Quick Reads

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

Week 11 Quick Reads

by Vincent Verhei

Welcome to Quick Reads, Football Outsiders' column where we discuss the statistical analysis of individual players. And we're going to do exactly that, but before we do, we must look at the stats that some teams are putting up. Because team stats are kinda crazy this year, and that craziness is screwing with the perception of the individuals who play against them.

Let's take the Chicago Bears, for instance. Through Week 11, not counting Monday Night Football, the Bears lead the league with a -20.9% DVOA on defense. Nobody is really close to them -- the Buffalo Bills are second at -14.8%, and then nobody else is even in negative double-digits. (Remember that lower numbers mean better defense.) The Bears are most known for their ferocious pass defense. They have 18 interceptions and have allowed an NFL passer rating of 79.4, both the best marks in the league, and they're also in the top five with 32 sacks and eight forced fumbles on those sacks. By raw numbers, we do have them as the best pass defense in the league, but they drop to fourth when we factor in opponent adjustments. This is what happens when 30 percent of your games came against the Bills, the Jets, and the Cardinals, the three teams at the bottom of our pass offense rankings.

Instead, it's run defense where the Bears have been truly dominant. Their run defense DVOA of -33.5% isn't just the best in the league this year, it would be the best such mark in the last eighteen years, and the third-best on record behind the 2000 Ravens (-36.6%) and 1991 Eagles (-34.9%). Chicago has allowed only two rushing touchdowns all season, and they are giving up 3.47 yards per carry and 77.8 yards per game, all the best marks in the NFL. They also lead the league in several advanced numbers: running back success rate allowed (41.7 percent), second level yards (0.85), and running back yards per carry (3.25).

Thanks in large part to that run defense, the Bears have been one of 2018's best teams. Meanwhile, another of 2018's best teams has been blowing opponents out despite being catastrophically bad at run defense. Say hello to the Kansas City Chiefs, last in the league with a run defense DVOA of 15.1%. How bad is that? Atlanta is second-worst in that category at 6.2%, but they are closer to 23rd-ranked Detroit (-2.5%) than they are to Kansas City. The basic numbers for the Chiefs run defense are somewhat stunted by their own offense -- they're scoring so many points that opponents are frequently forced to go pass-wacky to catch up in a hurry -- but they have still given up 121.7 yards per game (11th-worst), a dozen touchdowns (sixth-worst), and 5.07 yards per carry (third-worst).

Their advanced stats, however, are a horror show. The Chiefs are allowing opposing running backs a success rate of 61.9 percent. That is not a typo. Sixty-one point nine percent. To put that into perspective, the single-season record for running backs with at least 100 carries was 63.1 percent, set by Gary Brown of the Houston Oilers waaaaaaay back in 1993. Brown was the lead runner on a run 'n' shoot team that led the NFL with 614 passes -- he might not have run against a loaded box that entire season. Kansas City's run defense DVOA isn't the worst of all time, but it's the worst in a long time -- no team has finished with a DVOA of 15.0% or higher since 2008.

This leaves us with a massive gap between Chicago and Kansas City, the third-biggest on record and the biggest in the last 18 years.

Biggest Gap Between Best and Worst Run Defenses, 1986-2018
Year Best Worst Gap
Team DVOA Team DVOA
2000 BAL -36.6% ARI 16.4% 53.0%
1998 SD -32.9% WAS 18.3% 51.2%
2018 CHI -33.5% KC 15.1% 48.6%
1986 CHI -25.5% TB 21.2% 46.6%
2008 BAL -28.6% STL 18.0% 46.6%

The Bears and Chiefs aren't the only outliers in run defense. The Houston Texans currently have a run defense DVOA of -28.3%. That would put them in the top 20 in our record books, and make them the best second-place team we have found so far. They're third in the league giving up 3.68 yards per carry, and tied for second giving up only five touchdowns. They are also in the top four in second level yards, open field yards, and running back success rate allowed.

You can see how extreme these three outliers are in the following graph, which shows 2018's teams sorted by run defense DVOA, along with the historical average ratings of teams in each slot from 1 to 32. This includes all teams from 2002 (when the Texans joined the league and brought the NFL to 32 teams) through 2017.

For example, as mentioned, the Bears lead the league with a run defense DVOA of -33.5% From 2002 to 2017, the average league-leader in this category had a DVOA of -25.5%. The Texans are second this year at -28.3%; the average second-place team had a DVOA of -21.6%. Thus, we see the Bears and Texans on the left-hand side, way below the historical norms for teams in their position. After those two clubs, things level off over the next 29 teams. And then we get to the Chiefs, who have been significantly worse than we would expect from even the worst run defense in the NFL.

(You'll note that Kansas City is the only team above the line, and the other 31 teams are all better than historical averages. This is a byproduct of the explosive passing numbers in the NFL in recent seasons. Defensive DVOA is based on the results of all plays, run and pass. We calculate run and pass DVOAs by filtering the play types, but every run and every pass goes into calculating the baselines. Therefore, as passing efficiency goes up, rushing DVOA will go down. The average run defense DVOA this year is -8.6%. That's right behind 2014, 2015, and 2016, but just ahead of 2017 and every other year on our records. Meanwhile, the Bills currently have a league-best pass defense DVOA of -16.1%; that would be the worst mark of any team that ever finished in first place.)

That's all well and good, but what does it have to do with individual statistics? As a result of these extremes, opponent adjustments for running backs this year have been insane. Here's a look at the ten runners with the biggest gains and biggest losses in rushing DYAR due to opponent adjustments this season. We're also showing the projected full-season adjustments for each player using the simplest methodology possible: dividing each player's total by the ten games each team has played and then multiplying by 16:

Biggest Gains in DYAR Due to
Opponent Adjustments, 2018 RBs

Biggest Losses in DYAR Due to
Opponent Adjustments, 2018 RBs
Player Team DYAR YAR Gap Gap/16 Player Team DYAR YAR Gap Gap/16
33-C.Ivory BUF 49 -8 57 91 24-N.Chubb CLE 31 104 -74 -118
22-D.Henry TEN 80 27 53 85 28-M.Gordon LAC 123 186 -63 -101
33-D.Lewis TEN -42 -93 51 82 26-S.Michel NE -10 41 -50 -80
33-K.Johnson DET 153 110 43 69 30-J.Conner PIT 46 94 -48 -77
25-L.McCoy BUF -24 -63 40 64 22-C.McCaffrey CAR 37 78 -41 -65
26-A.Peterson WAS 48 9 39 62 41-A.Kamara NO 155 194 -39 -63
30-J.Williams GB 66 27 38 62 24-M.Lynch OAK 16 50 -34 -55
34-R.Burkhead NE 19 -14 33 52 33-A.Jones GB 140 173 -34 -54
34-C.Hyde CLE/JAX -5 -38 32 52 27-M.Davis SEA 61 94 -33 -52
32-K.Drake MIA 46 22 24 39 30-P.Lindsay DEN 140 170 -29 -47

With the exception of Carlos Hyde (whose radical opponent adjustments may be the result of playing for two teams this year), every player in the left-hand table has at least 13 carries against the Bears and/or the Texans, for at least nine percent of their total workload. Poor Rex Burkhead only has 24 carries this year -- 18 against Houston, and six against eighth-ranked Jacksonville. That's partly why he's averaging 3.6 yards per carry.

Kansas City's effect on the right-hand said of the table is weaker, but still evident. Five of those players haven't had a carry against Kansas City yet, and James Conner only had eight runs against the Chiefs in Week 2. But Nick Chubb, Melvin Gordon, Sony Michel, and Phillip Lindsay have each had at least 15 carries against Kansas City -- that's more than 20 percent of the season total for Chubb, Gordon, or Lindsay. Chubb, in particular, has benefited from playing almost entirely against terrible run defenses. Of his 94 carries this year, 22 came against Kansas City, 20 came against No. 31 Atlanta, and 18 came against No. 27 Tampa Bay.

To put these numbers into perspective, here are the all-time single-season leaders and trailers in rushing opponent adjustments for running backs.

Biggest Gains in DYAR Due to
Opponent Adjustments, 1989-2017 RBs

Biggest Losses in DYAR Due to
Opponent Adjustments, 1989-2017 RBs
Year Name Team DYAR YAR Gap Year Name Team DYAR YAR Gap
2016 Carlos Hyde SF 204 98 106 1989 Thurman Thomas BUF 53 153 -100
2000 Jerome Bettis PIT 250 148 102 2016 DeMarco Murray TEN 42 140 -98
2007 Jamal Lewis CLE 149 47 102 2016 Melvin Godron SD 2 83 -81
2012 Adrian Peterson MIN 458 357 101 2014 Le'Veon Bell PIT 205 283 -78
2016 LeSean McCoy BUF 338 244 94 2013 Adrian Peterson MIN 60 135 -75
2012 Marshawn Lynch SEA 361 267 94 1998 Emmitt Smith DAL 257 331 -74
2012 Stephen Jackson STL 147 59 89 1991 Leonard Russell NE -151 -78 -74
2001 Corey Dillon CIN 73 -11 84 2015 Doug Martin TB 81 150 -69
2008 Jamal Lewis CLE -5 -85 80 1989 Christian Okoye KC 182 250 -68
2007 Thomas Jones NYJ -3 -83 80 2000 Tim Biakabutuka CAR -100 -36 -64
1998 Marshall Faulk IND 226 148 78 2015 Alfred Morris WAS -52 9 -61
2001 Priest Holmes KC 426 348 77 2008 DeAngelo Williams CAR 350 409 -59
2001 Stehepn Davis WAS 117 42 75 2014 Justin Forsett BAL 149 207 -58
2016 Isaiah Crowell CLE 169 94 75 2017 C.J. Anderson DEN 16 74 -58
2007 Frank Gore SF 128 56 71 1996 Rodney Hampton NYG -112 -55 -58
2016 Frank Gore IND 159 88 71 2005 Cadillac Williams TB 29 86 -57
2004 Rudi Johnson CIN 163 92 71 2008 Michael Turner ATL 155 212 -57
2017 Joe Mixon CIN 68 -1 69 2009 Thomas Jones NYJ 83 138 -55
2008 Le'Ron McClain BAL 137 68 69 2015 Jonathan Stewart CAR 23 78 -55
1996 Chris Warren SEA 57 -10 67 2006 Maurice Jones-Drew JAC 213 268 -55

We'll save a deeper analysis of those tables for another time, but for now it's worth pointing out that we'll likely see a number of names from 2018 here by the end of the year.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
1.
Drew Brees NO
22/30
363
4
0
0
264
264
0
PHI
The Saints had a 24-7 lead at halftime. At that point, a lot of quarterbacks would have gotten very conservative. Brees, on the other hand, went 7-of-8 for 157 yards in the second half. Every completion picked up a first down, including two touchdowns. That includes going 5-for-5 for 137 yards on deep balls after halftime.
2.
Andrew Luck IND
23/29
297
3
0
0
206
206
0
TEN
Luck's first third-down pass was incomplete. He converted all four of his third-down attempts after that, gaining 42 yards and a touchdown in the process.
3.
Jared Goff LAR
31/49
413
4
0
5
167
163
3
KC
4.
Patrick Mahomes KC
33/46
478
6
3
3
106
118
-12
LAR
Surprise! Thanks to a combined total of three interceptions, eight sacks, and four fumbles, plus 10 conversions in 24 third-down plays, the Monday Night Explosion fails to produce the top quarterbacks of the week. Not only that, but Goff and Mahomes fail to make our lists of great individual games or great shootouts. Yes, there were 10 touchdown passes and nearly 900 yards between the two quarterbacks, but there was still plenty of room for improvement.
5.
Jameis Winston TB
12/16
199
2
1
0
106
132
-26
NYG
Winston came into the game in the third quarter with Tampa Bay down by 17 points. He rallied them to a three-point deficit, but his first attempt on his last drive was intercepted to end the game. Even with that throw, he had the most fourth-quarter DYAR in the league. Each of the six passes he threw inside the Giants 40 resulted in a completion and a first down, for a total of 85 yards. And that's not even counting his 41-yard touchdown to Mike Evans.
6.
Aaron Rodgers GB
21/30
332
2
0
5
101
99
3
SEA
Rodgers led the league in first-half DYAR this week, going 12-of-16 for 214 yards and eight first downs, including two scores, with one sack. But he only threw for three first downs in the second half, when he went 9-of-14 for 118 yards with four sacks.
7.
Russell Wilson SEA
21/31
225
2
0
3
96
88
9
GB
Only Carson Wentz had worse DYAR than Wilson in the first quarter this week. Wilson's first 15 minutes produced a total of zero first downs, as he went 3-of-8 for 12 yards. But then only Philip Rivers had more DYAR in the second quarter, when Wilson went 10-of-11 for 101 yards and seven first downs, including a touchdown, plus a sack and a 48-yard DPI.
8.
Philip Rivers LAC
28/43
401
2
2
3
87
97
-11
DEN
Third downs in the first half: 8-of-8 for 176 yards and seven conversions. Third downs in the second half: 2-of-5 for 39 yards with one conversion and one interception.
9.
Andy Dalton CIN
19/36
211
2
0
1
68
55
13
BAL
Most of Dalton's value came in the second half. He only threw for two first downs in the first half, when he went 7-of-16 for 76 yards with a sack.
10.
Kirk Cousins MIN
30/46
262
2
2
2
54
48
5
CHI
Cousins was the league's worst quarterback on first downs this week. He went 10-of-21 for 97 yards with four first downs, two interceptions (including a pick-six), and one sack.
11.
Derek Carr OAK
19/29
192
2
0
4
51
51
0
ARI
Carr completed 8-of-10 passes when throwing to his right, but those completions gained only 63 yards and two first downs. Of course, those first downs were touchdowns of 5 and 23 yards.
12.
Matt Ryan ATL
24/34
291
1
1
3
37
35
3
DAL
Inside the Dallas 40, Ryan went 4-of-10 for 54 yards with one touchdown, one other first down, and three sacks.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
13.
Eli Manning NYG
17/18
231
2
0
4
24
24
0
TB
Manning only threw one incompletion, but he had six failed completions. That's not a ton -- Matthew Stafford led the league with 8 this week -- but it does mean he wasn't as efficient as appears on first glance. His success rate on all passes was just 50 percent, better than average but just seventh among qualifying quarterbacks this week. His success rate on completions was 65 percent; only Case Keenum and Blake Bortles were worse. And speaking of Keenum...
14.
Case Keenum DEN
19/31
205
0
0
0
22
22
0
LAC
Keenum only threw for one first down in the first three quarters, going 11-of-20 for 59 yards up to that point. But then he was third in DYAR in the fourth quarter, when he went 8-of-11 for 146 yards and five first downs.
15.
Matthew Stafford DET
23/37
220
1
0
1
21
20
1
CAR
Somehow, in more than three dozen passes, Stafford only had five dropbacks with less than 10 yards to go for a first down. He didn't do very well, completing two of those five passes for 30 yards and two conversions.
16.
Colt McCoy WAS
6/10
54
1
0
2
18
-2
20
HOU
McCoy came in with Washington down 17-7 in the third quarter. His first pass was a 9-yard touchdown to Jordan Reed, but he never got any closer than a two-point deficit. On third downs, he went 1-for-3 with an 11-yard completion for a first down and one sack.
17.
Cam Newton CAR
25/37
357
3
1
3
16
26
-10
DET
A good start, a bad middle, a good finish (except that last two-point conversion, anyway). Only Philip Rivers had more DYAR in the first and fourth quarters, when Newton went 18-of-24 for 243 yard and 14 first downs, including all three touchdowns, plus one sack. But in the second and third quarters, he went 7-of-13 for 114 yards (82 of them on one play) with two first downs, two sacks, and an interception.
18.
Mitchell Trubisky CHI
20/31
165
1
2
1
13
-8
20
MIN
Not a good night throwing deep: 1-of-6 with an 18-yard touchdown and two interceptions.
19.
Dak Prescott DAL
22/32
208
0
0
2
-29
-27
-2
ATL
Prescott spent a good portion of this game deep in his own territory and doing little to get out of there. Within his own 30-yard line, he went 7-of-12 for 51 yards with only two first downs and one sack.
20.
Blaine Gabbert TEN
11/16
118
1
1
1
-40
-40
0
IND
All of Gabbert's passes came with Tennessee down by at least 21 points in the second half. His touchdown came with the Titans down 38-0 with less than two minutes to go.
21.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
27/45
314
2
3
2
-54
-54
0
JAX
Roethlisberger's last pass of the third quarter was a 78-yard touchdown. Up to that point, he had gone 11-of-23 for 66 yards with more interceptions (three) than first downs (two) and -163 DYAR -- which, obviously, would have made him the worst quarterback of Week 11. But with that touchdown and the fourth quarter, he went 16-of-22 for 248 yards with nine first downs and 110 DYAR.
22.
Lamar Jackson BAL
13/19
150
0
1
2
-57
-19
-38
CIN
Where to begin? This was just the 42nd game in NFL history with at least 100 passing yards and 100 rushing yards. Jackson's 27 rushes (including kneeldowns) are the most in a game since 1950 for a player who also had at least five pass attempts. He's like a modern-day Joe Geri, who had at least 77 passes and at least 90 rushes in each of his three seasons with the Steelers in the '50s. And he only scrambled three times for 9 yards -- most of that work was designed. Now, as you can see, a lot of carries and a lot of yards does not always add up to a lot of value. He only had seven first downs, and a success rate of just 54 percent. He only converted on three of his seven runs on third or fourth down. He also had an aborted snap on first-and-goal from the 8 that went down as a fumble and a run for a 3-yard loss.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
23.
Deshaun Watson HOU
16/24
208
1
2
3
-59
-57
-2
WAS
All of Watson's big mistakes turned into scoring opportunities for Washington. Inside his own 30, he went 4-of-7 for 58 yards with one first down, two interceptions, and one sack-fumble.
24.
Blake Bortles JAX
10/18
104
0
0
6
-87
-94
7
PIT
When the fourth quarter began, the Jaguars had a 16-6 lead. Here is everything Bortles did in the next 15 minutes of football: 7-yard gain on third-and-11; sack on second-and-8; sack on third-and-17; incompletion on third-and-11; sack-fumble on the last play of the game. That's -44 DYAR in only five plays.
25.
Ryan Fitzpatrick TB
13/21
167
0
3
1
-97
-102
5
NYG
Fitzpatrick completed more passes to the Giants on second down than he did to his own teammates, going 2-of-7 for 21 yards with one first down and three interceptions, including a pick-six. There are three quarterbacks in the NFL who have thrown at least 11 interceptions this season; the Buccaneers have two of them.
26.
Marcus Mariota TEN
10/13
85
0
1
4
-98
-102
4
IND
In the half of football he played, Mariota never threw a pass in the red zone. On Indianapolis' side of the field, he went 2-of-3 for 10 yards with one first down and three sacks.
27.
Josh Rosen ARI
9/20
136
3
2
1
-105
-105
0
OAK
How predictable is Arizona's offense? The Cardinals had 17 runs on first down, but only four passes, and just one in the second half. Those four passes: one sack, one incompletion, and two completions for 22 yards, including a touchdown. Rosen also had an aborted snap on first down. Also, he did not throw a single pass to the middle of the field. Pretty easy to defend a quarterback when you know when and where he's going to throw.
28.
Carson Wentz PHI
19/33
156
0
3
3
-120
-121
0
NO
Wentz's only play in the red zone was a sack with less than two minutes to go. On second down he went 5-of-10 for 33 yards with one first down, one sack, and two interceptions. On deep balls, he went 0-for-7 with three interceptions, though an eighth deep ball resulted in a 16-yard DPI. Throwing to the middle of the field, he went 2-of-8 for 27 yards with two first downs and two interceptions.
29.
Alex Smith WAS
12/27
135
0
2
3
-125
-142
17
HOU
In his only red zone appearance, Smith threw an incompletion, then got sacked, then threw a pick-six. And then things got much worse. But rather than pick on a man when he's down, let's try to make something positive out of Smith's terrible injury. The Alex Smith Foundation is devoted to helping foster teens transition into successful adulthood in California, Missouri, and the D.C. area. Now would be a great time to make a donation.


Five Best Running Backs by DYAR (Total)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Kerryon Johnson DET
15
87
1
2/2
10
0
44
44
-1
CAR
Johnson ran for a league-best nine first downs against Carolina, with four runs of 10 yards or more, including a 24-yarder. That's a fantastic ratio (a little more than one-quarter of all runs have gained first downs this season) even though his other runs were awfully bad -- he was stuffed four times.
2.
Melvin Gordon LAC
18
69
0
6/6
87
0
44
10
34
DEN
Four of Gordon's runs gained first downs, including a 20-yarder, while he was stuffed three times. Three of his catches went for first downs, the longest a 32-yarder.
3.
Alvin Kamara NO
13
71
0
1/1
37
1
42
14
28
PHI
Kamara ran for just one first down against Philadelphia, a 16-yard gain on first-and-10, but he was consistent -- eight of his carries gained 5 yards or more, and only two were stuffed. His one catch was a 37-yard touchdown on fourth-and-6.
4.
Tevin Coleman ATL
8
58
0
3/3
27
0
40
26
13
DAL
Coleman packed a lot of boom and bust into his eight carries -- he was stuffed twice, but also had four runs of 10 yards or more. Two of his catches resulted in first downs, including a third-down conversion.
5.
Saquon Barkley NYG
27
142
2
2/3
10
1
38
31
7
TB
Barkley had eight first downs on the ground and four runs of 10 or more yards, the longest a 23-yarder, while being stuffed only three times.


Five Best Running Backs by DYAR (Rushing)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Kerryon Johnson DET
15
87
1
2/2
10
0
44
44
-1
CAR
2.
Phillip Lindsay DEN
11
79
2
4/5
27
0
34
35
-1
LAC
Lindsay, an undrafted rookie free agent, was stuffed twice, but he ran for four first downs, including a 41-yard touchdown.
3.
Josh Adams PHI
7
53
1
3/6
19
0
10
32
-22
NO
Adams, an undrafted rookie free agent, gained 6 or more yards on five of his seven carries, including a 28-yard touchdown. He was stuffed one time. His receiving DYAR is so low because he had three targets with 4 yards or less to go for a first down and produced two incompletions and a 1-yard loss.
4.
Gus Edwards BAL
17
115
1
0/0
0
0
31
31
0
CIN
Edwards, an undrafted rookie free agent, ran for eight first downs against Cincinnati, and each of his 17 carries gained at least 1 yard. Eleven gained at least 5 yards. (Side note: the Ravens didn't throw a single pass to their running backs in this game.)
5.
Saquon Barkley NYG
27
142
2
2/3
10
1
38
31
7
TB


Worst Running Back by DYAR (Total)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Dalvin Cook MIN
9
12
0
3/3
-2
0
-30
-12
-18
CHI
Cook was the inspiration for this week's essay. I assumed that anyone who could turn 12 touches into a total of 10 yards, with one fumble and six plays that lost yardage, would be a shoo-in to be the worst running back of the year. And without opponent adjustments, he was. WIth opponent adjustments? He doesn't make the bottom ten.


Worst Running Back by DYAR (Rushing)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
LeGarrette Blount DET
7
1
0
0/0
0
0
-23
-23
0
CAR


Five Best Wide Receivers and Tight Ends by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
T.Y. Hilton IND
9
9
155
17.2
2
89
TEN
Each of Hilton's receptions gained at least 7 yards and counted as a successful play, and six gained first downs. He also picked up 35 yards and another first down on a DPI.
2.
Tre'Quan Smith NO
10
13
157
15.7
1
67
PHI
Nine of Smith's catches produced first downs, including three third-down conversions. One of his incompletions was thrown by Taysom Hill, not Drew Brees.
3.
Mike Evans TB
6
7
120
20.0
1
64
NYG
All of Evans' catches counted as successful plays, and five gained at least 10 yards and a first down. We don't give him any credit for his fumble recovery touchdown, but if you want to, you could bump him ahead of Smith.
4.
Tyreek Hill KC
10
14
215
21.5
2
63
LAR
5.
Michael Thomas NO
4
4
92
23.0
1
53
PHI
Thomas' four catches: 30-yard gain on second-and-9; 30-yard gain on first-and-10; 9-yard gain on second-and-3; 23-yard touchdown.


Worst Wide Receiver or Tight End by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Devin Funchess CAR
2
8
39
19.5
0
-42
DET
Both of Funchess' catches resulted in first downs, which is cool and all. But his six incompletions included three failed third-down plays and a missed scoring opportunity on first-and-goal from the 4.

Comments

50 comments, Last at 21 Nov 2018, 4:56pm

1 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by djanyreason // Nov 20, 2018 - 7:57am

Something appears wrong in the Roethlisberger entry:

Pre-TD: - 163
Post-TD: 149
Total: - 54

As - 163+149=-14, something here seems to be off by 40

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2 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by dmstorm22 // Nov 20, 2018 - 8:37am

Edit: realize I misread. Yeah seems like a mistake

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20 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by Aaron Schatz // Nov 20, 2018 - 12:47pm

Fixing this now.

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3 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by Mike B. In Va // Nov 20, 2018 - 8:42am

So opponents have now learned that doubling Michael Thomas just lets Brees kill you with someone you've never heard of. Is this the biggest week for offense ever in the NFL?

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16 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by serutan // Nov 20, 2018 - 11:51am

The fact that Brees will take what you give him receive wise is one of the reasons he's a no brainer for the HOF when the time comes.

As to the offense overall, it would be

The night they drove old Defense down
And all the bell were ringing
The night they drove old Defense down
And all the people were singing.

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4 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by big10freak // Nov 20, 2018 - 8:43am

Pretty sure all those Rodgers sacks were on 3rd down and most were coverage sacks where he had time but said later he couldn't find anyone but plenty of images on the internet showed Aaron Jones in the flat with nobody within 5 yards.

Rodgers numbers look pretty good against Seattle, but sure didn't feel like he had a plus game.

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14 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by Joe Pancake // Nov 20, 2018 - 11:18am

But he also made some terrific throws. Both his touchdown passes were dropped into the bucket, as was his bomb to Adams.

As for missing open receivers, I suspect you could find still images of guys being open at some point on just about every play. The Seahawks didn't have a super quick-off-the-line pass rush, but they did a really good job of collapsing the pocket and not giving Rodgers any room to step up and scan the field for secondary or tertiary options. (When he was able to buy time he burned them pretty badly.) So, a bit of a trick-or-treat game for Rodgers, but I thought he was good overall -- a lesser QB and it's an easy win for the 'Hawks.

Incidentally, I've never really liked the term "coverage sack" as it's a combination of good initial coverage and then a good sustained push by the D-line. I think "team sack" is a better term.

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19 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by dank067 // Nov 20, 2018 - 12:33pm

Yes, still images can be very misleading. This is more of a general comment than about that 3rd down in the red zone in particular, but I often see people take a screenshot of the press box view and say "look how open this receiver is!" without accounting for how the players got to be in that position or how they are moving at that particular moment, whether it's actually possible to get the ball to the receiver considering the trajectory, etc. If you're going to look at a still image I think you at least need to also see what it looks like from the end zone view at the same moment.

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23 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by big10freak // Nov 20, 2018 - 2:04pm

Get all that (both responses). But not absolving 12 of his role not just in the last game but all season. He has openly admitted he is missing throws he typically makes. No, Rodgers is in no way THE reason for the team's struggles. Not even close. But he is a small percentage of the mix.

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25 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by dank067 // Nov 20, 2018 - 2:53pm

I hear you and I do agree with you. Between things like holding the ball (which he's done his entire career - maybe having lost a step due to injury/age is leading to more negative outcomes here) and calling too much of the play at the line before the snap, Rodgers certainly seems to be trying to do too much/developing bad tendencies. I wonder if some of that is also rubbing off on his accuracy, because otherwise his arm is still absurd.

With that, here's something that's driving me nuts - I've been critical of McCarthy for not making adjustments to the offense. But it's not that McCarthy doesn't adjust at all - compare their offense in 2014 to today and you can see that he's made certain changes like tightening receiver splits and using more bunch formations, a nod toward needing to give receivers some help getting open against man coverage, which became a major problem in 2015. As this season has gone on, they have worked in more relatively quick hitting play action and rollouts with defined reads to help get things moving. But it seems like they call those plays only on early downs. On 3rd down, which has been haunting them for weeks, they seem to fall back on the core things that they continue to struggle with. Save some of the new stuff for the higher leverage situations and break your tendencies!

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26 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by theslothook // Nov 20, 2018 - 2:56pm

That game was a microcosm of my feelings about Rodgers. Capable of surreal play and then long stretches of nothingness.

I mean - compare that to say Dak Prescott and you realize - something is definitely amiss with Rodgers. I know firing McCarthy has become the defacto answer, but what else can we say? I don't think the fault lies with Rodgers because he's still having plays where he's just unreal in what he does. Have to think a different coach will at least nudge Rodgers out of this morass

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30 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by big10freak // Nov 20, 2018 - 4:09pm

Yes. The following is my half-9ssed psychobabble of what is happening relative to Rodgers/McCarthy

1. Rodgers is smarter than McCarthy. This is not something that one can debate. Rodgers is smarter than his coach. On a lot of things including football
2. Rodgers does not respect McCarthy's intelligence in general but especially football
3. Rodgers is a football player and works to adhere to the football ethos that the head coach is the head coach
4. Rodgers is extremely frustrated with how his career has played out
5. Rodgers is tired of being told he's awesome; Rodgers wants to win especially championship(s)
6. Rodgers is sorely tempted to openly lead a coup against his head coach
7. Rodgers resists these urges and internalizes
8. Rodgers' internal struggles lead to him what can be termed erratic performance within games or over a series of games
9. Rodgers has a moment that allows him to focus his anger productively (R-E-L-A-X or "run the table")
10. Rodgers has had no such moments, the season is 2/3 done and another opportunity lost

Something is going to blow. I don't know how or when. But it's coming

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47 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by Sixknots // Nov 20, 2018 - 11:51pm

Uhmm, wffheew, now that's serious over analyzing.

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5 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by BobbyDazzler // Nov 20, 2018 - 9:15am

Interesting that Drew Brees total DYAR of 264 would tie Roethlisberger and Mahomes for joint-3rd best game by a QB this year, also giving Brees 3 of the top 10 performances of the season. All in the last 3 weeks.

https://www.footballoutsiders.com/quick-reads/2018/week-10-quick-reads

Has anyone ever had 3 consecutive weeks of playing at this high of a level?

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10 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by dank067 // Nov 20, 2018 - 10:49am

I wonder how the more conventional team measures stack up too - The Saints are averaging 48 points and 514 yards of offense in the past three games. That is insane.

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15 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by dmstorm22 // Nov 20, 2018 - 11:24am

That may not be the best stretch of a Brees team even.

The 2011 Saints average 44.25 points (42-45-45-45) and 570 yards over a 4-game stretch (Week 15-17 + Wild Card Weekend).

Of course, then you have the 2000 Rams averaged 46 pts and 517 yards for four straight games as well (their best three-games comes out to 47.7 and 513, almost exactly what the Saints did).

To me, the GSOT Rams are still the most ridiculous offense I've ever seen given their era. DVOA dings them a bit for the turnovers, but aside from turnvoers, it was nigh impossible to stop them.

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17 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by dank067 // Nov 20, 2018 - 12:15pm

Good stuff. That Saints offense was on a pretty unbelievable run at the end of that 2011 season - they were finally slowed down in the divisional playoff game, only able to muster 472 yards and 32 points on the road against a phenomenal 49ers defense.

Kurt Warner's stats in 2000 were wild: 9.88 Y/A, 21 TD and 18 INT in 11 starts, 311 yards/game, 67% completion percentage. Even in his playoff game that year (which may include stat-padding - looks like it was more of a blowout than I remember) he went 24/40 for 365, 3 TDs and 3 INTs.

I just looked up the Y/A leaderboard since I know Warner's 2000 season is one of the best in modern era. Sign of the times: Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has been benched on multiple occasions this season and will probably have the opportunity to go back out there and get benched again before it's over, is nipping at Warner's heels, averaging 9.62 Y/A. Goff, Mahomes and Rivers are all also averaging over 9 this season.

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22 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Nov 20, 2018 - 1:25pm

"Even in his playoff game that year (which may include stat-padding - looks like it was more of a blowout than I remember)"

It wasn't simply stat-padding. The Rams were in the midst of a furious comback. Except after they closed to within one score and forced the Saints to punt, Az Akim then muffed that punt, which allowed the Saints to retain possession and run the clock out. I have not doubt that if it weren't for that muff, the Rams would have come back to win that game, and then would have blown through a weak NFC playoff field. I've said this before, but it's really a shame that's not what happened. 2000 Ravens defense against the 2000 Rams offense would have been something to see.

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6 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Nov 20, 2018 - 9:40am

I know this sounds dismissive -- and it is.

But who cares about run DVOA? Rushing has never been less valuable under the NFL rules, and this sentence can be repeated with only a modification to the year for the foreseeable future (at least until the Breesy/Hill Rule circa 2021 bans QB motion forward of the LOS).

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7 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Nov 20, 2018 - 10:05am

Highly suggest you folks change your presentation of defensive DVOA, and express above average defensive performance as a positive number, the same way you do for offensive and special teams.

Expressing the best defenses as having the biggest negative is unnecessary, non-intuitive, and serves primarily to make the meaning of your stats more challenging for new people to understand.

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8 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by jtr // Nov 20, 2018 - 10:09am

In that graph of run defense DVOA, are those averages for the gray line from season-end values? Because right now we're only 11/17 of the way through the season, and it would make sense that values would be higher-variance than at year end. We would expect the values to have more outliers earlier in the season and then converge inward a bit as more data comes in. It could very well be that KC, HOU, and CHI just have some regressing to do between now and the end of the season.

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9 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by Will Allen // Nov 20, 2018 - 10:45am

I know Cousins received a large opponent adjustment, but seeing him at 10 and Trubisky at 18, in a game that the Vikings struggled to get to within 1 score, tells me how badly that the Vikings o-line is performing. Since 2009, they have had about 12 consistently good weeks of blocking, and that came in the first 3 months of last season. Even in Peterson's MVP season of 2012, the blocking wasn't consistently good, it was more that Peterson was that great. To say that I find this tedious is an understatement. I'd rather watch a decade of mediocre to bad quarterbacking (and I've seen plenty of that) , than 10 years of crap on the o-line.

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11 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Nov 20, 2018 - 10:55am

Minnesota: 14-22.
Chicago: 39-148.

I know rushing has little value anymore, but 25 extra rushes for 136 extra yards is a not-insignificant difference in offense outside of just Cousins vs Trubisky,

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13 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by Will Allen // Nov 20, 2018 - 11:04am

Like I said, they couldn't block 4 elderly nuns who are pissed off about missing the early bird buffet special.

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27 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by Bobman // Nov 20, 2018 - 3:35pm

Says a saucy young man who sounds like he needs a crack across his knuckles with a ruler to improve his penmanship....

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33 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by Will Allen // Nov 20, 2018 - 4:20pm

(shudder)

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12 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by Will Allen // Nov 20, 2018 - 11:01am

I thought Hasselbeck last night on Sportcenter did a good job of explaining (that we cannot see and the MNF game crew has no chance of doing) how pedestrian the defensive backfields were last night, particularly in not even coming close to concealing their coverages, and thus making the qbs' jobs very easy. Toss in the frequency with which guys were just falling down (was the field that bad?), and you get 10 td passes in what looked like a Baylor/Texas Tech matchup.

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18 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by Mike B. In Va // Nov 20, 2018 - 12:27pm

This is the second Rams game I've watched at the Mausoleum where there seemed to b a lot of issues with remaining upright. It's gotta be an issue.

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21 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by xMRNUTTYx // Nov 20, 2018 - 1:25pm

RE: The Bears rush defense...

There's been a lot of talk about Floyd's lack of sacks but holy shit that kid collapses on the run like few people in the league do right now.

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24 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by theslothook // Nov 20, 2018 - 2:44pm

I'm not sure any of these defenses, including Chicago, could consistently hold the top offenses under 30 points. That is the new normal and I am sad to see that.

There's been a lot of talk about rule changes, but there have been defenses since 2004 and 2011 that have been awesome enough to hold the top defenses down. Yes, some of them melted down in a game here or there, that happens - but I'm talking consistent effort.

I don't know if this is a one year blip or truly the new normal. Over the last few days, I've been running some time series regressions to get a general sense of the time trend for offense, but its been hard to pin down because of the enormous statistical challenges this time series displays. When you have no real sense of cause and effect, you need to be especially cautious with how you transform a time series.

But just eyeballing - you can see a clear trend path in the data.

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28 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by dbt // Nov 20, 2018 - 3:50pm

So, they've given up 38 to NE and 31 to Miami, but those were both with Khalil Mack injured. Other than that, they've given up 24, 22 and 20 in their three division games so far; nobody else has broken 20. We'll see what happens against LA but it helps (can't believe I'm saying this) that they'll be playing on the soldier field turf. Otherwise I can't imagine what is going to test them except maybe Green Bay in week 15, but Rodgers and McCarthy might be in full meltdown by then.

Would love to see what data you have so far.

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31 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by theslothook // Nov 20, 2018 - 4:11pm

Right now I am looking at total expected points via Vegas point spreads. One issue is - which series do I look at, weekly data or yearly data. Weekly gives you more data points, but then you have to seasonal decompositions and then the messy rule changes which may filter in time a lot faster(or slower) depending on which rule change it is. For example - the new emphasis(or change in emphasis) on roughing the passer leads to a high spike early and then petters out late. That will show up in the data, but without knowing its there, that can gum up your interpretation of the data itself.

Collapsing the data into years squeezes some of that out, but then the data set goes from 600 + observations down to 39 or so. That's been just one of a few different issues I've been wrangling with. I'll probably think more on it on my walk home.

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41 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by Steve in WI // Nov 20, 2018 - 5:24pm

And NE scored 14 of those 38 on a kickoff return and a blocked punt; I think it's probable that their offense would have scored some amount of points if they'd had two extra drives, but it puts a bit of an asterisk on the 38.

I'll be really interested to see what the Bears-Rams game looks like December 9. I just hope Trubisky is healthy.

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29 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by Joseph // Nov 20, 2018 - 4:02pm

I can't speak for other teams, but I will generalize regarding the top 3 offenses (KC, LAR, NO). The biggest issue any defense has stopping them is pick your poison. All 3 have young, speedy RB's, and receivers (including TE's) that are a nightmare to logistically account for. Each QB will spread it around to whoever is open, and all 3 coaches are well-known to be offensive geniuses (although McVay's resume' isn't as long as Reid & Payton). They each employ jet-sweep and option-type concepts, and have solid offensive linemen (i.e., there is no weak link to attack). These offenses are like the Whack-a-mole games at the arcade, except that the moles are constantly the "hard" level from the moment the game starts.
I mean, could you look at any of these 3 offenses and say, "They need to replace this guy ASAP"? I mean, Brees & Andrew Whitworth are getting up in age, but they aren't exactly dragging their teams down.
I would bet that defenses could have a 12th player (until the red zone) and these offenses would still be well above-average.

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34 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by theslothook // Nov 20, 2018 - 4:20pm

But beyond the top 3 - there are so many pass offenses that are good. Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Indy, SD - hell, I'm not ready to bury New England either. Hell, even the third tier of the Bucs and Bears seem better than your third tier defenses.

Lets pass Chicago - whos the next best defense that you feel can legitimately stall out all of the second tier group? Maybe Buffalo, and Denver?

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37 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by dmstorm22 // Nov 20, 2018 - 4:29pm

Still think Baltimore can.

Buffalo I guess, but they're so bad at offense it all gets a bit meaningless.

Honestly, Seattle may be up there, which is a testament to Pete Carroll as a secondarydefensive coach.

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49 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by Joseph // Nov 21, 2018 - 11:06am

Agreed--although on the 5 you mention as being very good (and I agree), I think that each has their issues that limit that effectiveness. In other words, I think an average defensive unit can limit them somewhat, and also will be helped by the offense committing an unforced error (penalty, drop, missed block, etc.).
I think most people would agree that many of the new rules in this 21st century have favored more offense. However, those of us who are old enough to remember the 80's remember when you hoped your offense could score 20, b/c that might be enough to win. Two weeks ago, that was enough to get blown out (PIT over CAR)!
My personal expectation for the Saints' D (my team) is that if they can force a turnover or two (including on downs), force 2 or 3 punts, and limit 1 scoring drive to a FG, that's probably enough to win the game. Anything more than that, and you get the Bengals and Eagles games. Less than that, you get a Rams game or the Rams/Chiefs game--although that scoring was partly driven by the 3 defensive scores.

To answer your other question, Jax & Houston, maybe Skins. Cards and Bills eventually would break down b/c of horrible offenses.

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32 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by dmstorm22 // Nov 20, 2018 - 4:16pm

The Ravens held the Saints to 24 four weeks ago, and it was 7 in the 4th quarter.

I don't think it is impossible, just very, very difficult.

Yes, offense vs. defense is as imabalanced as ever, but I think there are still good defenses out there.

Also, something will change. We basically said the same stuff in 2011, and then the LOB Seahawks came around.

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35 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by theslothook // Nov 20, 2018 - 4:21pm

That's true.

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36 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by Will Allen // Nov 20, 2018 - 4:25pm

Until the field is enlarged, continually larger and faster humans means defense will always eventually catch up with offense, until the rules are changed again to assist offense. Eventually, they may run out of rules to change.

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38 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Nov 20, 2018 - 4:52pm

Ha!

Next year at this time, it will be illegal to tackle the QB and Drew Brees will have 55 rushing TDs.

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43 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by tuluse // Nov 20, 2018 - 5:45pm

Presumably there is also a limit to how big and fast human bodies can be

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44 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by Will Allen // Nov 20, 2018 - 6:48pm

Personally, I lookforward to an 8 foot tall defensive end who runs a 4.05 forty!

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39 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by BJR // Nov 20, 2018 - 5:22pm

(Slightly rehashing something I wrote on the discussion thread earlier....)

Last night displayed that it is still possible for pass rushes to significantly impact an offense-dominated game. The Rams in particular were able to show the value of a consistent pass rush late in the game.

But whether because of scheme, or talent differential, both teams' secondaries were completely and utterly over-matched. And when faced with a superior pass offence it increasingly seems there is almost nothing pass defenders can do routinely to disrupt or contest, without conceding penalties. That is where the game threatens to become uninteresting - once 20 yard passes are being completed or drawing a flag more often than not, you have not got a balanced contest.

The gold standard for offensive domination/defensive ineffectiveness would actually be last year's Super Bowl, which broke the single game yardage record and featured no defensive play of any note until the final drive. Just offences marching up and down the field on each other, with defenses powerless to stop them.

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45 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Nov 20, 2018 - 10:57pm

It will last until defenses realize the path to success is to just blatantly injure talented opposing QBs.

Like chasing them into the locker room blatant.

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50 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by mrt1212 // Nov 21, 2018 - 4:56pm

Folding chair and "he has a family" blatant.

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46 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by Will Allen // Nov 20, 2018 - 11:32pm

I will stand by what I've been saying for years; the game would be better if contact with receivers was allowed for 10 yards.

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48 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by Vincent Verhei // Nov 21, 2018 - 6:18am

I have thought for years that full bump-and-run coverage should be legal again.

1) It would restore some needed balance to the game.

2) It would make things safer. You can't take a big hit on a pass over the middle if the defensive back isn't letting you get to the middle in the first place.

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40 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by Jose21crisis // Nov 20, 2018 - 5:23pm

I decided to look how many times teams have managed to pull off what Jacksonville did on that game. I looked on Pro Football Reference, teams that had a lead or had the game tied through the whole game but the 4th quarter, had a 10+ Point lead to start the 4th quarter, ran the ball over 35 times but passed less than 25 (I'm widening the scope a bit here, the Jags ran 43 times and passed just 18 times). From 2010 to 2018, only 7 teams have managed to do that, blow the lead, and lose the game. 4 of those times, the team had less than 100 passing yards (Specifically, DAL in 2000, TB in 2013, TB and SF in 2014 and JAX in 2018). All of those teams rushed for over 150 yards. 3 times, those teams rushed for over 200 yards (DAL again, 2013 TB again and 2013 SF) and one of those teams got over 300 rushing yards (2013 SF, with a ridiculous 40 carries, 355 yards, 8.88 YPC). This counts playoffs too.

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42 Re: Week 11 Quick Reads

by Vincent Verhei // Nov 20, 2018 - 5:38pm

Something appears wrong in the Roethlisberger entry:
Pre-TD: - 163
Post-TD: 149
Total: - 54
As - 163+149=-14, something here seems to be off by 40

Thanks to Aaron for fixing this. I think I double-counted that big TD in his late-game totals somehow.

So opponents have now learned that doubling Michael Thomas just lets Brees kill you with someone you've never heard of. Is this the biggest week for offense ever in the NFL?

In terms of overall passing stats, it was actually a down week for 2018.

http://www.footballperspective.com/week-11-passing-stats-the-stars-shine...

In that graph of run defense DVOA, are those averages for the gray line from season-end values? Because right now we're only 11/17 of the way through the season, and it would make sense that values would be higher-variance than at year end. We would expect the values to have more outliers earlier in the season and then converge inward a bit as more data comes in. It could very well be that KC, HOU, and CHI just have some regressing to do between now and the end of the season.

1) Yes. 2) This is a good point.

This is the second Rams game I've watched at the Mausoleum where there seemed to b a lot of issues with remaining upright. It's gotta be an issue.

Which is ironic considering this game was moved specifically to avoid a bad field.

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