2008 Football Outsiders Awards

2008 Football Outsiders Awards
2008 Football Outsiders Awards
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

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% NFL.com 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)
  • 18to88.com (Colts)
  • Seahawks Addicts
  • Stampede Blue (Colts)
  • Big Blue Interactive (Giants)
  • Blogging the Boys (Cowboys)
  • "Ask Vic" on Jaguars.com
  • 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.

78 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

Not to take a side on Brady's overratedness or underratedness, but if you calculate the schedule strength based on the end of season results, rather than the preseason predictions, the Patriots' schedule was the 10th easiest and the most difficult of any team in their division.

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.

14 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

And to make matters worse, they lost by those two points. That was the closest they came to avoiding 0-16 and he provided the margin.

Even the commentators were like "poor guy, doesn't have a clue where he is..."

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

In reply to by Jimmy

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

In reply to by Jimmy

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

In reply to by tuluse

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...

37 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

Yes, gunner is his primary position. The Colts actually planned for him to play less at DT this year so he could be more effective on ST, though that plan was derailed somewhat by the issues the Colts had at DT.

42 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

ask the grease-stain on the RCA dome turf formerly known as Chris Henry (TEN) about Darrell Reid's speed.

Very few 280lb men can run like Reid.


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.

24 Re: Kicking off are we?

We don't do hang time in game charting because the odds of it being reliable across 30 or 40 different chraters are so impossibly small.

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

In reply to by Will

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!"???

13 Dodge Ram Assault Course

The insanely inane advert for the pickup trucks running a horse***t assault course at least partially built out of selfsame pickup trucks whilst being driven by teams of people who must have popped into existence at the imaginings of Satan's own focus group. Followed by totally unneccessary splurges of fire as they drive the trucks about, before demonstrating to you that you can indeed put tools in the back of said trucks. Well bugger me backwards, a truck you can put your tools in! Never thought I would see that, but I guess now we have seen the future. It only gets about seven miles to the gallon, but still looks great if you drive it close to some flames (actually may be of use in Victoria, Australia right now) and when driven at a pre-calculated speed along a fantasy assault course it will get throught the last trap just as the other truck (the one being swung about like a pendulum for some reason) swooshes past.

I am pretty sure it is adverts like this that let the terrorists win.

15 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

Lamarr Woodley was not disappointing in his rookie year. He followed the path laid out for him.

So although his second year was wonderful, he really isn't eligible for the Elway.

16 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

I'm kind of glad that Seattle fans swooped in and took the Underrated Defense award away from Nnamdi. IIRC, he was the #1 CB for the AFC Pro Bowl roster this season. That's the credit I expect him to get. If he was like an alternate or didn't make it, I would feel stronger for Nnamdi's case for Most Underrated. But seeing that he was the leading CB on the Pro Bowl team, I feel like someone else deserves the award. I know Nnamdi doesn't get the attention he probably should, but he did get good attention this season.

The entire national media thinks Tony Romo is an absolute loser, and he still comes in third for most overrated? Please. Terrell Owens was a great choice, but come on. I'll bring up the same argument I always do in these "Romo's overrated" things: Who are all of the people who keep saying "OMG HE'S SO GOOD!!!"? (besides what seems to be a shrinking group of Cowboys diehards). Yes, the announcers give him props sometimes. But he doesn't get it poured on him by any means. When he screws up, they are on him like no one else (except maybe Donovan McNabb on a bad day). "Here's Romo throwing another costly interception." "That one could really hurt the Cowboys." "And Tony Romo once again is struggling in December." How do comments like that make him overrated? Please, inform me of who these legions of overraters are. Because as far as I know, when I wear his jersey, I always get mocked. When I defend him, I always get dismissed as being "Homo for Romo" or a "biased Cowboys fan." Yes, he does have a following. Given that he's pretty much the only competent QB the Cowboys have had since Troy Aikman, it makes sense that Cowboys fans would like him and he would get some publicity. How many glowing stories about him come around SportsCenter though? None. There are maybe a couple guys who defend him on there. But otherwise, everyone on there uses all of the same jokes about the Cowboys as the rest of the hater fans in the NFL (aside from the Homo ones, which thankfully are too stupid to be on TV). I'm not saying everyone hates the Cowboys or Romo for that matter. But a LARGE portion of NFL fans and NFL media are very critical (probably deservedly so!). Therefore, I don't see how he is really a strong candidate for being overrated. It also struck me as odd that last season when he had a GREAT year, he still won the award. I know everyone was high on him last season, but really? I would say Brett Favre was AT LEAST a good of a candidate last season as Romo was.

Anyways, great awards guys. I liked the diversity of winners (even though my Philip Rivers love didn't get as much support as I wanted). The list of things coming our way in the coming days/weeks/whatever is also quite enticing. Looking forward to all of it. Keep up the good work guys and happy offseason!

40 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

Yea, I don't get the whole "Romo is overrated" thing. Last year, they probably had a case for it. This year? I don't even think he's the most overrated in the division, considering plenty of people have him either tied with or below Campbell now.

No, most overrated in the Division HAS to go to Eli now, doesn't it? Since we've found that without Plaxico he can't threaten defenses enough to back off the running game?

Then again, I'd hate to see Romo without Owens (oh wait we did, when Owens took a sudden "I got my money now bitches" crap on the field... and it wasn't pretty)

17 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

How about "All Geico commercials?" Seriously, I hated all the ones about the caveman-looking guys who get offended when they see a Geico sign, and the whole "that's the money you could be saving with Geico" commercials are even worse. I honestly didn't even notice Saved by Zero until I kept seeing it brought up here.

19 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

Nice column...but I have a few questions :

1) How do I get my strawberry milkshake?
2) Is there any additional cost for the milkshake? Or does it perhaps come free with PFP2009?
3) Do I need to fill out a form or will it just show up at my mailing address? I'm assuming it will be appropriately refridgerated.

Thank you.

20 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

Congrats to FO for a great year. Nationalfootballpost.com and FO are the two best websites today for football fans. Your Kubiak projection system helped me win TWO league titles this year, and I really enjoyed Aaron's appearances on the BS Report. I can't wait to pre-order my annual for summer consumption and I look forward to Week 1 Audibles at the Line!

21 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

On overrated, "why is this guy in the pro Bowl" is probably the easiest way to quantify it.

There might also be the possibility for 'most overpaid', limiting to (say) the top 5 or 10 salary cap numbers per position, or top 20 cap numbers overall.

DeAngelo Hall may not rank as "Most overrated by announcers, analysts, and fans", but surely does as "most overrated by at least one GM".

Likewise, you could try limiting an underrated list to non-pro bowl players or to under-valued guys (street free agents and league minimum players).

45 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

I meant Snyder for signing hall mid-season, but, on second thought, it should really be both: Davis for offering the megabucks to start with, and then Snyder for committing even more money to the secondary when their biggest need on defense was the pass rush.

80 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

Really, Al should just be glad there wasn't a "worst offseason move" category, since he likely would have dominated, between "Raiders don't fire Lane Kiffin", "Raiders trade for and sign DeAngelo Hall", "Raiders sign Tommy Kelly to megabucks", "Raiders sign Javon Walker to megabucks, then decline his offer to return his signing bonus and retire", "Raiders fail to lock up Asomogha to a long term deal"...

28 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

Is it really that clear that Ryan's rookie season is better than Roethlisberger's? Ryan has 243 more DYAR, but has a 2% lower DVOA and started 3 more games.

As for the Ray Lewis stranglehold on overrated defensive player - when Ray Lewis stops making the Pro Bowl, and stops being 1st-Team All-Pro, then maybe he'll stop being overrated. According to the accolades given to him this year, he was the best inside linebacker in the NFL.

32 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

Great awards, though I wish we could call more than 1 commercial the worst this year.

Great year too. Lots of changes, I'm not convinced they are all for the good, but this is still by far the best football related website out there.

34 Outrage

I find it outrageous, OUTRAGEOUS I SAY, that Field Gulls would resort to ballot stuffing. We at 18to88.com would never resort to over-the-top methods!

All we did was link to the awards everyday for a week.

And we begged for votes. A little. Ok, a lot.

And we still lost.


thanks for another great year FO.

48 Re: Outrage

In reply to by DZ (not verified)

I'm impressed with how high Stampede Blue did, when I didn't even whore for votes.

I link FO constantly, constantly use and promote the stats, but I didn't even mention the awards. Yay for Colts blogs.

75 Re: Outrage

In reply to by shake n bake

Does that make me a John for you both?


43 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

Fun! Loved it. As a Seattle fan, I'm almost disappointed, I'd have liked to see what others thought without the skew. Would Brandon Mebane have gotten on there? I didn't vote, although I am a Field Gulls reader.

50 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

I voted for just about all of the examples of Seahawks ballot stuffing without being directed to by Field Gulls...

So don't underestimate the possibility of huge Seahawks homers simply thinking alike.

46 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

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

There is the small matter of the strength f the respective divisions. I would much rather compete against SF and ARI, or MIN and CHI than PIT and BAL or IND and TEN and HOU.

49 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

5.5% Jamaal Anderson (DE, ATL)

Weird. Jamaal Anderson was a bad player this year. I can't think of why anyone who saw him play would vote for him, unless they only saw the one or two good games he had in the middle of the season. I was actually going to complain about his nomination when I voted, but I figured you guys just needed names to pad out the ballot. Pro-Tip: Justin Blalock was a much better second-year player who contributed more to winning football.

Re: Mebane and ballot-stuffing, I think it's marvelous that this happened. Every year I complain about the entire conceit behind naming under & overrated players, because with rare exception most players are rated just about right in the MSM, and it just leads to a lot of stupidity like Ray Lewis being repeat 'overrated' winner nine million years in a row. 'Most underrated defensive player' is the exception to this, because it's the side of the ball where excellent play can most easily fly under the radar, AND generally it's only the fans of the teams who are able to identify these guys when they can still be credibly described as 'underrated.' It's inarguable that this is a better result (and process!) than Nnamdi Asomugha getting votes. There is no universe in which a rational person can claim that a two-time All Pro and most coveted free agent defender (give or take a Haynesworth) is 'underrated,' and it's a joke that anyone would cast a vote for him.

51 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

I was looking for Jay Cutler on the most over rated list. I don't see how he didn't make the cut as he surely is at least one of the most over rated players at any position in the league.

53 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

Am I the only RSS-only reader who didn't know a thing about the awards until the results were posted today?

The only point I would have really liked to get in is to highlight the excellent work of Mike Garafalo over the past year covering the Giants for the Star-Ledger. His game breakdowns are terrific.

54 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

I think it's surprising that Ed Reed was voted the best defensive player in the entire league. He's very talented to be sure, but I don't think he's even the best safety in his division. People may be putting too big an emphasis on defensive scoring because on an individual play basis it is a very impressive outcome.

79 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

You could also say "You know, people might put too much of an emphasis on offensive scoring because on an individual play basis it is a very impressive outcome" when talking about offensive players. If you take away any players top few plays, they fall much closer to the pack.

Even ignoring his return touchdowns, Reed is still a fantastic safety. When he has 2 corners in front of him not named "Frank Walker" and "Corey Ivy," he makes plays everywhere on the field. Otherwise, he only completely dominates a section of the field at a time (so he can cover for their mistakes).

You might be overrating polamalu because he has ridiculous hair, and stands out because of it.

57 Most Under-rated Offense

It never occurred to me to vote for Andre Johnson for most under-rated. This is not because I think he is less than spectacular. It is because I cannot fathom anybody not thinking he is one of the top 3 or 4 WRs in the league. Do those people really exist? Look, I've seen plenty of inane, uninformed, possibly inebriated opinions posted in these parts. But even accounting for the worst of the readership, is he really not considered one of the elite? That very idea is depressing. For the sake of disclosure, I voted for Hines Ward, who does the kinds of things that aren't always fully appreciated, don't always show up on TV, and never show up in the Sunday boxscore. I could have voted for any center; these guys do more than most people realize and are never rated, to say nothing of over-rated. Quick, name 10 of the 32 starting centers without peeking. I thought so.

58 Re: Most Under-rated Offense

In reply to by BroncosGuy (not verified)

I have to disagree about Hines Ward. My impression is that he is widely regarded as one of the top receivers in the NFL. Who do people usually mention when they are talking about the top receivers? Fitzgerald, Owens (overrated), Smith, Ward, Wayne? Excellent player? Yes. Underrated? No.

61 Re: Most Under-rated Offense

Interesting. Now the fun part. Please provide a link to any web source, in the last two years, suggesting Hines Ward as one of the 5 best WRs in the game (and not from JoeSteelerFan.Com. Make it something somewhat credible.) If you succeed, I will gladly, and publicly, eat crow. He did make 4 Pro Bowls, but not since 2004. Why? The public/fantasy guys/journalists love counting stats, but don't appreciate actual football play. Ward's catches and yards have declined since those years, but he still does the things that most people don't appreciate. And if those are the five top WRs people mention to you, you need to mix with a better class of football fan. Andre Johnson? Brandon Marshall? Anquan Boldin?

88 Re: Most Under-rated Offense

Fair enough. To be honest, I do not read a lot of sports writing. My impression came more from television reporting and in-game commentary. But upon further reflection it seems that the announcer always thinks the guy playing right now is the greatest player ever to touch the football, and the Steelers do tend to be one of the more nationally televised teams. If Ward is generally not considered in that class, then I'll flip-flop and agree with you that he's underrated instead.

64 Re: Most Under-rated Offense

I don't think most people regard Hines Ward as dominating. Very good, sure, but not uncoverable. You don't usually think of receivers as gritty blue collar hard working types, but that's kind of what Ward is. On the other hand, you have complete game-breakers like Moss, Smith, Fitz, all the Johnsons, et al. Ward isn't quite in their company as a pure receiver, though you could certainly make a case for him being one of the best all around offensive players in the game when you throw in his blocking.

67 Re: Most Under-rated Offense

I also don't see Ward as praised for being a top receiver, although he is VERY frequently praised as the top BLOCKING receiver. He is a good possession guy, but most of the coverage he gets is for the non-traditional parts of his skillset. He has basically made his own evaluation rubric, and since he's the only guy in it, he's obviously #1.

60 Most Over-rated

I like the idea of modifying this to the worst Pro Bowl selection. Aaron makes a good point. We all interpret the question differently. Is it a guy who a lot of people think is good, but really sucks? Or is it a guy who a lot of people think is great, but is really just very good? I think human nature mostly dictates the latter. We tend to start with people rated very highly and work our way down. Personally, I voted for Terrell Owens with exactly that logic. Many people think he is among the top 3 receivers, and he no longer is. But that doesn't mean I think he sucks. He is well above a replacement receiver. Well, for now. The Pro Bowl idea is great because it provides concentrated, easy fodder. I propose that the award be named the A.J. Duhe award.

68 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

I think the persimmon shortage, like just about every other problem in the world, can be blamed on incompetent NFL officials.

77 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

All-around excellent voting!

I guess the issue with "overrated" is that we get these "ratings" from differing sources.

Open field questions should come before radio-button questions, so that the former don't influence the latter too much, like how ROY is followed by top OL.

This Bears fan feels that Urlacher definitely deserved "most overrated" this season.

Where are the data on the distribution of favorite teams? The SEA partisans may have influenced that, but whatever, I want to see.

Speaking of the Seattle fans, I like the fact that they have helped bring attention to Mebane and Weaver- were that every fan base were so informed. Carlson I'd already heard of (from fantasy football of course), but he deserves his press, and might have deserved a trip to Hawai'i over Cooley.

81 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

I am a big Ravens fan, and I very much voted for Ray Lewis as most overrated.

He's still a good player, probably one of the top 5 middle linebackers in the game, but every announcer and commentator that mentioned him this season talked about how he was back to playing like he did in 2000. It was uncanny how announcers could talk him up while watching him completely whiff on a tackle or be blocked out of a play. He didn't whiff often, but it was ignored when he did. It was like every announcer was Peter King and Lewis had a ridiculous V in his name.

The issue isn't that Lewis didn't play great this year, it's that he was re-deified undeservedly this year. In 2000, Lewis was to Defense what Larry Fitzgerald is to Hands. Now, Lewis is to Defense what Anquan Boldin is to Receivers. A pro-bowl selection isn't out of the question, but he doesn't sweat angels.

83 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

I and my admitted man-crush are shocked that Barrett Ruud only got 1.9% of the vote for Underrated Defensive Player. Then again, if the last four games of the season never happened (and I'm doing my best to pretend they didn't), he might have gotten a few more.

I do believe that, if he played for the Giants, he'd be considered an elite LB, but he plays in the effective middle of nowhere in Tampa.

84 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

There are Rams fans reading! Honest! It's just there isn't much to say. We can't even really mock you Seahawks fans!

91 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

You're kidding me -- the Super Bowl didn't crack the top 10 games of the year?

92 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

Thx for another great year!

I'm really surprised by the 50/50 split on nested vs. not, as I find the nested make participating and following the discussion almost impossible unless you are on this site constantly or unless you just read through all the comments a few days after most were posted and you get to see them all. I used to participate a lot more prior to the nesting (but given the quality of my typical comment, my absence probably improves the site!).

I'd be curious how the voting split between three segments: hardcore readers always on the site; FO readers like me who check in a couple of times per day; Readers who visit <1 day. I could imagine that the first and third groups have a bias towards nesting, but the second group against.

So, your decision depends upon whom you are trying to satisfy.

Captcha: Wetmore Paris. wtf? That sounds like something GWB would say.

96 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

It's interesting that GB is completely absent from every category of individual performance, but is expected to be3 a contender for '09.

What accounts for the optimism, I wonder?

97 Re: 2008 Football Outsiders Awards

Thinking "feel" might make a comeback over "distance" in 2009, I had Mr Madoff corner the Persimmon futures market for me. The price has continued to drop but I'm still convinced I'm going to 'reach the green' with this idea by spring of 2010.