Quantum Leaping to Conclusions for Rams, Cowboys, and More

Buffalo Bills RB Devin Singletary
Buffalo Bills RB Devin Singletary
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 2 - The first week of any season brings with it new hope and new narratives. After all, everyone's 0-0 again, and everyone—from our top-projected Bills to the lowly bottom-tier Giants—gets a chance to prove on the field that they're really made of. New faces in new places made splashes all around the league, but there was one new face which caught the attention of your humble author more than any other. One whose debut has left a permanent impact on my memory.

I am, of course, talking about CGI Joe Montana.

Fresh out of Uncanny Valley State, CGI Montana graced the nation as part of a Quantum Leap promo during last Thursday's opener between the Rams and Bills, and it left a mark that will take a long, long time to forget. The Jeff Bridges-in-Tron looking waking nightmare made quite the splash in the new Football Outsiders Discord server, a brief moment of levity and/or sheer terror in the middle of a game that was, shall we say, not the most competitive opener in the history of the league. The Bills jumped all over the Rams, with the defending Super Bowl champs looking totally lost in front of a "home" crowd that forced them to go to a silent count on the day they raised their championship banner. The Bills are certainly going to win the Super Bowl, while the Rams will be lucky to scrape their way into the playoffs.

Or will they? If this was Scramble for the Ball, we'd be leading right into our Jump to Conclusions Week piece at this point in time. But there is no Scramble this year; this weekly column is basically its successor. It's new and improved! Well, at the very least, it's new; a reboot of something that started 20 years ago. So, in that spirit, out with the old, and in with…

QUANTUM LEAP TO CONCLUSIONS WEEK!

Oh boy.

(This column is not sponsored by Quantum Leap, and the author would like to remind you that other unnecessary remakes of 1980s TV shows are available).

Let's start with those Rams, blown out 31-10 by the Bills in a game that was more or less over before Los Angeles could touch the ball in the fourth quarter. At the moment, the Rams have a VOA of -66.3% and are at the very bottom of our tables, 32nd out of 32 teams. That's the worst debut for a defending champion in nearly a decade. The 2013 Baltimore Ravens opened with a DVOA of -88.4% after an 49-27 loss to the Broncos; that was the year the defending champions opened on the road due to scheduling conflicts, and Peyton Manning eviscerated them to the tune of an NFL-record seven touchdown passes. They're the only defending champion to have a worse first week to the Rams, and they still weren't ranked last after Week 1, as the Jaguars were themselves obliterated by the Chiefs 28-2. To find a defending champion that ranked last after one week, you'd have to leap back before our data began; there's no comparison since the 1980s. That may be what we have to do to get DVOA from the 1950s in the future, but until Ziggy perfects that technology, we can fairly safely say that the Rams had the worst debut for a defending champion in modern NFL history.

So, they're boned, right? Allen Robinson might as well have not existed; his prime Chicago form from last season continuing to show through despite the significant upgrade at quarterback. Matthew Stafford's well-reported tendinitis masked the troubles with his eyesight, which means he can only see Cooper Kupp. Losing Von Miller is a death blow to the defense, with the stars-and-scrubs model beginning to wear through. The Rams will muddle through the season somehow, paying the cost for going all-in to win a Super Bowl last season.

Well, I'm mildly selling that. Bad games happen to good team sometimes. The Rams lost 31-10 to the 49ers and 37-20 to the Cardinals last season; the 2020 Buccaneers got obliterated 38-3 by the Saints, and so on and so forth. Bad games happen even to very good teams, and while it's a bit scarier when it's your only real data point, it's not time to fully panic just yet. It's the most harmless loss you can have, too—against a Super Bowl contender from the other conference in a week where very few teams in the NFC looked any good. Only four NFC teams had a positive VOA in Week 1, with only the Bucs and Vikings hitting double digits. If there was a week to phone it in, this was it. But I will leap to the conclusion that the Rams are not top-tier contenders this season. We were already lukewarm on their chances in the Almanac, and many of the specific fears we had seem to be reflected during the game—Bobby Wagner looking beyond washed, a lack of pass rush to replace Von Miller, nightmares at the cornerback position, Robinson running on fumes, Cam Akers and Joe Noteboom struggling. This year's Rams feel more like a wild-card team that could get hot—assuming, that is, that anyone else in the division decides to actually win games without the benefit of absolute insane strategic decisions from their opponents.

Fortunately for the Rams, we can leap to another conclusion: the NFC is pants. The conference's wins against the AFC required a) an end-of-game strategy that required Brandon McManus to attempt the second-longest field goal in NFL history, b) a two-point conversion that gave the Giants a lead with plenty of time for the Titans to march down and (miss) the game-winning field goal, and c) a fourth-quarter comeback by the Commanders against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars. It was a defensive nightmare—the conference, combined, had a defensive VOA of 10.1%, with only the Buccaneers (facing an injured quarterback) and 49ers and Bears (slogging it out during Hurricane Ditka) ending up better than average. We might as well cancel the Super Bowl now and hand the Lombardi Trophy to the winner of the AFC Championship Game; we'll be talking nothing but NFC when we do the DOOM index next week.

Fire up the accelerator, CGI Joe, and let's sort through the wreckage of the NFC. Hit me with some conclusions!

Mike McCarthy Better Start Polishing Up his Résumé Now

Leaning towards true. I don't think the Cowboys are doomed because of Dak Prescott's hand injury. They're not even putting him on injured reserve, expecting him come back in fewer than four weeks—that sounds optimistic, but I'm no doctor. I also don't think Cooper Rush is going to be an utter disaster—in very, very limited work last season, he did have a DVOA of 18.2% as he helped beat the Vikings on Sunday Night Football last season. Throwing away draft capital at a Jimmy Garoppolo or Mason Rudolph at this point would be a panic move. The problem is, the Cowboys looked really bad before Prescott went out with an injury. The penalties are back—2021's most-penalized team had 10 more against the Bucs. The offense routinely came up small, going 3-for-15 on third downs. The lack of Amari Cooper was glaringly apparent, as was the lack of depth on the offensive line. Maybe the Cowboys can weather the storm of Prescott's hand injury for a few weeks, but the entire offense needs to look dramatically different if they're going to fend off the Eagles by the end of the year. Sean Payton's practicing his introductory press conference as we speak.

The Giants' Win in Brian Daboll's Debut Means They'll Be Feisty Throughout the Year!

Selling, and selling hard. I appreciate tremendously Daboll throwing caution to the wind by going for the game-winning two-point conversion in the fourth quarter, even if our own win probability numbers say that it was the wrong call, with too much time left on the clock left for Tennessee to answer. If I'm a player, I'm much more on board with Daboll's "trust the offense to score and trust the defense to hold" mentality than I am with, say, Nathaniel Hackett's "trust our kicker to launch a ball to the moon" philosophy. But the Giants had a Post-Game Win Expectancy of just 7%, the worst for any winner in Week 1. Be pleased with Daboll's debut, be excited that Saquon Barkley had his best performance since 2019 (I'm buying that he's back, but selling that he'll put up 160-plus yards again this season), and have optimism for the future, yes, sure, all of those things. But the game was more Tennessee struggling and floundering than it was the Giants actually doing good things; I still firmly believe the Giants are going to be too far out of most games for bold, last-second conversion decisions to be relevant.

But if you want a feisty team that I'll buy? Then…

The Falcons' Competitive Loss Means They'll Be Feisty Throughout the Year!

Yes, yes, a million times yes. I said in the Almanac that the ceiling for these Falcons would be as the Good Bad Team; the club with a substantial losing record that still threatens upsets and forces late-game heroics against opponents far above their weight class. Last year, that was the Lions, who covered the spread 11 times, managing to tie the Steelers and knock off the Vikings, Cardinals, and Packers in the second half of the season. I'm all in on that being the Falcons this year—through three quarters, the Falcons looked on top of the world, with a 35.1% offensive DVOA (third-best in the league) and a -33.2% defensive DVOA (fifth-best in the league). Against their rival Saints! The ones the Almanac has as a playoff team, with so much love for Jameis Winston! Surely, nothing could go wrong.

Ah. Yes. The Falcons. Of course. They had a 160.7% defensive DVOA in the fourth quarter, in a pattern which shouldn't be meaningful but feels so much like it is. Oh well; allowing more than your recommended allowance of fourth-quarter comebacks seems well in the wheelhouse for the Good Bad Team. Feisty! But losers!

Trey Lance (and Justin Fields!) are Hot Garbage

Any conclusion—any conclusion whatsoever—from the swamp that was Soldier Field on Sunday should be taken with several thousand tons of salt. The conditions were wet all day long, verging towards being unplayable in the fourth quarter when the rain really picked up, the field became besotted with puddles, and conditions got so bad FOX had to use fancy computer graphics to just allow us to see the field.

Put this one mostly in the category of the Bomb Cyclone Colts-49ers game or the Snowpocalypse Bills-Patriots game from a year ago; you can't make too many serious judgements due to the weather conditions. In the first three quarters, before the rain really kicked in, Lance had a passing VOA of 2.0%. That still isn't good enough for a team with Super Bowl aspirations, especially when you add in that his success rate was 35%; there is a significant lack of consistency on his short throws at the moment. But if that's the low end of an up-and-down week-to-week player, that's fine; I'm willing to chalk up his -106.2% VOA in the fourth quarter to "playing in a monsoon." And hey, he hit three completions 10-plus yards downfield and outside the numbers; Jimmy Garoppolo had 25 such completions all year last season. If Lance lays an egg against Seattle this week, then it'll be time to panic. Until then, deep breaths.

As for Fields, his DVOA in the first three quarters? -75.5%. Well, it was better than Baker Mayfield's or Joe Burrow's, at least, but I'd have more concern about my quarterback if I were a Bears fan today than if I were a 49ers fan.

The Packers Can't Pass Without Davante Adams

Mild sell, I suppose? Seeing your ex do great on his first time out hurts, as Adams ended up with more receiving yards than every Packers receiver combined in Week 1. Zero snaps for Amari Rodgers, after all the preseason hype, even after Allen Lazard was made inactive. Less than 50 yards each for the much-hyped rookies, Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson. There's no sugarcoating things—it was bad. Aaron Rodgers looked lost, or at least as lost as the defending MVP quarterback is likely to look; indecisive with a lack of trust in his receivers to do anything. Well, yeah! Perhaps more than any other great quarterback today, Rodgers depends on his rapport with his receivers. The Rodgers-to-Adams connection was a huge boon for both players; Rodgers knew whenever there was trouble exactly where Adams would be and that he'd haul in whatever he could throw. That connection isn't there yet with the new receivers, and so Rodgers held on to the ball for longer and made more questionable decisions than we're used to seeing out of him. That connection will build in time; Rodgers will slowly get more comfortable with the revamped receiving corps. By the end of the year, I suspect things will be fine, if obviously nowhere near what they could do with Adams in the fold. Maybe don't fully R-E-L-A-X just yet, but I'll spot you up through the "L."

Tyreek Who? Patrick Mahomes Will Win MVP

While the Packers were struggling to make things work with their new receiving corps, the Chiefs looked like they weren't going to miss Tyreek Hill whatsoever. Derrik Klassen broke down the new-look Chiefs offense, which boils down to "Travis Kelce is very good." With Kelce as the centerpiece and a smorgasbord of complementary options to work with, Patrick Mahomes looked like the best quarterback in the world. Mahomes set the record for most Week 1 passing YAR and became the fourth quarterback to throw for 300-plus yards, five-plus touchdowns and zero interceptions in a season debut. The other three guys? 1984 MVP Dan Marino, 2013 MVP Peyton Manning, and 2019 MVP Lamar Jackson. You can quibble a little bit with Mahomes' performance; an underhanded touchdown pass is very cool but not particularly difficult, and the Chiefs were just so much schematically better than the Cardinals in Week 1 that it wasn't the hardest day a quarterback is ever going to have to face. But being able to fire on all cylinders despite losing one of the best playmakers in the game is hard; just ask Aaron Rodgers! There's a reason both Aaron Schatz and I listed Mahomes as our preseason MVP favorite; despite the great play of your Josh Allens and Justin Herberts, there's still one guy on top of the quarterback mountain at the moment. I leapt to this conclusion several weeks ago and will be staying right here, thank you very much.

The Buffalo Bills are Unstoppable

And we end right where we started, with the Thursday night opener. In a week when so many contenders floundered, when eight of last year's playoff teams put up a negative VOA, when seven of our picks for playoff teams this year struggled, the Bills looked like the best team in football. Despite turning the ball over four times, they cruised to victory and never really seemed to be in danger; even when the score was close, it was fairly clear that they were in control. It is still more likely that someone else will end up lifting the Lombardi when all is said and done—the Ravens have a passing game now, and the Chargers may well have broken free from their cursed ways. But the Bills' performance on Thursday night looked like that of a championship team, showing that if it were not for that coin flip in last year's divisional round, that they'd be the one raising the banners right now. It's about as impressive of a Week 1 win as you can possibly have, arguably the most impressive Week 1 win since those 2013 Broncos demolished the defending champion Ravens.

Unstoppable? Hyperbole, obviously—those Broncos made it to the Super Bowl before being shellshocked by the Seahawks, and last year's Bills looked great in all the games where they weren't somehow struggling against Urban Meyer's Jaguars. But if you were on the Bills' bandwagon before last Thursday night, there's no reason to get off of it now. And if you weren't, well, you'd better hurry up, because there aren't going to be many seats left for long at this rate.

And after all, what could go wrong with the Bills being AFC champions? Maybe this is the year when they can finally put right what once went wrong, hoping that this season will be the one that brings the Lombardi Trophy home.

… I'm going to go start practicing field goals right now, just in case I wake up in the body of a badly-CGI'd Scott Norwood tomorrow morning. Hey, anything could happen.

Comments

30 comments, Last at 18 Sep 2022, 10:52am

1 Keep Choppin' Wood

What I've decided to do for now, as we're still exploring this tentative new Scrambleless world, is to put the Keep Choppin' Wood award as a comment thread, so people can chime in with their own opinions, as well.  There's too much overlap to run all the awards the old Scramble did, but KCW is a tradition that deserves to be kept alive in some format or another -- plus, it'll really help me when I put together the All-KCW team at the end of the year!

For Week 1, though, the choice is fairly obvious -- it's all the kickers.  Or special teams in general, I suppose; I'll give emergency Bengals long-snapper Mitchell Wilcox, who had to come in after Clark Harris injured his bicep midgame.  The fact that most of you don't know if "Clark Harris" is the real name of the Bengals long snapper or not is kind of the point; no one knows the starting long snappers, much less the emergency reserves.  Wilcox, who in his defense has no experience as a snapper of any kind in game action, blew off the timing of the Cincinnati special teams unit, causing the game-tying extra point at the end of regulation to be blocked, and the game-winning field goal in overtime to be badly hooked.  Kicking units are so much about timing and repetition, especially between snapper and holder, that having to throw someone else in there at the last minute is just asking for disaster.  Yes, I know the Chiefs survived the injury to Harrison Butker, but at least Justin Reid had some practice kicks in the preseason to get ready for things. Who practices backup longsnapping? 

Honorable mention goes to the Packers receiving corps, as a whole, the Chicago groundskeeping crew, and whoever was in charge of giving Chris Collinsworth his throat lozenges.

4 I don't think KCW should go…

I don't think KCW should go to an emergency injury replacement with no training. I think it should be reserved for situations where we expect a level of basic competence that fails to materialize. The Chicago groundskeeping crew is a good choice. I'd like to offer another alternative: There were so many fumbled center-quarterback exchanges by Carolina that I lost count. There were at least four, maybe five, in a game the Panthers lost on a last-minute FG. One them occurred on a first-and-10 from the Cleveland 14 with less than 2 minutes to go, where a first down would have essentially iced the game (though it's unclear if Rhule was already committed to running up the middle 3 times and kicking). Baker Mayfield and Pat Elflein both accepted responsibility, so I'd nominate them to share the award.

14 Nope! No way: that wasn't…

Nope! No way: that wasn't Wilcox's fault. It was #89, Drew Sample's fault. He committed the Cardinal Sin of blocking. Steelers had an overload rush to the offense's left. More guys than they could block. He's on the end, staring at two guys who are coming at him.

And he blocked the outside guy. What the heck, dude. You don't let the guy who has a shorter path go!

For reference, the Bengals special team staff have basically all said it was Sample's fault (well, "protection issues," but when the coach says "he didn't block it exactly the way we want it blocked" that's code for "he done screwed up").

Even worse: Drew Sample doesn't normally work that side. The coach moved him to the left side specifically because he felt Fitzpatrick was a danger. So. Drew Sample. Coach moves you to that side because he's worried about Minkah Fitzpatrick and thinks you're good and can handle it. And you choose not to block Minkah Fitzpatrick.

Drew Sample: keep choppin' wood.

18 Domino effect

I read somewhere (though I'm not going to try to find it) that Sample's position on the line was where Wilcox usually plays for place kick protection.  So it wasn't Wilcox's fault (a) because he can't be blamed for doing a merely competent job (it's not like he snapped the ball over the holder's head) in a role he almost never practices and (b) because Sample blocked the wrong guy, but the chain started with the injury to Harris, that moved Wilcox out of his normal position, that moved Wilcox into a place where his mistake gave Fitzpatrick a free run to block the kick.

21 Am I the asshole for…

Am I the asshole for thinking that Collinsworth gets easier to listen to, when a virus has cut his plutonium-powered hype-o-tron's output by 50%?

2 I feel extra good today…

I feel extra good today about my prediction about McCarthy being fired mid season. To be clear, as of now, I don't think its deserved. Frankly, McCarthy hasn't exceeded expectations, but he hasn't really disappointed either imo. His first year the Cowboys started off disappointing, but then Dak got hurt and the whole thing went to hell. Last year they made the playoffs. And this year, Dak is once again hurt but this time from jump.

Furthermore, I think the underachievement stems from issues related to Jerry Jones. I realize I am usually on the side of dismissing organizational blundering. And for the most part, I don't think an idiot owner means the quarterback you draft is going to turn into Jamarcus Russel. I don't think Jimmy Irsay has any particular magic beans when it comes to drafting first overall quarterbacks. Frankly I think Jerry undermines his head coaches and becomes the defacto figure you appeal to rather than the coaching staff. 

3 Eh, I don't think you need…

Eh, I don't think you need to ascribe the awful week 1 this year to anything so nebulous as "Jerry's bad juju". The culmination of a slow drain in the offensive line talent, injuries to two starters along that line (including the LT/best player), plus the loss of the 1A/B receiver without a replacement due to both cap concerns and a misreading of the WR market. 

McCarthy at this stage feels like a coach who won't drag the team down, but also won't really elevate them. And that's where I think Jerry comes in; the Cowboys will always have a few more distractions than the average team, which is less important than the talent on the field but still matters, especially in the playoffs when the margins are so close. I don't think McCarthy gets fired unless the bottom really drops out, but I do think that appears much more likely today than it did a week ago. Who would be the other bets? Rhule, certainly. Kliff, if the Cardinals don't rebound from week 1. In some other sports I could see a midseason firing of Hackett, but I don't think football really has that "change coaches midseason to try and spark the team" effect. Everybody else who's either not good or struggled week 1 seems like a new coach or a candidate for an off-season coaching change rather than getting fired midseason.

6 Maybe not Jerry Juju, but…

Maybe not Jerry Juju, but certainly Jerry roster decisions. Jerry's the one that signed off on those cap issues, getting manhandled by Zeke and Dak in negotiations, then taking out his rage on Cooper and Collins. He also clearly had way too much faith that Dak and CeeDee would bail them out of the fact that they don't have any other receivers.

If Sean Payton really is waiting in the wings to take over the job, I don't understand what the point would be in firing MacCarthy midseason. If the bottom drops out, it's because the offense sucks. Hiring Dan Quinn as interim coach won't be able to fix that since he's in charge of defense, and hiring Kellen Moore won't fix that either, because it's his offense that was sucking to begin with.

9 Well, sure, but those are…

Well, sure, but those are just run of the mill questionable decision-making by a front office, rather than some mystical Johnnie Walker-infused vibes permeating the front office (or, on the other hand, maybe it is the Johnnie that's been the issue here...)

You make a good point about Payton - if the only way McCarthy gets fired is if the bottom drops out, then you're not really firing him with the intent of making a post-season run. In that case, if you know (or believe) you've got Payton lined up for next year, why bother with the firing? It's not like getting a head start on your search is a concern.

11 After last season, the rumor…

After last season, the rumor mill claimed he was interested in coaching for the Chargers, Cowboys, or Dolphins. Why he would claim interest in the Dolphins or Chargers, I have no clue, since their head coaches were just recently hired.

 

13 Setting aside any emotional…

Setting aside any emotional reasons, since those are unknowable for us, who are the potential alternatives, if he wants to get back into coaching this off-season? If you take my list of coaches upthread as those most likely to be let go, only the Cardinals seem potentially attractive to a coach who wants to win now? Your other potentially interesting alternatives would whoever ends up with the 2nd/3rd pick in the draft, if you want to mold your QB, although even then would you really want to coach the Texans?

8 Rhule I'd believe. Kliff…

Rhule I'd believe. Kliff seems unlikely unless the wheels fall off, like they lose their first 7 or something.. (Not really sure he would deserve it honestly. ) Zona doesn't usually fire guys midseason..  

12 Absolutely it would take the…

Absolutely it would take the wheels falling off, but that's often the case for mid-season firings. It's either bad teams with longer-tenured coaches, or surprise disasters. There's been enough rumbling around the Cardinals all off-season that it feels like the whole GM/coach/QB situation could come apart at any moment, and they just signed Kyler to an extension, so...

I missed Arthur Smith, who should be on the list, but if the Falcons are indeed feisty rather than bad this year he probably at least makes it through the season. Eberfluss, McDaniels, and Peterson are all in year 1, so even if they disappoint I'd be shocked if they are fired midseason. Of the other teams that may have the wheels fly off (as long as we're overreacting to week 1), I literally cannot imagine Belichick being fired midseason, and I would be very surprised if LaFleur or Vrabel are let go as well. And that's already assuming they don't bounce back from their starts, which I think all 3 will. Saleh is the one coach I haven't mentioned who I could maybe see, but given that it's year 2 and expectations are still fairly low, a midseason firing seems harsh even if they don't look much better than last year.

25 Saleh is an underrated…

Saleh is an underrated possibility.  The fans are already chanting for Mike Effing White, and Saleh is still trotting out the corpse of Flacco, not to mention propping up the lich of Lamarcus Joyner in the defensive backfield as a scarecrow, fooling no one. If Zach Wilson comes back and the Jets' offense is still bad, both Saleh and Douglas could be in trouble.

But the Johnsons are usually patient; they fired Adam Gase and John Idzik after two years, but they are the exceptions.  They haven't fired anyone else after only two years; MacCagnan, Rex Ryan and Todd Bowles all got four years or more.  Tannenbaum got fired after the buttfumble year, but he'd been the building forever, and the GM before him, Terry Bradway stayed with the organization until 2012, at least.

5 I feel extra good today…

I feel extra good today about my prediction about McCarthy being fired mid season.

   There is little evidence for that feeling; Jerry has only fired a coach midseason once.  If Sean P.  gives Jerry any indication of willingness to take over, McCarthy will be fired as soon as the whistle blows on the Cowboy's last game of the season even if it's a playoff game. But IMO not before.

17 Bad games happen to good…

Bad games happen to good team sometimes. 

The obvious example is the 1993 Cowboys, who got smoked in week 1, but still repeated.

\Both wins against... Buffalo.

19 Good Week One Summary

I think you hit most of the points right on the money. I, as a Packers fan, am hopeful things will start to gel with the rookie receivers as the season goes along. They looked more fluid when they had them out there despite the inconsistency and feel sooner or later Watson and Doubs become the focal point in the passing attack.
 

As for the here and now I think they should focus more on the run but I know the O-line isn’t up to snuff yet health wise. 

20 Weird that Fields added positive DVOA in that 4th Q

If I'm reading the tables right, Fields ended up at -43.7%, while Lance ended up at -44.9%

Some of that is surely that the rain didn't REALLY start coming down, IIRC, until after Herbert's TD run to put the Bears up 19-10. At least, that explains why Lance did so poorly. But not why Fields did so well in Q4 (which doesn't include the broken play TD).

22 Fields had three passes in…

Fields had three passes in the fourth quarter, all of them in a row in the first three minutes.  That's one incomplete pass (-6 YAR, -104.7% VOA); one 8-yard gain on 2nd and 10 (6 YAR, 85.5% VOA), and an 18-yard go-ahead touchdown on 3rd and 2 (24 YAR, 236.0% VOA).  He did not attempt a single pass the rest of the way -- because if it's a downpour, and you have the lead, why bother?

24 SFTB

SFTB was one of my favorite features on this site..... I really liked the format.  Sorry to see it go.

27 KCW

Surely this week is a "pick your Head Coach" week? It's either Arthur Smith for *that* punt, or Nathaniel Hackett for *that* FG try.

FWIW, I'm going with Hackett, because when you trade that much for a QB you gotta leave him on the bench and try a 64yd FG instead

28 That's what I was thinking,…

In reply to by James-London

That's what I was thinking, but you've got the Mike Martz award for confusing coaching (also the John Fox award for conservatism, but that's newfangled) which is a way better option for Hackett.

29 Yeah, I'd give Hackett the…

Yeah, I'd give Hackett the confusing and/or conservatism awards (which always had a fair amount of overlap, tbh).  There was a method to his madness, it just was based on far too conservative of priors.

30 I think the John Fox award…

I think the John Fox award came about because we just had to find a way to mock John Fox. I mean, he wasn't a bad coach, he just was super-conservative.

But the Mike Martz award came about because he kept winning the KCW award, over and over. One year he got like 80% of the votes for the full year award. 80%! Getting 80% of football fans to agree on *anything* is hard, and Martz had all these vehement defenders (who were probably the other 20%). Once he was fired as Rams head coach, totally needed an award to keep his memory alive.

Save 10%
& Support Bryan
Support Football Outsiders' independent media and . Use promo code KNOWLES to save 10% on any FO+ membership and give half the cost of your membership to tip Bryan.