Quick Reads

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

Week 5 Quick Reads

by Vincent Verhei

Like all great stories, it started with a simple Tweet. I pointed out that New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley was off to a slow start against Carolina and suggested that the Giants would have been better off picking a player at another position with the second overall pick in this year's draft. The Tweet was picked up by Giants fans, who were not terribly happy with me or my opinions. So of course I poked the bear, updating Barkley's rushing numbers throughout the day, which served only to fan the flames, until finally I noted that the most important thing was Barkley's health after he appeared to injure himself scoring a receiving touchdown at the end of the game. (It looks like he's fine.) Today, though, I don't want to talk about the pros and cons of social media interaction, nor about the finer points of roster-building methodology and the relative importance of various positions in 2018. Instead, we're going to simply look at Barkley's final rushing numbers against the Panthers and New York's rushing statistics this season, and compare them to similar inefficient but explosive offenses of the past.

On the surface, Barkley's rushing numbers this weekend are unimpressive, but hardly unusual: 15 carries for 48 yards and a 3.2-yard average, with no touchdowns or fumbles. However, he finished with -15 rushing DYAR, among the bottom five totals for running backs this week. That's because 104 percent of Barkley's yardage (not a typo) came on just two runs, a 20-yard gain in the second quarter and a 30-yard gain in the third. His other 13 carries went backwards in the aggregate, combining for a loss of 2. Twelve of Barkley's carries gained 2 yards or less, and seven went for no gain or a loss; only Ezekiel Elliott was stuffed more often this week, and he had five more carries than Barkley did. We can't just ignore those two big runs, however. Barkley had a total of 30 open field yards explained here on Sunday, among the top five totals for a running back this week. (And yes, as so many Giants fans were eager to point out to me, he had an excellent day as a receiver: four catches in four targets for 81 yards, two touchdowns, and 48 DYAR.)

This week was an extreme example, but the Giants have had a boom-and-bust running attack all season. They are now averaging 1.47 open field yards per carry; going into Monday Night Football, that's the second-best mark in the NFL behind the other New York team, the Jets. However, they have been stuffed on 28 percent of all carries, the second-worst such figure in football, better only than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It's still early in the season, but then it's not that early. I think after five weeks, we're all pretty confident in the good (the Rams), the bad (the 49ers), and the ugly (Tennessee's uniforms) of the 2018 season. There's no guarantee the Giants' run game will maintain a performance this erratic for 11 more games, but it's certainly a pattern worth monitoring.

We have offensive line numbers compiled dating back to 1996, and since then only two teams have finished first or second in open field yards while finishing last or next to last in stuff rate. One won't surprise you: the 1998 Detroit Lions, who were actually first and last in these respective categories. This was your standard 1990s Detroit season: Barry Sanders ran for more than a thousand yards (1,491, to be precise) while the Lions finished with a losing record (5-11).

The other team isn't quite as notable: the 1997 Raiders, who finished second in open field yards (behind Sanders and the Lions, of course) while ranking last in stuff rate. Oakland's leading rusher that season was Napoleon Kaufman, a player with whom I became quite familiar while living in Seattle. Kaufman twice led the Pac-10 in rushing and was the University of Washington's all-time leading rusher until Myles Gaskin broke his record last season. Kaufman was basically Ant-Man before Paul Rudd, a small man with the muscles of a giant. Just 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, he reportedly ran a 4.3-second 40-yard dash (which would have been good for a speed score of 108.2). In high school, he was the California state champion runner at both 100 and 200 meters, and also had a 24-foot long jump. The Raiders drafted him 18th overall in 1995, and though he played only six seasons and had just one 1,000-yard campaign, he had a bevy of highlight plays. He scored eight touchdowns of 50 yards or more (six rushing). He is the fourth-leading rusher in Raiders history, and his 227 rushing yards against Denver in 1997 remains a franchise record. He was in the top ten in rushing DVOA in 1995, 1996, and 1999 -- but just 34th in 1997, when his hits in the backfield outweighed his long runs. He abruptly retired after the 2000 season, getting out of the league with his money and his health and starting a ministry outside of Oakland.

The following table lists some other boom-and-bust rushing attacks -- all teams since 1996 that finished in the bottom five in stuff rate, but the top five in open field yards (remember that the NFL expanded from 30 teams to 31 in 1999, and then to 32 in 2002). These are team statistics, but each club is listed with their lead running back and his DVOA for that season (note that Jay Ajayi led the 2017 Dolphins in carries even though he was traded to Philadelphia in the middle of the year), along with win-loss record and playoff fate:


Bottom-Five Stuff Rate, Top-Five Open Field Yards, 1996-2018

Year Team Stuff% Rank Open
Field
Rank Team
Rush
DVOA
Lead RB* Ind.
Rush
DVOA
W-L Playoffs
1997 OAK 27% 30 1.50 2 -10.6% Napoleon Kaufman -8.5% 4-12 --
1998 DET 28% 30 1.28 1 -3.3% Barry Sanders -6.4% 5-11 --
2000 CIN 25% 28 1.12 3 5.1% Corey Dillon 3.4% 4-12 --
2001 PIT 24% 28 1.13 4 15.3% Jerome Bettis -4.0% 13-3 Lost AFC-CG
2007 JAC 23% 30 1.37 2 11.3% Fred Taylor 10.5% 11-5 Lost AFC-Div
2007 MIN 22% 28 1.75 1 14.4% Adrian Peterson -13.0% 8-8 --
2008 KC 22% 29 1.08 4 -6.3% Larry Johnson -16.1% 2-14 --
2009 SF 23% 31 1.25 4 -2.1% Frank Gore 2.9% 8-8 --
2010 TEN 26% 31 1.25 4 -9.8% Chris Johnson -7.5% 6-10 --
2011 MIN 23% 28 1.15 3 11.7% Adrian Peterson 10.4% 3-13 --
2011 PHI 25% 32 1.10 4 17.7% LeSean McCoy 15.8% 8-8 --
2012 MIN 24% 29 2.08 1 7.8% Adrian Peterson 24.9% 10-6 Lost NFC-WC
2012 TEN 24% 28 1.19 3 -14.0% Chris Johnson -11.3% 6-10 --
2013 SF 24% 29 0.98 5 2.3% Frank Gore -16.3% 12-4 Lost NFC-CG
2015 STL 23% 28 1.17 3 -6.4% Todd Gurley 10.0% 7-9 --
2016 MIA 24% 31 1.13 4 -3.9% Jay Ajayi 9.3% 10-6 Lost AFC-WC
2017 MIA 27% 30 1.07 4 -20.5% Jay Ajayi -5.1% 6-10 --
2017 NYJ 26% 29 1.04 5 -14.4% Bilal Powell -30.4% 5-11 --
2018 NYG 28% 31 1.47 2 -17.1% Saquon Barkley 13.2% 1-4 ??
* Running back with the most carries (not necessarily yards) on the team

First observation: man, that's a lot of good running backs! Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, LeSean McCoy, and Sanders are all former rushing champions. Sanders and Jerome Bettis are in the Hall of Fame; Peterson and Frank Gore (and maybe even Todd Gurley) will join them some day. Larry Johnson had a pair of 1,700-yard seasons for Kansas City. Corey Dillon and Fred Taylor had seven 1,000-yard seasons apiece. The fact that Peterson, Johnson, Gore, and Jay Ajayi each appear multiple times suggests that this isn't random noise, and there's more to being a boom-and-bust runner than statistical chance.

It might be good news for the Giants that runners like Barkley tend to have long, productive careers, but the results of these seasons don't offer much hope that New York will win many more games this season. The 18 prior teams in this table had an average rush offense DVOA of 0.3%, and their lead runners had an average individual rushing DVOA of -1.7%. More importantly, their combined win-loss record was just 128-160 (0.444). Only five made the playoffs, combining for a 4-5 postseason record and no Super Bowl appearances.

Which brings me back to the point I was trying to make with my Barkley Tweet in the first place: It's fine and dandy to have a premium running back ripping off the occasional highlight-reel run. But if your offensive line lets that runner get stuffed too often, none of those highlights will come in January.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
1.
Philip Rivers LAC
22/27
339
2
0
1
183
183
0
OAK
First four drives: 6-of-10 for 57 yards with three first downs and one sack. Rest of the game: 16-of-17 for 282 yards and 10 first downs, including two scores.
2.
Drew Brees NO
26/29
363
3
0
2
178
187
-8
WAS
3.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
19/29
250
3
1
0
115
109
6
ATL
Almost all the success Roethisberger had in this game came throwing to his left (3-of-5 for 67 yards, plus a 38-yard DPI) or middle (11-of-13 for 141 yards with one interception) of the field. To the right, he was just 5-of-11 for 42 yards.
4.
Jared Goff LAR
23/32
321
1
2
1
111
105
6
SEA
Is there some kind of burial ground around the 35-yard line(s) at CenturyLink Field that stopped Goff from performing? Up to that point he went 18-of-22 for 298 yards. Inside of that point, he went 5-of-10 for 23 yards with one touchdown, one 5-yard DPI, one sack-fumble, and one interception. (His other interception came on a Hail Mary at the end of the first half and is counted as an incompletion for DVOA/DYAR purposes.)
5.
Aaron Rodgers GB
33/52
442
3
0
4
105
96
9
DET
We might not be talking about Mason Crosby's missed field goals if Rodgers had played better on third downs, where he went 4-of-7 for 60 yards, one 21-yard DPI, one sack-fumble, one intentional grounding, and only three conversions.
6.
Tom Brady NE
34/44
341
3
2
0
102
98
4
IND
On throws up the middle, Brady went 11-of-14 for 148 yards with nine first downs (including a touchdown) and one interception.
7.
Russell Wilson SEA
13/21
198
3
0
2
81
81
0
LAR
In Week 4, Wilson's average depth of target was 5.7 yards, third-lowest among starting quarterbacks. In Week 5 that average doubled to 11.4, highest in the league.
8.
Deshaun Watson HOU
33/44
375
1
1
1
78
85
-7
DAL
Quarterbacks have scored 62 touchdowns on 147 dropbacks inside the opponents' 5-yard line this season, a rate of 42 percent. Watson had six dropbacks inside the Dallas 5: four incompletions, one sack, and one 1-yard touchdown.
9.
Kirk Cousins MIN
30/37
301
1
0
1
78
77
1
PHI
I know Minnesota won, but I question the mindset of guaranteeing a quarterback $84 million and then almost never letting him throw downfield. Only two of his passes in the first half traveled more than 8 yards downfield; both were incomplete. Then his first pass of the second half was a deep ball completed to Adam Thielen for a 68-yard gain.
10.
Case Keenum DEN
35/51
377
2
1
4
77
77
0
NYJ
Red zone passing: 5-of-11 for 32 yards with one touchdown, one other first down, and one interception (though that came on the last play of the game with Denver down by 18, and we're counting it as a Hail Mary so as not to overly punish him for it).
11.
Carson Wentz PHI
25/34
311
2
0
3
69
62
7
MIN
Wentz only threw five passes up the middle against Minnesota, but he completed four of them for 89 yards, with every completion picking up 15 yards and a first down. So ... why did he only throw five passes up the middle?
12.
Patrick Mahomes KC
22/38
313
0
2
1
59
44
15
JAX
First four third-down dropbacks: 4-for-4, 74 yards, four conversions. Last five third-down dropbacks: 0-for-4, two interceptions, one sack, no conversions.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
13.
Eli Manning NYG
22/36
326
2
2
1
36
36
0
CAR
Manning's last pass of the third quarter and first pass of the fourth were both intercepted. At that point he was at -63 DYAR, which would have been in the bottom five for the week. Then he caught fire, completing each of his last five passes for 108 yards and four first downs, including two touchdowns that briefly put New York back in front. Briefly.
14.
Matthew Stafford DET
14/26
183
2
0
3
25
25
0
GB
Is the run-and-shoot back in Detroit? Stafford threw only one pass to a tight end; it was incomplete. The Lions have thrown only 15 passes to tight ends this season, the fewest in the league.
15.
Andrew Luck IND
38/59
365
3
2
1
18
18
0
NE
Deep balls: 6-of-14 for 132 yards. Miami's Ryan Tannehill only has six completions on deep balls all season.
16.
Derek Carr OAK
24/31
268
1
1
3
10
9
0
LAC
Think Derwin James has had an impact on the Chargers' defense? Throwing up the middle, Carr went 8-of-11 for 82 yards, but only three first downs and one interception. Also:
17.
Andy Dalton CIN
20/30
248
1
1
2
6
10
-4
MIA
Deep balls: 5-of-6 for 116 yards and a touchdown.
18.
Baker Mayfield CLE
25/42
342
1
1
5
5
-3
8
BAL
On throws to the middle of the field, Mayfield went 4-of-8 for 26 yards with as many first downs (one) as interceptions.
19.
Matt Ryan ATL
26/38
285
1
0
6
3
0
4
PIT
It's rare to see Ryan on the ground this often -- this is the most times he has been sacked in a game since a 34-3 loss to Carolina in the last week of 2014.
20.
Sam Darnold NYJ
10/22
198
3
1
1
-1
-4
2
DEN
Feast-or-famine for Darnold on third downs. He only converted three of his nine third-down dropbacks, but those conversions included touchdowns of 20 and 76 yards. All told, he went 4-of-8 on third downs for 114 yards, with one sack and one interception.
21.
Josh Rosen ARI
10/24
170
1
0
1
-11
-11
0
SF
Rosen's first pass was a 75-yard touchdown to Christian Kirk, but he only had four more first downs the rest of the day. His last first down was a third-down conversion with Arizona clinging to a 14-6 lead midway through the third quarter. From that point forward, he only completed one of his last seven passes, with that one completion being a 2-yard gain on third-and-7.
22.
C.J. Beathard SF
34/54
349
2
2
4
-15
-28
12
ARI
Beathard had a monstrous day throwing to his running backs: 11-of-14 for 108 yards and nine first downs, including a touchdown. Ninety-six of those 108 yards came after the catch, so this tells us more about the receivers than it does about the passer.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
23.
Cam Newton CAR
21/34
237
2
2
1
-19
-2
-17
NYG
Third-down passing: 3-of-8 for 23 yards with one interception and just one conversion, though that was an 18-yard touchdown to Christian McCaffrey on third-and-4. He also converted one fourth-down pass, a 27-yard gain to Jarius Wright on fourth-and-1 near midfield with the Panthers up by three in the fourth quarter.
24.
Joe Flacco BAL
29/56
298
0
1
2
-29
-39
9
CLE
Red zone passing: 4-of-9 for 21 yards with one first down, no touchdowns, and one interception. That's bad in a game the Ravens lost by three in overtime.
25.
Josh Allen BUF
10/19
82
0
1
1
-40
-42
2
TEN
Through five games (really four and a half), Allen has now amassed -446 DYAR and a -63.0% DVOA. The single-season records are -1,130 DYAR, set by David Carr with the expansion Texans in 2002, and -74.8%, set by Jared Goff as a rookie in 2016. Allen must now be considered a serious threat to both records -- assuming he lasts the full season. He has taken a league-high 19 sacks, putting him on pace for more than 60, a number that has only been hit eight times in league history.
26.
Dak Prescott DAL
18/29
208
1
2
2
-53
-67
15
HOU
After his touchdown that put Dallas up 13-10 in the third quarter, Prescott went 8-of-14 for 88 yards and only two first downs, with two sacks. He has had two passes and five runs on fourth-and-1 in his career, and picked up a first down every time. Just FYI.
27.
Marcus Mariota TEN
14/26
129
0
1
2
-73
-77
4
BUF
Inside the Buffalo 40, Mariota went 3-of-7 for 18 yards with no first downs, two sacks, and one fumble. That's how you lose to Josh Allen.
28.
Alex Smith WAS
23/39
275
0
1
3
-88
-103
15
NO
29.
Ryan Tannehill MIA
20/34
185
1
2
3
-91
-94
3
CIN
Tannehill didn't throw a single pass in the red zone, but he still managed to produce three touchdowns -- one for the Dolphins, two for the Bengals. I still think Derek Carr's interception in Week 1 was the funniest of the year, but Tannehill's off-the-helmet pick-six to Michael Johnson is a strong contender:
30.
Blake Bortles JAX
33/61
430
1
4
5
-136
-150
14
KC


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.
Isaiah Crowell NYJ
15
219
1
1/1
12
0
76
68
8
DEN
This is the most rushing yards in a game by a player with less than 16 carries since Bobby Mitchell had 232 yards on 14 carries in NINETEEN FIFTY-NINE. Crowell had six first downs, including gains of 15, 36, 54, and 77 yards, the latter a touchdown. That's 142 open field yards in this game. Matt Breida is the only other player with 142 open field yards this season. Crowell had 1 (one) run for no gain or a loss, and it came with the Jets up 21-10 in the third quarter.
2.
Wendell Smallwood PHI
3
27
0
3/4
44
1
41
15
26
MIN
Smallwood's three carries were all successful: a 5-yard gain on second-and-6, and 13- and 9-yard gains on first-and-10. His three catches included a 23-yard gain on third-and-7 and a 12-yard touchdown on second-and-10.
3.
Kyle Juszczyk SF
1
12
0
6/7
75
0
41
6
35
ARI
Juszczyk's only carry was a conversion on third-and-1. Five of his six receptions produced first downs, including two third-down conversions; the other was a 7-yard gain on first-and-10.
4.
Sony Michel NE
18
98
1
1/1
12
0
39
31
7
IND
Six first downs on the ground, including a 34-yard touchdown and gains of 14 and 15 yards, while being hit for no gain or a loss just twice.
5.
Saquon Barkley NYG
15
48
0
4/4
81
2
33
-15
48
CAR
Hey, we said he had a great day as a receiver, with touchdowns of 15 and 57 yards.


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.
Isaiah Crowell NYJ
15
219
1
1/1
12
0
76
68
8
DEN
2.
Sony Michel NE
18
98
1
1/1
12
0
39
31
7
IND
3.
Derrick Henry TEN
11
56
0
0/1
0
0
22
27
-5
BUF
Henry's longest carries went for 12 and 14 yards, and he only had one other first down, but every one of his runs gained at least 1 yard.
4.
Matt Breida SF
8
56
0
1/1
5
1
30
16
14
ARI
Just one run for no gain, more than balanced out by a pair of 17-yard gains.
5.
David Johnson ARI
18
55
2
2/3
16
0
13
15
-2
SF
A long run of 10 yards, only three first downs, and three runs for no gain or a loss. It, uh, was not a very good week for running backs.


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.
Bilal Powell NYJ
20
99
0
0/0
0
0
-30
-30
0
DEN
Well, let's start with the positive: Powell had runs of 38, 16, and 15 yards, giving him 39 open field yards, second in the league behind his teammate Isaiah Crowell. (After getting steamrolled by the Crowell-Powell Connection, the Broncos defense has given up a league-high 238 open field yards.) After that? Eleven of Powell's 20 carries gained 2 yards or less, three resulted in a loss of yardage, and he lost a fumble on a 1-yard gain at his own 19.


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.
Bilal Powell NYJ
20
99
0
0/0
0
0
-30
-30
0
DEN


Five Best Wide Receivers and Tight Ends by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Odell Beckham NYG
8
14
131
16.4
1
64
CAR
Beckham's totals include 21 DYAR receiving, 43 DYAR for his one pass, a 57-yard touchdown to Saquon Barkely. Based purely on receiving statistics, he would not have made the top 20 this week. He had seven first downs, including a 33-yard touchdown catch, but he loses DYAR for incomplete passes on important and receiver-friendly downs: second-and-8, second-and-14, and fourth-and-3.
2.
Tre'Quan Smith NO
3
3
111
37.0
2
60
WAS
3.
Robert Woods LAR
5
7
92
18.4
0
57
SEA
Woods' totals include 38 DYAR receiving, 19 DYAR rushing for his two carries for 53 yards. Each of his catches gained at least 8 yards and a first down, and he also drew a 5-yard DPI on fourth-and-2.
4.
Robby Anderson NYJ
3
5
123
41.0
2
51
DEN
Anderson only had two first downs against Denver, but those two first downs were 35- and 76-yard touchdowns. So, you know, that's good.
5.
Demaryius Thomas DEN
5
6
105
21.0
1
50
NYJ
Four of Thomas' catches produced first downs, including a 42-yard touchdown on third-and-4.


Worst Wide Receiver or Tight End by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Ricky Seals-Jones ARI
0
6
0
0.0
0
-40
SF
I mean, 0-for-6 speaks for itself, right?

Comments

144 comments, Last at 11 Oct 2018, 2:41pm

1 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Bright Blue Shorts // Oct 09, 2018 - 4:02am

" Kaufman ... reportedly ran a 4.3-second 40-yard dash. In high school, he was the California state champion runner at both 100 and 200 meters, and also had a 24-foot long jump. The Raiders drafted him 18th overall in 1995"

What on earth made Al Davis draft a player like that so high ...

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3 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Duff Soviet Union // Oct 09, 2018 - 4:26am

Kaufman was my favourite player growing up.

Does Crowell's game register historically amongst the best running back games? I imagine he didn't have enough carries to rank too high historically speaking.

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29 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by ryan5581 // Oct 09, 2018 - 10:34am

Chase Stuart looked into it this morning:
http://www.footballperspective.com/isaiah-crowell-and-the-best-single-ga...

Traditional stats-wise, he had the best YPC in a game with 15+ carries, just edging out Derrick Ward's 15 for 215 for NYG in 2008 (no other player within 1 YPC).

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19 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Oct 09, 2018 - 9:17am

We make fun of Davis's draft tendencies, but that criticism is inappropriate in this case. Kaufman was productive in college at a major program and was basically an early version of Jamaal Charles in the NFL -- a low-usage/high-efficiency shift speedster.

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2 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Bright Blue Shorts // Oct 09, 2018 - 4:12am

Has there been a specific article on Blake Bortles on this site?

I'm just eyeballing his mechanics in that video and something looks horrible. He doesn't seem to have his feet set (albeit under a lot of pressure) and just throws the ball with his arm/shoulder.

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93 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Mountain Time ---- formerly Ninjalectual // Oct 09, 2018 - 6:46pm

He looks almost lackadaisical… for all the crap Jay Cutler gets, Bortles is the real Cutler

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96 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Will Allen // Oct 09, 2018 - 7:16pm

Does he smoke?

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139 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by t.d. // Oct 11, 2018 - 2:33am

Bortles on what he'd be doing if he weren't in the NFL: https://www.reddit.com/r/nfl/comments/7qtapx/qb_blake_bortles_on_what_he...

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144 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Mountain Time ---- formerly Ninjalectual // Oct 11, 2018 - 2:41pm

MY GOD.

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4 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by theslothook // Oct 09, 2018 - 7:44am

Saquon is yet another piece of evidence that a running back in today's nfl cannot bring a rushing attack by himself. Its been a quietly understated fact, but once you remove qb runs, the offensive running game has been in a slow decline just as passing has been on the upswing. Are the two related? Maybe, but it sure rings a blow to the view that a running game is a qbs best friend.

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22 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by sbond101 // Oct 09, 2018 - 9:30am

Two pieces, the rules changes, and the emphasis on passing that they drove; lack of contact practices (especially in training camp) & the new cut-blocking rules really make a huge difference in the effectiveness of the power-running game. Add to that the changes in draft emphasis at the guard, TE, FB, & HB positions away from downhill blocking/running/pulling etc... (as a direct result of the increased value of the passing game) and the number of power runs that are failed plays (less than 3 yards) appears to have skyrocketed. This has substantially change the game, especially for teams protecting a lead.

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28 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by jmaron // Oct 09, 2018 - 10:11am

good points. Also seems to me that offensive holding is called far more often on run plays than pass plays now and from my youth it seemed offensive holding was almost never called on run plays.

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47 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Mike B. In Va // Oct 09, 2018 - 11:58am

That would be an interesting study.

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5 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by JMM // Oct 09, 2018 - 8:01am

What would a similar analysis of passers or receivers be (removing the high success plays?)

I recall doing a back of the envelope comparison of a couple of running backs several years ago. One was beloved, the other was thought to be much inferior. Doing a Pareto type chart of their respective run distances showed the key difference was a small percentage of long runs, essentially the high success plays removed here.

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7 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by andrew // Oct 09, 2018 - 8:18am

re: Cousins:

Only two of his passes in the first half traveled more than 8 yards downfield; both were incomplete.

This was very much by design, with their offensive line troubles and Philly's offensive line Cousins didn't have time to throw downfield often, and was pressured almost instantly on anything more than a 1-2 step drop. Even the long pass mentioned below was with someone right in his face as he threw it. That being said I recall an early pass to Thielen that was well more than 8 yards downfield that was completeld (it was with pressure on him so he couldn't step into it and just had to lay the ball way out there but Thielen was able to track it down.

Then his first pass of the second half was a deep ball completed to Adam Thielen for a 68-yard touchdown.

The 68 yard pass to Thielen was not a Touchdown. It was thrown from their own 5. After a move it looked like he might've had a chance to score but he tried to cross up the last guy and got tackled at the 27. That drive reached the 2 after a Diggs reception but then ended in a field goal.

From watching that game I find it hard to believe the takeaway was Cousins should be throwing deeper. The gameplan they used I feel was instrumental in the success they had. Maybe versus lesser defensive lines they can do that but this IMHO was not the day to try that.

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8 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Will Allen // Oct 09, 2018 - 8:20am

I've been amazed at Cousin's accuracy as he takes significant hits. He's been worth every penny, even with fumble issue raising it's head.

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9 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Will Allen // Oct 09, 2018 - 8:24am

I also think the debacle against Buffalo convinced them that their protection issues meant they were going to have to be more conservative in the passing game.

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11 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by andrew // Oct 09, 2018 - 8:26am

(that should read "and Philly's defensive line")

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27 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by jmaron // Oct 09, 2018 - 10:06am

Cousins played well, incredibly well under pressure. The only throws he did miss were deeper throws where he actually had time. I thought the game plan was excellent, with the exception of many of the third and short calls in the red zone. Those plays lacked imagination and in none of the cases were they thinking they had 2 downs to make 2 or 3 yards if they wanted to be aggressive.

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6 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Will Allen // Oct 09, 2018 - 8:17am

Vince, the Vikings in all likelihood would love to have Cousins take more shots downfield. They also want him to stay on the field, but the frequency with which he is taking significant hits means that it is in question. They have been down 2 or 3 projected o-line starters from July all season, their oline coach died of a heart attack just before camp opened, and they simply don't block well enough to take more deep shots. It isn't at 2016 levels, where Bradford had to get the ball out in about 1.25 seconds to avoid being crushed, but it is pretty bad. The only thing saving them is that Cousins has been super accurate with large humans in his face, and Diggs and Thielen get seperation very, very, quickly.

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10 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by andrew // Oct 09, 2018 - 8:25am

RE: Wentz:

Wentz only threw five passes up the middle against Minnesota, but he completed four of them for 89 yards, with every completion picking up 15 yards and a first down. So ... why did he only throw five passes up the middle?

The bulk of those I believe came on the final Philadelphia touchdown drive which started with 2 minutes and change left down by two scores and no timeouts left. The Vikings conceded 10-15 yard passes in the middle in exchange for tackling them quickly and keeping the clock moving, they essentially decided to not take a chance on getting beat deep and take their chances with the OSK that Philadelphia had to make. This proved successful (just barely).

I'm guessing they defended the middle better the rest of the day, or at least he had better options elsewhere.

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24 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Will Allen // Oct 09, 2018 - 9:48am

That last Eagle drive was really interesting, in that the Eagles were out of timeouts, and Zimmer obviously decided to concede the middle of the field, and eventually give the Eagles a really short shot at the end zone, as long as it came after the two minute warning. I wonder if the new kickoff team alignment rules played a role, because I think the percentage of successful expected onside kicks is going to decline significantly. I think the rate previous to this year was about 8% , and if that gets driven down to 2-3%, some strategy may change.

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103 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by jralph18 // Oct 09, 2018 - 8:43pm

I'm going to have to disagree that it was successful as it allowed way more than enough time for them to score, recover an onside kick, and score again (that they didn't recover the kick is irrelevant to the success of the defensive strategy).

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110 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Will Allen // Oct 10, 2018 - 6:07am

What you need to know (and I'm too lazy to look up) is the win probabilities for the Vikings when A) the Eagles began their last possession B) when the Eagles lined up for their onside kick, and C) what it would be if we assume the expected successful expected onside kick rate declines by, I dunno, 50%, due to rules changes.

It may be that removing the possibility, or reducing as much as possible the possibility, of the Eagles scoring before the 2 minute warning, maximized the Vikings chance of winning.

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108 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Alex51 // Oct 10, 2018 - 12:47am

All four of those completions were marked "short middle" on the play-by-play, and came after Minnesota had taken a 20-3 lead. Call me crazy, but I'm guessing that the Vikings were playing a little looser in the short middle in favor of taking away deep throws and sideline routes once they were up by three scores in the second half. I'm not sure that "throw up the middle more" would have been a particularly good strategy for the Eagles in this game.

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12 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by BJR // Oct 09, 2018 - 8:29am

Wow, after a couple weeks where we might have questioned if there was 'changing of the guard' at the top of the QB rankings, the veterans hit back with a vengeance this week. Helps of course with Rivers and Roethlisberger facing Oakland and Atlanta's non-defenses before opponent adjustments properly kick in.

Re. the Cousins blurb - the mindset of not letting him throw downfield was presumably precisely because they have $84 million invested in him. Going into the game the Philly D-Line vs. the Vikings' O-Line appeared a huge mismatch. Credit to the Vikings' coaches, and Cousins, for executing an effective gameplan that mostly involved getting rid of the ball extremely quickly.

Re. Beckham - think I'd prefer DYAR for receivers to exclude passing numbers. I understand you don't like making exceptions for individual plays, but this feels like a circumstance where it just skews the numbers in a non-predictive way.

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44 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Eddo // Oct 09, 2018 - 11:39am

re: Beckham, I agree. I think I'd rather see the tables broken out by "Most rushing DYAR" and "Most passing DYAR", with positions combined.

As I type that, it gets me thinking: how are the baselines done? I'm vaguely recalling that RB receiving DYAR is based on passes to other RBs, but not WRs. Is that true, or is it compared to all receptions?

If the former, I wonder if, as offenses get more versatile, if that's no longer the best way. Should we judge a reception by Tarik Cohen against receptions by only other RBs, when he's often lining up in the slot. Or a run by Keke Coutee against only other runs by WRs?

If it's the later, then I definitely would prefer the Quick Reads tables to be broken out by "DYAR type" instead of player positions.

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98 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Mountain Time ---- formerly Ninjalectual // Oct 09, 2018 - 7:21pm

That would make Beckham the 13th best passer this week (min: 1 pass attempts)

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13 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by mansteel // Oct 09, 2018 - 8:43am

One thing that I think was understated in your analysis, Vince, is that Barkley's "boom-and-bust" output is mostly a function of the terrible O-line. Or rather, the "bust" is a function of the O-line. The "boom" is a function of Barkley's talent. Believe me, I've watched a ton of Giants games over the last few years, and before Barkley the running game could best be described as "bust-and-bust".

This explanation is consistent with the teams in your table. Many good running backs getting open-field yards on their own, many bad o-lines not giving the RBs a chance to even get started on a large % of plays. And, obviously, this explains why the overall records of these teams are poor: it's tough to succeed if your O-line sucks.

All this to say that Barkley--despite the uneven numbers to start the year--is everything he's cracked up to be. Just watching him for a few plays will tell you that. Does that make him worth the #2 pick? Given his position, opinions will differ, but at least he's a very good player...that's not true of a whole bunch of #2 overall picks historically.

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15 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by BJR // Oct 09, 2018 - 8:54am

"It's tough to succeed if your O-line sucks"

Maybe the Giants should have been investing their resources into that unit, rather than at RB?

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20 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by theslothook // Oct 09, 2018 - 9:17am

How many teams have good offensive lines? I bet most people would have said the cowboys before this season.

The offensive line, much like the secondary, is an any unit to rip since there its composed of so many players that blame is diffuse.

I feel like, given how much everyone gripes about their lines, that the average o line in the nfl is terrible. For the giants, I believe their line isn't great, but I suspect a good chunk of their poor play has more to do with their limited qb than it does with a terrible o line.

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30 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Will Allen // Oct 09, 2018 - 10:43am

When I think about Pat Shurmur squeezing out a 16th ranked passing DYAR, with Bradford (whom I now am convinced the FO crowd, including me, has underrated for a good chunk of his career), 17 different blockers who didn't block at all, and a receiving corps that was mostly injured, in 2016, I tend to agree with you that Eli is the biggest problem.

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46 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by mansteel // Oct 09, 2018 - 11:56am

I know no one on this site ever has a good word to say about Manning, and I don't really want to get into a debate about where he falls in the QB hierarchy, but I will point out that the line is very clearly a huge problem. Eli is not responsible for the running game finishing in the bottom quartile in five of the last years (18th in 2015!). And you can only expect so much from a QB when they are under pressure by the time they reach the top of their drop most of the time. The one Giants game in prime time so far was a great example of this--they didn't even have time to run 12-15 yard routes before Manning got swamped--almost every single dropback. No one succeeds under that kind of pressure.

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60 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by theslothook // Oct 09, 2018 - 1:17pm

Even with heavy brownie points for lacking a run game having terrible protection, the Giants passing game has been anemic for a very long time. I don't deny that given ideal circumstances, Eli might look pretty good, but he still quite old and the Giants were drafting in a very QB heavy draft. I can't understand the justification ex-ante or ex post for drafting Barkley.

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99 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Mountain Time ---- formerly Ninjalectual // Oct 09, 2018 - 7:30pm

I disagree about Eli being absolved of blame for the running game. You pass to set up the run… and if you can't pass, any run is disadvantaged from the start

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23 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Pat // Oct 09, 2018 - 9:44am

"Maybe the Giants should have been investing their resources into that unit, rather than at RB?"

1) It's not like I disagree entirely, but Barkley isn't just a great open field runner, as Vince noted. He's also a great receiver and was extremely highly regarded in pass blocking in college. It's not nuts to consider that they just basically figured hey, we're not winning this year, and Barkley's not a prospect we can get every year, whereas there will likely be a quality OL prospect *next* year too.

2) Plus they did sign Nate Solder in the offseason (which was panned by a lot of people given the price tag) so maybe the problem is their offensive line *evaluation*, not their resource commitment. (Which is an even worse prospect for Giants fans!)

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37 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by jtr // Oct 09, 2018 - 11:03am

The thing about O Line is, it only takes one bad player to sink you. The Giants signed Soldier to a record deal and drafted Hernandez at guard in the second round--that is a heavy investment in the position. But you'll never be able replace all five starters with quality players in one offseason, and the atrocious play from the right tackle position in particular has really been backbreaking for the offense. I'm sure that coming up with a quality RT is item #1 on next offseason's priority list. In the meantime, the coaching staff needs to make chicken salad from chicken shit, and Barkley is certainly part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

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49 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Mike B. In Va // Oct 09, 2018 - 12:05pm

Agreed. Look at Buffalo, where the line was pretty good last year - and then two retirements and a trade happened. The replacement at LT is fine, but guard and center are killing them.

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58 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by theslothook // Oct 09, 2018 - 1:14pm

Which begs the question, is it worth investing heavily in an offensive line. Note the distinction between investing at all vs investing heavily. No one thinks the Seahawk did the right thing.

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67 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by jtr // Oct 09, 2018 - 1:54pm

I think it's something that you have to really commit to if it's going to work. The Cowboys' excellent lines of the last few seasons came from spending their first round pick on a lineman in 3 of the 4 drafts from 2011 to 2014. PIttsburgh's excellent line stems from spending one or both of their top two picks on a lineman every year from 2009 to 2011. The Rams line has a big money free agent in Whitworth and two second-round picks.

If you're not going to go in on O Line for years like those teams did, it probably makes more sense to shoot for an average line and spend your draft capital at a higher priority position--it only takes one WR to catch a touchdown or one DE to sack the QB, but it takes five good linemen to protect the QB. It's just not a position where one good player can make a gigantic impact.

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126 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Richie // Oct 10, 2018 - 1:50pm

After watching things like:
Jared Goff improvement with his offensive line being upgraded
The Dolphins falling apart when Laramie Tunsil got hurt
etc.

I wonder if the best strategy might just be to draft the best available offensive lineman in the first round every year. Between injuries, draft busts, and careers that only last 5 seasons, a team that always invests in offensive line might just be able to always have a decent-to-good offensive line.

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127 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by theslothook // Oct 10, 2018 - 2:14pm

The rams also have a very deep set of receivers and a smart offensive head coach along with a elite running back who works in both the passing game and running game. Its hard to isolate the effects of each component.

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130 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by jtr // Oct 10, 2018 - 3:39pm

I've been thinking about this a little more, and the Cowboys, Steelers, Saints, and Rams lines each have three high-pedigree players (either drafted by the team in the first two rounds or a premium free agent) and two low-pedigree players. So it seems like the best strategy is to go spend the resources to get three studs to anchor your line, and then sift through low picks, UDFA's, and the waiver wire to find two good-not-great players to fill out the line. Three top players is enough talent that you can design your blocking schemes to use those guys' strengths to cover for the weaknesses of the other two, so long as those other guys aren't awful.

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131 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by theslothook // Oct 10, 2018 - 3:45pm

The cowboys also have an anemic offense and the Steelers and Saints are helmed by hall of famers. The Broncos and Colts of the Manning era never featured great lines. At best, in the early Colts days - it was Glen and Saturday - two great players not three. The patriots invest heavily in their line, but its managed to do well with waiver wire stuff in the past - not coincidentally also helmed by a hall of famer.

The real question is - what should a team with a qb like Stafford, Cousins, or even a team like Seattle do? Should they invest in three high quality offensive linemen?

This discussion happened in the Colts blogosphere when they drafted Nelson. Sure, the line was poor and he's been ok so far - but really - is that a good use of resources? Given that i think a big chunk of the hits Luck takes are his own fault, I'd rather have had a better receiver or help on defense and I think that remains the smarter play.

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138 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by herewegobrowniesherewego // Oct 11, 2018 - 12:08am

" it takes five good linemen to protect the QB."

That's why I can't see the Chiefs sustaining this level of QB play...as long as Cam Erving is in that quintet. :)

He gets to practice in the trenches against another old overdrafted bust teammate now, Nate Orchard.

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39 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by BJR // Oct 09, 2018 - 11:21am

Agree with this; I was being rather facetious with my initial comment about the O-Line. As noted below, the real mystery remains why the Giants did not use this year's opportunity to draft Eli's replacement.

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21 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Oct 09, 2018 - 9:27am

If you want to see bust-and-bust, look at the 1999 Lions team after Sanders retired. They were even still good at open-field yards (6th!), but second-level yards disappeared and the offense cratered.

In 2000 they got James Stewart and completely changed personalities. Nearly last in open-field and 2nd-level yards, but 6th in stuff rate. They basically played two FBs. That team somehow went 9-7 (after starting 8-4, and missed the playoffs) using smoke and mirrors, but was so bereft of talent that the next year they entered the Millen Error with a vengeance.

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102 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Dales // Oct 09, 2018 - 8:22pm

I'd have made the exact same point if you hadn't. Completely agree. I'll just add, that Barkley seems to be trying very hard to *not* be just a boom-or-bust running back. He's not just trying to bounce everything to the outside. He's occasionally missing the best read, but mostly it's just what Baldinger shows here. Look at him being patient, trying to find ANY sliver of a hole on the first play here. There is absolutely nothing.

https://twitter.com/BaldyNFL/status/1049695964850782209

I don't know how long it is going to take to get this line in shape, and I hope he doesn't develop bad habits before, but I think he is going to be exceptionally good if he stays healthy and they ever get some run blocking going.

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14 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by lawofmurphy // Oct 09, 2018 - 8:49am

I don't think it's out of place to criticize the Giants for taking a running back instead of a "premium" position like QB. However, I don't think the most effective support for that argument is "look how bad Barkley is!" Because that's completely disingenuous as statistically he's doing fairly well (#5 for RBs this week in DYAR!) and if you watch him, he looks absolutely special.

His situation isn't all that dissimilar to Ladainian Tomlinson as a rookie. The 2001 Chargers were poo. They went 5-11 and had a crappy offensive line. Tomlinson could only muster 3.6 yards-per-carry. He went #5 overall that year. Would anyone at this point argue the Chargers shouldn't have taken Tomlinson? They had no idea Brees would be available in the 2nd round and who knew Brees would be THAT good? (Obviously no one or he would have gone #1 and not ended up on a second team).

At the end of the day, the Giants could have done much worse than taking Barkley. Is there any reason to believe Josh Allen or Sam Darnold are better than the litany of other top 10 QBs with just average pedigrees? No QB outside of Mayfield had a QBASE score that would suggest they will be longterm starters in the league. I kind of like Rosen but I'm not convinced Barkley isn't a better longterm piece for the team.

I was tempted to reply on twitter but it seemed like something that was worth more words and reflection.

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16 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by BJR // Oct 09, 2018 - 9:06am

Clearly nobody in hindsight would argue against taking Tomlinson #5 overall, because Tomlinson is now in the Hall Of Fame. Barkley is a great talent, without doubt, but I'm stopping short of predicting he ends up in the HOF. In addition, the relative importance of running the ball has been further marginalized since Tomlinson's day.

The Giants have a bad, old QB and a bad O-Line, and they took a RB with the #2 overall pick, in a draft that was acclaimed for its QB prospects. That remains indefensible.

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18 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by theslothook // Oct 09, 2018 - 9:14am

Pretty much agree with this, especially the part about how drastically different the league is since Tomlinson was drafted. I am at a loss to explain how the Giants convinced themselves that Eli Manning was the qb they wanted to move forward with. Not only has his play been in steep decline for a while now, as you pointed out. I can't understand what they were thinking.

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31 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by RickD // Oct 09, 2018 - 10:45am

Yes, while Barkley is a good RB prospect, it's absurd that the Giants didn't take a QB. If Eli isn't done already, he'll be done very soon. It feels like the Giants overreacted to Ben McAdoo benching Eli. Apparently if McAdoo did it, the decision must be wrong.

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88 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Subrata Sircar // Oct 09, 2018 - 5:03pm

And if the Giants believed that Darnold/Allen/Rosen/etc. are the second comings of Ryan Leaf with an upside of Alex Smith, is it still indefensible?

Putting it differently, who should they have taken? Which *one* - a specific player - of the available players would you bet will be better than Barkley? (No fair cheating and taking the field, waiting five years and then saying "well of course it should have been Z".)

Even if you cast it as "X will be a mediocre {QB,OL} but that will be better for the Giants than an elite RB who excels in all phases", I have a hard time finding a player who meets the limited definition.

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90 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Oct 09, 2018 - 5:38pm

Not sure about the indefensible position. They believed - as did some others - that Barkley wasn't just the #1 RB available, but a once-every-few-years if not a once-in-a-generation type talent.

Yes, QB > RB in 2018, but if you have the chance to grab the next Sanders or Tomlinson, that'll look like a pretty good draft pick a few years from now.

And regardless of the OL's current play, there was a concerted attempt to improve it with a free agent signing and a Round 2 pick. Hasn't worked out, but not because of a lack of resources committed to the unit.

Finally, this wasn't the only - possibly not even the best - opportunity to replace Manning. Drafting a rookie QB is a coin flip at best. Will more than 1 of Darnoldson, Allen, and Rosen ever be a better NFL quarterback than Manning is now? On the other hand, QBs can be had in free agency now. Cousins and the others changing teams this offseason suggests you can get a serviceable known quantity at QB. That's much less likely at RB, who aren't likely to have much career left by the time they hit free agency.

Anyway, who knows how it will work out, but taking the best talent available, a guy who's a clear upgrade over your incumbent, seems pretty defensible to me. The plan - upgrade the OL, improve the running game, have a OBJ healthy available to throw to - seemed like a reasonable plan.

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91 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by theslothook // Oct 09, 2018 - 5:45pm

I think you are overstating how certain drafting a running back is. Lest we forget - Trent Richardson, Daren McFadden, and Reggie Bush were all extremely well regarded running backs who were supposed to be transcendent hall of famers. Its also wrong to say the next Sanders or Tomlinson. As great as Barkley is regarded, you don't know he's going to be a hall of famer so its not like its some kind of bird in the hand deal here.

Finally - today's NFL further marginalizes running backs and that cannot be overstated. Very few teams have ever had success behind a run heavy system and almost none consistently win season to season doing that. Drafting a qb is a coin flip, but study after study has shown the best chance of getting a good qb is to draft him high. The Giants had that chance and instead went for a more certain but far less impactful player despite having a very weak and very old quarterback as the starter.

Finally - how many sure fire qbs are really available in free agency? Cousins was, but that was only one. Next you are left with Case Keenum and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Can we name the last probowler who was allowed to hit free agency?

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92 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Oct 09, 2018 - 6:21pm

Yes, I agree, Barkley's not a guarantee either. He might not be as good as predicted, or he might get injured and never reach his potential.

I wasn't trying to state that picking Barkley was absolutely a better decision than picking a QB. I was trying to point out that as a decision, it wasn't indefensible. And it's way too early - like, 3 to 5 years too early - to figure out whether it was the right or wrong decision

Cousins was a unique case, but I think the serviceable QB available by free agency is likely to be a regular feature going forward. Not a Pro Bowler, no, but someone who can throw the ball to a WR who can get separation (OBJ) and take advantage of play action off a good run game (Barkley). Would need a lot better OL play, though, than Manning's getting now (or be able to scramble really, really well … any ex SB QBs … no, never mind).

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114 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by BJR // Oct 10, 2018 - 8:32am

I stand by the indefensible statement, for all the reasons 'theslothook' references above. In particular, referencing Tomlinson or Sanders is plainly ridiculous. Of course if Barkley is that good he will be worth the pick, because he'll be in the HOF. What if he's Reggie Bush, or Darren McFadden, or Cedric Benson, or Cadillac Williams, or Trent Richardson(!), all of whom were top 5 picks?

In addition, the Giants could have easily traded down in the draft had they not liked any of the QBs, and received a handsome haul that still included premium picks. They could even have traded down and still taken Rosen (or Allen). That's how to reconstruct a failing roster, not by selecting a running back with the #2 pick.

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113 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by jtr // Oct 10, 2018 - 8:08am

>today's NFL further marginalizes running backs and that cannot be overstated. Very few teams have ever had success behind a run heavy system and almost none consistently win season to season doing that.

I think this point has been made less relevant by the modern breed of NFL tailbacks. Elite backs like Bell, Johnson, Elliot, Gurley, and Barkley can line up all over the field and contribute just as much to the passing game as to the running game. Old school battering rams like Peterson or Blount absolutely ARE becoming obsolete, since their contributions are mostly limited to traditional between-the-tackles running. But backs that can line up in the slot and run a real route OR move the chains with tough inside rushing are becoming very valuable, as they allow the offense to run a lot of different formations and concepts from a single personnel group and create a matchup headache for the defense.

Barkley has more receiving DYAR than Odell Beckham so far this season. Eli dumping it to Barkley under duress for YAC plays is about the only thing keeping this Giants offense from grinding to a halt so far this season.

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115 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by BJR // Oct 10, 2018 - 8:33am

This is true, short passes to RBs out of the backfield is a major source of efficiency in the modern NFL. But recent history has also proven that players who successfully fulfill this role can consistently be found outside the first round of the draft. Bell was a 2nd rounder, Johnson a 3rd, Alvin Kamara a 2nd, Kareem Hunt a 3rd. And numerous others who do not consume the volume of these players, but are efficient in their usage. The Eagles won a Super Bowl with Corey Clement, an UDFA, as their principal pass catching back.

Finding a starting QB outside the first round is lot, lot harder.

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117 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Oct 10, 2018 - 10:33am

The Eagles just won a Super Bowl where their 3rd-round QB beat New England's 6th-round QB. We're discussing Brees' 2nd-round QB HOF odds and his comps to 2nd round Favre now that UDFAs Warner and Moon are in.

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119 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by dmstorm22 // Oct 10, 2018 - 11:42am

Fair, but so then is this:

2008 Super Bowl: 1st round vs. UDFA
2009 Super Bowl: 1st round vs. 2nd round
2010 Super Bowl: 1st round vs. 1st round
2011 Super Bowl: 1st round vs. 6th round
2012 Super Bowl: 1st round vs. 2nd round
2013 Super Bowl: 1st round vs. 3rd round
2014 Super Bowl: 3rd round vs. 6th round
2015 Super Bowl: 1st round vs. 1st round
2016 Super Bowl: 1st round vs. 6th round
2017 Super Bowl: 3rd round vs. 6th round

So in the last 10 years, 10 of the 20 starting Super Bowl QBs were 1st round picks, and out of the 10 that were not, four were Tom Brady, the all time historical outlier.

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124 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Joseph // Oct 10, 2018 - 12:37pm

Minor nitpick--Kamara was a 3rd round choice.

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17 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Oct 09, 2018 - 9:09am

Which brings me back to the point I was trying to make with my Barkley Tweet in the first place: It's fine and dandy to have a premium running back ripping off the occasional highlight-reel run. But if your offensive line lets that runner get stuffed too often, none of those highlights will come in January.

Using "count da ringz" on a sample size of 18 for your analysis is sub-ESPN levels of analysis. That's the kind of drivel I would expect from the Bayless who can't cook, or from Screamin' A. You've insulted both yourself and your audience with that nonsense.

I was trying to see if I could come up with a QB equivalent of that stat. There really isn't anything like open field yards on the passing side, so I was considering DVOA versus Sack rate. (I tried Y/A versus ANY/A at PFR, but that's too biased to high INT seasons.) What I'm looking for is a good QB on a boom/bust system who plays with a shaky line.

If we're on a rings basis, if the list doesn't contain Manning or Brady, we probably don't have a ring on it. Not that there aren't good QBs who play boom/bust styles with poor lines. Brees is boom-bust. Roethlisberger, Rodgers, Wilson, Favre, and Warner spent much of their time either on their back or running for their lives. I couldn't find any where they topped one list or bottomed the other.

The closest year was 2010, when Rodgers and Roethlisberger met in the SB with their top-5 passing offense and bottom-10 sack rates.

The problem was, the years these guys had superb offenses coincided with the years they had good lines. As much as Warner took shots, he also played with Faulk and behind Orlando Pace. Most of these guys had good lines; they just spent an eternity looking for open receivers.

I suspect if you compiled this list for QBs, you wouldn't get many SB winners either. Does that mean it's similarly a folly to draft a QB if you have a terrible line? Was Deshaun Watson a mistake for Houston? He has good boom numbers behind a very busty offensive line. Your analysis would suggest that yes, it was a mistake. There's no point in drafting skill guys until you have a top-10 line.

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36 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Will Allen // Oct 09, 2018 - 10:59am

Just off the top of my head, Favre may have played with a below average o-line maybe 2-3 times in a very long career. He sure made a lot of receivers rich beyond their talent level, however.

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45 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Oct 09, 2018 - 11:44am

I agree. That said, it's hard to separate out poor line play from stubborn quarterbacking just based on sack rate.

The 2010 Steelers had sack issues, but their line was also Scott/Starks-Kemoeatu-Pouncy-Essex/Foster-Adams. A bunch of those sacks were due to Roethlisberger Roethlisbergering for 6 seconds.

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53 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Will Allen // Oct 09, 2018 - 12:28pm

Same thing happened in Culpepper's MVP caliber 2004 season. People looked at the adjusted sack rate, and said, "Wow, Culpepper is doing this with lousy protection", but if you watched the games you saw a.well above average pass blocking performance, with Culpepper.....just.......standing..........there, I swear sometimes for 6 plus seconds.

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132 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Oct 10, 2018 - 4:09pm

My favorite example of sack rates being dependent on quarterbacks just as much as offensive line is the 1978 Buccaneers:

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/tam/1978.htm

Check out how many sacks Doug Williams took, and then compare it to how many sacks his backup Mike Rae took, in half as many games.

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134 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Richie // Oct 10, 2018 - 7:25pm

That's awesome. Mike Rae had a 39 ANY/A+ for his career, in 249 pass attempts. Next-lowest is Rob Johnson at 51.

He was sacked on 19.2% of his dropbacks. Next-highest is Rob Johnson at 14.8%.

Rae averaged losing 1.55 yards to sacks for every time he dropped back to pass. Next-worst was Matt Kofler at 1.08.

http://pfref.com/tiny/ULJf6

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54 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Pat // Oct 09, 2018 - 12:32pm

That's kinda the point, though - unlike line yards and open field yards, there really are *very few* quarterbacks who consistently outplay expectations based on average sack rate. If you do a simple correlation between passing DVOA or DYAR and sack rate, it's extremely strong (duh, sacks are big negative plays) ... except for one or two QBs. I actually did this a while ago, and Roethlisberger was the only one at the time - I'd bet if I did it again, Rodgers might stick out a bit as well, although not nearly as much as Roethlisberger 2005-2013. Roethlisberger has a passer rating of 92.2 with a sack rate of 8.1%. That's just off-the-charts nuts.

That's the difference between this and the line yards/open field yards argument in the article: sack rate is *way* more dependent on the quarterback than line yards are on the RB. And in general if you can find a quarterback who succeeds even while taking sacks, they're likely to be a *very* high end QB.

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59 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by jtr // Oct 09, 2018 - 1:14pm

Russell Wilson was the first guy to come to mind for me, so I looked it up. Last year he had a passer rating of 95.4 and a sack rate of 7.2%, and took the fourth-most total sacks of any QB in the league. Top scrambling QB's like him definitely live by the scramble and die by the scramble.

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74 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Pat // Oct 09, 2018 - 2:43pm

Well, that just shows how long ago I did this: yeah, if you look at Wilson 2013-2017, he's got a passer rating of 98.6 and a sack rate of 8.1%.

I should go back and redo that correlation and put that in as a guest article or something. It's *insane* how remarkably clearly the "scramble drill" quarterbacks stick out in the data - it's an incredibly clean correlation, and then just a handful of data points that make no sense.

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50 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by ammek // Oct 09, 2018 - 12:22pm

Funnily enough, some of Favre's weakest offensive lines coincided with his most successful seasons.

The one and only season he had a below average sack percentage was 1996, the year the Packers won the Super Bowl. The sack rate was largely the fault of John Michels, a first-round rookie drafted to fill a void at left tackle, who was a colossal bust. Ron Wolf wound up signing a street free agent, Gary Brown, to replace Michels midway through the season.

Although you're right to state that Favre had good lines overall, he played with below average left tackles throughout the first half of his career, until Ron Wolf finally hit on a pick with Chad Clifton. The year after Michels flamed out, with the Packers en route to the superbowl once more, Favre got a just about adequate season from yet another first-round rookie, Ross Verba. Alas, Verba did a Matt Kalil in his sophomore year and was shoved inside to guard (and thence to the graveyard of NFL careers, Cleveland).

In Minnesota I get the impression it was the opposite: the left side of Favre's line was very good, the right not so much. But by that time Favre's smarts and release were earning his offensive linemen awards and paydays almost by themselves.

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120 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by big10freak // Oct 10, 2018 - 11:47am

One minor note is that Bruce Wilkerson took over left tackle very late and was the starter in the Super Bowl at left tackle

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57 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by gomer_rs // Oct 09, 2018 - 1:08pm

If you cannot find a boom/bust stat comparison for QBs from the 2017 Seahawks it must not exist.

But my guess would be air yards per attempt v. ANY/A or an attempts normalized passer rating.
_______

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

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63 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Oct 09, 2018 - 1:38pm

Took a shot using ANY/A versus Sack rate indices, because PFR won't let me season search on sack %. Totals are from 1969.
http://pfref.com/tiny/Kpyu1

Roethlisberger and Wilson appear, as does Taylor. Down the list, Alex Smith appears. Historical examples: Chandler on the Falcons, Harbaugh in 1995, 1996 Steve Young, 1973 Roger Staubach. Definitely scramblers.

Four Bronco QB seasons appear in the top-30; none named Elway or Plummer.

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25 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by ChrisLong // Oct 09, 2018 - 9:48am

Vince, how much DYAR did Rodgers lose for his two fumbles?

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26 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by PatsFan // Oct 09, 2018 - 9:55am

Annoyed I don't remember. Other than hail marys there's no adjustment for clearly-not-the-QB's-fault INTs, right? Asking because both Luck and Brady were victimized this week when the ball hit the receiver right on target and the receiver practically handed the ball to the DB and was wondering if/how that affected their DVOA.

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33 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by RickD // Oct 09, 2018 - 10:47am

It's hard to make ad hoc adjustments to statistics that "don't mean" what we think they should. In the longer run, tipped balls leading to interceptions won't make a huge difference to DVOA scores, and if a QB is having a lot of tipped balls leading to INTs, that probably is something that needs to be included.

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40 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Aaron Schatz // Oct 09, 2018 - 11:22am

Unfortunately, we don't get the charting data from ESPN or SIS quickly enough to create a version of DVOA that removes the penalty for tipped interceptions like that, or adds a penalty for interceptions dropped by defenders. It's one of those things we would love to do eventually.

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32 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Chappy // Oct 09, 2018 - 10:45am

What is "open field yards"? The line page says "Yards which this team's running backs earn more than 10 yards past the line of scrimmage, divided by total running back carries."

This is confusing. Does this mean:

([yards above 10] - 10)/ [total running back carries]
[yards where above 10]/ [total running back carries]

I guess my question is this counting marginal yards above 10 or is it a way to sort of both count frequency of getting to the open field with the amount of open field yards? Isn't just the frequency of getting 10-plus yards most important? Seems like yards beyond 10 are somewhat conditional on starting field position, so, for example a 40 versus 80 yard touchdown doesn't tell you all that much about the quality of the run even though one is going to score twice as high.

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41 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Aaron Schatz // Oct 09, 2018 - 11:25am

It is ([yards above 10] - 10)/ [total running back carries]

So, for example, a player who had one carry for 14 yards and another carry for 2 yards would have 2.0 open-field yards per carry.

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34 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Will Allen // Oct 09, 2018 - 10:49am

Vince, I think Cousins was given a fumble when a running back turned a forward pass into a lateral, and then dropped it. How much DYAR did it cost him?

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43 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Eddo // Oct 09, 2018 - 11:36am

I'm curious what you mean here. How does the recipient cause the throw to be backward/lateral instead of forward? Isn't that on the thrower?

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55 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Will Allen // Oct 09, 2018 - 12:36pm

Because the running back very likely ran the route too deep, taking him behind Cousins. Then he compounded the problem by dropping it. I'm nearly certain the play is not designed for the rb to dip that deep, for that very reason; you don't want a drop to result in a live ball.

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77 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Eddo // Oct 09, 2018 - 2:51pm

Ah, that makes sense.

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116 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by andrew // Oct 10, 2018 - 9:06am

One of the eagles rushers was able to penetrate a bit into the RB's intended route which forced him to adjust and go around him and he was farther back than he woudl have been. I think Cousins turned and adjusted his throw accordingly but its still on him to realize what happened. I don't think they have to burn that play, he will probably see it in film and make a note to make sure on throws like that (or just go elsewhere or throw it away if that has happened).

The hit to dvoa is harsh, but fair.

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133 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Will Allen // Oct 10, 2018 - 6:06pm

It would be interesting to hear the coaches. I think I'd just tell the rb to blast the pass rusher as opposed to dipping below the qb.

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35 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by jtr // Oct 09, 2018 - 10:52am

Crowell's 68 rush DYAR was equal to the second-highest total for any tailback FOR THE SEASON coming into this week. Damn good game.

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38 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by jgibson_hmc95 // Oct 09, 2018 - 11:07am

I don't think I'd be that easy on Keenum for that last INT. It was not a Hail Mary.

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42 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Biebs // Oct 09, 2018 - 11:35am

Two Jets related notes:

1. How rare is it for a team to have both the best and worst RB in the same week? Seems like a particularly odd combination.

2. I'm curious where Enunwa ranked among worst WRs (He had 5 targets and 0 catches), I suspect the Jets had #1 RB, # 3WR and also worst RB and bottom 5 WR in the same week.

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48 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by ChrisS // Oct 09, 2018 - 12:01pm

Hey did you guys notice Drew Brees set some kind of record last night? And why were they kicking off after the record setting TD pass at the 20? Did NO get a penalty for excessive celebration (I can't believe it, but its the NFL so I can believe it)?

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51 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Bright Blue Shorts // Oct 09, 2018 - 12:24pm

Gamebook states "PENALTY on NO-M.Thomas, Unsportsmanlike Conduct, 15 yards, enforced between downs."

I was wondering about the gameball they give to the Hall of Fame. I've seen them give loads of these over the years. I can't imagine it makes for a particularly exciting exhibit. Big display of gameballs. Anyone been?

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65 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Bryan Knowles // Oct 09, 2018 - 1:47pm

The gameball itself is usually the most boring part of the display, but the HoF guys are good at presentation; it's usually the centerpiece of a thing with photos (and sometimes video) and maybe the jersey and descriptions of what went on and all that. I'm sure somewhere in the bowels of the building they have a room with just, like, hundreds of game-used footballs, just sitting there, and THOSE are probably boring.

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94 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Raiderjoe // Oct 09, 2018 - 6:59pm

Dong remwmber any exhibit that was just balls. What was seen there were glass tjings wirh dummy dressed in a jersey with photos next to it and a display eith some prose on what the exhibit is focused on. The ball, if there is one shown, is placed next to the dummy

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109 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Bright Blue Shorts // Oct 10, 2018 - 4:56am

Thanks Bryan and RJ for comments.

RJ - any HoF photos for your twitter feed?

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112 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Raiderjoe // Oct 10, 2018 - 6:43am

Not any on current phone. Actually dnt even recall taking photos there. Do recall tking photos outside tje Browns stadium, though.

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61 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by dmstorm22 // Oct 09, 2018 - 1:22pm

It's interesting to note how much more of a story Brees breaking the record was than when Manning broke it - probably because Manning was in teh midst of the worst start of his career, in the worst year of his career.

That was the game he went 5-20 with four INTs.

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62 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by theslothook // Oct 09, 2018 - 1:37pm

I've been thinking about how to rank Drew Brees all time. I don't know if its uncontroversial to say hes probably behind Brady and Manning. But what about others? Comparing him to Dan Marino, Steve Young, Aaron Rodgers, and more importantly, Brett Favre?

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64 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Oct 09, 2018 - 1:39pm

I think he has a lot of similarities to Marino and Tarkenton, in various aspects.

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66 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by theslothook // Oct 09, 2018 - 1:51pm

Ive been trying to think about era adjusting numbers. A big part of it is deciding if YAC is something QBs should be given credit for at all, a little, or for most of it? The research on this suggests its not related to the qb, but its a complicated question. Brees I believe has been a routine leader in YAC so that's going to deflate him quite a bit if you go that route.

Subjectively, I think Marino is a better player and I happen to be among a very small minority who considers Tarkenton a serious GOAT candidate.

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79 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by ChrisS // Oct 09, 2018 - 3:14pm

What makes Brees hard to rate is his unmitigated streak of outstanding performance as a QB without ever being the very best. It's hard to argue in any one year (maybe 2011) that he was the best QB but he has always been top 5 (at least). Looking at AV from PFR (a controversial statistic but consistent), since he became the anointed starter in 2004 his average AV is almost 16 and every year (but one at 20) it is between 14 &17

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80 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Richie // Oct 09, 2018 - 3:29pm

If a player is routinely a YAC leader, wouldn't that indicate he probably has something to do with it? He's had 12 different players with 750+ receiving yards in a season. Wouldn't that indicate Brees as being the key component?

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81 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by theslothook // Oct 09, 2018 - 3:31pm

Maybe. He also throws a lot. I don't know what the YAC per pass is for Drew Brees both compared to the league and how stable it is over time.

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104 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Duff Soviet Union // Oct 09, 2018 - 9:34pm

Marino is probably the best comparison in terms of consistently excellent, high volume performance for teams that continually finish 8-8 or thereabouts due to no fault of his own.

Mind you, I'm pretty sure Marino was better.

I'd rank Brees behind Manning, Brady and Marino, but ahead of Elway and Favre. Young and Rodgers are very interesting comparisons depending on how you value peak vs longevity. I'd take him over Young who benefitted from some of the best collections of teammates ever and also didn't last that long.

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68 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by dmstorm22 // Oct 09, 2018 - 1:54pm

It's odd that a few years ago (probably going into 2015), I was ready to put Rodgers ahead of Brees, with two MVPs, ridiculous rate statistics, still on a solid team (unlike Brees who was mired in 7-9-land through no fault of his own).

Since then, with Rodgers being hurt and slipping a bit, and Brees staying great, I think that has at least changed.

We have to start looking at 2010s numbers differently than 2000s numbers. I still think he has a ways to go to match Brady or Manning, and to be very honest I don't know if either is likely. He may beat Manning's numbers, be he won't from an era adjusted perspective, and advanced metrics perspective, not to mention more 'standard' things like MVPs, All-Pro's etc. Brady the same.

To me he's lock Top-10 and where in that range ymmv. I personally have him below (not necessarily in order) Manning, Brady, Montana, Unitas and maybe Marino

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69 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by theslothook // Oct 09, 2018 - 2:04pm

Part of what makes rankings hard is how much do you value peak vs longevity. Rodgers peak is absolutely higher than Brees, but Brees' incredible longevity is insane. How the weighting goes I guess is a matter of taste. I agree about the players you listed above(though Marino is not a maybe) are better. I'd also include Tarkenton.

The tougher debates are Elway, Steve Young, Aaron Rodgers, and Brett Favre. I probably have him behind all of them, but I could be swayed into think hes higher than them.

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70 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Oct 09, 2018 - 2:16pm

This is admittedly a biased and unscientific analysis, but I tend to use a "what if they played for the Lions" analysis.

So assume a few very good WRs #1 and #2, but no depth; no tight ends; no offensive line; and decent RBs (catching if nothing else).

Given those constraints, my list in order:

P. Manning, Rodgers, Elway, Favre, Tarkenton, Marino, Young, Brees, Montana, Brady.

I think the top 3 would prosper with those line constraints, the middle four would survive, and the last three would suffer.

Unitas and Tarkenton would have been godsends for the 60s Lions, but that was otherwise a good team.

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73 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Will Allen // Oct 09, 2018 - 2:35pm

Oh, Tarkenton on the 60's Lions would have produced an incredible rivalry with the Packers.

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75 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by theslothook // Oct 09, 2018 - 2:46pm

This gets to a fun conversation - how do we measure greatness? Zach Lowe posed it in an article he wrote a few years ago. Is it more impressive if a player made a horrible team decent, or a player who took a good team and made them great. His example - Westbrook could take an awful team to the playoffs more often than Kawhi Leonard could. But then, Kawhi on a good team like the Spurs would go farther than Westbrook would.

I don't know if there's a good answer here. I tend to think Favre and Rodgers can make a bad offense look great through physical talent and ad libbing, there are some seriously diminishing returns to doing that when you have a really good team and just need to let your players execute.

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84 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Joseph // Oct 09, 2018 - 4:14pm

Great comparison--I remember reading that article.
Lifelong Saints fan from New Orleans bias alert*
It is obviously hard to compare certain QB's even from the same era, because of how their teams are put together as a whole--many times based somewhat on that particular QB's skills. For example, PM would struggle behind the SEA line of the last few years b/c of their horrid blocking--but Rodgers (w/o this current knee issue) would do much better b/c of his particular skill set. Look at the difference on the Chiefs from last year to this year with Mahomes vs. Alex Smith; compare GB in the games Hundley was QB versus the games with Rodgers last year. I mean, let's be honest--Sean Payton's offense is designed to take advantage of Brees' talents, and would look very different with another QB. Their drafting/FA moves and contract extensions for certain players/positions reflect that emphasis.
Having stated all that, there are players in the HOF b/c of their longevity and sustained good play--and there are others who had shorter careers, but high peaks. To me, the handful of GOAT at their particular position are those who combine both. I don't know if Brees will ever be considered the greatest QB of all time, or even of his era--simply b/c Brady's career stats and team success (rings) will probably earn him both of those titles. However, when Brees' career is all said and done, I don't see how we will be able to put 5 other guys ahead of him. (If he gets another ring, it will help him with the "RINGZ!" crowd.) Barring injuries, he should finish with over 80,000 passing yards and 550 TD's--and 90,000 passing yards and 600 TD's are not exactly out of reach. I doubt he will throw for 5,000 yards again--Ingram and Kamara are too good. But by the end of 2019, he will have the 80K yards and 550 TD's. How much longer he plays will determine those final totals.
In my black and gold colored crystal ball, I see the all-time QB list in 2030 as Brady, Montana, Brees, Manning, Favre--in that order. Outside of Montana,3 are contemporaries, and Favre was somewhat with those 3. Even as a Saints fan, Brady's stats are similar to #3-5, and he has more rings as a tie-breaker. IMO, the difference between #3-5 is their overall stat totals. They all played in the same era with the same rules. Yes, each had some different circumstances--but it's not as if Brees will barely eclipse the yards and TD marks of the other 2. I can't see how someone in the future will say Manning>Brees, when Brees will probably (barring injuries) end up with 10K yards and 30-50 TD's more. I would also add that Manning will potentially have had 3 HOF skill players beside him during the majority of his career (Harrison, Wayne, and James), while Brees can only list Tomlinson and Gates--for a couple of years. Even these black and gold glasses don't see Colston getting near the HOF, although Mike Thomas' career is young--maybe he will.
It is way too different to try to compare Unitas, Graham, and others to 21st century QB's.

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85 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by theslothook // Oct 09, 2018 - 4:33pm

Manning's efficiency is much stronger than Brees' . Yes, the career totals are impressive, but no one is putting Favre as the GOAT when he held the passing totals. The five MVPs are also going to heavily outweigh Brees who is unlikely to win more than 1. Brees threw a lot and throws a lot. That helps him accumulate so many 5 thousand yard passing seasons and touchdowns.

The Manning supporting cast is tough argument because his career spanned so long. Yes, Harrison is a Hall of famer, but he played about half his career without Harrison and won another 3 mvps. Edge is even worse because he missed two seasons and his career with the Colts effectively ended in 2005. There's also the fact that Manning switched teams and head coaches multiple times and still maintained greatness. I will also say, the 2011 Colts serve as a kind of natural experiment to show just how big an impact a lost qb can have on a team.

I think for the casual fan/talking head - Brady is probably the unquestioned goat followed by Montana and then I think Manning probably slides at third given his mvps, two rings, and career numbers.

I personally think Brees will probably be called a top ten 10 qb by most pundits, even though they won't even begin to think who gets left off. Its something a lot of people do with Kobe Bryant.

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97 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Joseph // Oct 09, 2018 - 7:16pm

I won't say that PM or TB didn't deserve their MVP's--but I don't think it's ludicrous to suggest that the reason Brees has never won an MVP is because he played at the same time as those two and Rodgers. The year that Brees probably deserved a lot of individual/team accolades--when they went 13-0 to start the year and won the SB--Manning and the Colts started 14-0!
Let's also agree that for all-time, Manning vs. Brees RIGHT NOW has Manning in the lead, but Brees can still catch/surpass him.If Brees' level of play suddenly falls off a cliff next year, he doesn't--but if he plays at a top-10 QB for the rest of this year, and at least 2 more, then you have to account for how much difference there would be in their career totals. Brees isn't just "compiling" numbers--I mean, last year he set the completion percentage record AGAIN while leading the Saints to a division title!
So while I concede that Brees has thrown more passes, I don't think anyone would say that Brees hasn't been efficient while doing it. Sure there have been some games where he's piled on some garbage time yards and TD's. At the same time, numerous authors have demonstrated that Brees has had the worst defense of the big 4 (PM, TB, AR, & Brees), and has lost more regular season and playoff games where his defense surrendered a late lead than the other 3 (combined!, iirc.)

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100 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by theslothook // Oct 09, 2018 - 7:32pm

My point was - Manning has had more efficient and stronger peak seasons than Brees and has been doing it for a long time as well. That Brees accumulates more raw totals is a testament to his longevity, sure, but if you are asking me who the better quarterback was to face - I think you'd be hard pressed choosing Brees. I guess this gets to the topic of what "better" means. If I'm going to follow your logic, then Favre is clearly better than Montana because of the large difference in longevity. Is that something you are willing to say?

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123 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Joseph // Oct 10, 2018 - 12:35pm

Montana is better than Favre in my opinion. But lMO, sustained top 5 longevity is greater than short team great longevity. For example, compare Curtis Martin and Jerome Bettis to Terrell Davis. Others can differ, and that's OK. [Having said that, sustained averageness is NOT greater than several years of greatness. (Testaverde, Kerry Collins, etc.)]
I agree--peak PM>peak Brees. Manning missed one entire season for the neck issues, and sadly, his last year was terrible. If he doesn't miss that year, Brees is still obviously chasing him, and we aren't having this conversation yet.[And just maybe, PM's last year isn't horrible b/c of the injury.] At some point, Brees' larger numbers should outweigh PM's higher peak--but I agree that he isn't there yet.
Also, Brees hasn't hit his decline years yet. Some might argue about last season, but with Ingram and Kamara running extremely effectively, and the defense playing as well as it did, Brees' totals would have been lower than "normal" no matter what his age. Having said all that, let's see how Brees' "decline" goes. We have all seen players whose "decline" came quickly, and others whose "decline" led to several average seasons where they were reasonably effective with less of a workload than they were in their prime.

My opinion is that Brees plays this year + 2 more at a top-10 level before his decline. Obviously, a 2nd SB title could entice him to go out on top (in whichever of the next couple of years) instead of hanging on for a couple of sub-par years.

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125 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by theslothook // Oct 10, 2018 - 1:16pm

Montana played in 164 games, Favre played in 298 - that's an additional 8 seasons and change worth of games.

Brees has played - 253 games. Assuming he stays healthy, that will give him 264 games by seasons end. Manning's games played were 265, so basically, after this season, Brees and Manning will have played the same number of games.

Assuming Brees plays 3 additional seasons, the gap will not and likely never be as wide as it is between Favre and Montana, and yet you(and I think most people including me) are happy to say Montana was better despite a massive gap in longevity. Was peak Montana something like 8x the player Favre was at his peak? Doubtful, so we clearly aren't weighing peak and longevity the same.

I hate to sound like such a negative nancy on this, but if you are willing to weigh Brees' longevity enough to pass Manning, I don't see how you can't do the same for Favre.

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128 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Eddo // Oct 10, 2018 - 2:44pm

I agree with you; it seems like Joseph really likes Brees, and that is coloring his judgement.

That said, a few things.

The first is a nitpick: Montana wouldn't need to be 8x as good as Favre, more like 2x as good (Favre has 1.8x as many games played).

The second is that games aren't a great metric to use. By that logic, as you point out, Brees actually has fewer games and more yards than Manning. And yet, no one is disputing Manning's the "peak" candidate and Brees is the "longevity" one. (This means Brees is really the "volume" one.)

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129 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by theslothook // Oct 10, 2018 - 2:58pm

Yea you are right on both nitpicks.

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71 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by milo // Oct 09, 2018 - 2:27pm

Rodgers' peak of 4643 passing yards in a year is so much higher than Brees' 5 years of passing for +5000 yards that I can't possibly see Drew reaching such peaks.

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76 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by theslothook // Oct 09, 2018 - 2:48pm

Are you trying to argue passing yards are the barometer we should be using to measure peak, or for that matter, quarterback competence?

In any case, Brees vs Rodgers is a very interesting debate. I don't think its uncontroversial to say Rodgers' best few seasons are better than Drew Brees' best few seasons. No shame in that, those seasons are among the greatest of all time.

Rodgers having tailed off(admittedly from ridiculous heights) has given me some pause, but I still think he's the best qb in the league and has been for some time. I have never felt Brees was the best qb in the league

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78 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by milo // Oct 09, 2018 - 3:05pm

On the day after the #1 passing statistic record was set, yeah, I'll argue that. Remember Aesop: the tortoise beat the hare. The record is a result of sustained excellence, not merely very good.

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83 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Oct 09, 2018 - 3:40pm

Ladies... you're both ugly.

http://pfref.com/tiny/ZegdH

Brees passes a lot more. Rodgers takes more sacks and Brees throws more INTs. Rodgers is a better runner.

In the playoffs, they are shockingly similar.

And just for fun, now with Phil Rivers.
http://pfref.com/tiny/NRPTd

It's really hard to tell Rivers and Brees apart just from their rate stats.

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86 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by milo // Oct 09, 2018 - 4:49pm

Dude. Don't call ladies ugly. It's not a good line. Just an FYI. By the way, there were lots of good looking ladies at the game last night. We were all excited and we all had a great time. Even some of the Washington fans.

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82 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Richie // Oct 09, 2018 - 3:36pm

Come on. You realize that Brees threw 150(!) more passes to get to 5,400 yards than Rodgers needed to get to 4,600 yards. And Brees threw twice as many interceptions along the way. Those interceptions are part of the reason why he attempted 150 more passes.

Just judging a QB (or any player) based on total yards is the whole reason this site exists.

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137 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by milo // Oct 10, 2018 - 11:27pm

You realize that Brees threw 150 more passes at 5.73 yds/att. Rodgers passed for more yards than Brees once, in 2009. He threw 27 more passes for 46 more yards, 1.7 yds/att.

You think that: Just judging a QB (or any player) based on total yards is the whole reason this site exists.

From Football Outsiders 2008-2017 by season: (a common era, and essentially Rodgers' career)
Brees has more passing yards than Rodgers 9 to 1
Brees has more completions than Rodgers 10 to 0
Brees has a higher completion percentage than Rodgers 9 to 1
Brees has a higher NetYd/Pass 6 to 4. Rodgers' largest year advantage being 0.86. Brees' year advantage exceeds 0.86 4 times.
Brees threw more TD passes than Rodgers 8 to 2
Brees threw more INTs than Rodgers 10 to 0
Brees has a higher DYAR than Rodgers 8 to 2
Brees has a higher DVOA than Rodgers 6 to 4 and exceeds Rodgers' largest advantage of .165 4 times.

So. Yes, Rodgers throws fewer interceptions. According to this site and its reason for existing: Brees is better than Rodgers. Which is not my point. Trying to argue who is the best QB of all time is a fool's game. See irrational Brady-Manning threads. Brees is a great QB, a certain first-ballot hall of famer, and the all time passing yardage leader, along with a few other records. And he was polite enough to break the record in the first half, so you could go to sleep early and wouldn't have to watch any more of the Saints.

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140 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by sbond101 // Oct 11, 2018 - 9:21am

Seconded; There should be a whole thread for irrational "Aaron Rogers is the best QB of all time... (because he makes plays that are more spectacular than Brees, Manning, & Brady made in the same seasons, even if they weren't particularly more effective)". Not to knock Rogers, but there are definitely aspects of playing QB that Brees is very notably better at, and it comes out in the completion percentage & red zone efficiency stats. I also think that ideas about "peak" from other positions are poisoning our understanding of the QB position - given what has been observed in the careers of Manning, Brees, Brady, & Rothesburger, it's possible that Rogers may have some of the best statistical years of his career in front of him in his later 30's which will really impact the comparison.

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141 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Eddo // Oct 11, 2018 - 10:44am

Honestly, I probably come down on the Brees-over-Rodgers side, when you look at their whole careers, but your logic here is kind of infuriating. You've cited mostly volume stats, when one of the main arguments against Brees are "his totals are inflated by the fact he has so many more attempts than other QBs (due to team quality, coaching philosophy, or whatever)".

Looking at the same things, but as percentages, to control for attempts:

Yards per attempt: Brees 5, Rodgers 5
TD%: Brees 3, Rodgers 7
INT%: Brees 2, Rodgers 8

I think, if you're ranking QBs on a combination of peak and total value, you have to really, really weigh players' 2-3 best seasons highly in order to get Rodgers over Brees (Rodgers's 2011 and 2014, ANY/A of 10.5 and 9.5, are SO great). I would not do that, so I agree with your conclusion. But please, please, please stop citing volume statistics to prove Brees is better; Brees has averaged 144 more attempts per season than Rodgers over your 2008-2017 time frame.

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142 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Richie // Oct 11, 2018 - 1:32pm

" But please, please, please stop citing volume statistics to prove Brees is better; "

Yeah, that's my point as well. I'm not even sure which side I come down on Brees vs Rodgers. But I'm not using "count the 5,000-yard seasons" to get there.

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143 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by theslothook // Oct 11, 2018 - 2:28pm

I think this was the point I was trying to stress from the start and part of my frustration with the whole - Brees is the passing champ - therefore we must conclude he is better. Its funny, I never heard the same argument ever being uttered for Favre.

I have stated - how we judge longevity versus best collection of seasons is a complicated question and i think there's int a simple answer. People will weigh them how they want to weigh them and that's fine.

I think one reason people generally have Brady and Manning at the top of most lists is because they kind of satisfy everything. Their peak seasons are among the best ever(and which you prefer is again a matter of taste) and they've had remarkable longevity. Do 3 additional seasons for Brees overcome the disparity(not immense, but not insignificant) between their best seasons or rate statistics? I think most would say no.

What about Aaron Rodgers? As others have correctly pointed out - hes still in the meat of his career and we have no idea how long he will play. His best days might still be ahead of him. But since its fun as a discussion - I wanted to throw out given what we know now, who would we remember as the better player.

In my head, I feared Rodgers more than Brees, but again, we're comparing hall of famers here so its no slight.

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72 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by milo // Oct 09, 2018 - 2:34pm

Quarterbacks drafted in 1998 and 2001 are definitely from different era. Wouldn't want to compare Manning to Brees. Was that Archie that you meant played in a different era?

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105 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Duff Soviet Union // Oct 09, 2018 - 9:39pm

I know you're joking, but Manning had 3,509 attempts (including sacks) from 1998-2003 compared to 956 for Brees. That era was much harder for quarterbacks to post gaudy stats than 2004 onwards.

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106 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Duff Soviet Union // Oct 09, 2018 - 9:49pm

I know you're joking, but Manning had 3,509 attempts (including sacks) from 1998-2003 compared to 956 for Brees. That era was much harder for quarterbacks to post gaudy stats than 2004 onwards.

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107 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by theslothook // Oct 09, 2018 - 10:22pm

I think it was Chase Stuart who did a study showing in terms of general measures of efficiency, Manning was the leader by a non trivial amount(not sure if Brady has closed the gap significantly since then, but its possible). If one attempted even simple era adjustments, Manning starts to widen the gap further.

I'm not saying these things to argue definitively that Manning is the goat. I think Brady has a very real argument as do a handful of others. I just don't think Brees does at the moment.

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52 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Oct 09, 2018 - 12:26pm

Alex Spanos died.
http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/24941255/los-angeles-chargers-owner-a...

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56 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Will Allen // Oct 09, 2018 - 12:39pm

Unfortunately for Chargers fans, it is his son Dean who has been screwing things up for the past 25 years.

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87 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Vincent Verhei // Oct 09, 2018 - 4:55pm

Does Crowell's game register historically amongst the best running back games? I imagine he didn't have enough carries to rank too high historically speaking.

Not close. Best total DYAR is Priest Holmes with 152 against Seattle in 2002 (197 yards rushing, 110 yards receiving, three TDs). Best rushing DYAR is Corey Dillon's 126 for his 246-yard, 4-TD day against Tennessee in 1997.

The 68 yard pass to Thielen was not a Touchdown. It was thrown from their own 5.

Whoops! Got that confused with his short TD at the end of the first half. Fixed.

As I type that, it gets me thinking: how are the baselines done? I'm vaguely recalling that RB receiving DYAR is based on passes to other RBs, but not WRs. Is that true, or is it compared to all receptions?

WRs are compared to WRs. TEs are compared to TEs. RBs are compared to RBs. It's not a perfect system and it can make things complicated when analyzing Tavon Austin or other hybrid players, but the baselines aren't THAT different. Players who get lots of yards and touchdowns score highly. Players who don't, don't.

One thing that I think was understated in your analysis, Vince, is that Barkley's "boom-and-bust" output is mostly a function of the terrible O-line. Or rather, the "bust" is a function of the O-line.

"Which brings me back to the point I was trying to make with my Barkley Tweet in the first place: It's fine and dandy to have a premium running back ripping off the occasional highlight-reel run. But if your offensive line lets that runner get stuffed too often, none of those highlights will come in January."

Vince, how much DYAR did Rodgers lose for his two fumbles?

-74 (that includes the loss of yardage and the fumble).

Vince, I think Cousins was given a fumble when a running back turned a forward pass into a lateral, and then dropped it. How much DYAR did it cost him?

Indeed. -70.

2. I'm curious where Enunwa ranked among worst WRs (He had 5 targets and 0 catches), I suspect the Jets had #1 RB, # 3WR and also worst RB and bottom 5 WR in the same week.

Second-worst with -38 DYAR. It was close, but 0-for-6 beats 0-for-5.

Using "count da ringz" on a sample size of 18 for your analysis is sub-ESPN levels of analysis. That's the kind of drivel I would expect from the Bayless who can't cook, or from Screamin' A. You've insulted both yourself and your audience with that nonsense.

... pointing out that 13 of 18 teams missed the playoffs is "count the rings?" Well, whatever man, it's called Quick Reads for a reason. I'm not writing a thesis. I've got a day to crank this out. If you're not happy with it I suggest you find another column elsewhere.

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89 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Oct 09, 2018 - 5:18pm

If you selected 18 teams at random, you'd expect 7 to make the playoffs, 2 to make a Conf championship game, and just over 1/2 to win a SB.
You got 5, 2, and 0. That's a little low, but I suspect it's within a standard deviation.

It's also comparable to a quick perusal of QB boom/bust seasons. If you have the sort of bad line play that leads to such seasons, there is no optimal drafting strategy, especially for a rookie player. Look what the Mannings and Carrs did when thrown to the wolves behind shitty lines as a high draft picks.

Consider the 2004 Giants. That was an offense with 1 HoFer and two guys who have a shot (Tiki and Eli). Those QBs got murdered behind a line which couldn't manage power yards but was good at open field yards. It wasn't really until year 5 that Eli put it together. If you give Warner a sack % of less than 7 and Eli one of less than 6%, you get a decent season. In 2004, they were at 12%(!!!) and 7%.

Peyton actually did okay passing in 1998 with Indy's line, in terms of sack rate, but they couldn't power rush and he was an INT machine. It took him a year to adjust. But after 5 games he had 4 TDs, 12 INTs, and 11 sacks, and looked like a proto version of Bad Bortles.

You can stomp off if you want. There was nothing fundamentally wrong with your analysis, except you oversold the conclusions because you wanted to troll Giants fans. They aren't going to give back those two super bowl wins.

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95 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Bryan Knowles // Oct 09, 2018 - 7:02pm

Telling a Seahawks fan that the Giants won't give back those two Super Bowl wins is an odd point to end on.

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101 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Mountain Time ---- formerly Ninjalectual // Oct 09, 2018 - 7:53pm

Wow, without that play Cousins would have been 3rd this week. Ouch!

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111 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Will Allen // Oct 10, 2018 - 6:17am

He played tremendously, given the amount of pressure he was under.

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118 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Oct 10, 2018 - 10:34am

He was ice ice, baby.

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135 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Vincent Verhei // Oct 10, 2018 - 9:28pm

If you selected 18 teams at random, you'd expect 7 to make the playoffs, 2 to make a Conf championship game, and just over 1/2 to win a SB.
You got 5, 2, and 0. That's a little low, but I suspect it's within a standard deviation.

OK, there is a logical statement and point. The difference between those results and the real-life results are closer than I realized at the time.

My initial Tweet was a shot at the Giants organization, but I wasn't trolling Giants fans at any point here. And I have no idea what the 2007 and 2011 New York Giants have to do with the 2018 New York Giants.

Personally, I think you're obsessing over one minor sentence in a body of work that is nearly 4,000 words long.

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121 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Jose21crisis // Oct 10, 2018 - 11:47am

I was hoping to see James Conner in the Top RBs list. But considering how other backs also had a pretty good day (And Crowell had an amazing day), it was expectable to not seeing him here. I still wonder where he would have ranked.

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136 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by Vincent Verhei // Oct 10, 2018 - 9:30pm

Seventh overall among running backs. He actually had negative DYAR rushing (mainly due to a fumble, but also for failures to convert on first-and-4, second-and-3, and third-and-1) but made up for it with a big day receiving.

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122 Re: Week 5 Quick Reads

by big10freak // Oct 10, 2018 - 11:48am

Regarding sacks I won't speak for all Packer fans but Rodgers holding the ball for 20 seconds and getting himself creamed is getting way old.

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