How Low Can Sam Ehlinger and the Colts Go?

Indianapolis Colts QB Sam Ehlinger
Indianapolis Colts QB Sam Ehlinger
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

Editor's Note: As this article was being written, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed during Monday Night Football and was taken to a local hospital, where he was listed in critical condition. We decided to delay the release of this article, and though it has been published, we ask you to remember that there are more important things in this life than touchdowns and interceptions.

NFL Week 17 - It has been a very bad year for the Indianapolis Colts, and for their quarterbacks in particular. With news breaking that Sam Ehlinger will start the season finale, the Colts' terrible trio could reach nigh-unprecedented levels of losing.

It all started in March, when the Colts traded a third-round pick to the Atlanta Falcons in exchange for Matt Ryan. The veteran came with a massive contract, but he was expected to bring stability and veteran presence to a team that had narrowly missed the playoffs in 2021. Instead, Ryan has been the worst veteran quarterback to start for a new team in years (yes, even worse than that guy in Denver). Among qualifying passers, Ryan ranks among the bottom 10 in touchdown rate, interception rate, yards per throw, and sack rate. At Football Outsiders, Ryan ranks next to last in both DYAR and DVOA.

Despite Ryan's struggles, the Colts somehow came out of their first six games with three wins and a tie. Then Ryan threw a pair of interceptions and took three sacks in a loss to the Tennessee Titans and the Colts benched the veteran for Sam Ehlinger. A sixth-round draftee out of Texas in 2021, Ehlinger played only 18 snaps as a rookie without throwing a single pass. Ehlinger's first start was a respectable performance against the Washington Commanders, where he went 17-of-23 for 201 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions and two sacks in a 17-16 loss. A week later, however, Ehlinger completed barely half his passes while giving up nine sacks and an interception in a 26-3 loss to New England.

At that point the Colts fired head coach Frank Reich and replaced him with Jeff Saturday, a former star player with virtually no coaching experience. Saturday's first move was to reinstate Ryan as his starter, because at least Ryan knew how to run an offense. It paid immediate dividends as the Colts upset the Las Vegas Raiders 25-20 in Saturday's debut. They haven't won since, losing six in a row, including a 33-0 halftime lead against Minnesota that turned into a humiliating 39-36 overtime defeat.

With nothing to lose, Saturday benched Ryan for Nick Foles. In his first start of the season, Foles threw three interceptions and gave up seven sacks in a 20-3 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers; in his second, against the New York Giants, he lasted only one half before giving up an interception and another sack, the latter of which resulted in a season-ending injury and put Ehlinger back into the starting lineup.

Where does this leave Indianapolis heading into Sunday's game against the Houston Texans? The Colts have thrown a league-high 18 interceptions, and they join the Pittsburgh Steelers as the only teams with more interceptions than touchdown passes. They're averaging 9.7 yards per completion, better than just the anemic Arizona Cardinals. Only the Denver Broncos have allowed more sacks, and no team has lost more yardage on quarterback takedowns.

We mentioned that Ryan was next to last with -373 passing DYAR; Foles would be third from last with -294 DYAR if he had enough attempts to qualify. At -156 DYAR, Ehlinger would also be in the bottom 10, tied with Carson Wentz of all people. In total, there's nothing historic about the Indianapolis offense—this year alone, the Panthers and Bears both have worse cumulative passing DYAR. (The Colts are last by far in team pass offense DVOA, which includes scrambles; individual passing DYAR does not.) It's unusual, however, to see this many quarterbacks on one team play this badly in the same season.

Only 11 teams in the DVOA era have had three different quarterbacks finish with -150 passing DYAR or worse. Here they are, along with this year's Colts:

All Teams, Three QBs at -150 Passing DYAR or Worse, 1981-2022
Year Team Worst QB DYAR 2nd-Worst QB DYAR 3rd-Worst QB DYAR
1983 HOIL A.Manning -192 O.Luck -172 G.Nielsen -167
1992 SEA K.Stouffer -831 S.Gelbaugh -485 D.McGwire -181
1994 HOIL C.Carlson -340 B.Tolliver -312 B,Richardson -239
1997 NO H.Shuler -532 D.Wuerffel -239 D.Nussmeier -219
1999 BAL S.Mitchell -173 S.Case -169 T.Banks -158
2004 CHI C.Krenzel -676 C.Hutchinson -368 J.Quinn -298
2004 ARI J.McCown -187 J.Navarre -185 S.King -181
2009 STL K.Null -439 K.Boller -352 M.Bulger -203
2010 ARI M.Hall -550 J.Skelton -349 D.Anderson -308
2012 ARI R.Lindley -482 J.Skelton -324 K.Kolb -154
2018 BUF J.Allen -534 N.Peterman -380 D.Anderson -208
2022* IND M.Ryan -373 N.Foles -294 S.Ehlinger -156
* Not including Week 18

The most recent team in this table was the Buffalo Bills in 2018, Josh Allen's rookie season. Allen completed only 52.8% of his passes that year with more interceptions than touchdowns while also giving up 28 sacks in only 12 games. Allen, however, did not start the season opener. No, the starter that day was this guy:

 

 

Peterman was benched at halftime after giving up two interceptions and three sacks while gaining only 24 yards; Allen played the entire second half of a 47-3 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Peterman returned for three games later in the year, finishing the season with seven sacks, seven interceptions, and less than 300 yards gained. Derek Anderson also started a pair of games, finishing with zero touchdowns, four interceptions, and five sacks. You're familiar, of course, with Allen; Peterman is now a backup in Chicago, while 2018 turned out to be the last season in Anderson's career.

Only one team has ever had three quarterbacks at -300 DYAR or worse: the Arizona Cardinals in 2010. Arizona's top quarterback that year was—I am not making this up—Derek Anderson, who started nine of his 12 games and completed barely half his passes, finishing with seven touchdowns, 10 interceptions, and 25 sacks. For three games in the middle there, Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt experimented with Max Hall as his starter with Anderson still seeing plenty of time off the bench; Hall finished the year with six games played, completing exactly half of his passes with one touchdown, six interceptions, and 14 sacks in only 92 dropbacks. When Hall and Anderson were both injured later in the year, the Cards turned to John Skelton, a fifth-round rookie out of Fordham (go Rams!) who somehow won two of his four starts despite completing less than half his passes with two touchdowns, two interceptions, and nine sacks. Hall never played again after that season. Anderson hung around the league for nearly another decade as a backup for the Panthers and Bills. Skelton started 13 more games for Arizona over the next two seasons but never got any better, finishing his career with 15 touchdowns, 25 interceptions, and 47 sacks.

Technically, the Colts have a mathematical chance to join those Cards in the triple-minus-300 club, but it's not plausible. Ehlinger is certainly capable of getting there himself (he had -207 DYAR in that nine-sack game against the Patriots), but Foles will need a major fluctuation in opponent adjustments, which aren't likely to change much this late in the season. It would basically require the Chargers to give up a half-dozen touchdowns this weekend—and the Chargers are playing the Broncos, so, uh, don't hold your breath.

It's entirely likely, though, that Indy joins those Cards and the Chicago Bears in 2004 as the only teams with three quarterbacks at -250 DYAR or worse. That was Rex Grossman's second season, but the former first-round pick only started three games before tearing his ACL. He had not been playing very well, finishing below replacement level himself, but he was a far sight better than anyone else the Bears had on hand. Up first was Jonathan Quinn, drafted by Jacksonville in 1998 and bouncing around the NFL as a backup since then; he finished the year with nearly 100 passes thrown for barely 400 yards with one touchdown, three interceptions, and 15 sacks. Next was Craig Krenzel, a fifth-round rookie who had won a national championship at Ohio State; he completed less than half his passes with three touchdowns, six interceptions, and 23 sacks. Finally they tried Chad Hutchinson, who had been playing Major League Baseball just three years earlier before starting nine games for the Dallas Cowboys in 2002. All things considered, he played fairly well when throwing the ball, but too often he never had a chance to even do that, taking 23 sacks in only 184 dropbacks. Neither Quinn, Krenzel, nor Hutchinson ever played in the NFL again.

The Cardinals tried to solve their quarterback problem in 2011 by trading for Kevin Kolb; it didn't work. The Bears stuck with Grossman, and after breaking his ankle in 2005, he helped them reach the Super Bowl in 2006; whether that means it worked is a debate for another day. We don't know what the Colts are going to do in 2023, but it probably won't involve Ryan, Ehlinger, or Foles.

A few other footnotes while we're here:

  • The San Francisco 49ers in 2007 are the only team with two quarterbacks (Trent Dilfer and Alex Smith) at -500 DYAR or worse.
     
  • Three teams have had four quarterbacks at -100 DYAR or worse. One was the 2010 Cardinals; in addition to Hall, Skelton, and Anderson, they also had Richard Bartel, whose 30 dropbacks produced 150 yards, an interception, and two sacks. The others were the San Francisco 49ers in 2005 (Smith, Cody Pickett, Tim Rattay, and Ken Dorsey) and the Cleveland Browns in 2008 (Dorsey again, along with Bruce Gradkowski, Brady Quinn, and—so help me god—Derek Anderson).
     
  • The Cleveland Browns in 2016 are the only team with five quarterbacks (Robert Griffin, Josh McCown, Kevin Hogan, Terrelle Pryor, and Charlie Whitehurst) with negative passing DYAR. Cody Kessler, a third-round rookie that season, went 0-8 as a starter but had positive DYAR, a remarkable achievement under the circumstances.
     
  • Though they played nearly a decade before the DVOA era, no discussion of teams with multiple terrible quarterbacks would be complete without the 1974 Atlanta Falcons. The trio of Bob Lee, Pat Sullivan, and Kim McQuilken each had between 88 and 203 dropbacks, and collectively they averaged only 3.2 yards per passing play, the lowest rate of any team in the dead-ball 1970s. And it wasn't just the yardage—the Falcons finished with only four touchdown passes (fewest in the league) while throwing 31 interceptions and giving up 50 sacks (most in the league in both categories). The next year the Falcons drafted California quarterback Steve Bartkowski, who set franchise records with 23,470 yards and 154 yards that lasted until they were broken by … Matt Ryan.
Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
1.
Tom Brady TB
34/45
432
3
0
3
186
175
11
CAR
In the 2022 season, Brady ranks eighth in DYAR in the first three quarters of the game, but first in the fourth quarter and overtime. So it was in Week 17: Brady ranked sixth in DYAR through three quarters, but first in the fourth, when he went 12-of-13 for 159 yards with one sack and one touchdown, plus a 14-yard DPI.
2.
Patrick Mahomes KC
29/42
328
3
1
0
183
192
-10
DEN
Mahomes gains 39 DYAR due to opponent adjustments. He led all quarterbacks in passing DYAR this week, but finishes second overall because he ran three times for 9 yards with no first downs while Tom Brady ran three times for four yards and three first downs, including a third-down conversion, a fourth-down conversion, and a touchdown. Mahomes was perfect on throws to targets at or behind the line of scrimmage, completing each of his 11 passes for 78 yards and a touchdown.
3.
Jarrett Stidham LV
23/34
365
3
2
0
158
149
9
SF
Stidham gains a league-high 45 DYAR due to opponent adjustments. His game was one of dramatic splits. He was the week's second-worst passer on throws down the middle, but the best on throws to the outside (20-of-29 for 330 yards with three touchdowns and one interception, plus a 10-yard DPI). His average pass traveled a league-high 10.9 yards downfield … which is good, because he was the week's worst passer on throws to receivers at or behind the line of scrimmage (5-of-7 for 41 yards with an interception). He was the best passer, however, on throws to tight ends (6-of-8 for 127 yards and a touchdown, plus an 18-yard DPI).
4.
Daniel Jones NYG
19/24
177
2
0
0
139
92
47
IND
Jones had a great day both as a passer (a league-best 67% success rate) and as a rusher, running 11 times for 91 yards and two touchdowns, leading all quarterbacks in rushing DYAR. His best passing came in the second quarter, when he went 11-of-14 for 103 yards and two touchdowns.
5.
Jared Goff DET
21/29
255
3
0
1
137
137
0
CHI
Goff loses 35 DYAR due to opponent adjustments. He was the week's best passer from under center, going 10-of-12 for 129 yards and two touchdowns, plus one sack.
6.
Justin Herbert LAC
21/28
212
2
0
0
127
124
3
LAR
Herbert didn't throw down the middle often, but when he did, he completed all three of his passes for 15 yards and two touchdowns, both of which were on third-down conversions.
7.
Sam Darnold CAR
23/35
346
3
1
2
124
141
-17
TB
Darnold had the week's best passing DYAR on deep balls (6-of-10 for 165 yards and three touchdowns and one interception, plus a 6-yard DPI) and in the red zone (2-of-3 for 36 yards and two touchdowns). On the ground, however, he was last in rushing DYAR, running five times for only 10 yards with a lost fumble.
8.
Brock Purdy SF
22/35
284
2
1
0
81
81
0
LV
Purdy loses 54 DYAR due to opponent adjustments. He did not throw a single deep pass in the first half. He threw five after halftime: the first was completed for a 28-yard gain, the second was intercepted, and the final three were all incomplete.
9.
Deshaun Watson CLE
9/18
169
3
0
5
57
50
7
WAS
Watson's average completion gained a league-high 11.8 yards after the catch.
10.
Dak Prescott DAL
29/41
282
2
2
1
57
68
-11
TEN
Even though Dalton Schultz had a pair of touchdown receptions, Prescott was the week's worst passer on throws to tight ends, going 8-of-12 for 63 yards with a pair of interceptions. However, he was the top passer on third/fourth downs, going 8-of-10 for 88 yards with six conversions, plus a 51-yard DPI.
11.
Teddy Bridgewater MIA
12/19
161
1
1
1
57
59
-2
NE
Bridgewater's last play of the game was a pick-six that cost him 43 DYAR. In limited action he was tremendous in New England territory, going 4-of-5 for 58 yards and a touchdown.
12.
Kenny Pickett PIT
15/27
168
1
0
2
45
32
12
BAL
Pickett had an odd night on second downs. He completed each of his four passes for 24 yards, but not one of those completions moved the chains. He also took a sack to turn second-and-10 into third-and-18.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
13.
Geno Smith SEA
18/29
183
2
0
4
44
43
1
NYJ
Smith gains 37 DYAR due to opponent adjustments. He was the week's best passer in the first quarter, when he went 6-of-8 for 104 yards and a touchdown.
14.
Aaron Rodgers GB
15/23
159
1
0
1
38
31
7
MIN
Rodgers only threw four passes to his running backs, with two completions: a pair of 1-yard gains, one on second-and-4, one on second-and-10.
15.
Desmond Ridder ATL
19/26
169
0
0
1
18
31
-14
ARI
Ridder only threw two deep passes against the Cardinals. The first was a throwaway with no intended receiver; the second was an incompletion to Damiere Byrd.
16.
Tyler Huntley BAL
14/20
130
1
1
1
18
21
-4
PIT
Huntley's average completion gained only 3.0 yards after the catch, least among full-time quarterbacks this week.
17.
Mac Jones NE
20/33
203
2
0
3
9
7
3
MIA
Jones threw nine failed completions, tied for most in the league.
18.
Sam Ehlinger IND
9/14
60
1
0
1
9
5
5
NYG
Ehlinger came into the game with Indianapolis trailing 24-3 in the third quarter. His average completion gained only 3.6 yards after the catch, least among qualifiers this week.
19.
David Blough ARI
24/40
222
1
0
2
8
12
-5
ATL
Blough loses a league-high 66 DYAR due to opponent adjustments. He was at his best on second downs, going 13-of-18 for 150 yards and a touchdown, with two sacks.
20.
Andy Dalton NO
18/22
204
0
1
6
7
7
0
PHI
Dalton gains 42 DYAR due to opponent adjustments. He did not throw a single pass in the red zone; inside the Philadelphia 40, he went 2-of-3 for 10 yards with a sack and an interception.
21.
Trevor Lawrence JAX
17/21
152
0
1
1
-1
15
-16
HOU
Lawrence threw only one deep ball against Houston; it was intercepted.
22.
Joshua Dobbs TEN
20/39
232
1
1
2
-3
-5
3
DAL
Dobbs gains 40 DYAR due to opponent adjustments. He was the week's worst passer from under center, going 0-for-4 with a sack.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
23.
Skylar Thompson MIA
12/21
104
1
1
1
-28
-28
1
NE
Thompson came into the game with Miami trailing 16-14 in the third quarter. He spent most of his time on the field ineffectually checking down to his running backs, going 7-of-11 for 44 yards.
24.
Russell Wilson DEN
26/38
222
1
1
4
-37
-63
26
KC
OK, help me understand something. Wilson has been far more effective on deep balls this season (sixth in DYAR, 14th in DVOA) than on short passes (29th and 30th). So why, in Week 17, did his average pass travel only 5.1 yards downfield, least in the league? As a result of all those checkdowns to nowhere, Wilson was tied for the NFL lead with nine failed completions. Either way, he was brilliant on throws down the middle, going 6-of-7 for 112 yards, plus a 7-yard DPI.
25.
Baker Mayfield LAR
12/19
132
0
0
3
-44
-45
1
LAC
Mayfield's average dropback came with a league-low 7.1 yards to go for a first down, yet his average pass traveled a league-high 11.6 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. He was the week's worst passer on third/fourth downs, going 1-of-3 for 22 yards with three sacks, a fumble, and an intentional grounding.
26.
Gardner Minshew PHI
18/32
274
1
1
6
-60
-52
-7
NO
Minshew's average dropback came with a league-high 11.2 yards to go for a first down. With more than 10 yards to go, Minshew went 6-of-12 for 52 yards with a sack and only one first down. Speaking of first downs, Minshew failed to throw for one until the Eagles were down 13-0 in the second quarter. Up to that point, he had gone 4-of-7 for 32 yards with five sacks. But by DYAR, he was even worse in the fourth quarter, going 5-of-12 for 63 yards with a sack-fumble and a pick-six.
27.
Carson Wentz WAS
16/28
143
0
3
3
-64
-65
1
CLE
Wentz had a bad day on throws to receivers at or behind the line of scrimmage, going 5-of-9 for only 11 yards.
28.
Davis Mills HOU
22/40
202
0
0
1
-66
-70
5
JAX
Mills loses 37 DYAR due to opponent adjustments. He was the week's worst passer on throws to his left, going 5-of-14 for only 23 yards and zero first downs.
29.
Nick Foles IND
8/13
81
0
1
1
-73
-74
1
NYG
Foles was the week's worst passer on throws to his right, going 4-of-7 for 14 yards with a pick-six.
30.
C.J. Beathard JAX
5/8
29
0
1
1
-74
-74
0
HOU
Beathard came into the game with Jacksonville leading 28-3 in the third quarter. His first pass was an 11-yard gain on first-and-10, but that was the only first down he threw for all day. He was the week's worst passer in the third quarter (3-of-5 for 27 yards with a sack and an interception) and on throws down the middle (0-for-2 with an interception).
31.
Kirk Cousins MIN
18/31
205
1
3
2
-95
-97
2
GB
Cousins began the day with a half-dozen straight incompletions, then completed an 8-yard pass on third-and-10, followed by a pick-six on the ensuing fourth-and-2. He was the week's worst passer in the red zone, going 0-for-2 with a sack-fumble.
32.
Mike White NYJ
23/46
240
0
2
4
-117
-117
0
SEA
White was the week's worst passer on deep balls, going 2-of-9 for 33 yards with a pair of interceptions.
33.
Justin Fields CHI
7/21
75
1
1
7
-220
-236
16
DET
Fields loses 37 DYAR due to opponent adjustments. He only threw for two first downs the entire game. The first was a 13-yard touchdown to Cole Kmet that (briefly) put Chicago up 7-0 in the first quarter; the next was a 14-yard gain on first-and-10 with Chicago trailing 38-10 in the fourth. In between, he went 2-of-9 for 30 yards with seven sacks and an interception. He was successful on only 14% of his dropbacks with an average gain of 1.1 yards, both the worst marks in the league.
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.
Austin Ekeler LAC
10
122
2
4/4
39
0
73
64
10
LAR
All 10 of Ekeler's carries gained at least 2 yards with five first downs, including 10- and 72-yard touchdowns. He added two more first downs as a receiver on gains of 14 and 17 yards.
2.
Josh Jacobs LV
17
69
1
4/5
26
0
58
39
18
SF
Jacobs gains 36 DYAR due to opponent adjustments. He only ran for four first downs while being stuffed three times, with a long gain of only 9 yards. He added two more first downs as a receiver on gains of 7 and 14 yards.
3.
Jerick McKinnon KC
2
4
0
5/6
52
2
47
-6
53
DEN
McKinnon's two runs went for no gain on third-and-1 and 4 yards on first-and-10. As a receiver, he had 3- and 6-yard touchdowns, plus gains of 11 and 28 yards.
4.
DeeJay Dallas SEA
7
43
0
3/4
55
0
47
18
29
NYJ
Each of Dallas' seven carries gained at least 1 yard and three went for first downs, the longest a gain of 17. His best catch was a 41-yard gain in the first quarter.
5.
Raheem Mostert MIA
9
29
0
8/8
62
1
44
2
43
NE
Though the Patriots never stuffed Mostert, he failed to run for a single first down, with a long gain of only 6 yards. But five of his catches moved the sticks, including 17- and 25-yard gains for third-down conversions, plus a 2-yard touchdown.
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.
Austin Ekeler LAC
10
122
2
4/4
39
0
73
64
10
LAR
2.
Aaron Jones GB
14
111
0
2/3
2
0
25
43
-18
MIN
Jones was stuffed only twice while running for five first downs, including gains of 11, 14, and 31 yards.
3.
Josh Jacobs LV
17
69
1
4/5
26
0
58
39
18
SF
4.
Najee Harris PIT
22
111
0
2/3
12
1
43
36
8
BAL
The Ravens only stuffed Harris once (though that one play lost 7 yards on second-and-7), and though he only ran for four first downs, 13 of his 22 carries gained 5 yards or more, with a pair of 15-yard gains.
5.
Nick Chubb CLE
14
104
0
1/1
12
0
41
31
10
WAS
The Commanders failed to stuff Chubb even one time while allowing him to run for four first downs, including 14- and 35-yard gains.
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.
Jonathan Williams WAS
9
30
0
3/5
3
0
-36
-19
-17
CLE
Williams only ran for one first down against Cleveland, a 12-yard gain that represented 40% of his rushing yards on the day. He was stuffed only one time, but that was a 1-yard loss on fourth-and-1. His three receptions: a 2-yard loss on third-and-10; a 1-yard loss on third-and-5; a 6-yard gain on third-and-4.
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.
Brian Robinson WAS
24
87
0
0/1
0
0
-30
-26
-4
CLE
Yes, Washington had two different running backs qualify as the worst of the week. And since Robinson amassed 24 carries compared to Jonathan Williams' nine, he takes a much heavier hit due to opponent adjustments, losing 17 rushing DYAR for facing the porous Browns run defense. Those 24 carries resulted in only four first downs and a long gain of 14 yards, while Robinson was stuffed four times.
Five Best Wide Receivers and Tight Ends by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Mike Evans TB
10
12
207
20.7
3
93
CAR
Evans gained a half-dozen first downs, including touchdowns of 30, 57, and 63 yards.
2.
Amari Cooper CLE
3
4
105
35.0
2
59
WAS
Cooper's three receptions: 46-yard touchdown on third-and-5; 26-yard gain on third-and-9; 33-yard touchdown on first-and-10.
3.
Jalen Nailor MIN
3
3
89
29.7
1
58
GB
A sixth-round rookie out of Michigan State, Nailor came into this week with two career catches for 28 yards. He topped those numbers against Green Bay with three catches, all in the last eight minutes of the game with Minnesota trailing by at least 31 points. Those three catches: a 47-yard touchdown on first-and-10; a 37-yard gain on fourth-and-3; a 5-yard gain on second-and-1.
4.
Brandon Aiyuk SF
9
12
101
11.2
1
52
LV
Aiyuk's totals include 10 rushing DYAR for his one carry for 16 yards. Eight of his catches resulted in first downs, including a 23-yard gain and a 2-yard touchdown; the other was a 5-yard gain on first-and-10. He also gained 12 yards on a DPI.
5.
Davante Adams LV
7
11
153
21.9
2
48
SF
Though only four of Adams' catches produced first downs, those included 4- and 60-yard touchdowns, plus a 45-yard gain on first-and-20. He added a fifth first down on a 10-yard DPI.
Worst Wide Receiver or Tight End by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Greg Dortch ARI
4
10
15
3.8
0
-62
ATL
Dortch's four receptions: zero- and 3-yard gains on first-and-10; 1-yard gain on third-and-7; 11-yard gain on third-and-12. That's zero first downs—indeed, zero successful plays—in 10 targets.

Comments

58 comments, Last at 11 Jan 2023, 8:48am

#1 by coltsandrew // Jan 03, 2023 - 10:01am

"Reich's first move was to reinstate Ryan as his starter..." I believe you mean Saturday.

Points: 1

#2 by coltsandrew // Jan 03, 2023 - 10:04am

It's wild how that 1983 Oilers team had two QBs who would eventually have sons that would not only be no. 1 picks in the draft, but would both be drafted by the same franchise.

Points: 7

#56 by Run dmc // Jan 04, 2023 - 3:35pm

Archie actually had two sons picked number one. Poor Cooper.

Points: 0

#3 by TimK // Jan 03, 2023 - 10:19am

Did Grossman help the Bears reach that Super Bowl, or did he merely not stop them getting there?

Appreciate the Editor’s note too.

Points: 2

#41 by JIPanick // Jan 03, 2023 - 6:59pm

He helped the Bears reach 8-0, which turned out to be most of the way to HFA, as the NFC's #2 seed eventually ended 10-6, but collapsed down the stretch, and in the playoffs he definitely just didn't stop them.

He moved the ball OK against a bad Seahawks team but had multiple turnovers as the Bears needed OT to survive as 8.5 points favorites. In the rout of the Saints, he had sub-50% completion percentage and poor YPA but avoided a turnover as the defense generated four turnovers.

Points: 0

#4 by Harris // Jan 03, 2023 - 10:30am

Stats do not convey how bad Minshew was. Jittery, leaving clean pockets, refusing to throw the ball and badly missing open receivers when he did, misreading the defense for a brutal pick six. It was a master class in bad quartebacking. That said, Sirianni and Steichan never should have put him in that position. After four (five?) consecutive three-and-outs to start the game, Miles Sanders got his first carry in the second quarter. Then, after two successful runs to get to 3rd-and-3, they called another pass that Minshew, predictably, missed. Just garbage from top to bottom.

Points: 1

#25 by whocares4 // Jan 03, 2023 - 1:46pm

The Eagles coaching is somewhere mediocre and bad, there's no way to watch them and not feel like the coaching is going to be a problem in the playoffs. I just don't believe in this team at all. (In comparison to the 2004 and 2017, which I was almost instantly convinced were the best Eagles teams I had ever seen.)

Points: 0

#32 by Harris // Jan 03, 2023 - 3:44pm

Defensively, the numbers are better than watching the game. Offensively, Sirianni and Steichan want to throw the ball and will insist on doing it even when they should just line up and maul teams, such as the Saints. If I never see another goddamned WR screen in life, it'll be too soon.

Points: 0

#50 by whocares4 // Jan 04, 2023 - 8:24am

Yeah, Gannon I just don't know what to make of. The first half of the game, it felt like "this is definitely Gannon's fault." And then the second half when he switched to man, it felt like "this is definitely not Gannon's fault." Watching the games, I feel like he's the second or third worst Eagles defensive coordinator of my life. But the numbers and end result rarely bear that out.

Points: 0

#54 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 04, 2023 - 11:27am

He could be the third worst. It's been a pretty good list since 1977.

https://pro-football-history.com/franchpos/114/8/philadelphia-eagles-defensive-coordinator-history

 

Points: 0

#55 by Pat // Jan 04, 2023 - 12:40pm

He didn't switch to man in the second half, the defense just started actually playing coverage correctly. The majority of Eagles defensive calls are zone match concepts, which means when they work, they look like man (the defense picks up and carries the correct man), and when they fail, they look like zone (someone screws up and bails and a guy ends up running free looking like zone).

There were a few true man calls (which was new) but still mostly zone match.

Points: 0

#5 by Robopunter // Jan 03, 2023 - 10:46am

Never forget 2007 Derek Anderson to Braylon Edwards. 16 TDs!

Anderson's completion percentage was among the league's worst, just ahead of Cleo Lemon, Trent Edwards and uh...on-the-way-to-the-Super-Bowl Eli Manning. But in yards per completion Anderson was #1.

Points: 0

#7 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 03, 2023 - 10:57am

It's jarring and somewhat appropriate to see the list topped by a team with Manning and Luck.

Points: 0

#8 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 03, 2023 - 11:00am

I don't think Ryan has done as much to scuttle his team's season as Wilson and Wentz have done, though. Ryan just found himself in charge as the hull of his ship turned into a colander. Wilson and Wentz steered their sea-worthy craft into an iceberg.

Points: 4

#9 by theslothook // Jan 03, 2023 - 11:10am

We are debating between different flavors of drawn out torture.

 

But of all of the QBs ive seen at least twice this year, including Wentz and Wilson, Ryan is the worst. He has been the worst non fringe should never have seen the field starter this year. 

Points: 0

#10 by theslothook // Jan 03, 2023 - 11:15am

Taking a step back and trying to assess this disaster sanely, I don't think this horrendous fall suggests everything is rotten to the core. That usually happens after several consecutive failing regimes before you can safely conclude that.

Prior to Saturday's tenure, the Colts were actually overachievers and much of the offensive disaster belongs at the feet of Ryan - the metaphorical bullet from their repeated game of qb Russian roulette.

Its kind of why it's critical Irsay handles the team with great care. There is a core here where a quick turnaround is possible depending how shrewdly they navigate things. After all, with just below avg QB play and competent coaching, they are probably close to an 8 win team and maybe a division runner up( faint praise).

However, after being an Irsay defender for years, I have full confidence he wil proceed to do all of the wrong things. The Colts could be, and likely will be, staring at a Jets like prolonged decade of sadness.

Points: 2

#14 by KnotMe // Jan 03, 2023 - 11:56am

Yeah, hard to defend Irsay after this year. Not sure how well the coaching search would go if you know the owner is gonna mandate quick fixes.

I thought they gave up a tad quick on Ehlinger give the other options. He had a semi-ok start and then got benched for being terrible vs a top defense widely known for being hard on rookies. 

Points: 0

#27 by Kaepernicus // Jan 03, 2023 - 2:01pm

Hiring a really good HC prospect like DeMeco Ryans and drafting CJ Stroud seems like it would turn them around pretty quickly. They need a lot of help on offense though. This season really showed how little they have for skill position talent.

Points: 0

#36 by KnotMe // Jan 03, 2023 - 5:52pm

Yeah, it's not like they have no offence talent (heck, they are ahead of the Pats a just-out playoff team).

The QB situation is interesting. They are 5th now, could possible move up depending on week 18.. But the teams in between them are Chicago, Zona,and Denver....none of who need a QB*. 

Gotta admit the Colts have some crazy luck with picking the right year to be bad and get a QB recently. 

*Ok, Denver and Chicago are pretty complex and interesting cases. Basicly, it's not obvious they draft one

Points: 0

#39 by Kaepernicus // Jan 03, 2023 - 6:52pm

Should have called out the receiving talent specifically. Pittman and Pierce is not something you can lean on. They really don't have any homerun hitters outside of Taylor on the offense. The Colts badly need a game breaker outside of Taylor. Pittman is a good WR but he plays like a poor man's Keenan Allen. They need to find some guys who excel at YAC or possess break away speed on the outside. Again the whole Colts roster just doesn't make much sense when you try to understand their identity. They are one of those teams that is less than the sum of their parts.

Points: 2

#37 by turbohappy // Jan 03, 2023 - 6:05pm

I can't fully agree here. Before Saturday there were a lot of insane personnel decisions, several of which helped the offensive line be horrific instead of just below average. I think there are a lot of issues with offensive scheme, but there are a lot of personnel issues that don't get mentioned much as well (like the fact their top 3 TEs are terrible blockers).

I would rate all their position groups as below average, including QB (with Ryan, Foles was much worse). There's very little separation by receivers (other than Woods) on the all 22. I see it more as an offense with no strengths than one with a glaring weakness. _If_ Taylor comes back healthy then they are OK at RB but every other group and the scheme need to improve to get to average or better overall in 2023.

Points: 3

#45 by theslothook // Jan 03, 2023 - 10:32pm

I think once your qb situation is so profoundly bad, it makes everyone's job so bad on offense that it's hard to judge what you have on that side of the ball.

It's not a good offense from a talent perspective, but not one that would take several seasons to fix imo.

I also like Pittman i confess 

 

 

Points: 0

#47 by turbohappy // Jan 04, 2023 - 3:47am

I feel like there have been lots of plays where the QB doesn't have a ton of impact where they've still been highly inefficient and generally terrible. I agree that it can be a bit difficult to separate the QB from the rest of the offense, but how absolutely putrid Foles was makes it hard to lay it all at Ryan's feet for me.

Pittman seems solid in the right role, but I'm not sold on their other WRs. Woods seems like a find if they can teach him how to block and then have him on the field full time. 

I agree that it is possible to change a lot in one season as long as there is a proper mindset and the right people involved. I always thought Saturday was hired to get a referendum on Ballard from someone Irsay trusts, so it will be interesting to see what happens there. 

Points: 0

#48 by theslothook // Jan 04, 2023 - 4:13am

I've been in India the last few weeks, so I haven't watched Foles play. But I have seen Ryan a lot. His physical skills have diminished so badly that he just cannot handle pressure at all. It's not the only way it manifests, but it's the easiest to see. The interceptions that looked telegraphed to the defender are mostly a function of the defense squatting on short routes and Ryan lacking the requisite arm strength to get it there. 

Perhaps Foles sucking speaks to the overall supporting cast, but it's also very possible all three are just awful QBs at this point. 

I think back to Denver with Tebow and Orton and how fundamentally flawed their offense looked above and beyond the qb. Now granted, it was Peyton Manning, but it still illustrated how hard it is to grade the supporting cast when the QB play becomes such a hinderance.

In a vacuum, the Colts job has a lot going for it. As opposed to usual job openings, the team isn't bereft of talent and they play in a mediocre divison which should be open next year assuming Lawrence doesn't take another leap. That plus a chance at a first round QB + a decent core means the team has a real chance for a quick turnaround. But the alternative also exists and is a real concern.

Points: 0

#49 by turbohappy // Jan 04, 2023 - 5:38am

They don't really have problematic FAs either. I'm sure they'll sign one of the LBs and most everyone else they'll be fine without. They have a great chance to be solid on defense again unless something weird happens like some people retire. It's just about getting the right coaching on the offensive side and tweaking the players there. But several people in the organization had to agree that Pryor looks like an NFL starting left tackle and I just don't understand how a single person with any competence could possibly think that so I have doubts.

Points: 0

#58 by seesau // Jan 11, 2023 - 8:47am

There have only ever been three defenses of Irsay: 1. we're stuck with him regardless, 2. He may be better than his father, 3. he let Bill Polian run things for a while. Other than that he's been very bad.

Points: 0

#11 by Kaepernicus // Jan 03, 2023 - 11:33am

Those 2005 49ers could have taken the bad QB championship belt if it weren't for the doggedly mediocre QB play of Tim Rattay. We could have seen another game from Pickett or Dorsey instead. That was the worst offense I have ever paid close attention to. The 1992 Seahawks were a hilarious joke that I didn't get to see much of. It was mostly my dad cracking jokes about them because he was a Broncos fan. I was excited about Alex Smith. Every week was just purely awful nonsense. 24% conversion on 3rd down and a team ANY/A of 2.55 is insane. Alex Smith was the second worst QB on that team with a 1.11 ANY/A because Cody Pickett couldn't break 1 with a 0.89. It was a remarkably bad passing offense with numbers from the 70's. Somehow rookie Frank Gore still averaged 4.8 yards a carry when most teams didn't need to play the pass against them at all. The fact that they won 4 games that year is almost as shocking as the 2007 Patriots going undefeated. They had 7 games where they had <10 1st downs for the game and Andy Lee had 107 punts on the season. In spite of all of that futility they still swept the Rams.

Points: 2

#13 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 03, 2023 - 11:50am

The continued incompetence of the early 2010s Cardinals was breathtaking. That 2012 team utterly wasted a great defense. It was like watching them cosplay being the Bears.

Points: 2

#17 by Kaepernicus // Jan 03, 2023 - 12:27pm

The NFC West is the true king of terrible offense. Every single team has had some time in the low light. Those Cardinals teams are even worse when you consider they were still throwing to prime Larry Fitzgerald. There were moments where I truly believed Skelton was a future franchise QB because of how bad every other QB was. You know what QB got a raw deal though? Shaun Hill. He put up good numbers on the 2008 49ers with ancient Isaac Bruce as his WR1. He was also respectable on a terrible Lions team that was 2 years removed from the infamous 0-16 season. I really don't understand how he never got a chance to be QB1 on a team. He played really well for some terrible offenses.

Points: 2

#31 by Harris // Jan 03, 2023 - 3:40pm

Bah. You know nothing of suffering. Rich Kotite's incompetence wasted literally the greatest defense of all time.

Points: 1

#57 by t.d. // Jan 04, 2023 - 3:38pm

hard to blame him for 1991 with Jeff Kemp and Brad Goebel starting games for them (with Randall Cunningham/Jim MacMahon they were 9-3), and they were still a holy terror the next year with Randall back, but man it was hard to believe he got another job after Philly (Kotite ended up losing 35 of the final 39 games he coached;  had sorta forgotten that their incredible year came after they fired Buddy Ryan, but that was Bud Carson's defense

Points: 0

#22 by Joey-Harringto… // Jan 03, 2023 - 1:04pm

I remember at thinking at the time “Larry Fitzgerald doesn’t deserve this.”

Points: 2

#19 by AnonyRuss // Jan 03, 2023 - 12:34pm

The funniest thing about the 92 Seahawks was that one of their two wins was against the Broncos on a Monday Night game. I was stationed in Germany and got up early to watch it. I figured it would be my one chance to see my team even if they got destroyed by the Broncos. It was worth it, especially to be able to talk trash to my Broncos fan coworker in formation that morning.

Points: 1

#21 by Kaepernicus // Jan 03, 2023 - 12:50pm

The infamous Tommy Maddox game. I remember that one. Pretty sure that was the only Seahawks game I saw that year and was also the first time I heard my dad use that much profanity. Elway was terrible that year and a lot of Broncos fans were angry at him. Then they saw what happened when he wasn't there. I really wish they had 3rd down stats for games that old because those Seahawks probably had an amazing record.

Points: 1

#42 by Vincent Verhei // Jan 03, 2023 - 10:21pm

The 2005 49ers have the worst DVOA we have ever measured at -57.7%. Nobody else is even at -50.0%. (Second-worst team: 1991 Colts)

The 1992 Seahawks have the worst pass offense DVOA we have ever measured at -61.2%. The 2005 49ers are second-worst at -52.4%.

Points: 3

#51 by Kaepernicus // Jan 04, 2023 - 9:42am

I think they had the worst net yards per play of all time at -1.6. I am not even exaggerating when I say that they would have been 7 point underdogs to the 2008 Lions or 2016 Browns. I am lucky that I was old enough to drink at a bar and witness it all in my vintage Eric Johnson jersey. The fact that they won 4 games is truly a miracle.

Points: 0

#12 by Sixknots // Jan 03, 2023 - 11:38am

Aaaand...to no surprise, the 1992 Seahawks take the booby prize for most negative DYAR by a Qb trio...1497 !

Points: 1

#15 by KnotMe // Jan 03, 2023 - 11:57am

This is probably Derek Andersons 15 seconds of fame post retirement isn't it?

Points: 3

#16 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Jan 03, 2023 - 12:20pm

Based on this review, it's hard to tell if Derek Anderson was:

a) unlucky to play for so many horrendous teams,

b) lucky to get to play for teams with such terrible QB rooms that he was allowed to see the field, or

c) a walking curse that doomed nearly every QB room he was let into.

Points: 3

#23 by BJR // Jan 03, 2023 - 1:07pm

I think the perfect summation of Derek Anderson's career would be:

"Just good enough to hang around in the league for a decade and get multiple chances to start for struggling/terrible teams".

Still, he earned >$30m (per Sportrac). So there's that to comfort him.

Points: 0

#34 by Mike B. In Va // Jan 03, 2023 - 5:07pm

He must be a hell of a guy - everyone that's ever been in a QB room with him loves him.

The field is a bit more challenging.

Points: 0

#18 by AnonyRuss // Jan 03, 2023 - 12:31pm

Lived through the 92 Seahawks. It's crazy that a team with such a great defense, anchored by Cortez Kennedy as the DPOY, could have had three bad QBs that doomed them to 2-14. A league average QB might have had them in the Super Bowl.

Points: 0

#20 by Chuckc // Jan 03, 2023 - 12:42pm

Derek Anderson, who started nine of his 12 games and completed barely half his passes, finishing with seven touchdowns, 10 sacks, and 25 interceptions.

 

I think (HOPE) you have sacks and INTs backwards here

Points: 0

#24 by Joey-Harringto… // Jan 03, 2023 - 1:07pm

Yea 25 interceptions in 12 games is in 1980’s Vinny Testaverde territory.  Seems like a bit much for the 21st century, even for Derek Anderson.

Points: 0

#26 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 03, 2023 - 1:55pm

25 INTs has been matched or exceeded five times since 2000 -- yes, once by Vinny.

Winston threw 30 in 2019!

Points: 1

#29 by nath // Jan 03, 2023 - 2:36pm

The Cardinals traded for Kevin Kolb, they didn't sign him in free agency.

Points: 0

#40 by Kaepernicus // Jan 03, 2023 - 6:59pm

The worst part about it is the Cardinals traded a 2nd round pick AND Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for him. That is a premium draft pick and a high end CB2 for a 26 yo with a 3-4 record playing for Andy Reid. One of the dumbest trades ever.

Points: 0

#38 by BroncosGuyAgain // Jan 03, 2023 - 6:46pm

I appreciate the editor's note.  Speaking only for myself, I do not think it would have been in poor taste to run the article when ready, nor was it in poor taste to finally release it whenever it was released.  The article was completely independent of the situation in Cincinnati and, while Vince's media reach is certainly substantial, he was unlikely to displace coverage of what was/is a far more important story.  Well thought out article.

Points: 0

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Points: -5

#53 by BigBen07 // Jan 04, 2023 - 10:40am

Patrick Mahomes II for career now has more DYAR than Eli Manning, Matt Stafford, Troy Aikman, Boomer Esiason, Russell Wilson, and many other luminaries. Awesome!

Points: 0

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