 -90
Steve Walsh 1989 DAL 4 WAS 9 18 50.0% 100 5.6 0 2 -89
Matt Ryan** 2008 ATL 2 TB 13 33 39.4% 158 4.8 0 2 -89
** Ryan also started in Week 1 of 2008, but threw only 13 passes in that game.

Comments

125 comments, Last at 19 Sep 2015, 2:51pm

1 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

Yeah, Jameis played bad, but, my God, that TAM line is probably the worst in football. When they aren't blocking anyone they are holding. I noticed it during the preseason, their center slow hikes the ball back to Winston almost every every play - he waiting on the fastball and he's getting the changeup!
What an awful team...

20 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

Now, now, points must be awarded for creativity! Vikings offensive linemen, for instance, can, when their quarterback is about to effectively scramble (something the qb will no doubt endeavor to do frequently over the next 16 weeks), intrepidly throw a block on their very surprised qb! One might be inclined to think this practice suboptimal, but a Vikings fan looking for the bright side can choose to see this as an example of superior judgement. What is more likely to work, an attempted block of a large, ill tempered, opposing defensive lineman, who is prepared to fight it off, or an attempted block of your own, much smaller qb, who is not expecting it?

The only good thing about stadium nonsense killing most of any remaining real desire to see a particular team have success is that you can really appreciate the humor in failure.

41 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

The best bit was that he kept blocking him, he wasn't just going to throw a block on his own quarterback he was going to finish that block, play to the whistle!

66 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

Here's my assessment: 65% of the fans think their OL is bottom-three. 25% of fans think their OL is one player away from being either great or horrid (along the lines of "thank God for so-and-so" or "if we only had a center...", and 10% think theirs is the best.

And for the record, the Colts OL was worse this weekend. Because they are the worst in the league. (yes, I'm a 65%er) The only think keeping them out of prison for manslaughter of their own backfield is (here is my 25%ism) Castonzo and maybe Mewhort when he's in the right position.

And yes, if they only had a good C, RG, and RT they'd be the best.

107 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

I haven't come across that 10% that think theirs is the best. I'd say there's 10% who think their line is "pretty good, but overrated and not as good as everyone else says".

Seriously, pretty much everyone underrates their team's offensive line.

112 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

I think the Packers offensive is pretty good. I think Linsley the center is on track to be considered for the All Pro team. He's very impressive. Of course the best guy on the line is Sitton.

Really the weakest guy is at the most important position. Bakhtari is solid pass blocking but subpar run blocker and has his share of iffy games. Rodgers ability to avoid the rush spares him getting too much criticism

120 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

If so, then the other fifty percent must think they have the best line in football. Here in Cleveland, that's all I hear. Even after yesterday's debacle trying to run, that's all I hear.

A lot of teams with bad skill positions try and sell fans on the greatness of their lines, especially during training camp. Ask a Brown's fan, they'll tell you they have had one of the best lines in football for years now. They just can't turn that into rushing yards because reasons.

36 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

I don't have the stomach to go through the full play-by-play, but, from how I counted during the game, I believe Tampa's offensive line had eight penalties, which seems like, you know, a lot. When they weren't turnstiles, they were turnstiles getting holding penalties. They do appear to be run-blocking well, but two rookies on the line means there's a lot to learn about how to respond to a pass rush.

Ali Marpet is a kid from a Division III school who was drafted because of his freakish athletic ability, and he's certainly shown the ability to push someone out of the way on a run block. Pass blocking? It was pretty brutal.

50 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

It's not a Lovie Smith team without major offensive line problems.

(it was actually fine in 05/06, but every other year had huge problems)

94 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

Interesting that Brady's 19 straight completions were called out, but Rivers' 20 straight completions to finish the game were not mentioned. Rivers became the first QB in NFL history to complete the last 20 passes in a game.

122 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

Im really surprised people are so down on Brady's performance this week. Yes the steelers bungled a bunch of coverage assignments, but I watched Brady really carefully - his decision making was still really terrific.

You can see age taking bites out of him the way I saw in PM. He know has to use his lower body a lot to hoist passes downfield - but as long as his mind is ok and he can set his feet, he's an elite player.

2 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

About your quesstion:
1. Film breakdown (BY FAR)
2. Specific statistical breakdowns of one player each week
3. Historical comparisons
4. Full-season analysis
5. Leaders in specific splits
6. New metrics

76 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

My order:

1. Film breakdown
2. Full-season analysis (aka, using the metrics you already have!)
3. Historical comparisons
4. New metrics
5. Specific statistical breakdowns of one player each week
6. Leaders in specific splits

109 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

1. Historical comparison
2.Full-season analysis
3. Leaders
4. one player per week
5. film breakdown
6. new metrics (have we plumbed the depths of the old ones?)

3 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

I'm having trouble parsing how Vince Young could possibly be graded as well above replacement for 35% completion and 5.3 yd/attempt. The comment below the table suggests that he's somehow getting a bonus for playing in garbage time. How does that make sense?

8 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

I think that because DYAR works by comparing to the average in a given situation, it gives Young a bonus because when QBs are down by multiple scores, they typically get more aggressive, take more sack and interceptions, etc. That's my guess anyway.

18 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

I guess DYAR says passing is much harder in garbage time. Anecdotally I can see them going either way. Defense plays prevent so short to medium routes will be easier to complete. Defense goes all out rushing the QB so all passes are hard to complete. I guess both could be true and Vince Young completed a couple of unlikely long passes with many expected incompletions.

31 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

My best guess is that he's being rewarded for not throwing interceptions while attempting a comeback. Of course, averaging less than 6 yards per attempt might not qualify for the definition of "attempting a comeback". I just noticed, his 35% completion would be the second-lowest on the Bottom 10 debuts list. This is definitely a weakness of DYAR, if a QB can look good with those stats as long as he is losing by a lot.

49 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

I do know that DYAR & DVOA hate sacks and these would be more common in garbage time pass attempts and if Young had no sacks (seems surprising for him) and no turnovers then he could have done relatively "OK"

51 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

I wonder if he was failing on 1st and 2nd down and then converting on 3rd.

Often in a comeback situation an incomplete pass isn't that bad, of course DVOA doesn't take clock spent into account.

6 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

Jones of Green Bay strikes me as Anquan Boldin 2.0. Very strong upper body, really good hands, no real speed but somehow still gets enough separation and will win the vast majority of close quarter hand fights for the ball.

75 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

Except he doesn't get separation. That's probably why he got cut from Oak and NYG. The Packers don't care though because Rodgers throws them open anyway. Seriously, it's ridiculous how not-open many GB receivers are on so many plays.

105 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

Having watched the game I was astounded that Rodgers would attempt some of his throws given that from the camera behind the QB the WR would look completely covered coming out of their break. And then they would show the reply and the ball would be exactly on the WR's outstretched hand and about 6 inches past the hand of the defender. Ridiculous.

111 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

I think there's some good scouting going on. For instance Ball has played for years but barely picked a pass off, it's because he never looks back to find the ball so even when he's in good position it's a safe throw with a reasonable chance of a catch.

113 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

That's Devin McCourty when he plays corner too, which is why he's a much better safety than corner. He's more comfortable with the play developing in front of him. Other's are better in the mix. Tyrann Mathiu is a great example of a coverage player that excels inside the play rather than on its periphery.

114 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

Rodgers does this all the time, doesn't matter who's in coverage. The receivers are also amazingly well coached and don't tip off the defenders by looking for the ball until the instant they need to.

I don't know how it all works really, but it does over and over.

117 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

BUt I've seen defenses still flummox Rodgers the way they have other elite qbs. Seattle, SF, the lions, Buffalo - it amounts to proper disguise and really tight coverage. Even elite qbs get thrown out of rhythm by a properly coached, well talented defense.

7 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

I'm trying to figure out how to credit Brandon Marshall in DYAR terms for stripping the Cleveland CB of the ball after his interception. If you give Marshall credit for the completion and take away the INT, then Marshall's numbers are 7 completions on 9 targets for about a hundred yards and a TD. Probably still not enough to put him in the top 5.

9 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

I know the Rams d-line is really good so if not for Wilson's agility those numbers could have been much, much worse. Wilson was running for his life most of the game

62 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

As much as people say this kind of thing, and as bad as the Seahawks offensive line has been, I would say that some of the sacks over last season up to Sunday are squarely on Wilson's shoulders. He hesitates a lot and rarely gets the ball out quickly and efficiently to the receivers as the plays are drawn up.

I think the only plays he does throw in rhythm are the god awful bubble screens that Darrel Bevel has fallen in love with but haven't worked since Golden Tate ran them.

68 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

There is a play where Wilson misses on a pass to Jimmy Graham who is open 10-15 yards down the middle on the goal line. If you look at the camera angle from the goal post you can see that Wilson was not physically capable of throwing a catch-able ball to Graham. The ball cleared the offensive lineman's helmet with what looked like an inch or less of space and continued on the same relative trajectory until it was too high for Graham to catch. If Wilson were 3-6 inches taller with the extra arm length he could have thrown that same pass on a much flatter trajectory for a Graham TD, instead Seattle had to settle for FG.

As long as the design of the play is for an over the middle pass without moving the pocket Wilson can't make the pass. Those are the quick hitting rhythm passes that are the bread and butter that you are looking for in that analysis. For the deeper passes that he can hit in time and on target it requires better pass blocking then he received Sunday.
_______

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

85 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

That is a very good observation and one that I was questioning when they made the trade for Graham.

While Wilson is a good QB this is one situation where his lack of height definitely plays a factor on throws to the middle to Graham and whether he would be able to complete them on a regular basis. I suppose since Brees is also a shorter QB and made it work that Seattle feels they could do the same thing but Wilson/Bevell might want to check some old Saints film to see how they were utilizing him in order to get the most production.

98 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

I'm guessing it comes down to coaching philosophy. Pete Carol and Tom Cable seem to have some complete and utter disdain for pass blocking concepts where I'm guessing the Saints make more of a point at focusing on pass blocking for throwing lanes and timing routes and play design to said throwing lanes.

I think Pete Carol has a philosophical opposition to adjusting scheme and philosophy on a situational basis, and if he were not Pete Carol I would consider it a huge failing. He's basically the anti-Belichick in that respect.
_______

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

87 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

The same could also be said of younger Romo and younger Rodgers and maybe even still current Roethlisberger.

All four of these guys have always been great at extending plays, and each has gotten out of sacks that any other QB would take... but in holding the ball, trusting their feet, and keeping their eyes downfield, each has also taken a lot of sacks that could have been avoided.

Romo and especially Rodgers have really eliminated most of the downside of that while keeping the upside. Wilson will as time passes too. I'll still take the occasional extra sack over a throw that's an interception risk. These guys have, for the most part, avoided that. I guess there has just always been a visible difference to my eyes between these guys and others where I'm screaming at the TV to get rid of the damn ball with general disdain for the QB. I don't root for Wilson or the Seahawks and believe he absolutely has major holes in his passing game, but I still rate him with those great QBs, as opposed to say someone like Kaepernick, who I still view as an exploitable weakness by a smart coach/playoff team.

10 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

This is what we love and y'all still do better than anyone:
•Film breakdown T.Y. Hilton's big day against Houston)

•Specific statistical breakdowns of one player each week (Example: Andrew Luck's game against Jacksonville)

You guys do this well but so do many others:
•Full-season analysis (Marshawn Lynch's case for MVP)

Only interesting when it is interesting, I appreciate y'all running the numbers but I would say at least half the time the results in the tables I just gloss over as there isn't much there that grabs my attention.
•New metrics (Our attempt to measure "streaky" quarterbacks) --- ish, catch radius has been interesting I will say.

•Historical comparisons (Alex Smith's passing distance) --- best as footnotes

•Leaders in specific splits (Self-explanatory) --- best as footnotes

11 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

And speaking of offensive lines the Vikings o-line looked like it was getting routinely manhandled last night.

19 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

Which was about as surprising as a cold day in International Falls come January. Lemme see......a left tackle who has stunk for two years, a career back up at center, a left guard who up until now has always played on the right side, and a right tackle who was drafted in the 4th round 120 days ago. What could go wrong?

12 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

I like them all. But, if forced to choose...

what types of essays do you folks enjoy most?
Film breakdown
Specific statistical breakdowns of one player each week
Full-season analysis
New metrics
Historical comparisons
Leaders in specific splits

13 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

I may have missed the survey, so I'm not sure if this was an option, but for years I've wanted to see more than just the top 5 RBs and WRs, as well as more than just the bottom one.

Every week there are questions asking where so-and-so ended up, and why this player didn't make the top 5. Expanding to top 10, and maybe bottom 3, would probably eliminate a lot of tedious questions.

17 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

So from that table, the statistics/odds over the long haul say you're better off (slightly) if your rookie QB has a bad debut . Interesting........

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The standard is the standard!

14 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

I'm surprised Gronk isn't among the most valuable WR/TE with 3 TD, 3 first downs (including a 50+ yarder) and a drawn def holding. Or Edelman with 8 first downs and a drawn DPI

16 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

Well, it's not built in *yet*, but by the end of the season I expect any passing play against the Steelers that doesn't generate at least 10 yards (or a TD if within that distance) do be viewed as a negative play by DVOA.

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The standard is the standard!

15 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

I'm surprised Gronk isn't among the most valuable WR/TE with 3 TD, 3 first downs (including a 50+ yarder) and a drawn def holding. Or Edelman with 8 first downs and a drawn DPI

21 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

how does that compare to 15 out of 17 passes caught for 150+ yards including 20 yards on a third and 19 at a critical time?

We can all be homers and surprised our guys didn't get top 5.

72 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

It's homerism to wonder how 5/8 for ~90 yards and 3TDs compares to 4/4 for 50 and 2TDs? Or to simply offer surprise that it grades out as less?

101 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

Remember that it's DYAR, adjusted for the defense covering Gronk. On two of Gronk's five receptions, the Steelers left him completely uncovered. That comes in as a -∞ adjustment to DYAR.

22 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

For the survey: I like the film breakdown and historical comparisons in the introductory section. In the lower section, Quick Reads has given too much info on streaks with no context. If a QB averages 5of 6 on scoring drives and 1 of 3 on non-scoring drives, is that significant, or is it normal? If a running back having a good day averages 3.0 yards per carry when the top two runs are taken out, is that high or low? What is a normal statistical cluster, and what says something significant about a player's performance? I know this is Quick Reads, and there isn't room for much discussion, but I would like some context about streaks. Hopefully, the new streak stats will do that.

23 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

Which types of essays readers enjoy most: This reader wants the writer to determine what he thinks is good and interesting each week with the thought that this will result in better writing. I like the larger capsules on the top and bottom QB's but do miss the miscellany about the vast middle. Thanks for adding sacks and opponent, both improve the intuitive interpretation of the numbers (or will as adjustment gets added in).

110 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

I like the larger capsules on the top and bottom QB's but do miss the miscellany about the vast middle.Thanks for adding sacks and opponent, both improve the intuitive interpretation of the numbers (or will as adjustment gets added in).

Amen.

24 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

It's official. I like the Cowboys players more than I despise Jerrel, especially since it is understood that Jerrel's son has great influence now, so I don't have to hope for failuire in Dallas. A (hopefully) healthy Romo behind superior line play will be nice to watch, and Rod Marinelli is an easy guy to root for as well.

69 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

Agreed.

I like looking for my QB and a few others, and if they're at the top or bottom, I generally know why (though it's still nice to get some background). But if they are in the middle yet there is something hidden, like six consecutive first downs in an otherwise ordinary day, or a bunch of first down passes that get nine yards but their running game fails to capitalize in a loss (making us forget about the otherwise nice job on first downs), that's the kind of helpful and interesting.

26 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

I'm interested to see what DYAR says about the Manning and Flacco performances at the end of the year once opp. adj. are factored in.

Granted, Manning will be the only QB to face Baltimore with Terrell Suggs, but still me thinks those will be slightly less bad by Week 17.

Suprised Palmer ended up so high (that too may drop over time when the 'D' in DYAR starts to matter), but it is good to see him back and seemingly healthy. He has had one long, strange journey of an NFL career.

27 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

survey: I'd like to see some sort of high-level attempt to get statistics of dvoa/dyar/etc correlated to draft position.

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The standard is the standard!

28 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

My preferences:

Stats breakdown - deeper dive into one player's game
Film breakdown - relating film study to the Quick Read stats
Full season analysis - DYAR on a grander scale

The rest are either footnotes or belong in a separate article.

Over all, I like the new format if it gets the results out quickly and lets you think a bit more deeply about the best and the worst of the week.

29 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

My impression watching Pats/Steelers was that Brady's day was decent, but not in line with his best play. His reads were good, and he was moving in the pocket well, but I thought ball placement was an issue a number of times. Edelman had to double clutch a pass that was behind him; a couple of times I thought Brady led receivers into huge hits in the middle of the field, etc. I guess you know you're a silly spoiled fan when you look at a performance like that and say... meh, that was okay.

33 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

I think his stats say a lot more about the Steelers defense than they do about how well Brady played that day. It's easy to rack up the DYAR when the opposing defense can't execute any aspect of pass coverage.

35 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

How can you not try to cover Gronk? There's a supermutant flexed out in the slot, shall we cover him? Noooo, we've four hundred square yards of empty space to look after, let him go!

71 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

Yeah. They're going to be playing with fire the first time through the division, I think, with those three young interior linemen. (I have full faith in Belichick to have them humming along like vets by December, though.)

The Buffalo game is going to be very interesting. Dareus back and that talent vs those kids could be disastrous. But still, Brady can get the ball out instantly, so I don't expect him to get slaughtered back there.

The Pats will be better prepared than the Colts were, of course. The Pats are better prepared than everyone, always, but also there's now that onslaught on tape, plus they're just plain very familiar with the coach and even most of the Bills personnel due to the twice-annual meetings. So I think the Pats will find ways to move the ball. But it is still probably going to be very difficult.

I'm having a hard time trying to think of reasons that a team like that couldn't use a game plan similar to how the Colts played the Broncos last January. Just get all over the guys at the line, since that's where Edelman does his damage, and tell Brady to feel free to try to beat that pass rush deep. Their DBs aren't otherworldly but they're very good, and from what I've seen, they tackle (and suplex) very well. I could see Brady having a bunch of failed completions, maybe 3 sacks, a pick, and a tough day... and still being more impressive (to me) than last week and posting better DYAR against that D than anyone else might this year.

I'm reminded a lot of the 2010 playoff game. Rex did some creative coverage stuff that I think can still be relevant vs Edelman and Gronk and the big TE packages, but the real reason to my eyes that they won that game was that Shaun Ellis took over. And so they got good pass pressure without needing to go all Rexy super blitz happy. Excellent pressure with 4 is really the only good way to reliably beat the top QBs, of course, but if Dareus isn't out of shape, we could see him and Williams (and Williams) eating those young linemen for lunch.

I'm interested in seeing how Taylor does going the other way too. I like what I see of him but he's not someone I'd consider trustworthy against a smart defense when trailing and forced to throw yet. (Though, if Ninkovich is really a step slower as he looked at times last week, Roman and those skill guys could really key in on that and get big yards without ever having to pass...)

83 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

That's basically what the Bills did to the Colts on Sunday. Luck was inaccurate most of the day, so it worked well. Though I suspect the Pats won't totally give up on the running game in the first half like the Colts inexplicably did.

84 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

They sent the house a whole bunch of times though. A more effective strategy against the Gronk/Chandler/Edelman combo is going to need bodies in the short middle area that kind of prevents sending 6 guys all the time. But yeah, their response to the shorter passes and screens and whatnot, which was to wrap up right away, is exactly what needs to continue. Still, the Colts took more shots deep than I'd expect the Patriots to, even if they were being dared to.

I've always had this idea in my head about defending Gronk by having a second guy - not the DB lined up with him - moving forward at the snap and just blasting him like a safety would hit a defenseless receiver over the middle. WIthin the five yards, obviously. Like almost having the DB trick Gronk into thinking he won a free release against weak tight coverage, but then hammering him. The DB, having backed off, would then be free to do whatever coverage still needs doing (by then you'd assume Brady's timing is off or he has moved on) and/or the safety/LB can stay on him with the DB staying in a zone watching the flat or shifting to man on a RB if one is there.

Obviously there are ways to avoid and combat that once you see it coming - splitting him all the way wide, stacking guys, etc - but it could be enough to disrupt timing once or twice before they adapted. And would obviously be fun because violence.

I'm no coach and have no experience to be able to guess at new ideas (though I understand why current ones do and don't work) so I'm sure there are plenty of reasons why this hasn't already been done, but it's fun to think about. Would be even funner if there was a way to essentially let the back 7 call their own coverages based on where guys line up or shift, rather than showing one thing and then letting the offense decide on a play for it. (Seems like the Pats and Seahawks are the only teams that tend to have guys with the experience and communication for that though.)

86 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

I think what you do is run man coverage with the safeties about 5 yards off the LOS in short zones, and dare Brady to beat you with longer passes.

Sure it has the potential to backfire and give up some really long scores, but when you're giving up 13 first downs on 14 plays you're just losing slower.

89 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

That's what always infuriated me about the Dungy Colts. Bend but don't break (that often still ends up breaking) is simply not the optimal strategy when it means your league-best explosive offense only gets 8 possessions to try to win with. I'd rather be aggressive and try to force something and maybe get burned faster, because the more plays my dominant offense gets, the greater my advantage over theirs is. I'll take the variance on defense every time when the alternative is a low-variance clock draining demoralizing endless string of 3rd down conversions.

(Though with that said about aggressiveness, I'm still not a huge blitz blitz blitz fan either. I think Rex goes way overboard sometimes, almost like he's choosing mayhem/amusement over actual probability of success...)

(Although, with that said about blitzing... on the other side, I'd blitz the crap out of Taylor unless and until he proves he can beat it like a veteran.)

99 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

At this point I almost think I'd do what the Patriots did to Tony Gonzalez a couple years ago with the game on the line in the Red Zone and just stand two guys over the top of him and simply not let him off the LOS. If the other guys beat my team then so be it. It also has the advantage of using one of BB's tactics against him

104 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

Yeah that's kind of what I was thinking. Like an outside LB to hit him and another guy to run with him if necessary.

There are several disadvantages to this, of course, one of which is that it'd be a lot easier to run that way.

Basically, bracket Gronk and disrupt the timing so they can't still just fire an instant pass to a spot that he can just reach up and grab despite a double, be all over Edelman so he can't do shifty things at the line, and feel free to let Hooman and Chandler and [insert back here] beat you.

(I had forgotten about a close Pats-Falcons game (or was it back in the Chiefs days?) from recent times, however, but it makes sense if it was when Ryan was younger and had Tony as a security blanket read.)

115 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

Week 4 2013 Patriots won 30-23. If you go to about the 6:30 mark of the highlights below you can see what I'm talking about. The Patiots put Jerod Mayo and Jamie Collins right across the line from Gonalez on the right hand side of the line and simply wouldn't let him get anywhere. The did it for like 4 straight plays.

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-game-highlights/0ap2000000253054/GameDay-Patriots-vs-Falcons-highlights

124 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

"On Wednesday’s edition of Pro Football Talk on NBCSN, Rodney said the Bills should do what the Pats used to do against future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez. Rodney said that the Pats would put both him and linebacker Roman Phifer at the line of scrimmage, with the assignment of disrupting Gonzalez before he could get into his pass route.

Other possibilities include putting one linebacker on Gronk at the line, with a corner or a safety covering Gronkowski after he fights through the jam."

67 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

In the context of the media explosion and the Best Ever and Irrational Debate conversations, I tend to greatly downplay that game as well. His job, to put it simply, was not very difficult on Thursday night. In fact, with the exception of the INT, I thought Ben was the better QB that night.

But there are still only five other QBs that could reasonably be expected to be that good against even the worst D in the league on its worst day. Brady didn't have to go past his first read more than a few times and he didn't have to throw guys open or into tight coverage... you could even say the sacks were on him (tough call but I thought he had time to get rid of it on the one where the guy came unblocked). But still, he throws to his first read a lot because he has absolute mastery of his offense, reads the defense, and makes the right decisions quickly. He hits open guys 19 times in a row because he's accurate. He avoids risk better than anyone but Rodgers but still maximizes reward with the best of them. I'm not going to fault him for not being super effective deep because a) he's 38 and b) he has never really even needed to be. (Plus, he's worlds better at that than Manning is at this point.)

So yeah. Meh. But what glorious fortune to be able to view that as Meh.

32 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

Hmm, Baltimore has the least valuable quarterback, running back and wide receiver. I'm guessing that Denver defense is pretty good.

73 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

All anyone wanted to talk about was the Kubiak hire, but the reason the Broncos are better off is that they hired Wade Phillips. That man had no business being unemployed, and even if Manning is dead and Kubiak an idiot (I've never seen any evidence that he's not), the Broncos may well be favorites anyway because of Bum's son and that D.

90 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

It would be a most devious variety of irony of Manning has an average season but they win the Super Bowl because the defense is fantastic.

34 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

I'd like Vince to exercise his good judgement and write about what he thinks is interesting. One gripe about just doing the top and bottom five is that sometimes they aren't particularly interesting, do we really need to read more on Brady? I think I've seen quite a lot on him over the past fifteen years. I was hoping that Vince would have examined Bradford's vastly different halves.

As for film, lots of people seem to like it but if I ruled FO I'd put it in another column, maybe later in the week. QR has always been a stats column to me. So I'd have an FO-style nerdy, statty column and then a deeper dive with film and musings on a couple of players on a different page (maybe Long Reads).

And Hyde! I always thought that a zone game would be a better fit with Kap's mobility and moving the launch points will probably help slow the pass rush more than repeated five step drops to a static spot.

54 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

Agreed, I'd rather see Vince find 10 interesting QBs to talk about than the top and bottom 5.

Edit: although I actually think pointing out just how dominant Brady was is interesting. The Aaron Rodgers commentary was pretty boring to me, might as well have just said "he's good".

No offense Vince! Love the article and enjoying a new season of football.

57 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

And further to this, for the mid 25 QBs, a note about anyone "misplaced" in the table or of interest differing from common perception would be good.

For today's table, a note about Tyrod Taylor might be good (BUF QB in the top 10?), Andrew Luck negative passing DYAR, and a Mallett - Hoyer comparison would be interesting (positive DYAR versus negative DYAR for Mallett - Hoyer, what's up with that?). And by comparison, a McGloin - Carr comparison would not be interesting (they are roughly the same guy, with the backup a little lower).

102 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

I'm tempted to say "No, we haven't heard enough about Brady." But more realistically, Brady's not going to be in the top five each week. (And hopefully never in the bottom five.)

I appreciate Vince's commentaries no matter how much time he has to distribute them among various players. And the middle of the bell curve seems like a good place to avert attention.

44 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

Bridgewater's day might look better if the DPI on his perfectly thrown bomb to Wallace had been correctly flagged. I mean, the number of phantom penalties we see on DBs, then a guy virtually tackles a receiver to prevent the ball from literally landing in his hands for a TD and it goes unpunished. Maddening.

46 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

I am curious about the mechanics. Vince, if Bridgewater gets credit for a 50 yard DPI there, and loses all the rest of his plays on that drive, how much DYAR does he pick up?

48 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

Yeah, that should have been called. Maybe the official saw him bat the ball almost accidentally at the end and that's why he didn't throw the flag but Bethea had already mugged Wallace by that point.

52 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

I actually preferred the full list of QBs getting comments. I know it's probably too late to change, but to me that seems the most fair. You're probably going to see the same 6-7 players in the top 5 and same 6-7 players in the bottom 5 every week. As a San Diego Chargers fan (until they move to L.A.), the change in format just seems to guarantee that my team won't get any specific comments. I enjoy the intelligent commentary I get at FO, but I feel it's not my fault if my team performance is generally average and thus is excluded from weekly notes. We already have the Audibles at the Line where comments are only written for games that were watched, I'm fine with that. But please provide commentary for every QB if possible. Thanks!

53 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads (Column Development)

I, along with many others, appear to love the film breakdown of a specific player. I think I remember that there was a column called Cover-3 for that kind of thing, or was that specific to defense? Either way, maybe there could be a film breakdown later in the week of a specific player from Quick Reads in Film Room (Cian Fahey column?)

As for the rest. I am with a lot of others in that I have a certain order of preference (specific player in current week analysis, historical analysis of one player, season analysis of a player and then the others).

I do also like the new metrics but since I'm not great with stats I don't have a lot of feedback to give on tweaking them, although I certainly do enjoy them.

I also believe that writing about whatever was interesting from the week will produce the best material and so take my preferences as a grain of salt.

58 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

The first half/second half Tony Romo bit was clever, whether played straight or ironically mocking an already overplayed ad campaign.

59 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

One thing that always interests me, with regard to a qb who is at the bottom of DYAR, is how much he left on the field. Short of looking at each bottom dweller's team's all-22, it's often really hard to tell who least earned his pay, and who put up a valiant effort in a lost cause. Yeah, all, or nearly all, the bottom dwellers tend to be under duress from poor protection, and/or having to throw on every down because their defense is in the process of gving up 30 first half points, but it would be nice to know which guys had open receivers to throw to, but didn't locate them, or just missed on the throws, or who didn't make adjustments at the line of scrimmage, in the face of obvious mismatches with what the defense is doing.

63 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

As long as we're giving feedback. Can you move least valuable running back (total) above the most valuable rushers box. I think it flows better with the good bad good bad pattern.

74 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

I wonder what Forte's receiving DYAR would've been had he caught that walk-in TD he dropped.

So Baltimore had the worst QB, RB, and WR? Enjoy the Trestman era, fellas. We sure as hell didn't.

An object at rest cannot be stopped.

79 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

With all the focus on Peyton on Sunday, it was easy to miss another great veteran player who may well be hanging on for one season too long. Perhaps it's too early to judge after one game against a potentially great defence, but, similar to PM, Steve Smith looked his usual great self for the first half of last season, before he fell away in the second half, and Sunday continued that trend.

88 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

This is to address some of the offensive line comments from above:

First - I felt like every game I watched, aside from the sunday night game, showcased offensive lines that were pretty awful.

That said - I've been playing with charting data from 2009-2014 for some statistical work. Did you know the average pressure rate(omitting coverage pressures, kneel downs, etc) over the entire sample is ONLY 23%? And its remarkably stable week to week, year to year.

Take the Denver Ravens game. I subjectively thought the broncos o line was terrible. The 4 sacks they got were of the blown block variety. However, pff said his total pressure rate was somehere around 23% - which is really bad by his standards, but just average by league standards.

ALl that to say, I have no idea how we can tell which o lines are good, bad, or even awful at pass blocking, especially when the qb has so much influence.

91 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

"ALl that to say, I have no idea how we can tell which o lines are good, bad, or even awful at pass blocking, especially when the qb has so much influence."

Here's a visual cue.......

https://vine.co/v/eF3u0dWJvIL

....and I admit I posted it just for the chuckles....

93 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

Well I did say every game I watched week 1 except for Sunday night featured some awful o line play. Hard to tell which was the worst though. The vikes were definitely terrible, but Baltimore felt like they literally could not hold up longer than 2s or it would lead to a sack.

But yes, Minny's was atrocious.

97 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

Don't forget that James Jones also had a 3rd TD catch nullified by a holding penalty.

By the way, I think it's all good, but I have to say I like the "historical comparisons" the best.

Thanks for the commentary and keep it coming.

96 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

I am with the guy up thread who said write on what you think is interesting, since you have demonstrated good judgement on that.
Concerning the QBs and QR, if the choice is top/bottom five, or one liners for everyone, I choose door #3. That is, write on the outliers, that is those--wherever you have racked and stacked them on the list--whose numbers are different than what you would think looking at standard stats. For example, while more than enough has been written about Mr. TRB (Tuck Rule Bundchen), the nugget about what he actually accomplished with those consecutive completions was interesting.
Whatever you wind up choosing, please ensure it enables write-ups such as the Romo one above. I am seeing him with his arms extended and massive underarm hair and still laughing.
OT but speaking of commercials, I did not watch any of the preseason. When did the NFL change its commercial line up from Beer/Viagra to Fantasy Football gambling? Did they decide to target a younger demographic?

100 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

I'm having trouble parsing how Vince Young could possibly be graded as well above replacement for 35% completion and 5.3 yd/attempt. The comment below the table suggests that he's somehow getting a bonus for playing in garbage time. How does that make sense?

I checked that and double-checked it and triple-checked it, because yes, it looked weird to me too. But
quarterbacks who are down big in the second half throw more interceptions and give up more sacks, so the bar for success in garbage time is much lower. Young averaged 5.3 yards per play that day, which sounds terrible, but the average QB in that situation averages just 5.7 yards per play. And again, Young gave up no sacks or picks, which are DYAR killers. So, none of his (many) incompletions hurt him too badly, and he got extra credit for the big plays he did hit, especially his touchdown.

I'm surprised Gronk isn't among the most valuable WR/TE with 3 TD, 3 first downs (including a 50+ yarder) and a drawn def holding. Or Edelman with 8 first downs and a drawn DPI

Gronk was 12th, which is still very good considering there were 81 WRs/TEs with at least five targets this week. He is hurt by three incompletions, especially one on second-and-1.

Edelman was 8th. Take away his 5-yard loss, and he would have been second.

how does that compare to 15 out of 17 passes caught for 150+ yards including 20 yards on a third and 19 at a critical time?

Keenan Allen was tenth. Four of his catches were short gains with negative DYAR, and he was also targeted on an incompletion (actually an interception) on third-and-1.

I am curious about the mechanics. Vince, if Bridgewater gets credit for a 50 yard DPI there, and loses all the rest of his plays on that drive, how much DYAR does he pick up?

Well, the ensuing short completion and sack were were -22 total DYAR. The incompletion was worth -7. Changing his yardage from 0 to 46 changes that play to 28 DYAR. So that’s a net shift of 57 DYAR, which have put him in the Derek Carr/Jay Cutler range. Still lousy, in other words.

When did the NFL change its commercial line up from Beer/Viagra to Fantasy Football gambling? Did they decide to target a younger demographic?

It’s not that the NFL decides to target a younger demographic and picked out different advertisers. It’s that a different advertiser stepped up with more money. We’d see ads for Hot Wheels every week if Mattel offered them a briefcase full of cash.

Thank you for the feedback everyone, especially those who showed confidence in my judgment. It’s all appreciated and taken under advisement.

103 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

If the floor is open for feedback, can we please change the ordering of the columns in the tables? It does me crazy that the sequence goes (at the end) total, component 1, component 2. Can this please be changed to components first, and the summation at the end

106 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

Yes. Put the opponent next to the team, and have rush/pass/total (or whatever split then total) on the far right, possibly shaded as well to further stand out from the bold.

I personally would prefer to see YAR and DYAR separately too, but maybe that's a premium-only thing. I'm too broke to have ever checked into buying anything.

119 Re: Week 1 Quick Reads

"what types of essays do you folks enjoy most"

I like the variety. Keeps them from becoming rote. Further, in any given week one or more of those may have a more interesting case or angle and different ones in another.