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

Week 5 Quick Reads

Week 5 Quick Reads
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Vincent Verhei

I'm going to give you three quarterback statlines from Week 5 in the NFL. Can you guess which passers put up these numbers?

  • Quarterback A: 23-of-35 for 262 yards with two touchdowns, two sacks, and no interceptions.
  • Quarterback B: 13-of-19 for 209 yards with one touchdown, two sacks, and no interceptions.
  • Quarterback C: 22-of-35 for 266 yards with no touchdowns, two sacks, and two interceptions.

I can also give you some hints. One of these quarterbacks is a record-setting Super Bowl champion on the downside of his career. One turns 28 in a month and should be entering his peak. And one is a first-year player who sometimes struggled with ball security in college.

If you haven't figured it out yet, Quarterback A is Colin Kaepernick, Quarterback B is Jameis Winston, and Quarterback C is Peyton Manning. Sunday's game against Oakland was only the second time Manning has thrown two or more interceptions in a game without a touchdown since joining the Broncos in 2012, and just the ninth time (including the playoffs) he has done so since the Colts took him with the first overall draft pick in 1998. Meanwhile, Kaepernick and Winston threw three touchdowns and no picks between them.

The significance of all this is that Winston and Kaepernick, who entered Week 5 last and next-to-last in the NFL in total passing DYAR, both surpassed Manning in the season-long rankings, leaving Manning at the bottom of the pile. Let me state this clearly, because it's a remarkable thing to consider: through five weeks of the 2015 season, Peyton Manning has been, statistically, the worst starting quarterback in the NFL. This is insane to consider. Manning was 12th in DYAR in his rookie season in Indianapolis, and he missed the 2011 campaign with a neck injury. Otherwise, Manning has never finished worse than sixth in DYAR, placing in the top three 13 times (including each of his last 11 healthy seasons), and leading the league in DYAR six times.

Given that absurdly strong track record, it would be tempting to view Manning's horrible start to 2015 as a fluke of small sample size, and assume that he'll turn things around eventually. (If you've actually watched him throw a football lately, it would not be tempting to do this at all, but this column is about statistics, not film study.) Manning still has more than two-thirds of a season to go. How unusual would it be to see him bounce back to being an elite passer, or even an average one?

We went back and looked at the worst five quarterbacks in passing DYAR through five weeks of each of the last five seasons. We limited this to players who threw at least 75 passes in those five weeks. This was important, because it weeded out names like Matt McGloin and Jeff Tuel and Max Hall who were never meant to be starters anyway. We then looked at how those players fared in DYAR in Weeks 6 through 17, along with their final tallies and rankings in the DYAR standings.

Only seven of these 25 quarterbacks (28 percent) played above replacement level from Week 6 onwards. I've marked them in blue to make them easy to spot. The others either continued to struggle throughout the year, lost their jobs (quite literally, in some cases), suffered an injury, or some combination of the three.

Bottom-Five Players In Passing DYAR, Weeks 1-5, 2010-2015
Year Name Team DYAR,
Weeks 1-5
Rk DYAR,
Weeks 6-17
DYAR,
Full Season
Rk
2010 Sam Bradford STL -165 29 -21 -186 39
2010 Alex Smith SF -173 30 147 -26 33
2010 Derek Anderson ARI -180 31 -128 -308 41
2010 Brett Favre MIN -229 32 -62 -291 40
2010 Jimmy Clausen CAR -316 33 -444 -760 46

Year Name Team DYAR,
Weeks 1-5
Rk DYAR,
Weeks 6-17
DYAR,
Full Season
Rk
2011 Kyle Orton 2TM* -95 28 192 97 25
2011 Sam Bradford STL -112 29 -212 -325 42
2011 Matt Cassel KC -149 30 -130 -279 41
2011 Kevin Kolb ARI -154 31 22 -131 35
2011 Blaine Gabbert JAC -252 32 -759 -1010 47

Year Name Team DYAR,
Weeks 1-5
Rk DYAR,
Weeks 6-17
DYAR,
Full Season
Rk
2012 Josh Freeman TB -79 29 197 118 24
2012 Mark Sanchez NYJ -108 30 -486 -593 39
2012 Brandon Weeden CLE -209 31 -82 -291 34
2012 Matt Cassel KC -240 32 -113 -353 36
2012 Blaine Gabbert JAC -259 33 -10 -268 32

Year Name Team DYAR,
Weeks 1-5
Rk DYAR,
Weeks 6-17
DYAR,
Full Season
Rk
2013 Carson Palmer ARI -73 30 620 547 15
2013 Josh Freeman 2TM** -95 31 -81 -176 36
2013 Christian Ponder MIN -114 32 72 -42 31
2013 Brandon Weeden CLE -154 33 -289 -443 45
2013 Blaine Gabbert JAC -429 34 0 -429 --

Year Name Team DYAR,
Weeks 1-5
Rk DYAR,
Weeks 6-17
DYAR,
Full Season
Rk
2014 EJ Manuel BUF -53 29 0 -53 35
2014 Matt Cassel MIN -147 30 0 -147 --
2014 Geno Smith NYJ -180 31 147 -33 32
2014 Blake Bortles JAC -184 32 -771 -955 44
2014 Chad Henne JAC -249 33 0 -249 --

Year Name Team DYAR,
Weeks 1-5
Rk DYAR,
Weeks 6-17
DYAR,
Full Season
Rk
2015 Nick Foles STL -104 31 ? ? ?
2015 Jameis Winston TB -134 32 ? ? ?
2015 Colin Kaepernick SF -141 33 ? ? ?
2015 Ryan Mallett HOU -157 34 ? ? ?
2015 Peyton Manning DEN -201 35 ? ? ?
* Orton started five games for Denver before being waived and claimed by Kansas City, where he started three games.
** Freeman started three games for Tampa Bay, then was released and signed by Minnesota, where started one game.

Comments

102 comments, Last at 14 Oct 2015, 5:36pm

3 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

It crazy to think that, as bad a start to the season Manning has had, it would be 10 times worse if he didn't have two of the leagues better receivers to throw to. As bad as these low DYAR QBs were, most were throwing to jags behind awful lines. Manning is throwing to All-Pros behind an awful line.

6 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

I'd say Manning currently has one All-Pro receiver, one good complementary receiver, but beyond that - nothing. The third, fourth, fifth options in that receiving corps are below replacement level; either washed up veterans or complete nobodies. Now that's not a terrible situation for a QB - many have suffered worse - but it's a significant drop-off from the rest of his time in Denver, and is undoubtedly a factor in his decline.

7 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

Sanders finished #3 in DYAR last year (one yard behind #2 Jordy Nelson), is 28 years old and in his prime and seems to be always open, but Manning can't get it to him anymore. Yes, the TE is probably done and the RBs aren't anything special running behind a pretty mediocre line, but he still has enough talent that he should be in the top half of QBs in the league.
And they haven't even played a top 10 defense yet!

9 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

That #3 DYAR finish was a lot because of having Manning throwing him the ball. Sanders had done nothing close to that before last year in Pittsburgh.

Their line is a few steps below 'pretty mediocre'. There's really only two plus players on that offense aside from Manning, with at best average or far worse than average around him.

Yes, he hasn't played a great defense, but I think he played two defenses at their best, in Detroit (who came really close to beating Seattle before packing it in), and Baltimore before Suggs went down.

12 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

Peyton's stats for this week would probably also be a lot better if Hillman and Thomas didn't both drop passes in the end zone (one of which would have removed the first interception).

Daniels also seems to be playing really poorly at TE. Virgil Green must not able to either run routes or catch if he's not getting playing time.

43 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

Daniels has been so slow and bad the last few weeks that they might be better off taking him off the field and playing with ten guys just because Manning wouldn't be tempted to throw to him.

That's an exaggeration, yes, but wow has the drop off from Thomas (whose loss I thought wouldn't matter) to him been steep. I agree with the above people about the non-Sanders players, though at least we know Thomas still has it in him when he wants to (end of Detroit game).

I've never loved DYAR all that much but in this case it seems especially off. While certainly even bad younger players could hit throws Manning can't - and could still throw seven picks like he has - even a clearly diminished Manning is making (for the most part) better decisions, more accurate (but slow) throws, and doing far more in the offense than a replacement or even average QB. Visibly and obviously diminished and struggling to compensate? Yes. Offense on the whole a train wreck? Yes. Below replacement? No way.

I think Kubiak is a clown and Elway was arrogant to think hiring him and changing so much OL personnel would be a good thing, but even with that handicap I do still tend to assume that the OL will, at some point, begin to run block at at least a mediocre level and that that alone will make a difference in pass protection and in creating more winnable third downs. And yeah clearly I'm grasping at optimism here but I do think that'll be enough to make them at least good enough that you can trust them to get into the end zone a few times a game.

Now, there will still be good defenses that will be able to stop them by cheating up and daring him to throw it over their heads, so it's still quite likely it doesn't end well... but I still see enough good there in between all the bad to think it likely that they win some games with their offense.

78 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

This pretty much matches my analysis too.

The good news is Mathis is looking better, and the young kids on the oline are slowly getting better. Injuries didn't help that continuity this past week, by sambrailo should be back at least after the bye, and it was known from the start that the oline was gonna be sketchy at best in the early season.

The defense remains dangerous, and its not inconceivable that the offense can get back to mediocre as Anderson and the oline get healthier... or, more folks get hurt and the wheels fall off even more. Really, I say flip a coin... it could go either way.

4 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

Have you ever run the list of the worst 25 passing games by DYAR in Quick Reads? I can't find it. I'm curious to know if there has been a worse performance against the Packers than Foles'.

Foles' final drive reminds me why DYAR is a better stat than EPA. In EPA, Foles' 68-yard completion has more positive value (+4.6 points) than the end-zone interception that followed has negative value (-3.4). With the 40-yard cap, I imagine that the interception would easily outweigh the completion in DYAR. And that's how it should be. If DYAR could have seen with its own eyes the awful throw by Foles, I'm sure it would have deducted him extra.

8 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

Two weeks ago in Quick Reads we had the Worst Single Passing Games by DYAR from 1989-2015. Foles would rank about 20th on that list. Worst is 300 by someone I've already forgotten even though I only looked at it two minutes ago ...

5 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

and the worst since Teddy Bridgewater's eight-sack day against Minnesota in Week 6 last year.

While Teddy Bridgewater's performance did probably work against the Vikings chances of winning, he was playing against Detroit, not Minnesota.

10 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

Is it me, or are Peyton's stats a bit better than what you would think of as the worst QB in the league:

120-189 (63.0%), 1,234 yards (6.5 / 10.3), 6 TDs 7 INTs, 12 Sacks, 77.8 Rating

They're bad, but he just hasn't felt like the worst QB in the NFL. How much of that negative ranking is the Ravens game still dragging him down (and I'm sure that one won't look so hot when adjusted either given their defense since Suggs went down)?

For comparison these were the lines through 5 games for the closest comps:

Favre '10: 88/150 (58.7%), 979 yards (6.5 / 11.1), 6 TDs, 7 INTs, 72.1 Rating
Weeden '12: 112/202 (55.5%), 1288 yards (6.4 / 11.5), 5 TDs, 9 INTs, 64.5 Rating
Anderson '10: 59/114 (51.8%), 650 yards (5.7 / 11.0), 3 TDs, 5 INTs, 59.5 Rating

16 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

The median passer rating these days is 90.7. Peytons 77.3 puts him at #30, ahead of Tannehill, Kaepernick, Stafford, Luck(!!!), and Mallett. Of those five, only Stafford has anything close to the number of passes thrown, which is why the other four would still be ahead of Manning for DYAR (which is cumulative). Stafford has a large advantage in sacks (not counted by passer rating).

What's going unmentioned is that, by most measures, Andrew Luck is having a demonstrably worse season than Manning. His completion rate of 56.0 is atrocious, 3rd worse in the league, ahead of only Cam Newton and Mallett. His yards/attempt is 6.49, which is ahead of only the four mentioned above.

Clearly the worst QB that has had a significant amount of playing time this season is Mallett. O'Brien should just bury him on the bench. Hoyer may have a limit to his "upside" but he's significantly better at all the stats: 8.21 Y/A vs. 5.24 for Mallett. 62.1% completion rate to Mallett's 53.1%.

86 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

He only looks like the worst QB according to DYAR, which is honestly a terrible stat for evaluating QB's. Peyton ranks a much more respectable 24th in QBR, which matches my intuition of how well he's played. QBR accounts for dropped passes, pressure, air yards vs YAC, and properly adjusts for game context. DYAR fails despite being a fancy proprietary stat because it leaves out these vital components, yet is comically overfitted in things that don't matter. Does DYAR really tell us anything that ANY/A doesn't? Doesn't seem like it.

96 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

QBR rates throwing a risky 30yd pass to a double-covered receiver who gets clobbered when another receiver was wide open higher than throwing a 15yd pass in stride to that wide open receiver who takes it for another 15yd.

And I'm supposed to think QBR is a good system because why?

97 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

Because it correlates well with winning and a lot of other constructed advanced stats.

It isn't perfect, but it isn't terrible either. Generally the compiled numbers for a period of time do pretty well reflect how good those QBs have been. Sure there are weird single-game scores, but that happens in any system.

98 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

It's key to understand that DYAR is measuring production, not talent or level of play. This is a subtle but important distinction. QBR attempts to measure level of play.

99 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

I tend to agree with you on this. But then I see that Kerry Byrne, who is an absolute (and insufferable) idiot, opposes it... which makes me wonder if maybe it's not so bad.

Kidding. I think it was put together terribly and I ignore it entirely when it's used. I understand their intent, but it's a worthless stat. Not because it had Brady ranked lower this week, but because it tries too hard to do something no stat can do or should try to do.

(To be fair, though, there isn't any stat that doesn't at least give equal credit in those two situations you describe. PFF does their grades, which is a nice approach to have out there simply because we know it's observation-based... but having that as a counting stat is flawed as well.)

14 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

I thought Cutler would be higher. I figured the last two TD's and rushing would more than offset the sack fumble and completion pct. I'm guessing the adjustment for the Chief's D didn't help.

Also expected Bennett to show up on least valuable WR & TE's. He was absolutely awful Sunday.

An object at rest cannot be stopped.

22 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

I'm not surprised Cutler's bad three quarters outweigh his good one, but I will say that this kind of game is exactly what Bears fans need to see to understand why Cutler is still a better option than any available alternative.

This game - stink for two to three quarters, then throw one perfect corner route touchdown and recover from a bad snap to throw the game-winner - is the type of game Cutler, Joe Flacco, Tony Romo, Matt Ryan, Russell Wilson, and Eli Manning seem to have a few of each year. But your journeyman quarterbacks recover from poor starts much more rarely.

Disclaimer: this is anecdotal.

35 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

>this kind of game is exactly what Bears fans need to see to understand why Cutler is still a better option than any available alternative

I thought that was what Jimmy Clausen starts were for...

15 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

"it would be tempting to view Manning's horrible start to 2015 as a fluke of small sample size"

We're nearly a third of the way into the season. Sample size isn't the issue. Manning could certainly pick up his game over the next 11 games, but the change in data wouldn't represent fixing a sample error so much as it would mean that the underlying distribution had changed. He's thrown 189 passes already, and that's a healthy sample size for most purposes.

17 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

Fluke of small sample size is as simple as this.

Sunday

1. Manning throws a good pass to his RB in the end zone, but since he's a RB he makes a weird leaping motion and doesn't catch the ball. Manning throws a terrible red-zone INT on the next play instead.

2. Manning throws a good pass to Demaryius in the end zone, but he can't squeeze it with both hands on another failed third down.

3. Manning throws a good mid-range pass to Sanders, who was grabbed early on the play and couldn't come down with a very catchable ball. Manning throws an INT on third down on the very next play. That 2nd-down play should have been DPI or a catch.

That's the small margin between a potential 1-2 TD, 0 INT day and a 0 TD, 2 INT day. I saw someone with shoddy 2015 numbers like Cam Newton get the exact opposite break in his last game: gift-wrapped a red-zone INT to Lavonte David, who dropped it. Finished drive with TD pass to Ted Ginn instead.

Over 16 games that may not add up to a huge difference, but five games into the season, that's going to have an impact. Maybe Manning's still last regardless, but the number would be different.

I think the TD:INT ratio will sort itself out. The encouraging sign is he's still completing a good percentage of his passes, and his YPA has been above 7.6 in the last three games. His YPA has generally been fine in this slump that goes back to last year. The time to be seriously worried/talk about benching him was in the Colts playoff game and the Week 1 Ravens game when he overthrew every deep ball and every short pass was just suffocated by the defense.

But if you wanted to know what a 39 year-old Manning with diminished abilities and the worst RB/OL/TE situations of his career would look like, the 2015 Broncos are showing us just that. I also think Sanders has clearly outplayed Demaryius since 2014, and this offense currently doesn't have a legit third receiving option. The Cody Latimer experiment couldn't even get past the first stage apparently. Nice pick, Elway.

Edit - the other problem is the sacks. Manning's always made his advanced stats better by avoiding sacks, but that's not even working in 2015. He's on pace for his worst season ever. He's crumbling more than usual at the hint of pressure, as if he just doesn't want to deal with it anymore. And I think he's let this OL get to his head, which is why you see awful INTs like the one to Woodson before halftime. It's almost like he's pre-determining pressure and just wants to force the ball anywhere so he doesn't take a third-down sack. On first and second downs, he's just crumbling.

It's a one-dimensional offense right now, and even that dimension (passing) is more limited than ever. With this lack of talent, I'm not sure they can fix it this year.

19 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

i dont agree that 2 passes being dropped and 2 interceptions being thrown after said passes correlate with each other the pass after the hillman drop was horrible, it was overthrown. The second INT was a great defensive play by woodson but hung in the air a little too long behind the receiver. The TD:INT ratio i think is a little misleading of how he's actually played however, i think he's been below average not horrible about the same way brady played the first 4 games of 2014 but with a more solid completion percentage(if this team had the 2013 broncos defense.....). Its not time to panic yet i give 2 more weeks before i have to admit that this what he is.

47 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

I think it looked overthrown because Daniels got held. Not that he should've thrown it into that much traffic anyway, of course, or to Daniels in general...

Agree that the second one just flat out floated in the air like a balloon forever. (Still, had Woodson not hawked it, it would've been a dime, placement-wise.)

I think his struggles are distinctly different than Brady's of last year were, but I think they'd be of equal magnitude if not for the fact that the entire offense around him also changed for the worse as well. Watching them, aside from the run game and line woes, what I've noticed more than noodle arm-type stuff is just how many pass plays look OK but are juuuuust an inch shy of being successful. That strikes me as timing (though some of that can certainly be attributed to learning what to expect of his noodle). This is true on both the deeper shots - which strike me as much less symptomatic of physical issues than the ones late last year - and the underneath stuff that's not getting as much YAC as it should and thus has led to a bunch of failed completions. So the total systemic collapse has made his own personal decline a bit overblown... but there's still a dropoff. And I think that while there are reasons to think he and they will improve, there are many more reasons to think that improvement won't be anywhere near like the improvement the Pats offense had.

That's what my eyes see, anyway. While searching for reasons for optimism...

20 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

This doesn't really address RickD's point.

Of course a single game is a small sample size. However, five games is not.

The point is: while there's a decent possibility that Manning's numbers are average or even above average over the rest of the season, it will be because he plays better or his teammates play better. It very unlikely that Manning has been playing at a high level through five games of the season, but his numbers don't reflect that because of unlucky plays.

49 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

I also think Scott wasn't arguing that he was playing at a high level, just not a level commensurate with worst in the league.

I also believe that. I wonder how much of his negative DYAR comes from that first game against Baltimore, where after Week 1 it was at a -105 DYAR, and I'm assuming it has gotten worse now that some opp. adjustments are in. He played a very different Baltimore defense than, say, Josh McCown did this past week.

He's been mediocre at best, but that's a step up from worst in the league.

48 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

Indeed.

I would argue (and have) that his numbers reflect a level worse than his actual level of play... but I wouldn't call the true level "high," though.

24 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

You could argue the drops allow for a larger sample size. Manning still threw those interceptions, after all, and wouldn't have had a chance to, at least for the dropped TD.

What does his DYAR look like if you give him the TD to the RB and the completion to Sanders (or a DPI for it), but also keep the subsequent interceptions. I can't imagine it's that much better.

46 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

The first INT is -60 DYAR, the second is -31. The Hillman incompletion is -12. The Sanders incompletion is -8. The dropped Demaryius TD, which is a more likely TD than the Hillman play, is -12.

If you throw a TD on 2nd down, there never is a 3rd down INT. That's not up for debate. The tricky thing is the Sanders play. If we gave Manning that one on 2nd down, then we know he doesn't throw an INT on 3rd down to Woodson. However, we don't know what his next play would be as the drive continues. He might throw an even worse INT on his next pass, or he may throw a 2-yard gain, or he may just throw an incompletion and punt. So that one deals with too many unknowns.

Let's just do this. Let's keep the Sanders/Woodson 2nd INT. Let's give Hillman the TD, so the first pick doesn't happen and the game plays out exactly the same in the 2nd half. That replaces -72 DYAR with +8 DYAR, or a +80 difference.

That moves Manning from -55 to +24 for the game, or from Week 5's QB26 to QB16. That moves him ahead of Mallett, Kaep and Winston for the season (at least in passing DYAR). Like I said, that's going to have a bigger impact now than after Week 17.

The Demaryius dropped TD is only a +16 difference. By itself, Manning only moves up to Week 5 QB23. Added to the other part, he's +40 for the week, or QB13.

I don't have 2015 charting yet, and I don't think I saved last year's results, but dropped/defensed passes in the end zone are pretty rare. I know no receiver had more than two last year, and Demaryius was one of those guys with two (both coming during this Manning slump of course).

Re: #20 blan - no one said Manning is playing at a high level. This is clearly on pace to be his worst non-rookie season. This is about him playing at a league-worst level, which I don't think is true this season based on the way guys like Tannehill, Luck, Kaepernick, A.Smith, Mallett, Foles, Bradford, etc. have played.

RickD, we only know what he's doing on the Broncos. I'd like to think he would play better in any offense where handing the ball off is actually worth the effort, or where the TE isn't falling on the ground or wearing the defender like a coat on every target. I think Denver failed in a big way in replacing Welker and J.Thomas, which they probably didn't value as much since Kubiak isn't into 3 WRs and still thinks Daniels is worth starting.

51 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

That strikes me as kind of ridiculous that a dropped pass on 2nd down goes as -12 on the QB's tally. Especially if it'd only have been +8 if caught (and Thomas's a +4). (Though of course I understand that at that range, expectations even for a bad QB, etc...) It wasn't a positive play, of course, so it shouldn't get positive YAR (regardless of whose fault it was), but docking him more than a TD is worth for a dropped pass just seems... well, weird.

54 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

Well I just put a lot on Vince's plate, but maybe later he could verify those numbers. I'm not one for toying with DYAR gains, but I can read our files and see what each play is worth and I know the -12 and -60 (and so on) are correct. All the plays add up to the -55 we're presenting here. Then the only column I changed to play around with these plays was yards gained. It's possible I missed something or need to indicate a TD was scored, because I'm seeing Tyrod Taylor's 2-yd GW TD pass to Chris Hogan is +19 DYAR. So I'm thinking the TD would be worth more, so the swing would be greater than I already showed.

55 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

Cool, thanks for the mini peek behind the curtain.

So even so, a Hillman catch would've been enough to put him above replacement by the numbers. Presumably a non-INT incompletion would net another -12 or maybe more, so that'd have him negative but closer to zero... and thus we can still reasonably watch the rest of the game and his throws and conclude "not terrible" and not be in any disagreement with the numbers, since absent that single pick he'd have been measured as not terrible.

(Now, speaking of measurements of terribleness - even though it ended up reversed, there's got to be some way to assign about -3500 DYAR to Jameis for that idiotic backward heave. It's only fair. That's worse than McCown's double gaffe.)

56 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

Well, my statement would have also been true if "high level" were replaced with "average level."

The argument of whether Manning has been merely "horrible" or the "worst" seems to me to be quite academic. It would be interesting to estimate the 95% confidence interval for Manning's DYAR after five games (we should be able to calculate this estimate from the average variance of a QB's DYAR per game). Certainly the confidence interval would extend above several players current DYAR, but I doubt it would extend to even a league average level.

Edit: Furthermore, with all due respect, I find this exercise in changing negative plays to positive ones to be kind of pointless. If you took three negative plays from any QB's game and made them positive, then of course his game would be improved. If you turn an interception into a touchdown, his game would be significantly improved. This just goes to show how close the margin between victory and defeat can be in the NFL.

58 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

I don't find it pointless at all. Those are some of the biggest plays in the game and the impact they have statistically is significant. That's why dropped passes (especially touchdowns and interceptions) are one of the first things I ever charted, but I never had the time (or easy access) to every game.

Trust me, you'll rarely find examples where you can turn a drive that ended in a turnover into a drive that ended in a touchdown without really distorting reality and completely changing the play. We're just talking about a drop. It's not like saying "if he would have thrown to this open receiver" or "if he wouldn't have overthrown the receiver" or "if the receiver breaks one arm tackle, that's an 80-yard touchdown instead of a 7-yard gain." Always keep it simple. Dropped or caught. FG missed or made.

68 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

No, sorry for the confusion. I would like a histogram that depicts the DYAR on a single throw. So there have been 500 throws with DYAR 1-5, 600 with DYAR 6-10, etc. This might help us discover the appropriate methodology to describing the uncertainty in our measurements.

76 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

In the past, I've wondered a little bit about the distribution of DYAR (or any other counting statistic) per play. The most likely result is no discernible features but interesting features are possible. For example, there may be clusters of large negative and positive DYAR plays that are overlaid on a low background at those values due to the rarity a non-TO, non-TD play resulting in such large absolute values. If they exist, they may indicate that 5 games is still a small sample size regime. You could break the data up by down as well.

92 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

Re #58 Scott

Statistically significant has a specific definition in statistics, and unless I'm completely misunderstanding your argument, you are using the term incorrectly. In fact, you seem to be making almost the opposite argument: that all of Manning's plays so far (let alone three) is not enough to establish up to some statistical significance that Manning is the worst player in the league (an argument I agree with) or that he is having a bad year (an argument that I disagree with).

I find it hard to trust you that it is rare that changing a dropped pass to a caught pass can result in a drive changing from a turnover to a touchdown. If the dropped pass doesn't occur in the end zone, there is still a possibility that making it a catch could result in the drive continuing and ending in a touchdown. It's almost impossible to really know what would happen if you change a play. That's why I don't find these counterfactuals useful.

Edit: That's not to say that taking into account dropped passes or interceptions is not useful. Of course, charting dropped passes and dropped interceptions is quite useful for determining how a QB is playing.

If your argument is that Manning's poor rating is due to drops, that very well may be correct, since DYAR can't separate the performance of his quarterbacks from his receivers. However, pointing out a few drops is not enough to make that case.

94 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

Like I said, I don't concern myself with what would happen if a 5-yard gain at midfield was caught on third-and-2 instead of dropped. Obviously that play matters, but I'm more interested in definite results like a dropped TD in the end zone. We know what would happen there, the drive would end.

62 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

Well, in truth, it's all pointless. But if we didn't find new pointless things to talk about, we'd all have to do be doing work or something instead.

For what it's worth, I think Manning is only "horrible" as compared to his usual standard, but to your point about the line being very thin, I do think he - and by that I mean 100% just him as an individual - has declined far less than both the stats and the narrative say he has. The results, however, have combined to be horrible. But from watching the tape, there's reason to believe that even with QB play of a similar level, the results could end up getting better. (And yes, that's at least in part due to the thin line of luck/etc as you mention in 1-3 plays per game.)

67 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

I find these kind of "what if" discussions to be at least academically interesting. My question would be, if we are counting dropped passes should we include the three dropped picks by Kansas City? Particularly considering that two of them lead to subsequent 60+ yard drives and touchdown passes?

74 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

The drive in the fourth quarter? There was nothing even close to being an interception on that drive. Pretty sure the only thing that would be marked as a drop on that drive was Norwood.

79 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

I'll see what I can find, but I'm 100% certain it happened. You might be quibbling over how "catchable" it was or something, but there was absolutely a terrible throw down the left sideline that a DB got his hands on.

81 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

This dispute you guys are having demonstrates how difficult quantitative analysis is in football, absent very large samples, and even then the interdependency of player performance makes it problematic.

82 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

If a defender gets his hands on a pass, that would get credited as a pass defensed, which would put the defender's name in parenthesis in the play-by-play. None of Manning's incompletions on that drive, including a play negated by penalty, have a PD.

60 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

When you say "failed in a big way in replacing Welker", do you mean replacing the idea of Wes Welker? Because he wasn't very good last year and was injured part of the time. They are definitely lacking without Julius Thomas, not the least because Daniels doesn't seem any better at blocking and we know Julius was allergic to it.

What I find interesting is how fast a lot of people backpedaled from the "it doesn't matter who plays O-Line for Peyton" theory. The line has led to a lot more of him throwing balls off his back foot to receivers who aren't getting open anyway.

61 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

Who plays in front of a 39 year old Peyton Manning is probably a lot more important than who plays in front of a 35 year old Peyton Manning. Especially when he gets a receiver downgrade at the same time.

(and from what I've seen of Gase in Chicago vs Kubiak in Denver a coaching downgrade as well)

36 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

He's thrown 189 passes. You're showing random effects on three passes. If those were the only passes, then yes, "small sample size" could be considered a factor, or even if Sunday's game was the only game. But when you get up near 200 passes, or 1/3 of the entire season, "small sample size" is not the situation any longer.

If you want to say that Manning's supporting cast is worse than he's used to, I wouldn't disagree. But few people have had the luxury of having the WRs to throw to over the course of their careers that Manning has had.

If we put him in a Redskins' uniform, would he be doing any better? Or Titans or Bears or any of a dozen other teams?

52 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

But those YAR swings in even just those three passes - or even in just the one Hillman situation - still DO swing that final DYAR number significantly - just as he says. Enough to take him from the bottom of the pile to somewhere that seems to strike us all as more in line with what we're seeing with our eyes, aka bad but not terrible.

So yes, if his Hillman 2nd-3rd down example can make that much of a difference in the overall figure through five games, that means that the sample is small enough that two plays can swing it greatly. It's larger than one game, of course (by five times!), but for the purposes of this discussion, Scott's right.

90 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

I don't know that there necessarily is one. I think Scott's analysis of alternative situations was very useful in understanding what's happening with DYAR and would have been better to include in the article than the Peyton is the worst narrative (he's still doing poorly). We don't really have a lot of insight in the DYAR calculation so it's hard to assess it's strengths and limitations. If it's going to be used as a comparison stat then it's important to give some insight into what's influencing the values.

91 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

Well here's the thing. I don't believe there is a good stat at all to discuss specific player performance in football.

I believe DYAR does a reasonable capturing production and so far Manning has produced very little.

93 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

I think any stat would see big swings when you're talking about one game and you're looking at TD and INT numbers.

If we used passer rating and again just changed that sequence before halftime
Actual: 22/35 for 266 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT, 62.3 PR
Adjusted: 23/34 for 275 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 89.7 PR

+27.4 is going to stand out to anyone. I have no insight into what changing a play would do to QBR, which would also be very informative to us all.

And at the same time, you could argue Denver not making these catches and Manning throwing that INT is why this offense is bad this season. They're not making the plays they should, even though we're seeing them fail at just the slimmest of margins. Maybe that's an encouraging sign they'll start making those plays going forward. The opportunities have been there, and it's hard to see a talented offense not score a touchdown in two games without there being some close plays like this. Manning had a pass just off of Sanders' fingertips in Week 1 vs. Baltimore. I wouldn't call that a drop, but it's just another example of how this offense is so slightly off the mark from making plays this year. They're not as bad off as some Jimmy Clausen punt-fest.

95 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

Well yeah maybe but Thomas at least is catching passes at the same rate he has for the last several years. (though Sanders is down from last year) He's a ~65% this year, he was at ~60% last year and ~65% the two years before that. It is what it is and sadly, it doesn't look good for Peyton.

18 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

We (rightfully) talk a lot about Peyton and AP, but what the heck is behind Chris Johnson's resurgence this season?

21 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

Was he ever that bad to begin with? I think CJ's decline was fairly overrated. It's not like he's been surrounded by a lot of complimentary talent in his career.

2013 was the only year of his career under 4 YPA (with 3.9), and he had 1400 total yards and 10 TDs.

Last year he was mired on the Jets offense, but still had a respectable 4.3 YPA. Cursory look at raw stats shows they were very similar to Chris Ivory, though with a bit less playing time. I assume that Ivory would have had a better success rate due to their relative running styles. In any case, CJ was healthy and looks like he would have had a 7th straight 1000 yard season if he hadn't been part of a committee.

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Better offensive line? CJ always seemed like one of those guys who would either go down early with contact, or run a really long way. Is he just getting better holes in AZ, and therefore not dealing with initial contact as quickly?

30 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

That's my thought.

It has always seemed to me that his primary skill is turning what should be 10 yard runs into long TDs. Behind a bad line he never gets into that position where he can make a hard cut and outrun someone.

32 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

I think Johnsons' resurgence has to do with working for a coaching staff that makes you work for reps. He was terrible last year, and blaming the offensive line when Ivory has over 300 yards through 3 games (he missed one) seems absurd. Perhaps the Arizona line is better, perhaps the box isn't stacked as much, but Arians probably told him he needs to work harder to get carries.

80 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

He's not the main back? For the past couple games, I thought Chris Johnson got most of the work, with David spelling him and coming in for goal line stuff and Ellington acting as the change-of-pace back.

84 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

Ellington was hurt for games 2, 3, and 4 after getting hurt week 1 making Johnson the lead back. Last week was Ellington's first week back.

I think the biggest issue is he's on a team where it is much more dangerous / harder for the safeties to crowd the box.
or
If you prefer, Palmer + Fitz, J. Brown much scarier for the D than Geno + Decker,? (Kerley maybe) or Ryan Fitz + K Wright, N. Washington.

25 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

Any info on where Le'Veon Bell ended up after 21-111-TD?

Steeler fan trapped in Houston!
Six Time SB Champs! ;-)

29 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

Hoyer-Josh McCown-Winston in the top five, Bortles right behind at #6. It's bizarro NFL week.

31 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

When Michael Vick is your qb, and your defense has been on the field for a huge chunk of the 2nd half against Phillip Rivers, in San Diego, it makes it obvious that Bell should take a direct snap from the one with 5 seconds left, in order to win the game. It's kind of funny that anyone disputes this, and so many who would are NFL head coaches.

40 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

Given that the NFL has admitted a clock error earlier when they let the clock run on a touchback, I don't think there's any moral ground to be had there by whining about the penalty.

41 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

Whose whining? I'm simply asking if they would have run the same play had to needed to use their last time out.

If I'm going to play moral games, I'd point out that the clock error would be a much bigger story had it happened somewhere north and east of San Diego. :)

63 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

Calling it a "free timeout from the official", rather than saying that "the Chargers committed a penalty" could be read that you think it was a bad call, and/or are whining about the call.

Granted, it could be read a different way too, but I can understand that sentiment.

39 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

Yeah, there was a disconnect to the "conventional wisdom" we heard from Tirico and Gruden and what stats junkies like Brian Burke were saying on Twitter. Some people are so loss-averse that they don't see that the call at the end was a no-brainer, and Tomlin made the right call. From that distance, a rush for a TD is far better than a 50-50 proposition. Any OT game has to be considered a 50-50 proposition. (If one team were demonstrably better than the other, they wouldn't need OT to win - not a rigorous argument but useful as a rule of thumb.)

42 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

What's disappointing about Gruden advocating a field goal (I generally mute the volume during a game, so I'll take your word for it) is that it completely ignores the concept of letting your best player(s) try to win the game, while trying to deny that opportunity for the opposition's best player. Even conceding that, say, Brown, is a great player, he still needs a below average player, Vick, to execute, in order to have success, either on the goal line (I've heard peope argue that the Steelers should have passed with 5 seconds left, the preserve a chance of getting a 2nd attempt at the td, or kicking for 3), or in overtime. Bell is a great player, and is 1 yard from success, not needing a qb to execute. Rivers is San Diego's best player. Gruden is advocating that having steroids era Barry Bonds sacrifice bunt a guy to third base, so a below average hitter behind him can get a sacrifice fly, in the top of the ninth in a tie game, is the right move. Ugh.

You don't even need to run the numbers to come to the strong inclination that Bell in a wildcat run is the best call.

(edited to convert "Rivers Phillips" back to "Phillip Rivers")

53 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

I think you're being (justifiably) a little harsh on Vick here.

Not that I think him throwing the ball would've been beneficial to their chances of scoring on that play... but I do think his presence, and thus at least the threat of a pass and the thought/act of having to cover Brown, would have made SD's job a bit more difficult and thus increased the likelihood of the score. (On a play that still should 100% absolutely, by design, have gone to Bell.)

I was watching at a restaurant. Thank god I didn't have to listen to Gruden... even though as a betting man I was hoping they'd kick.

45 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

I know it isn't the purview of this site (though it has been added to some of the charts), but can anyone explain to me how QBR considers Brady to have had the second worst day of all quarterbacks this weekend?

50 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

I take all QBR numbers with a grain of salt, but I'm not surprised his day didn't grade particularly highly.

1.) QBR hates sacks and he took five of them, some in pretty big spots, including one where he fumbled

2.) QBR tries to separate what a QB does on a throw vs. what the receiver does, and both his TDs came on YAC-influenced plays that when they parse it out may not have graded as well as a normal TD

Even here is DYAR isn't as great as the stat-line would suggest. My guess is the YAC vs. Air Yards is the main driver.

57 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

Number 2 is, IMO one of the bigger flaws in QBR. YAC is in large part determined by how well a QB looks off defenders, how well QB times the throw, and how well the QB goes through his progressions and determines which receiver is the best target.

The long Edelman TD was definitely extended by Edelman, but it was a 30 yard gain at minimum before Edelman had to make anyone miss.

59 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

I don't think they split it completely based on air yards vs YAC, but probably somewhere in between.

Anyway, its a construct of a lot of subjective things like that. Personally, I think it does a good job in larger samples, like season-long QBR numbers, but I'm very skeptical of single game results.

85 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

I disagree. YAC is mostly determined by the receiver, blockers, and defensive players. Of course the QB influences YAC through his ball placement and reading the coverage, but on most passes it's more about the receiver. Look at all the screens and checkdowns we see in today's NFL...do you really think the QB is responsible for those yards? Tom Brady is the most YAC-dependent great QB in the league, possibly of all time. He deserves some credit for puting his receivers in advantages positions, but scheme and receiver talent are equally as important. Personally I'd distribute the credit for Patriots YAC as 1/3 Brady, 1/3 Belichick, 1/3 receivers.

87 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

Frankly, I think we are all making wild-assed guesses about this stuff, with a gigantic dearth of relevant, measurable, observation to support our wild-assed guessing.

(edit) To add on,I look at the disparity between Bridegewater's QBR rank, #11, and his DVOA and DYAR rank, both #29, and I am left with the feeling that none of them are really giving a good picture of how his performance has been thus far, relative to other starters in the league. My guess is that the #11 is very marginally more accuarate, but with a disparity of 18 positions, that ain't sayin' much. I am left once again with the tremendous insight that statistically capturing the quality of individual football player performance in an accurate manner is really, really, really, hard.

69 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

Clearly having Vick attempt 30+ passes is a recipe for failure, but if you are going to start him (as opposed to some other generic back up) you might at least want to play to his strengths. Refusing to allow him to do anything other than hand the ball off and throw short passes for 52 minutes is not going to win games other than in the most fortuitous circumstances against the most inept teams.

The Chargers offensive line is indeed inept, and the Steelers were indeed lucky to be within one score at the time the game plan was ripped up and Vick finally took a couple shots down the field and finally, on the final drive, took off running.

72 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

I don't think that the analysis in this article is really that relevant to the Manning situation. I mean, all of these players except one or two has sucked throughout their career, so to see them sucking for five weeks is not unexpected and their improvement would also be unexpected. Only a couple of those QB's has had periods of decent play and a decent percentage of them showed improvement through the second half.

It's true that Manning has looked atrocious and his age suggests that there is a decent chance that he remains this poor, but his past history of high quality play suggests that it's not out of the realm of possibility that he improves and has a decent year.

Personally, I am pessimistic about him being above average, but hopeful that he can pull of average to below average and give the Broncos a shot. Mostly, I think that if the line improves over the season, this team can be good enough to pull off an upset or two and have a shot at the superbowl.

And as a Broncos fan, I'm glad to have a coach in Kubiak who has a good chance of developing Osweiler better than most could for the future and a good defense to play opposite of him.

101 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

Have you ever run the list of the worst 25 passing games by DYAR in Quick Reads? I can't find it. I'm curious to know if there has been a worse performance against the Packers than Foles'.

Two weeks ago in Quick Reads we had the Worst Single Passing Games by DYAR from 1989-2015. Foles would rank about 20th on that list. Worst is 300 by someone I've already forgotten even though I only looked at it two minutes ago ...

Yup. Here is that list. (Should have linked to it in Foles’ comment.)

While Teddy Bridgewater's performance did probably work against the Vikings chances of winning, he was playing against Detroit, not Minnesota.

Thank you. Fixed.

Also expected Bennett to show up on least valuable WR & TE's. He was absolutely awful Sunday.

He was quite terrible, which is why I mentioned him in Cutler’s comment, but not in the bottom five among receivers this week. It helps that all four of his receptions were at least successful plays.

Any info on where Le'Veon Bell ended up after 21-111-TD?

Just 16 DYAR rushing and -20 receiving, so -4 total. Only nine of his 21 carries were successful plays, and he was stuffed for no gain or a loss five times, including a 5-yard loss on first-and-10 and a 4-yard loss on second-and-15. His raw receiving numbers look OK (4 catches, 5 targets, 16 yards), but those four receptions were a 2-yard loss on first-and-10; a 9-yard gain on second-and-17; an 8-yard gain on third-and-19; and a 1-yard gain on first-and-10. None of those were successful plays.

102 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

Thanks for the link. I see a couple of Buccaneers QBs a quarter-century ago, playing against unfearsome Hank Bullough defenses, were even worse than Foles.