Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry

QR Week 2: King Henry Goes Once More Unto the Breach

"In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood
Disguise fair nature with hard-favor'd rage."

—William Shakespeare, Henry V

Through the first six quarters of the 2021 season, Derrick Henry lay mostly modest, still, and humble. Then came halftime of Week 2, then came the blast of war, and then came a whole bucketful of hard favor'd rage. Just ask the Seahawks, who were trampled into the earth as Henry ran all over them, leading the Titans from a 24-9 halftime deficit to a 33-30 overtime win.

After two games, Henry has run 52 times for 240 yards and three touchdowns. He leads the league in all three categories, just like he did last year, and the year before that. But he only had 58 yards against Arizona in Week 1 and didn't look to be doing too much better in the first half of Week 2. Then things changed in a hurry. Here's a look at Henry's rushing splits by quarter from this past Sunday's game in Seattle:

Derrick Henry Rushing vs. Seattle,
Week 2, 2021
Qtr Runs Yds Avg. DYAR
1 6 9 1.50 -16
2 7 26 3.71 -2
3 9 40 4.44 21
4/OT 13 107 8.23 45
Total 35 182 5.20 48

Each of Henry's 17 carries in the third and fourth quarters came with Tennessee trailing by at least seven points. The Titans kept feeding him the ball knowing they needed big plays, and Henry delivered, moving the chains time after time. Eight of those 17 carries produced first downs, including a 60-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter and a 1-yard score late that forced overtime.

Henry also had a career-high six catches for 55 yards and 28 more DYAR, with five of those catches coming in the second half. Add in that receiving value and you get a total of 76 DYAR, best at his position this week (until the Monday night game). But today we're going to focus on rushing data, and in particular rushing DYAR. Henry's total of -18 DYAR in the first half was the worst of any running back this week, but his total of 66 after halftime was by far the best—no other running back reached even half that amount.

Henry has long had a reputation for wearing defenses down and playing better in the second half of games. The raw numbers back it up: Henry has rushed for nearly 1,000 more yards in the second halves (including overtime) of his 80 career games than in the first, jumping from a 4.2-yard average and 21 touchdowns in the first half to a 5.4-yard average and 35 scores after intermission. The highlights offer more evidence: Henry's long touchdown against Seattle was the 15th scoring play of 20-plus yards in his career. None of those touchdowns came in the first quarter, while four came in the second, four more came in the third, and seven came in the fourth quarter or overtime.

But those statistics can be somewhat skewed by circumstance (of course he has run for more yards in the second half, the Titans are usually winning) or sample size (15 plays do not an adequate population make). Our DYAR numbers can somewhat control for both of those factors. And they reach the same conclusion: more often than not, Henry has been a much better player in the second half of games.

Derrik Henry Rushing DYAR by Half, 2016-2020
Year Runs DYAR Rk 1H
DYAR
Rk 2H/OT
DYAR
Rk Dif Rk
2016 110 131 15 108 8 22 20 -86 37
2017 176 56 22 -16 40 72 9 88 1
2018 215 280 2 146 2 134 3 -12 24
2019 303 192 6 -26 39 218 1 244 1
2020 377 386 1 163 3 223 1 60 9

Not including this year, Henry has amassed 375 DYAR in the first half of games, compared to 669 after halftime. And those totals may actually undersell things because they include Henry's first two seasons, when he started only four games while splitting time with DeMarco Murray. (Is anyone else surprised that this is only Henry's fourth year as a starter? It feels like he has been ruining lives throughout the NFL for a decade.) When a back is in a timeshare, it can be hard to determine whether he is actually playing better late in the game, or whether he is benefitting from coming in fresh off the bench against a defense that has been worn out all day. Henry took over as Tennessee's full-time starter in 2018, and since then he has 283 rushing DYAR in the first half of games, but has more than doubled that with 576 DYAR in the second half/overtime. Much of that split comes from 2019, when Henry played below replacement level in the first half of games but was first in rushing DYAR after halftime, but the table shows that's an extreme example of a broader trend, not a one-time fluke.

That 2019 season is by far the largest second-half boost a runner has had since Henry entered the league in 2016. Marlon Mack's 2018 season is in second place, nearly 100 DYAR behind.

Top 10 RB Seasons, Better in Second Half/OT, 2016-2020
Year Player Tm Runs DYAR Rk 1H
DYAR
Rk 2H/OT
DYAR
Rk Dif Rk
2019 22-D.Henry TEN 303 192 6 -26 39 218 1 244 1
2018 25-M.Mack IND 195 215 4 34 24 180 2 146 1
2020 41-K.Drake ARI 239 57 30 -34 43 91 10 125 1
2020 20-T.Pollard DAL 101 91 19 -15 35 106 7 121 2
2018 20-I.Crowell NYJ 143 37 26 -38 42 75 9 113 2
2020 27-K.Hunt CLE 198 65 24 -20 38 85 11 105 3
2018 34-A.Collins BAL 114 -4 32 -54 44 50 14 104 3
2019 30-T.Gurley LAR 223 58 21 -19 34 78 10 97 2
2019 41-A.Kamara NO 171 81 19 -7 32 88 8 96 3
2016 28-A.Blue HOU 100 6 27 -43 40 49 15 92 1

Henry actually just missed making this table twice; his 2017 season was next on the list. Not surprisingly, most of these players were also part of committee backfields, and so their numbers may not be totally reliable. Only two besides Henry topped the 200-carry threshold: Kenyan Drake with Arizona last season and Todd Gurley with the Rams in 2019. Both of those teams got off to 6-4 starts before fading down the stretch and missing the playoffs, and both running backs changed teams the following year. Before we draw any meaningful conclusions, however, let's take a look at the flip side, the runners who were better in the first half:

Top 10 RB Seasons, Better in First Half, 2016-2020
Year Player Tm Runs DYAR Rk 1H
DYAR
Rk 2H/OT
DYAR
Rk Dif Rk
2017 25-L.McCoy BUF 286 -26 41 90 9 -116 47 -207 47
2020 25-C.Edwards-Helaire KC 181 13 33 103 6 -89 46 -192 47
2020 41-A.Kamara NO 187 253 5 218 1 35 24 -183 46
2019 21-M.Ingram BAL 202 257 3 207 1 50 17 -156 45
2018 28-A.Blue HOU 150 -94 44 27 29 -121 47 -149 47
2016 21-E.Elliott DAL 322 339 1 244 1 95 6 -149 42
2017 21-A.Abdullah DET 165 -9 36 69 17 -78 46 -147 46
2020 32-D.Montgomery CHI 247 58 28 98 9 -41 42 -139 45
2016 23-F.Gore IND 263 159 12 148 4 11 22 -137 41
2017 30-T.Gurley LAR 279 268 2 202 1 66 11 -135 45

Most of these players were bell-cow backs, with only four failing to hit 200 carries. And as a group, their teams fared better—none of them finished with a losing record while eight made the playoffs, compared to six playoff teams in the prior table. This may suggest that first-half production is more important to winning games than the ability to grind clock in the second half, but that is an essay for another day.

The real takeaway from these tables is that a lot of this data is just noise. Gurley, who saw a big second-half boost in 2019, had a massive second-half decline in 2017. Alvin Kamara also makes both tables. So does Alfred Blue. And both of Gurley's seasons came in a Rams uniform, while Kamara's were both with the Saints and Blue's were both with the Texans, so we can't attribute those swings to any change in the players' environments. This study includes more than 200 running back seasons, so when that many guys yo-yo from one extreme to the other, it shows how erratic these stats can be. Extreme DYAR totals are often determined by long runs and scoring plays, and the distribution of those plays is usually unpredictable.

Unless, of course, you are Derrick Henry. But then, Henry has been the exception to a lot of rules for some time now.

"But I will rise there with so full a glory
That I will dazzle all the eyes of France."

 

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
1.
Patrick Mahomes KC
25/31
343
3
1
0
148
151
-3
BAL
Oh look, Patrick Mahomes is No. 1. Like he was last week, and like he has been so many times in the past. He threw for 18 first downs against Baltimore on Sunday night, including seven in a row in one stretch over the second and third quarters. And once he crossed midfield, the Ravens were done—he completed seven of eight passes in Baltimore territory for 170 yards. Six of those completions picked up first downs, including three touchdowns; the other was a 7-yard gain on first-and-10. He did have lots of help from his teammates; his average completion gained a league-best 8.8 yards after the catch.
2.
Aaron Rodgers GB
22/27
255
4
0
3
144
154
-10
DET
3.
Derek Carr LV
28/37
382
2
0
2
143
149
-6
PIT
With about 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Raiders had a third-and-10 at their own 39, clinging to a 16-14 lead. Failure to convert would lead to a punt, giving the Steelers possession of the ball and plenty of time to drive for a go-ahead score. Carr, perhaps having grown accustomed to life on The Strip, went for broke, throwing a bomb to Henry Ruggs for a 61-yard touchdown. The game wasn't over at that point, but Pittsburgh never did have a chance to tie or take the lead after that. Given the down, the distance, and the score, it was such a big throw that Carr finished as the best passer on third downs and in the fourth quarter/overtime even though his other stats in those splits weren't terribly impressive—he only converted four of nine third-down throws, and his other eight dropbacks in the fourth quarter produced a total of 62 yards and three first downs.
4.
Tom Brady TB
24/36
276
5
0
3
124
119
4
ATL
As those five touchdowns would indicate, Brady was the NFL's best passer in the red zone, going 8-of-10 for 55 yards and all five scores, plus a DPI for 3 more yards and another first down. And when the Bucs weren't in the red zone, that was OK, because Brady was also best on deep balls, going 7-of-11 for 155 yards and a score, plus a 25-yard DPI.
5.
Teddy Bridgewater DEN
26/34
328
2
0
3
119
116
4
JAX
Bridgewater, as usual, threw a ton of short passes ... which is fine, because he also finished first in DYAR on passes to receivers within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage, going 24-of-27 for 240 yards and two touchdowns. (Boy, the AFC West sure has some great quarterbacks, right?)
6.
Matthew Stafford LAR
19/30
278
2
1
1
94
102
-8
IND
Stafford had a very streaky game in Indianapolis. He started with five first downs in a row, then had no first downs (but one interception) in his next four throws. Then he picked up four first downs in a row, but had just one first down in his next 11 dropbacks before closing with five first downs in his last seven. Through it all, he was still the NFL's top passer on throws to his left, going 11-of-15 for 188 yards and a touchdown.
7.
Tyrod Taylor HOU
10/11
125
1
0
0
84
72
12
CLE
Taylor only played until the middle of the second quarter before leaving with a rib injury; he was third in passing DYAR in the first quarter. He did not throw a single deep pass in his limited playing time.
8.
Russell Wilson SEA
22/31
343
2
0
3
84
93
-9
TEN
Wilson topped the NFL on throws to wide receivers, going 19-of-27 for 326 yards and two touchdowns, with a 28th throw resulting in a 10-yard DPI. For more information on Seattle's wideouts, please see the "Five Best Wide Receivers and Tight Ends by DYAR" table further down this page.
9.
Kyler Murray ARI
29/36
400
3
2
3
79
63
17
MIN
Murray took Cardinals fans on a rollercoaster ride on Sunday, with some very high highs but very low lows. That's perfectly summarized by his performance in the third quarter, when his first pass resulted in a pick-six and his last pass was intercepted just shy of the goal line. In between, however, he completed six straight passes for a total of 93 yards. Five of those completions picked up first downs, including a 9-yard touchdown to A.J. Green.
10.
Kirk Cousins MIN
22/32
244
3
0
1
77
61
16
ARI
In one stretch of this game from late in the second quarter to late in the fourth, Cousins picked up just one first down. In those 15 dropbacks, covering nearly 30 minutes of game time, Cousins went 7-of-14 for 60 yards with a sack and a fumble.
11.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
27/40
295
1
1
2
71
71
0
LV
Roethlisberger did not throw a single pass in the red zone, mainly because he struggled so badly between the Raiders' 20- and 40-yard lines. He only completed two of his eight passes in that range. One of those completions went for no gain; the other was a 25-yard touchdown, bypassing the red zone entirely.
12.
Daniel Jones NYG
22/32
249
1
0
4
68
28
41
WAS
This is my third year writing about Daniel Jones in Quick Reads, and it's not often that I have used the words "league's best quarterback" in connection with his name, but Jones was the league's best quarterback in the third quarter, going 11-of-13 for 142 yards and a touchdown; a 14th throw picked up 13 yards on a DPI.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
13.
Sam Darnold CAR
26/38
305
2
1
2
66
65
2
NO
Things change fast in the NFL. Darnold was the league's top quarterback in the first half, going 16-of-20 for 217 yards and two touchdowns. Then he was the league's worst quarterback in the third quarter, going 4-of-8 for 29 yards with an interception and a sack.
14.
Lamar Jackson BAL
18/25
239
1
2
1
65
22
43
KC
Jackson struggled badly as a passer inside the Chiefs' 30-yard line, going 5-of-9 for only 29 yards with no touchdowns but one interception.
15.
Jimmy Garoppolo SF
22/30
189
1
0
0
57
59
-1
PHI
Garoppolo threw seven passes in the first quarter, and not one of them counted as a successful play. Three were completed for 19 yards, but that includes a 10-yard gain on third-and-14 and an 8-yard gain on third-and-9. Fortunately for Garoppolo, Jalen Hurts and the Eagles were hardly setting the world on fire, so he and the 49ers were able to win even though he wasted that entire quarter.
16.
Ryan Tannehill TEN
27/40
347
0
0
3
54
46
9
SEA
Tennessee's last drive in the fourth quarter, ending in a touchdown to force overtime, was almost entirely built on no-huddle throws to running backs in the middle of the field. So it's no surprise that Tannehill was the top passer out of the no-huddle (10-of-14 for 102 yards), on throws to running backs (9-of-9 for 81 yards), and on throws to the short middle of the field (13-of-14 for 116 yards).
17.
Taylor Heinicke WAS
34/45
341
2
1
1
52
54
-2
NYG
Heinicke had a perfect night attacking the middle of the Giants' defense, completing each of his nine throws in that direction for 119 yards and a touchdown.
18.
Baker Mayfield CLE
19/21
213
1
1
2
38
54
-15
HOU
In Week 1, Mayfield specialized on deep balls. He changed up his whole strategy in Week 2, and this time he ended up the top passer on throws to receivers at or behind the line of scrimmage, completing each of his eight throws for a total of 100 yards. Six of those passes produced first downs, including a 33-yard touchdown to Demetric Felton.
19.
Andy Dalton CHI
9/11
56
1
0
1
32
22
10
CIN
The Bears need ... well, a lot of things, but they could really use a dedicated YAC specialist. Dalton's average completion gained a league-worst 1.8 yards after the catch; his teammate Justin Fields was third-worst at 2.5.
20.
Dak Prescott DAL
23/27
237
0
1
2
19
19
0
LAC
Establish the what now? Prescott completed each of his nine passes on first down for a total of 122 yards. Five of those completions moved the chains, eliminating the need for second and third downs entirely.
21.
Justin Herbert LAC
31/41
338
1
2
2
5
4
1
DAL
For the second straight week, Herbert was the NFL's worst quarterback in the red zone. Inside the Dallas 20, he went 3-of-7 for 14 yards with one touchdown, one interception, and one sack. That brings his red zone totals this year to two touchdowns, two interceptions, three sacks, and a fumble.
22.
Jalen Hurts PHI
12/23
190
0
0
2
-4
-30
34
SF
Hurts' totals include -8 DYAR receiving for his only target, an incompletion. Hurts was kind of the anti-Baker Mayfield in that he threw a lot deeper this week. In Week 1, Hurts' average pass traveled a league-low 3.8 yards beyond the line of scrimmage; in Week 2, that average was a league-high 14.2 yards. Mind you, there's a difference between deep passes and deep completions. Hurts had eight of the former but only two of the latter, though those two completions did produce 117 yards.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
23.
Jared Goff DET
27/36
246
2
1
1
-8
-11
3
GB
24.
Josh Allen BUF
17/33
179
2
1
1
-22
-43
21
MIA
It's a little surprising to see Allen so low, considering the Bills won this game 35-0. It certainly didn't help that Allen was so inept in the second quarter. He threw for only one first down in those 15 minutes, going 3-of-8 for 15 yards with an interception.
25.
Carson Wentz IND
20/31
247
1
1
3
-28
-36
8
LAR
By DYAR, Wentz finished last among quarterbacks in throws down the middle going 2-of-5 for 19 yards with an interception.
26.
Davis Mills HOU
8/18
102
1
1
1
-38
-28
-10
CLE
It's easy to forget given the final margin, but the score was tied when Mills came into the game in the second quarter. His first pass was an incompletion on third-and-6; his second pass was an interception on third-and-10. By the time he threw his third pass, they were down by 10 points, and every pass he threw for the rest of the day came with that same 10-point deficit.
27.
Mac Jones NE
23/30
186
0
0
3
-56
-56
0
NYJ
Two games into his NFL career, Jones has handled the "don't do any bad things" part of his job pretty well, but it would be nice if he would improve at the "do some good things" part. He was useless inside the Jets' 30-yard line, completing four of seven passes for 8 yards and no first downs. Those four completions: 1-yard loss on first-and-10; 2-yard gain on second-and-16; 8-yard gain on second-and-10; 1-yard loss on third-and-9. Oh, and then there's the 20 yards he lost on a sack and an intentional grounding foul. So I guess he could get better at avoiding bad things too.
28.
Matt Ryan ATL
35/46
300
2
3
1
-97
-87
-10
TB
Ryan led the league with 13 failed completions this week. On a related note, he had the league's worst DYAR by a country mile on throws to receivers at or behind the line of scrimmage, going 10-of-13 for 52 yards (23 of them on one play) with one touchdown and two, count 'em, two pick-sixes. Both of those were intercepted by third-year corner Mike Davis. The second one, officially, had a depth of target of -19 yards, which is about the lowest you will ever see in an NFL game.
29.
Trevor Lawrence JAX
14/33
118
1
2
1
-112
-124
13
DEN
With a minute to go in the first half, the Jaguars had a first-and-5 in Denver territory, trailing 10-7 in what was still a very winnable game. Lawrence promptly threw incomplete on first, second, and third down before scrambling for a fourth-down conversion. He followed that up by throwing incomplete on first, second, and third down again, then watching Josh Lambo miss a field goal attempt. That was the start of a very, very terrible stretch of football that lasted the rest of the game. Including those six throws, Lawrence only completed four of his last 16 passes, for a total of 25 yards. In those 16 plays, he threw for more interceptions (two) than first downs (one), and took a sack for good measure.
30.
Justin Fields CHI
6/13
60
0
1
2
-122
-121
-2
CIN
Even while splitting time with Andy Dalton, Fields had the league's worst DYAR on third downs. He went 3-of-7 for 19 yards, and though he did convert a third-and-4 and a third-and-13, he gave that value back with an interception and a sack that lost 16 yards and ended in a fumble.
31.
Jacoby Brissett MIA
25/40
169
0
1
4
-130
-123
-7
BUF
Brissett managed to finish with the league's worst DYAR on deep balls (0-for-3 with an interception) and on throws to running backs (4-of-7 for 21 yards). Inside the Buffalo 40, he went 5-of-11 for 36 yards with an intentional grounding, a sack, and an interception.
32.
Jameis Winston NO
12/22
111
0
2
4
-138
-155
16
CAR
Winston only threw for three first downs in this game: one with New Orleans down by 10, one down by 17, and one down by 19. None of them came in Panthers territory, where he went 1-of-5 for 3 yards (not a typo) with two interceptions and two sacks.
33.
Joe Burrow CIN
19/30
207
2
3
4
-158
-158
0
CHI
You have probably heard by now that Burrow threw interceptions on three straight passes in the fourth quarter, but you may not have heard that each of those throws was targeted at receivers within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. That's the biggest reason Burrow was the worst passer on short throws, going 18-of-27 for 165 yards and that terrible trio of turnovers.
34.
Zach Wilson NYJ
19/33
210
0
4
4
-187
-193
6
NE
Wilson's first pass against New England was intercepted. So was his second. And his fifth. And his 10th. By that point Wilson had only completed four passes for a total of 54 yards. That fourth one came midway through the third quarter; the majority of Wilson's passes came while down by multiple scores in the second half. Wilson had 10 dropbacks with 5 yards or less to go and failed to pick up a first down on any of them, going 1-of-8 for 3 yards with two sacks and two of those interceptions.

 

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.
Aaron Jones GB
17
67
1
6/6
48
3
87
19
69
DET
2.
Derrick Henry TEN
35
182
3
6/6
55
0
74
48
26
SEA
3.
Tony Pollard DAL
13
109
1
3/3
31
0
72
55
17
LAC
Each of Pollard's 13 carries gained at least 3 yards. Six went for first downs, including gains of 16, 23, and 28 yards. He picked up two more first downs as a receiver.
4.
Nick Chubb CLE
11
95
1
1/1
3
0
40
42
-2
HOU
Chubb was stuffed just once while rushing for five first downs, including gains of 10, 14, 21, and 26 yards.
5.
J.D. McKissic WAS
4
10
1
5/6
83
0
36
16
20
NYG
McKissic only gained 10 yards against the Giants, but that's OK when all your carries come in short yardage. Three of his carries produced first downs; the other was a 2-yard gain on second-and-3. He only gained one first down as a receiver, but that one was a 56-yard gain in the fourth quarter.

 

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.
Tony Pollard DAL
13
109
1
3/3
31
0
72
55
17
LAC
2.
Derrick Henry TEN
35
182
3
6/6
55
0
74
48
26
SEA
3.
Nick Chubb CLE
11
95
1
1/1
3
0
40
42
-2
HOU
4.
Dalvin Cook MIN
22
131
0
2/3
17
0
31
29
2
ARI
Cook was inconsistent against Arizona, getting stuffed a half-dozen times. But his good runs were very good. He had eight first downs on the ground and seven gains of 10-plus yards.
5.
Ezekiel Elliott DAL
16
71
1
2/2
12
0
29
22
8
LAC
Elliott's longest gain was only 19 yards and he only ran for four first downs, but 10 of his carries gained 3 yards or more and he was only stuffed twice.

 

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.
Alvin Kamara NO
8
5
0
4/6
25
0
-48
-31
-17
CAR
None of Kamara's runs produced a first down, and only one was successful: a 5-yard gain on first-and-10, his longest run of the day. He was stuffed three times, including a 7-yard loss on second-and-goal from the 1. None of his receptions produced first downs either, and they included such notable catches as a 7-yard gain on third-and-18, a 3-yard gain on second-and-19, and a 7-yard gain on third-and-16.

 

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.
Cordarrelle Patterson ATL
7
2
1
5/6
58
1
0
-32
31
TB
Yes, he's a running back now ... but given these splits, maybe not for long. As a receiver, he had two gains of 23 yards, plus a 7-yard touchdown. As a rusher, however, his 10-yard touchdown was his only successful carry. None of his other runs gained more than 2 yards and four were stuffed, including a botched direct snap that ended up losing 9 yards.

 

Five Best Wide Receivers and Tight Ends by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Cooper Kupp LAR
9
11
163
18.1
2
76
IND
Kupp's totals include -10 DYAR rushing for his one carry, a 5-yard loss. But eight of his nine catches gained at least 11 yards and a first down; the other was a 9-yard gain on first-and-10. Two of those first downs were gains of 43 and 44 yards.
2.
Tyler Lockett SEA
8
11
178
22.2
1
52
TEN
Lockett was not as reliable as Kupp. He only produced five first downs, and one of those was on a 10-yard DPI. But his catches included a 63-yard touchdown as well as gains of 27 and 51 yards.
3.
Chris Godwin TB
4
5
62
15.5
1
47
ATL
Each of Godwin's four catches produced a first down, and he had two more first downs and 24 more yards on a pair of DPIs.
4.
Freddie Swain SEA
5
5
95
19.0
1
46
TEN
Swain's totals include 3 DYAR rushing for his one carry, a 5-yard gain. Only three of his catches produced first downs, but two of those were third-down conversions, and one of those was a 68-yard touchdown.
5.
Travis Kelce KC
7
8
109
15.6
1
45
BAL
Six of Kelce's catches produced first downs, the longest a 46-yard touchdown. The other was a 7-yard gain on first-and-10. All of his targets, by the way, came within 7 yards of the line of scrimmage, so he was putting in a lot of work after the catch.

 

Worst Wide Receiver or Tight End by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Laviska Shenault JAX
2
7
-3
-1.5
0
-49
DEN
Shenault's totals include -3 DYAR rushing for his one carry, which resulted in no gain. One of his catches was a 5-yard gain on third-and-4, the only conversion Shenault had on four third-down targets. The other was an 8-yard loss on first-and-10.

Comments

43 comments, Last at 21 Sep 2021, 7:49pm

1 Two questions.

Firstly, I’m wondering how close Courtland Sutton was to the top 5?

Secondly, is there any chance of switching the text reports in the table to proportional type, it is much easier to read, especially on smaller screens?

2 correction, I think?

Either "UNTIL the second half" or "in the FIRST half" for that second paragraph, no? Or am I missing something there?

3 The Bears need ... well, a…

The Bears need ... well, a lot of things, but they could really use a dedicated YAC specialist. Dalton's average completion gained a league-worst 1.8 yards after the catch; his teammate Justin Fields was third-worst at 2.5.

This is what I said after the ridiculously obvious defensive game plan the Rams had last week: the QB in there almost doesn't matter. They just don't have any real short/middle field threats in the passing game. Doesn't matter if Fields has a stronger arm - why would teams care about underneath targets when they're not really a threat?

And this isn't exactly a new thing: Bears have literally been bottom 5 in YAC/reception since PFR's started tracking it. Every year. They don't have a decent receiving back (heck they don't have a "meh" receiving back), they don't have a tackle-breaking TE, they don't have a shifty WR. About the only hope they have for a short/middle field threat is to just keep feeding Montgomery and hope he breaks a tackle - but obviously the safeties aren't going to come down for that!

I mean, of course, this isn't super-surprising: if you think Ryan Pace doesn't know what he's doing acquiring QBs, it ain't surprising he doesn't know what he's doing acquiring other guys on offense either. 

It's not a QB problem either: plenty of high-YAC guys on teams with bad QBs. 

8 Do you think this is personnel or scheme?

The 49ers seem to always find good YAC guys in the draft. Kittle and Deebo are obviously elite at this. Other guys like Jeff Wilson as an UDFA RB make me think it is a scheme issue. The Rams and Chiefs do the same. Seems like a combo of personnel and scheme. One thing is for sure though, not having guys who can create after the catch makes your QB's life much harder. Jimmy was bad this week and was still productive because of Deebo turning short routes into first downs and long gains. Mahomes was able to lean on a lot of YAC from Kelce as well. The Bears have to figure this out because the lack of YAC is definitely making the defense's lives a lot easier.

20 I think a lot of it is…

I think a lot of it is personnel. There's definitely scheme component for the "short YBC/high YAC" guys (typically RBs, but Samuel fits that type), but at least for the Bears, I think it's personnel. They've had a decent receiving back who could gain YAC (I mean, an average amount) - Cohen - but if they were counting on him for this year then man Pace needs to be fired. But the other guys they have are all pure rushers. And that's a huge problem. I mean, if they thought Damien Williams would cover Cohen out... huh?

But for WRs, I don't think a ton of it is scheme at all. The reason the Chiefs "always" have these guys is they seriously prioritize those types. Hardman, 5'10, 187. Hill, 5'10, 185. Look at their spider graphs from the draft: they're "fast, small, explosive." Then look at, say, Allen Robinson, and it's completely different. So it's just a choice of who you want there.

That being said I don't think the Bears are just purposefully ignoring those types, I just don't think they're good at finding them. Both Mooney and Goodwin naively profile to that, but, I mean, neither of them are really all that good

27 The Ravens live in a different world

The numbers showed that he struggled passing inside the 30, yet the Ravens were 4-4 on red zone opportunity TD’s.  They can run to overcome the at times inefficient passing of their QB, including having Lamar doing the running himself.

6 The rookie QBs are off to a really rough start

It would be interesting to get a comparison to past rookie classes through 2 weeks to see how normal this actually is. Shanahan is looking like a genius for rolling with Jimmy and keeping Trey on the bench. Samples are tiny on Fields and Mills, but they look really bad. Zach and Trevor are sprinkling in incredible throws with some absolutely awful decisions. One nice somewhat hidden highlight for Trevor has been avoiding sacks. Mac has been the best rookie QB by default. I didn't watch much of the NE vs. NYJ game, was NE just running awful routes or is Mac just checking down too much? Considering the lead and opponent I can understand getting extremely conservative to avoid turn overs but those inside the 30 numbers are really bad. Mac looked pretty average last week, which is great for a rookie in week one, against a good pass defense. I guess this is all a good reminder of how much harder it is to play QB in the NFL.

12 Mac Jones is fine

He's completed over 70% of his passes in each of his first two starts.  DVOA doesn't like him because he isn't throwing TD passes and he's taken some sacks, neither fact is really entirely a reflection on his play.   The sacks are due to poor O-line play and the red zone issues are also driven by the play calling. 

Opponent adjustments aren't helping: the Jets are dreadful and the Dolphins followed up their win with a complete face-plant vs. Buffalo.

As for whether Mac is "checking down too much," that's an ongoing debate among the fans.  I think people have forgotten how Brady started in 2001.  It looked a lot like this - for years, Brady was derided as nothing more than a "game manager".  

Zach hasn't looked good.  Trevor looks like he'll be fine once he has an actual NFL team to play with.

14 I was going to say, not…

I was going to say, not looking like you're awful really should be considered a win for a rookie quarterback. 

I also agree, there's no sense in overlooading his plate to start. In 2009 the Patriots took a very slow approach to Matt Cassel before letting him rip. And as you mentioned, Brady took this same approach for quite some time, slowly expanding his role.

That doesn't imply Mac is headed for superstardom. But it's been encouraging so far

18 I'm pretty sure there are no…

I'm pretty sure there are no opponent adjustments right now for opposing defenses.

Jones is a game manager - which is good for a Patriots team that is built on playing stout defense and running the ball behind an excellent o-line.

21 DVOA doesn't like him…

DVOA doesn't like him because he isn't throwing TD passes and he's taken some sacks, neither fact is really entirely a reflection on his play. 

DVOA has him at around -6%! For a rookie QB, that's great! Most rookies improve by around ~15% from year 1 to year 2 and then smaller improvement after that. By that profile, Mac Jones is absolutely fine - jeez, a 10% DVOA passer in year 2 is totally a keeper.

23 No opponent adjustments yet…

In reply to by RickD

No opponent adjustments yet.  Once those come, Jones' DVOA numbers will presumably go down.  Not sure that passing TDs matter that much, either.

Bigger issue for Jones' DYAR/DVOA is that his average passing play isn't very good compared to the league average.  However, the league average QB has at least one decent receiver to throw to, whereas Jones' best guy lines up in the backfield.  Even Heinicke at least has McLaurin as part of his receiving corps to go along with a hope and a prayer.  It's tough to fault Jones for a crappy passing rating when the only open guy is the check-down option.

Now the above is based on the parts that I saw of Jones' two games.  I haven't seen the All-22 film so maybe guys are getting open and Jones isn't pushing the ball to them.  If so, that might have cost them against MIA.  Hard to fault him on even that, though, against NYJ, where being a game-manager and avoiding risky throws was all that was required for the W.

13 Mac was typically checking…

Mac was typically checking down and taking the easy yards.

It's worth noting that the Patriots biggest weakness offensively for years has been a lack...or to be more accurate, no wide receivers who can get separation from a man defender...especially as the field gets shorter.

 

Also, I'll second what was said above:  Mac reminds me of nothing so much as Tom Brady, circa 2001.

17 the complaints

The fans who are upset concede that the WR corps isn't very good, but the Pats got Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry in the off-season.  Why isn't McDaniels drawing up plays for them? the fans say.  

You might be surprised at how many people are certain they could call plays at an NFL level better than Josh McDaniels.  

Personally, I think things are proceeding apace.  The Pats are not going to be a Super Bowl contender this season, but they're headed in the right direction.  

7 More opportunities

More chance to break one that skews a lot. 

35 for 182 is fine. Then you learn one was 60 yards and 34 for 122 is <3.6ypc and that's not looking as hot when the exception is taken away. 

Part of the reason they were down for so long.

10 35 for 182 is fine. Then you…

35 for 182 is fine. Then you learn one was 60 yards and 34 for 122 is <3.6ypc and that's not looking as hot when the exception is taken away. 

But that's how RB stats are. You don't average 5 yards per carry by carrying the ball exactly five yards every time.

11 Yeah. That's how it goes for everything.

Even passing. Keep feeding anyone anything and they're bound to break one off and inflate things. Guy with the most carries has the most yards and touchdowns, as he should. 

But efficiency>>>>totals

And we know passing is more efficient in the long run.

37 The whole purpose of DVOA…

The whole purpose of DVOA/DYAR is to dig deeper than x yards per carry etc. How many of those runs were for first downs? Or touchdowns? In fact a frequent observation about DVOA is that it often appears to undervalue big plays. 

More carries also equals more chance to fumble, so that cuts both ways.

That said, I’m surprised Henry’s day rated quite so highly because it looked extremely inefficient for his first 20 carries or so. Clearly that was more than compensated for later on. 

41 Propped up

almost entirely by the 60 yard TD. Which happens occasionally but it certainly skews things. Not as rare in passing. But 14 1D+TD on the season for Henry...taken more total carries each game than that total. Writers can tell us the day without the 60 yard TD and I'm sure it drops a good amount. 

Fumbles are true but aren't inherently as bad an INTs (and TDs are more impactful anyway). Henrys been good at that.

And comparing across positions, no one should think Pollard is better than Dak despite DVOA (per play). Hopefully they aren't advocating for more Pollard rushes over Dak passes. 

Hopefully no one is taking away from that Seattle game that it's a sound strategy in the long run. And ultimately I think we've seen the ceiling of this core Titans team already (2019).

9 I'll tease a bit and say I…

I'll tease a bit and say I've done some preliminary analysis that shows it is indeed the case that careers for running backs are shorter than they have been in the past, although again, don't want to state that definitively yet.

I won't haphazard a guess as to why, but the implications would be that the standards for a hall of Fame career should be lowered for running backs relative to the past.

That means if Derrick Henry puts up a solid to pretty good year this year, I think he will have earned HOF merit.

As it is, I thought the Titans made a huge blunder with his contract. So far I've been proven very wrong and just him rushing for 2,000 yards last year may have meant I'm completely wrong regardless of what he does for the rest of his career.

That said, if another running back put together his same career up to the contract extension point, I would still be maintaining they should be letting him walk.

 

 

 

15 I think it's competition

There are more pro-ready RBs coming out of college than ever before, and very few of them are truly outstanding beyond the rest of the field. Aside from Henry, and maybe Chubb and a couple others, most of today's RBs are replaceable.  Which isn't to say that they aren't very good, just that there are a lot of them.

And by the time they've been in the NFL four years, there's a new cohort of RBs to replace them.  RBs are really screwed over by the rookie salary cap structure, BTW. 

Consider that the Patriots won 6 Super Bowls without an elite, traditional bell cow RB.  (Well,  maybe one season of Corey Dillon.) The Pats churn through RBs every few years - not only the big guy for 1st and 2nd down, but also a receiving 3rd down back (Faulk, Woodhead, Vereen, and now White). 

16 No doubt.  If you, or…

No doubt.  If you, or someone you love, is a running back with a chance to make the NFL....change your position.  Safety, linebacker, wide receiver, or whatever.  Trade in short-term unhappiness for a shot at a second contract.

24 Yup, RB careers and career…

Yup, RB careers and career earnings are almost certainly impacted more negatively by the rookie salary structure than any other position.  It's a convergence of 4 factors:

1. Passing game becoming more efficient than the running game in the pros;

2. Analytics recognizing that above a certain level of competence, who you have as RB rarely has a material impact on the outcome of a play;

3. RB still being a star position in high school and college that draws a lot of top athletes to the role, so there's a steady supply of new players each year who have the required level of competence; and,

4. Rookie salary structure that favors always dressing a rookie over a veteran unless the veteran is much better at their job.

 

 

28 Replying to all three of you…

Replying to all three of you.

I should stress this point. The study I was doing wasn't looking at pure churn among running backs but really among the established workhorses(which I won't define here, but I spent a lot of time thinking about to define this). 

Basically, if you have a hall of fame quality back today vs in the past - are they both likely to have the same career longevity as workhorse backs(not purely do they stay in the league the same). Basically, does Derrick Henry have a much worse future as a star today than had he been plopped into the 90s? The answer appears to be yes.

The reasons why are more puzzling to me for a few reasons. Why is it the case that running backs are more adaptabe to the pro game today vs in the past? What changed? And why has this not happened to other positions? I don't think anyone knows for sure.

The rookie wage scale certainly explains some of it, but guess what...this has been a time trend even before the rookie wage scale.

Passing game devaluing running backs shouldn't explain why rbs are being put out to pasture sooner. In fact, you compare the workloads of prior year rbs to todays and you see a dramatic reduction in the workloads today. That would seem to imply the opposite - that the rbs today may not produce huge seasons, but they should hang around longer because they aren't getting the same wear and tear.

Again, I have some preliminary model results. Going to try to add more complexity, but so far, this has been the picture I have been getting.  

35 You could add: 5. RBs come…

You could add:

5. RBs come into the league pretty much as good as they're going to get. 

I mean, their blocking might improve a bit, but their running is only likely to stay the same or decline.  This partly is related to #3...one reason there's a steady supply of new players is that it doesn't take a years for RBs to mature in the NFL game. 

33 Corey Dillon 2004 certainly…

Corey Dillon 2004 certainly qualifies - 345 carries with 4.7 YPC and over 1600 yards.  No one else on the Belichick Pats is particularly close.  However, using that team as evidence for most any pattern is problematic.  Consider that they also won those 6 Lombardis without a true #1 receiver.  (And were famously 0-1 in SBs during the 3 years of Randy Moss.)   Proving nothing, or close to it.  

19 K

I'll support Jacoby still. The write up doesn't include the obvious fact he had 2 out of 40 clean pockets to throw those passes. No QB played behind a line as horrible as Miami's line ... besides Tua who got hurt. That he finished the game was amazing. No QB can function when their line allows that many pressures.

22 Yeah, given that QB DVOA…

In reply to by johonny

Yeah, given that QB DVOA with pressure last year was about -71% with pressure, and +41% without, it really is worth taking into consideration when evaluating passing performance. Average pressure rate is around 25%, so if a guy is getting pressured on 50% or more of his dropbacks, even -130 DYAR might not be all that bad, given such dire circumstances.

26 You may force me to upgrade Bridgewater

In reply to by johonny

I am for the time being sticking with TEDDY (Tolerably Efficient Dink Dunk Yards) Bridgewater, but if this keeps up he may become TEDDY (Terrifically Efficient Dink Dunk Yards).  
 

When you think it is time for an upgrade, please let me know.

25 Where did Corey Davis end up?

I was fully expecting to see Corey Davis as the worst WR since he was targeted on 2 INTs and only had 2 catches for 8 yards on 5 targets.  Where did he end up?

29 Thanks to a minor copy…

Thanks to a minor copy-editing mishap, I am now haunted by the image of Derrick Henry---fat dreadlock and all---headed feet-first down some poor person's birth canal.

31 Feedback

Firstly, I’m wondering how close Courtland Sutton was to the top 5?

He was ninth with 36 DYAR. Three incompletions and two failed completions kept him out.

Jackson struggled badly inside the Chiefs' 30-yard line I would disagree with this statement.

Clarified to say he struggled as a passer.

I was fully expecting to see Corey Davis as the worst WR since he was targeted on 2 INTs and only had 2 catches for 8 yards on 5 targets.  Where did he end up?

-23 DYAR, 10th-worst. For receivers, we treat INTs like any other incomplete passes, so Davis isn't killed for them. And Davis did pick up 19 yards and a first down on a DPI.

Thanks to a minor copy-editing mishap, I am now haunted by the image of Derrick Henry---fat dreadlock and all---headed feet-first down some poor person's birth canal.

I like a good bit of snark as much as anyone--this column is basically a few thousand words of snark--but when we make a mistake, it's most helpful to point out where that mistake is made. Because I'd like to go in and fix that minor copy-editing mishap, but I have no idea where it is.

32 error

In reply to by Vincent Verhei

Breach not breech

34 AH. OK, yes, that's…

In reply to by LyleNM

AH. OK, yes, that's important. Surprised only one person pointed it out since it's in the headline and all. Thank you!

36 Garappolo rush DYAR

He had 11 rushing attempts:

1st downs on 

4 -1, 3-1, 3-1, 2-1 (TD), 3-1

7 yards on 1-10, 2 yards on 1-10

3 kneel downs.

One aborted snap turned into first down due to penalty.

So 4 first downs, one TD, one successful run and one unsuccessful run for total of -1  DYAR. Does not make sense to me.

38 The aborted snap was not…

The aborted snap was not wiped out by the penalty; the penalty happened after the play. They had a second-and-7 at the 35 when they lost 8 yards on the aborted snap. That puts the ball at the 27 and makes it a third-and-15. But then the Eagles had a personal foul that moved the ball 15 yards forward and gave San Francisco a first down at the 42. So the aborted snap still counts; otherwise, the penalty would have moved the ball to the 50 instead of the 42. Garoppolo lost 18 DYAR on that play, so you can add that to his rushing DYAR if you want to.

40 It was not aborted snap really

It was a toss play and RB dropped the ball. Not sure why it was recorded as a fumble on the QB.  I understand you go by play data from NFL. But I see this often as QB center exchanges and these type of plays credited to the QB which as far as I can tell have no predictive relevance for the QB play. I am not sure what better way there is to count them as part of QB dyar though. (maybe assign half the blame to QB). 

39 What would Herbert's DYAR be…

What would Herbert's DYAR be if he got credit for the 37 TDs he threw that got called back for dumb holds.