Football Outsiders
Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis

2008 Football Outsiders Awards

comments by Aaron Schatz

This is our sixth year of doing the Football Outsiders awards. Every year we get a great mix of the expected and the unexpected, and this year is no exception. Once again, I would like to thank everyone who voted on the awards.

This year's awards are somewhat slanted thanks to some innocuous ballot-stuffing. The Seattle Seahawks blog "Field Gulls," which won our "best independent team blog" award last year, asked its readers to come over to our awards, in particular to vote for Seahawks defensive tackle Brandon Mebane as "most underrated defensive player." As a result, you'll notice that a lot of the open awards have a strong Seattle flavor. (I believe a "strong Seattle flavor" resembles beer-battered salmon dipped in black coffee.) I'm not quite sure how to deal with "ballot stuffing" in the future. What, are we going to tell Seattle people to go away? We love Seattle people! Seattle is the West Coast headquarters of Football Outsiders. What we need are more people from places like Tampa and St. Louis. Where the heck are you guys?

Anyway, on to the awards. For those curious about past years, you will find links to each of the previous FO Awards articles on this page.

Who is your choice as Offensive MVP for 2008? (Last year's winner: Tom Brady)

32.6% Drew Brees
25.1% Peyton Manning
14.5% Kurt Warner
7.9% New York Giants offensive line
7.9% Philip Rivers
4.0% DeAngelo Williams
3.0% Matt Ryan
2.0% Denver Broncos offensive line

Looks like a plurality of the Football Outsiders readership took "Most Valuable" literally, voting for the player who led the NFL in DYAR for 2008.

Who is your choice as Defensive MVP for 2008? (Last year's winner: Albert Haynesworth)

27.8% Ed Reed
24.4% James Harrison
18.2% Albert Haynesworth
13.0% Nnamdi Asomugha
8.8% DeMarcus Ware
2.7% Joey Porter
1.9% Justin Tuck
1.5% Jared Allen
1.2% Trent Cole
0.7% Jon Beason

Good split of the votes here, as there were a lot of strong defensive players this year.

Who is your choice as NFL Rookie of the Year for 2008? (Last year's winner: Joe Thomas)

62.1% Matt Ryan
10.6% Chris Johnson
8.3% Ryan Clady
8.3% Joe Flacco
3.2% Steve Slaton
3.2% Chris Long
3.0% Jerod Mayo
1.2% Jeff Otah

The best rookie quarterback season in NFL history -- maybe. It depends on how you count the AFL. One of the things I would like to do this offseason is revisit the "Best Quarterback Seasons Ever" study from Pro Football Prospectus 2005, adding in some information we have now that I did not have then (such as fumbles). Based on the formula from PFP 2005, however, Ryan comes out around 200th. The only rookie higher was Greg Cook with the 1968 AFL Cincinnati Bengals, who now ranks around 185 after adding in quarterbacks from the last few years. Ryan was ahead of Cook until he struggled against St. Louis in the final game of the regular season.

Who was the best offensive lineman of 2008? (open question, two votes per ballot, top 12 listed) (Last year's winner: Joe Thomas)

15.2% Ryan Clady (LT, DEN)
13.5% Chris Snee (RG, NYG)
11.3% Michael Roos (LT, TEN)
9.2% Steve Hutchinson (LG, MIN)
7.8% Walter Jones (LT, SEA)
5.2% Jordan Gross (LT, CAR)
4.1% Kevin Mawae (C, TEN)
3.4% Joe Thomas (LT, CLE)
3.2% David Diehl (LT, NYG)
3.2% Jeff Saturday (C, IND)
2.5% Jake Long (LT, MIA)
1.8% Alan Faneca (LG, NYJ)

I take nothing away from the fabulous rookie season of Ryan Clady, but the time has come to think of offensive line performance in terms of multiple seasons. This is the third straight year this award has gone to a rookie left tackle and the first two (Marcus McNeill and Joe Thomas) both declined in their second seasons. Hopefully, that doesn't happen to Ryan Clady. I'm very happy to see all the votes for Michael Roos, who has been a total unknown for most of his career. Walter Jones honestly doesn't belong on this list anymore, and that's probably a bit of our overly high Seattle vote there.

Who is your choice for NFL Coach of the Year in 2008? (Last year's winner: Bill Belichick

28.2% Tony Sparano
25.1% Michael Smith
15.6% Jeff Fisher
12.0% Bill Belichick
7.5% John Harbaugh
7.2% Mike Tomlin
2.5% Ken Whisenhunt
1.9% Tom Coughlin

The real NFL Coach of the Year award always goes to some guy who turned around a terrible team, and Sparano and Smith definitely did a great job of coaching this year, but there's something to be said for coaches who can keep their teams consistently good year after year. Did you think the Titans were going to have the best record in the AFC this year? Did you think the Patriots could go 11-5 without Tom Brady? OK, a lot of us actually agreed with that second one, but it was still a really good coaching job.

Who is your choice for the Keep Choppin' Wood Award for 2008 (player who most hurt his team)? (Last year's winner: Michael Vick)

62.9% Plaxico "The Lone Gunman" Burress
11.4% Chad Ocho Cinco or whatever he calls himself these days
9.2% Chris Perry
6.6% J.T. O'Sullivan
5.1% J.P. Losman
4.8% Roy "The Wide Receiver" Williams

I'm guessing that all the votes for J.P. Losman came from either angry Bills fans or angrier Patriots fans.

Who is your choice for the Keep Choppin' Game Film Award for the worst coach of 2008? (Winner last year and possibly for all time: Bobby Petrino)

25.4% Rod Marinelli
18.6% Brad Childress
18.1% Romeo Crennel
11.8% Scott Linehan
9.5% Herman Edwards
7.9% Norv Turner
6.3% Mike Nolan
2.4% Tom Cable

Yeah, going 0-16 will sort of win you this award, won't it? And by the way, Tom Cable? We understand. It isn't your fault.

Who is your choice for the Bill Arnsparger Award for Coordinator of the Year? (Last year's winner: Steve Spagnuolo)

36.7% Dick LeBeau, PIT defense
11.9% Rex Ryan, BAL defense
10.8% Dan Henning, MIA offense
8.9% Jim Schwartz, TEN defense
8.1% Jim Johnson, PHI defense
6.8% Josh McDaniels, NE offense
6.6% Steve Spagnuolo, NYG defense
6.2% Mike Mularkey, ATL offense
3.0% Bobby April, BUF special teams
0.9% Brian Schneider, OAK special teams

That may not seem like a huge percentage, but the first couple years, the winner of this award got less than 20 percent of the vote. If they are ever going to put someone in the Hall of Fame due to his work as a coordinator, Dick LeBeau is going to be that guy and this year puts the finishing touches on his resume. (By the way, if they put LeBeau in, Monte Kiffin really should follow.)

Who is your choice for the Art Rooney Jr. Award for Executive(s) of the Year? (Last year's winners: Scott Pioli and Bill Belichick)

44.9% Bill Parcells, MIA
30.7% Thomas Dimitroff, ATL
8.5% Bill Polian, IND
8.2% Ozzie Newsome, BAL
5.1% Mike Reinfeldt, TEN
2.6% Jerry Reese, NYG

The Tuna once said that if you're gonna cook the dinner, they at least should let you shop for the groceries. Apparently, as long as the Tuna shops for the groceries and writes up the recipe, it doesn't matter if someone else cooks the dinner.

Who is your choice for the John Elway Award for disappointing highly-drafted rookie who turns things around with an impressive sophomore season? (New award)

38.0% LaMarr Woodley (LB, PIT)
17.8% Levi Brown (OT, ARI)
12.4% Gaines Adams (DE, TB)
9.5% Steve Smith (WR, NYG)
7.2% Brandon Meriweather (SAF, NE)
6.9% Greg Olsen (TE, CHI)
5.5% Jamaal Anderson (DE, ATL)
2.6% Chris Houston (CB, ATL)

I came up with the idea for this award when I saw Gaines Adams playing well early in the season, but like most of the Tampa Bay defense, he seriously faded late. Woodley is an excellent choice for the first version of this award.

The most overrated offensive player in the NFL is: (open question, top 12 listed) (Last year's winner: Tony Romo)

20.0% Brett Favre
15.4% Terrell Owens
9.9% Tony Romo
6.7% LaDainian Tomlinson
5.5% Eli Manning
3.9% Adrian Peterson
3.7% Ben Roethlisberger
3.2% Tom Brady
3.0% Matt Cassel
3.0% Willie Parker
2.9% Reggie Bush
2.5% Chad Johnson

Wait, Tom Brady is overrated? As far as I know, the conventional wisdom about Tom Brady is "one of the top quarterbacks in the league, but nobody is sure how he will recover from the injury that cost him the entire season." How does that differ from reality?

Brett Favre, on the other hand, is totally overrated -- except, oddly enough, among the Jets fans who six months ago thought he was the savior come down from the mountain to take them to the promised land.

The most overrated defensive player in the NFL is: (open question, top 12 listed) (Last year's winner: Ray Lewis)

18.8% Ray Lewis
8.3% Brian Urlacher
7.1% DeAngelo Hall
4.9% Roy Williams
3.8% Joey Porter
3.0% Champ Bailey
2.8% Pacman Jones
2.8% Julius Peppers
2.8% Troy Polamalu
2.6% Bob Sanders
2.4% Jason Taylor
2.3% Dwight Freeney

Ray Lewis has now won this award for five straight seasons, which really brings up the question of what the heck we mean when we say "overrated." The conventional wisdom is that Ray Lewis is a future Hall of Fame linebacker who is still above average at his position but no longer plays at the high level of his peak years. Do people who voted for Lewis as "overrated" disagree with that? Do they believe he's now a replacement-level linebacker, and the Ravens had one of the best defenses of the decade despite having to make up for his weaknesses? Or are people still stuck on the idea that Lewis is overrated because conventional wisdom in 2009 still has Ray Lewis as the best linebacker in the game? I haven't really heard any serious analyst put forward that idea this year, and I doubt you would find anyone outside of Baltimore who actually believes that. Well, maybe Shannon Sharpe or something.

Perhaps next year, we could get a better definition of "overrated" by changing this category to "least deserving of a Pro Bowl selection," and then listing all Pro Bowlers and asking you to choose three you feel are not the best in the conference at their positions.

The most overrated special teams player in the NFL is: (open question, top 10 listed) (Last year's winner: Adam Vinatieri)

37.1% Devin Hester
21.9% Adam Vinatieri
6.6% John Carney
4.2% David Akers
2.9% Josh Brown
2.6% Josh Cribbs
2.6% Sebastian Janikowski
1.8% Pacman Jones
1.5% Mike Scifres
1.3% Shane Lechler

Hey, remember when we kept saying that Devin Hester was special because he seemed to be the only kick returner in history whose peak actually lasted more than a year? Turns out that he's not that special, because his peak lasted a grand total of two years.

Adam Vinatieri has now passed into the realm of "so accepted to be overrated that he's actually underrated." Vinatieri was below average on field goals, but not too far below average, and he was actually one of the league's top kickoff men -- although that was hard to notice since the Indianapolis coverage teams were so busy screwing up the nice field position Vinatieri was giving them.

The most underrated offensive player in the NFL is: (open question, top 12 listed) (Last year's winner: Brian Westbrook)

5.1% John Carlson
4.9% Leonard Weaver
3.5% Philip Rivers
3.5% Madison Hedgecock
3.3% Andre Johnson
3.1% Derrick Mason
2.6% Chad Pennington
2.2% DeAngelo Williams
2.0% Jeff Saturday
1.8% Kevin Faulk
1.8% Heath Miller
1.8% Lorenzo Neal

Seattle Effect, Part I. I dig those Madison Hedgecock votes, and I especially dig those Andre Johnson votes. Listen, for all that Larry Fitzgerald did in the playoffs, Andre Johnson has now put up a higher DVOA for two straight seasons, even though he doesn't get the benefit of Kurt Warner throwing him passes or Anquan Boldin playing on the other side of the field. It isn't Andre Johnson's fault that he did not get the chance to have an awesome postseason because Mario Williams was the only player on the Houston defense to significantly improve, while Fred Bennett was stolen by aliens and replaced with an immobile wax duplicate.

The most underrated defensive player in the NFL is: (open question, top 12 listed) (No award last year due to code problems)

30.5% Brandon Mebane
5.6% Nnamdi Asomugha
5.6% Haloti Ngata
3.2% Aaron Smith
3.0% Shaun Rogers
2.2% Adrian Wilson
2.1% Robert Mathis
1.9% Barrett Ruud
1.7% Gary Brackett
1.7% Stewart Bradley
1.7% Trent Cole
1.7% London Fletcher

Seattle Effect, Part II. Big time. Although, in defense of the Seattle fans, Mebane's level of play is in fact much higher than his level of press coverage. I don't think Nnamdi Asomugha and Adrian Wilson really qualify as "underrated" anymore.

The most underrated special teams player in the NFL is: (open question, top 10 listed) (Last year's winner: Kelley Washington)

10.4% Mike Scifres (punter, SD)
8.4% Josh Wilson (returns, SEA)
6.4% Olindo Mare (kicker, SEA)
4.5% Josh Cribbs (returns/gunner, CLE)
3.4% Darrell Reid (gunner, IND)
3.1% Jason Hanson (kicker, DET)
2.5% Johnnie Lee Higgins (returns, OAK)
2.2% Jeff Reed (kicker, PIT)
2.0% Danieal Manning (returns/gunner, CHI)
2.0% Quentin Demps (returns/gunner, PHI)

Remember, players who made this season's Pro Bowl did not qualify for this category.

Player most likely to breakout in 2009 (open question, top 12 listed): (Last year's winner: Jay Cutler)

5.9% Anthony Gonzalez
3.8% John Carlson
3.8% Brady Quinn
3.6% DeSean Jackson
3.4% Aaron Rodgers
3.2% Darren McFadden
2.5% Felix Jones
2.5% Rashard Mendenhall
2.1% Steve Slaton
1.9% Ray Rice
1.7% Joe Flacco
1.7% Limas Sweed

We've never had quite so many different players listed in this category, with nobody getting more than five percent of the vote. Can we all agree that the Marvin Harrison Era is over? The Colts are probably gonna end up cutting him, and I love Anthony Gonzalez for you fantasy football dynasty leaguers. I'm definitely in agreement with the people who picked Mendenhall and, a little below the top 12, St. Louis defensive end Chris Long. Remember, a lot of recent highly-drafted defensive ends haven't really made their mark in the league until year two, most notably Mario Williams.

By the way, you guys did a good job of calling guys with this category a year ago.. The top two were Cutler and Calvin Johnson. Jerious Norwood, Anthony Gonzalez, and Michael Turner rounded out the top five.

Player most likely to significantly decline in 2009 (open question, top 12 listed): (Last year's winner: Brett Favre)

14.7% Kurt Warner
10.0% LaDainian Tomlinson
9.4% Michael Turner
7.0% Terrell Owens
4.9% Matt Cassel
4.0% Ray Lewis
3.0% Kerry Collins
3.0% Matt Ryan
2.8% Chad Pennington
2.6% Tom Brady
2.6% Brian Westbrook
2.4% Clinton Portis

I think this is the first time we've had a running back hit the Curse of 370 and not win this category, but then again Turner didn't go that far over the line and his performance (per carry) wasn't as good as people think anyway. Next year, the conventional wisdom might say he's declining more than he actually is.

One of the Tom Brady entries wrote what all the other Tom Brady voters were probably thinking -- they were voting for a decline from his 2007 numbers, not from his 2008 numbers.

I am personally worried by the drop in Brian Westbrook's receiving numbers this year. When an older running back sees his receiving numbers decline, a drop in rushing numbers is usually coming in a year or two.

Which of the following teams is most likely next year's surprise Super Bowl contender? (Last year's choice: Houston)

32.3% Green Bay
21.8% Houston
20.2% Seattle
6.1% San Francisco
5.8% Jacksonville
4.0% Kansas City
3.2% Buffalo
2.9% Cleveland
1.7% Cincinnati
0.7% Detroit
0.7% Oakland
0.6% St. Louis

Houston is popular for the second straight year. Last year, they won this category and... didn't come anywhere near the Super Bowl. Well, at least they came on a bit at the end of the season. Buffalo was your second choice last year, and that didn't happen either. Coming in third was... Arizona, with 19.5 percent of last year's vote. Let's hear it for the wisdom of crowds!

Surprising to see that many more people expect a rebound from Green Bay or Seattle than from Jacksonville or Cleveland.

Which playoff team is most likely to decline in 2009? (Last year's choice: New England)

31.5% Miami
17.3% Arizona
14.1% Minnesota
8.3% Atlanta
7.8% Carolina
5.4% San Diego
4.3% Philadelphia
4.0% Tennessee
2.5% Baltimore
2.2% Indianapolis
2.1% New York Giants
0.4% Pittsburgh

Speaking of the wisdom of crowds, last year the team that finished 12th out of 12 playoff teams in this category was... Jacksonville. Whoops! However, the other teams in the bottom five were the four teams that repeated in the AFC (Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, San Diego, and Tennessee.

Which is your choice for Game of the Year in 2008? (Last year's choice: Patriots 24, Colts 20 in Week 9 of 2007)

19.5% NFC Championship: Cardinals 32, Eagles 25
13.3% Week 16: Giants 34, Panthers 28 (OT)
11.0% Week 2: Cowboys 41, Eagles 37
9.6% Wild Card: Chargers 23, Colts 17 (OT)
8.9% Week 11: Jets 34, Patriots 31 (OT)
8.8% Week 2: Broncos 39, Chargers 38
8.2% Week 5: Colts 31, Texans 27
7.9% Week 15: Steelers 13, Ravens 9
7.3% Week 6: Cardinals 30, Cowboys 24 (OT)
5.5% Week 6: Falcons 22, Bears 20

Wow, lots of good games this year, with each one getting at least five percent of the vote. NFL Films should put out a DVD set of these ten games, tossing on the Titans-Ravens AFC playoff game and the Super Bowl to make a nice even dozen of 2008 classics.

The "Get Your Story Straight" Award for best commercial during NFL games this year was:

38.5% Mastercard Peyton Manning in San Diego, Cleveland, and New England
27.6% Nike "Troy Polamalu/LaDainian Tomlinson"
11.9% Old Spice "Brian Urlacher Swagger"
9.6% Playoff Fantasy Football
9.0% State Farm "LeBron James on Cleveland Browns"
3.4% Reebok "Migration to Training Camp"

Peyton Manning can not be stopped! He may not have won the Football Outsiders MVP award this year, but he wins "Best Commercial" for the second straight season. The next step would be a buddy sitcom with Manning and, let's say, Demitri Martin. That would be pretty good. However, let us not forget how cool that Reebok "Migration to Training Camp" ad was after we had gone months without any football.

The "John Mellencamp Must Die" Award for most annoying commercial during NFL games this year was:

37.2% Toyota "Saved by Zero"
20.9% "Subway "Five Dollar Footlong"
10.2% Coors Light ruins Jim Mora "Playoffs!" news conference
10.1% Ford F-150 with Denis Leary
9.2% McDonalds "Nuggnuts"
6.0% Progressive Insurance "Help Desk"
5.7% UPS "White Board"
0.9% Budweiser with Rob Riggle

Saved by Zero: the ad so annoying it spawned its own Facebook group. I didn't like it either, but it doesn't freak me out like a bunch of construction workers singing about how much they love a five-dollar footlong. And seriously, what the hell is up with the married couple with a wedding cake made of Chicken McNuggets? That's very, very wrong.

What is your favorite team-specific website or blog? (Last year's winner: Field Gulls)

This now becomes an interesting category because I don't know how many sites other than Field Gulls mentioned our awards and sent readers over here to vote. Hey, if I had my choice, all the good team blogs would mention our awards and send readers over here to vote (while the blogs that suck would ignore us and not dilute the voter pool, heh). Anyway, here were your leading team websites and blogs:

  • Field Gulls (Seahawks)
  • (Colts)
  • Seahawks Addicts
  • Stampede Blue (Colts)
  • Big Blue Interactive (Giants)
  • Blogging the Boys (Cowboys)
  • "Ask Vic" on
  • Heels Sox Steelers
  • Iggles Blog
  • Pewter Report (Buccaneers)

Which local NFL writer do you feel deserves a more national profile? (Last year's winner: Mike Reiss, Boston Globe)

The Seattle ballot-stuffing rears its head again, but it's probably not such a bad thing considering that this year's winner is about to lose his job. (Yes, yes, "Clare" is a guy's name.) The real surprise is our second writer, who I don't think has ever gotten more than one vote. Once again, we get so few votes on this one that it seems silly to give percentages; here's a list of all the writers who received at least four votes, in order of popularity:

  • Clare Farnsworth, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
  • Phil B. Wilson, Indianapolis Star
  • Mike Reiss, Boston Globe
  • Mike Carlson, NFLUK website
  • Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
  • Rich Gosselin, Dallas Morning News
  • Bob McGinn, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

The funniest thing to happen during the 2008 NFL season was: (Last year's winner: Punt sticks in ground during Steelers-Dolphins "Mud Bowl")

30.7% Dan Orlovsky absent-mindedly rolls out the back of the end zone for a safety.
29.3% Plaxico Burress shoots himself in the leg.
18.1% Mike Singletary drops his pants.
15.5% Tampa Bay defensive end Greg White, inspired by the movie Teen Wolf, changes his name to "Styles G. White."
6.4% Pacman Jones attacks his own bodyguard.

Wow, massive upset! We just assumed that Mike Singletary dropping trou would win this one, but Dan Orlovsky's brain freeze beats Singletary and Plaxico Burress' lesson in gun safety (Lesson 1: "Sweatpants are not a holster.")

Thanks to everyone for participating in the awards again this year. Each year we get more votes than the year before, a nice sign of our growing readership. We also want to thank everyone who gave us feedback on the redesign with those last couple questions. Responses were split roughly 50-50 between "nested comments" and "numbered comments," so we didn't really get a definitive answer on how people want the discussion threads, but we'll be working on a way to tweak the redesign to combine the best elements of the old design and the current design in order to once again grow the Football Outsiders community.

Here's a look at some of the other things you can expect from us in the next few months:

  • As always, we'll be working on improving our stats and projection systems for 2009 (both pro and college stats)
  • Player cards in FO Premium, including individual defensive stats back to 2000
  • Improved auction and "average draft position" functionality in 2009 KUBIAK
  • Ability to purchase 2005-2008 game charting data by team
  • "The Best of PFP" for those who don't have access to our earlier, out of print books
  • The introduction of a new college football writer
  • More discussion of the mysterious 2008-09 persimmon shortage
  • DVOA for the 1994 season
  • Delicious strawberry milkshakes


107 comments, Last at 15 Feb 2009, 12:55am

1 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

Great choice of LaMarr Woodley.

The most overrated offensive player: the media is overrating the Cowboys.

"Lewis is overrated because conventional wisdom in 2009 still has Ray Lewis as the best linebacker in the game?"
No. I see a guy before every Ravens game, talking like he's the second coming of Chuck Norris, and then see a defensive tackle play middle linebacker.

The most overrated special teams player is almost the same as "the best known special teams player".

"Surprising to see that many more people expect a rebound from Green Bay or Seattle than from Jacksonville or Cleveland."
Really? Cleveland? Maybe if they can only play offense and special teams.

18 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

I don't think Woodley was a disappointment last year. Quite the opposite. He had 6 sacks in the regular season as a situational pass rusher. Two in the playoff game against the Jags. I thought he had a very promisisng rookie year and exactly the kind of 2nd year I was hoping for based on his rookie year.

The only bad thing about Woodley is that he's a Wolverine.

39 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

He was not a disappointment by any means, that's for sure. He was a college end who was the backup at his position. (Clark Haggans was the starter at LOLB).
But for the award, I thought that he was excellent this year and a situational player last year.

65 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

Actually, it was 4 sacks in the regular season and 2 in the playoffs for 6 total.

I agree, Woodley is a deserving recipient of the award for his impact this year, though he was by no means a disappointment last year.

Timmons was far more disappointing to some fans last year, given that he was the first rounder and Woodley the second rounder. Timmons also had a much bigger impact this season, though he was still more of a situational guy.

2 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

I voted Tom Brady for overrated, because the Patriots were able to achieve an 11-5 level with Matt Cassel (I mean seriously, Rusher McFumbles?). It's Belichick's system, not Brady, that makes the Patriots go. Brady is a (very good) replaceable part, not the best quarterback in the league--maybe not even the second or third best.

Eschew Obfuscation!

22 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

I'm no Pats/Brady fan, being a Colts/Manning fan. But, you can look at NE's year as you do, that they won 11 games with Cassell, or you can look at it this way: the only significant change from 2007 to 2008 in roster was the loss of Brady, and NE won 5 fewer games. That's a pretty impressive downturn for one guy.

44 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

Actually, as any Pats fan has been quick to point out in any number of topics on here, the Patriots lost a lot more than just Brady. Off the top of my head, I can think of Laurence Maroney, Lamont Jordan, Adalius Thomas and Rodney Harrison as guys that also missed extensive time. Someone who actually follows the Patriots could probably come up with even more names.

Additionally, no team goes 16-0 without a little luck. For example, Football Outsiders estimated 14 wins for the Patriots in 1007. Even if the Patriots took the field with the very same team they fielded in 2007, the odds are that they likely would not finish with another 16 wins, so using that number as the standard probably isn't wise.

For those reasons, saying that Matt Cassel alone is worth five less wins than Tom Brady is totally misleading. The truth is, so much more goes into a team's victory than quarterback play, and using a team's record to evaluate Brady's value to the Patriots is foolish. As a Colts fan I may hate Tom Brady... but goddamnit do I respect him.

72 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

I agree that QB's aren't the sole determiner of wins and losses. But, the injury slant to me is a non-issue. What team doesn't suffer injuries every year? Does anyone think Maroney and a now-old Harrison are that much better than the replacement? When the Pats had injuries but won SB's, it was grit and team-first attitude. Now, when they have injuries and don't make the playoffs, it's unfair to judge them because of a few boo-boos? Can anyone hear name the Colts offensive line after all the injuries, or the starting two DL's who were out by midseason (one retired, one cut for pot)? Everyone has injuries. This season the Pats had the same as always.

To me, though, I am not as impressed with 11 wins this year as I am impressed by how fewer many they won with the easiest schedule in the league and just one star player gone. To me, it says that star player makes a big, big difference. Again, I am a Colt fan, so I have no reason to beat the drum for Brady, but that was huge loss for them. I think early in his career Brady got a lot of credit for essentially managing games and then excelling in a few very high profile games. But, since those early years, he's gotten to be a very, very good QB. Can't see how anyone would vote him overrated at this point.

105 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

Just partly if at that. The whole "injuries are a non-starter" certainly doesn't. The comparisson is not, "the Patriots had more injuries than other teams, thus it's not just Brady to Cassel," it's "the 08 Patriots had way more injuries than the 07 Patriots." So, saying that the only difference between 07 and 08 is Brady to Cassel, and thus Brady's worth 5 more wins alone, is the actual non-starter.

- Alvaro

3 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

Did McNair get as much crap as Orlovsky did for doing the same against the Titans two seasons ago? Stepped right out the back of the endzone.

82 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

As much as I hate the acronym "ROFL" and its equivalents, I did actually fall off the couch and roll around laughing on the floor when Orlovsky ran out of the end zone. That was utterly HILARIOUS. The kicker was how he was looking around, completely confused as all the Vikings celebrated, not having a vague clue as to why the play was over. One of the funniest sports-related moments I've ever seen.

4 Matt Forte

I know he didn't exactly stand out as far as FO's stats were concerned, but not even a chance to vote for Forte for rookie of the year. On a team with extremely limited deep passing options (ie. no Andre Johnson, not even a Derrick Mason) and an offensive line with bits missing he turns up and does nothing but produce. 1715 yards from scrimmage, scored 12 TDs, lines up all over the place and is quite clearly the best player on offense for his team from the first snap of the season to the last. Not even a chance to vote for him.

I am not neccessarily saying he should have won, but at least give the guy a chance.

35 Re: Matt Forte

My thoughts exactly. I voted for Matt Ryan and then commented after voting that Forte clearly should have been one of the candidates, even though I still would have voted for Ryan over him. But Forte would have been my runner-up.

95 Re: Matt Forte

You can only say Forte didn't stand out, if you ignore the passing game. He was second in receiving DYAR, and in total DYAR he comes out 8th. Steve Slaton is 13th and Chris Johnson is 21st. Plus the non-stats stuff, like the fact that Forte was a tremendous pass protector.

Ryan is deserving of rookie of the year, but Forte is 2nd, and it's not that close in my opinion.

99 Re: Matt Forte

I agree with everything you say, which is all the more reason for him to at least have been on the list.

5 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

great year guys, can't wait until august. some thoughts:

i can't believe people prefer nested comments. it makes it so much harder to see if new comments are added to the discussion, i find myself reading the comment threads less and less.:(

the readers of football outsiders are probably the only people in the world that think the offensive line is like girls gymnastics, youth trumps experience every year.

how was matt forte left off the OROY ballot, he had more total DYAR than Slaton or CJ.

how was "drinkability" not on the worst commercials list

23 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

"i can't believe people prefer nested comments. it makes it so much harder to see if new comments are added to the discussion, i find myself reading the comment threads less and less.:("

I agree. What I would MOST like to see is the old numbered system, but with one significant change: if the mods need to delete a post, they actually just blank the post without deleting it, thereby keeping the post numbering the same. So, when someone at post #93 refers to post #18, it's still post #18 even though post #12 was deleted.

47 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

But this way, the discussion of nested comments (for instance) isn't interspersed with posts about underrated players and commercials and milkshakes.

It would be nice if "new" comments (since the last visit) could be flagged with a different colored header or an icon.

56 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

i really didnt have a problem with comments on the same topic being interspersed with comments on others, it works on every other site i frequent.

how difficult was it to know what post people were referring to? either they quoted the relevant text from a previous post or just responded to a number and you had to scroll up if you felt you needed to reread it. how is that different than the way it is now, only you had to scroll a little farther, and now you have no idea which comments are new.

74 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

"just responded to a number and you had to scroll up if you felt you needed to reread it"

In the past, the FO guys deleted some inappropriate posts, and so #18 could turn to #17 if an earlier post were deleted, so in a later post referred to #18, by the time you read it, that post could now be #17, or #16, etc.

36 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

The problem is, the "name top 2 OL" question comes after "name the top rookie" question, and the past three years there's been a rookie OL deserving of All-Pro consideration (McNeill, Thomas, Clady). Having to come up with an OL on their own, most people name the first two really good O-linemen to pop into their head, one of whom is often somebody they were just thinking about. If FO instead put in a list of 10-20 good O-linemen, even if that included the rookie, I think the rookie would be less likely to rank so highly. Personally, I'd just move the best OL question elsewhere, maybe just after MVP/OPoY, maybe just before rookie.

55 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

I don't understand the dilemma here. If a rookie was one of the two best in 2008, then he was one of the two best. What he does in 2009 does not diminish that. If Joe Thomas regressed in 2008 (and from what I saw, he was pretty darned good), does that cause him to miss a block in 2007? I have absolutely no reservations about Thomas being supported in 2007. He was terrific. There were three names included that surprised me in some way. Chis Snee is very good, and I'm not shocked to see him on the list, but I was surprised to see him second. He was not one of my two votes, but mostly I was surprised he got that much support. Walter Jones is probably in lifetime achievement territory (although Aaron's three-year idea might justify his position). And I'm shocked that Jordan Gross did so well. I only saw a small number of games, but he struck me as a bit of a project. He might win this category some day, but he seems, to me, to be several steps away. Overall, very enjoyable.

59 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

I'm not trying to deny necessarily that McNeill, Thomas, or Clady should have been counted among the best linemen in the league their rookie year. I just think the availability heuristic strongly suggests the best rookie OL being one of the two best OL three years running has something to do with the best OL question, with no names listed, coming right after the best rookie question, with names listed.

66 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

First, although it was your post I responded to, it was not your idea I was arguing against. My response was far more general, but more in opposition to Aaron's comment. He suggested a problem of rookies scoring well in this survey, then not performing as well the next year. My reaction is "so, what?". If we accept as given that the performance of those players was exceptional in the rookie year, and further accept that said performance declined in year two, that does not obviate the argument of the value of the rookie season. I gained a lot of weight in 2008. That indicates nothing of my fitness in 2003.

This last post, though, is a bit inconsistent. You suggest that you are not opposed to the results for McNeill, et. al., but go on to suggest that those results were generated by a bias in the survey construction. Which is it? Were the results generated by performance or survey bias?

And, really. You're dropping "availability heuristic" on us? What, you're a script writer for "Numbers"?

85 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

I guess we may have been slightly talking past each other. Two problems here. First, Aaron pointed out some "top 2 OL" rookies have had their level of performance fall recently-IMO, Thomas fell from elite to very good this year and McNeill fell from 2006's very good/elite to 2007's "well, he was good last year" (though I admit KVB roasting him in the regular season game @TEN may color my perception). Second, the suggestion I was making is that part of the reason these guys were overrated and had such a big fall (in Aaron's eyes) is that, while they may have been deservedly considered top 10 OL, they were only "top 2" because of the survey design flaw.

I should note that implicit in this may be the idea that we should expect in some ways the level of an elite individual OLineman to remain relatively constant from one year to the next, barring a position switch or perhaps notable changes in the rest of the team's OLinemen and/or offensive philosophy, and therefore it may not make much sense for an OLineman to decline from his rookie to second year given that NFL players in general improve from their rookie to second year. Also implicit, at least in my thinking, is that there is a relatively small number of "elite" linemen, and a larger number of "very good" linemen whose performance in a year may range from "elite" to "good" based on opponents, offensive system, line continuity, etc., and the "top 2 OL" should be elite linemen instead of very good guys who had an elite year. Since you're a Bronco fan, I'll also note that I'm utterly agnostic on whether Clady is very good or elite in this typology, and recommend you be happy your team drafted a player who looks like he'll be very good at an important position for a long time.

And, hey, availability heuristic is good shorthand for the effect I was trying to describe. When I have convenient phrases like that, I use them, even if it makes me sound like the dork I am.

6 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

The most underrated special teams player in the NFL is: (open question, top 10 listed) (Last year's winner: Kelley Washington)

3.4% Darrell Reid (gunner, IND)

is he really a gunner? I know his official roster spot is DT, and he gets snaps at FB, so it would seem that he wouldn't have speed to play gunner... maybe this explains why they give up so many return yards...

62 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

That spot was NOT grease. I leave the rest to your imagination.

As we horseshoe-heads know, Reid was also sort of a substitute coach calling extra sessions and meetings when Russ "Dead man Coaching" Purnell failed to.

What an understatement about Indy's situation at DT--having a 23 year-old leave football for weed and another just plain retire; two of the top-3 DTs departed unexpectedly. For like the 4th year in a row. And no Derek Smalls or Nigel Tufnel in sight!

I'd love to see Reid full-time on ST and make the pro bowl, but whenever I see Kasim Osgood he's ALWAYS near the ball on ST. The bastard (said with grudging respect).

7 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

"... and he was actually one of the league's top kickoff men -- although that was hard to notice since the Indianapolis coverage teams were so busy screwing up the nice field position Vinatieri was giving them."

This brings up an interesting question. What about kickers who drive the ball long and LOW, so the coverage teams don't have a chance to get down the field in proper position to cover. Wouldn't this give the illusion of a "good" long kickoff guy with "lousy" coverage, when in fact it's just as much the kickers fault as the coverage teams'?

Do they keep hang time as a stat and is this part of your analysis as to what makes a "good" kickoff kicker?

9 Kicking off are we?

Do they keep hang time as a stat and is this part of your analysis as to what makes a "good" kickoff kicker?

I have been wondering about this for a while, but clearly lack your perspicacity and desire for the truth (or I am a bit lazy).

I know Dave Toub raves about Robbie Gould's hang time on kickoffs, but most coaches will rave about their own players given the chance.

12 Re: Kicking off are we?

Its not an official stat, and therefor not part of DVOA. however, it might be an interesting thing to add to the game charting project.

i bet its the kind of thing some teams have stats on. I feel like some sports writer has said that he's kept a record of the hang time of every punt hes seen for years (dr. Z maybe) perhaps its possible to get the data from him.

8 Nuggnuts

I would volunteer that Nuggnuts might be the most effective commercial of 2008. Because of those ads, just about everyone I know started eating McNuggets again. I've even gotten a few 20 pieces all for myself. Yes, I'm fat.


63 Re: Nuggnuts

Will, it may be time to TiVo the games and skip the commercials. If your dining behavior improves, then the Nuggnuts commercials WERE effective. And if you are still Hoovering up stuff out of McD's deep fat fryers, you need to think about your heart, man. And your loved ones. You want them crying over a giant casket wailing "it was all because of the nuggnuts!"???