Kirk Cousins and the Legends of the Arbitrary Benchmarks

Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins
Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 8 - Did you know that Kirk Cousins joined Peyton Manning and Dan Marino last week as the only quarterbacks in history to throw for over 30,000 yards and 200 touchdowns in their first 115 NFL games?

The folks from the Vikings public relations department tweeted that pearl of a factoid last week. It's a remarkable accomplishment. Not by Cousins, mind you, but by the PR department, whose work belongs in the Arbitrary Benchmarks Hall of Fame.

You are a stat-savvy audience, so I won't over-explain the concept of arbitrary benchmarks. There's nothing all that special about the 30,000-yard or 200-touchdown plateaus; they just happen to be nice round milestones that Cousins recently reached. And those 115 games are an obvious tell that there's something fishy at work. If you set benchmarks precisely at the thresholds that a player recently passed, if that player has done anything at all of note in his career, and you are really good at using the sorting filters at Stathead, you can create an impressive list with some superstars or Hall of Famers at the top and just about anyone you like sitting smack dab at the bottom.

Let's play the arbitrary benchmarks game with Dak Prescott, whose Cowboys face Cousins' Vikings in Week 8. Did you know that Prescott and Aaron Rodgers are the only quarterbacks in history to start their careers with 19,000 or more passing yards, more than 120 touchdowns, and fewer than 50 interceptions in their first 75 games? Here's the proof!

Benchmarks like 19,000 and 120 look a little silly, but "75 games" looks a lot less silly than "115 games," so I don't feel guilty about using them. For younger quarterbacks, adding some extra criteria helps narrow the list; in particular, a low interception total weeds out most guys from 20 or more years ago. Think of it as another trick of the trade: the more filters used to place someone on a short list with Dan Marino, Sir Isaac Newton, and Alexander the Great, the less impressive their accomplishments really are.

Let's increase the degree of difficulty with Josh Allen, a quarterback with a weak rookie season and a so-so sophomore campaign on his 3.375-year resume!

My initial effort for Allen was a list of quarterbacks with 11,000-plus passing yards, 80-plus touchdowns, and fewer than 50 interceptions in their first 50 games. The list was fine but unspectacular: Allen, Deshaun Watson, Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton, Patrick Mahomes, Mark Rypien, Carson Wentz, and Derek Carr. No way that list goes viral among Bills Mafia! So let's refine the list to 11,000-plus passing yards, 80-plus touchdowns, fewer than 50 interceptions, AND 1,000-plus rushing yards. As you can see, Allen and Watson are the only players ever to accomplish this very, very specific feat.

As you might imagine, using rushing statistics is an easy way to select for mobile quarterbacks. It also selects for recent quarterbacks to a degree, since designed runs are more common now than they were 10 years ago.

There's another devil lurking among the arbitrary benchmarks we have used so far: using "games" instead of "starts." Many quarterbacks of yesteryear were active as placekick holders when they were young backups. Steve Young played in a lot of games that he didn't start early in his career. Joe Montana attempted just 23 passes in his first 16 games. Tony Romo played 30 games before attempting a pass; Romo's impressive numbers once he took over as the Cowboys quarterback would make him a threat to crack many of these "X yards and Y touchdowns in T amount of time" lists if we used starts instead of games. Any criteria that excludes lots of Hall of Famers and some recent stars due to a technicality is excellent criteria for someone like Cousins.

Let's crank up the difficulty again for Baker Mayfield, a young quarterback who rarely blows up the stat sheet. Only seven quarterbacks in history have thrown for 12,500-plus passing yards, 80-plus touchdowns, and fewer than 50 interceptions over their first 52 games, and Mayfield is one of them. PAY HIM HIS $200-MILLION CONTRACT!

The Mayfield list looks a little like the Allen list, with guys such as Watson and Wentz showing up both times. All of these lists self-select for very recent quarterbacks because passing rates and touchdown rates are still increasing gradually every year. The reason Tom Brady doesn't appear on these lists is because he threw for a relatively normal 230 yards or so per game early in his career. He can't compete with Jared Goff at 250 to 290 yards per year.

Matthew Stafford just reached the 300-touchdown plateau, but there is little challenge in creating an arbitrary benchmark list for him. Ditto for someone such as Russell Wilson or Matt Ryan. Instead, let's tackle journeyman backup Case Keenum, who is one of only seven quarterbacks in NFL history to throw for 14,000-plus yards, 75-plus touchdowns, and fewer than 50 interceptions with a completion rate higher than 62% in his first 72 starts. C'mon Browns PR department: Keenum reached milestones that only the likes of Mahomes, Rodgers, Wilson, and Philip Rivers reached before him. You gotta let the public know about stuff like this!

Cousins actually moved into 50th place in all-time passing yards last week. That's not only an easy-to-comprehend-and-promote accomplishment, but it's also a Cousins-worthy one. Arbitrary benchmarks tend to backfire when they sound like they were concocted to fool the rubes. Trying to set Cousins atop a pedestal next to Peyton and Marino only emphasizes how unlike Peyton and Marino Cousins really is. On the other hand, the all-time passing yardage leaderboard now places Cousins ahead of Jake Plummer and Joe Ferguson, not far behind Norm Snead and Mark Brunell, in the same general category as Roman Gabriel, Steve McNair, and John Brodie. There are still era distortions in the data, but the company feels right: Cousins is among quarterbacks who played for a long time and had success with strong supporting casts in their best years.

Oh well, that's all from me, the greatest NFL writer in history with 15-plus years of public high school math teaching experience and 200-plus hours logged playing Civilization VI.

Coming off the Bye: Pittsburgh Steelers

Hey, a new feature! Occasionally throughout the midseason, Walkthrough will spotlight a team coming out of its bye week. But you probably figured that out from reading the header.

The Steelers Story So Far: The 2021 Steelers are replaying their 2020 season in reverse.

The Steelers cruised out to an 11-0 start in 2020, hammering multiple opponents in the midst of quarterback crises in a way that masked Ben Roethlisberger's decline and hid the deficiencies of their own offense. Everything fell apart when their schedule got tougher and opponents realized that Big Ben's shoulder was a rusty gate hinge late last year.

The Steelers started the 2021 season 1-3, but they are coming off a pair of wins against Broncos and Seahawks teams coping with severe offensive injuries and have found temporary workarounds for Roethlisberger's mounting limitations.

What's Going Right? Some things we expected, some we did not.

  • The Steelers pass rush is as vicious as ever. Among other impressive metrics, they're third in the NFL with a 28.8% pressure rate according to Pro Football Reference.
     
  • Their offensive line has been bad, but not historically bad. Roethlisberger's league-low time to throw of 2.36 seconds (per Next Gen Stats) helps hide some shortcomings.
     
  • The Big Ol' Bucket O' Screens game plans that allowed Roethlisberger to get rid of the ball moments after the snap yielded diminishing returns over the first month of the season. The Steelers have dared to allow Roethlisberger to drive on the interstates in recent weeks. While he looks more like a Matt Cassel or Chad Henne than a future Hall of Famer, the results aren't totally embarrassing.
     
  • The Steelers still act like they belong. That's not Football Outsiders-style analysis, but there's something to be said for the fact that they know how to manufacture a win against an opponent with Geno Smith at quarterback, and the Steelers aren't likely to wilt under the spotlight in a prime-time game.

What's Going Wrong? Some things we expected, some we did not.

  • The Steelers offense is currently "critical but stable," not "satisfactory."
     
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster's shoulder injury leaves an offense that relies largely on YAC after micropasses short on playmakers.
     
  • Injuries to Tyson Alualu and Stephon Truitt weakened the run defense. Opponents can neutralize the Steelers pass rush by running between the tackles effectively in close games or when sitting on leads.

Where They Stand in the Playoff Picture: The Steelers have a 32.4% chance of making the playoffs. Like their offense, their playoff odds are weak but stable: wins by the Bengals and Browns may be pushing the AFC North title out of reach, but losses by the Broncos and Chiefs open up potential wild-card opportunities. The Steelers' victories over the Bills and Broncos may help their eventual head-to-head or conference-record tiebreaker scenarios.

What's Next: Sunday's meeting with the Browns is another chance to exploit an opponent's offensive injury woes. It's also practically a must-win game: the Steelers cannot afford to start 0-2 in their division. A three-game at-Chargers/at-Bengals/Ravens slate from Weeks 11 through 13 will ultimately seal the Steelers' destiny.

Walkthrough Tank Watch: New York Jets

Every Wednesday, Walkthrough checks in on one of the NFL's worst teams to determine what's going wrong, what (if anything) is going right, and what (if anything) they can do to start heading in the right direction.

Somehow, we almost made it to Halloween without catching up with the Jets.

The Jets Story So Far: Adam Gase doesn't just destroy franchises, he reroutes nearby rivers to flood his former team's headquarters so future generations will be unable to find traces of their existence. The Jets, like the 2019 Dolphins, were forced to bulldoze their entire roster and start fresh under Robert Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas. Other than a stunning upset over the Titans, the Jets have spent two months playing behind a "Pardon Our Appearance: Franchise under Construction" sign.

What's Going Wrong? Let's keep things brief.

  • Zach Wilson tore a PCL on Sunday and is out a while. Mike White is now their starter, with newly reacquired Joe Flacco backing him up.
     
  • Even before his injury, Wilson wasn't exactly winning the rookie quarterback storyline sweepstakes. Trevor Lawrence has been impressive despite Urban Meyer, Trey Lance is at least better than Jimmy Garoppolo, Mac Jones is a souffle baked out of intangibles, and we're all politely ignoring Justin Fields until the Bears fire some coaches/execs. Wilson was just looking busy and trying not to get hurt until he got hurt.
     
  • Mekhi Becton, the team's best offensive lineman, has been on the IR for weeks. LaMarcus Joyner and Carl Lawson, two of the veterans who were signed to stabilize Saleh's defense and jumpstart the rebuild, have also been out for weeks.
     
  • As a result of all the injuries, the Jets field the roster of a 1970s expansion team built out of other teams' 17th-round draft picks.
     
  • There has been no breakout star. Usually, a rebuilding team can point to a James Robinson-type running back, a slick slot receiver with a few touchdowns, or a small-school edge rusher with a half-dozen sacks after seven games. The Jets haven't even had that kind of luck.

Is Anything Going Right? Not much.

  • A few youngsters such as guard Alijah Vera-Tucker and edge rusher John Franklin-Myers have played well enough to be penciled in as building blocks.
     
  • The Titans upset proved that the Jets can have a flicker of a pulse if they aren't trailing 17-0 by the middle of the second quarter.

What Needs to be Done? The Jets knew they would be terrible this year and are building for 2023 at the earliest, so these recommendations are designed to give both more hope for the future and a little dignity right now.

  • Trade Marcus Maye. Maye said he wants to stay with the Jets, but he's facing legal issues and dealing with an ankle injury. If Gase did one thing right in his sordid little career, it was nabbing two first-round picks from the Seahawks for World's Tiniest Defensive End Jamal Adams last year.
     
  • Be more like the Lions. The reason the Jets have been outscored 44-0 in first quarters is that they run a preseason offense at the beginning of every game. Meanwhile, the Lions attack with surprise onside kicks and fake punts, then try to run the ball straight through the defense's ribcage while clearing their playbook of every tight end screen ever imagined.

    In other words, the Lions have an identity, while the Jets start every game reteaching themselves how to run inside zone and the boot pass.
     

  • Get Elijah Moore involved. One way the Jets can establish their own identity is to better integrate second-round pick Elijah Moore into the offense. Moore scored a touchdown on his first carry of the season against the Patriots. Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur needs to stop treating reverses and slot screens like some form of newfangled sorcery.

    In fact, slot weapons (Moore, Jamison Crowder, Braxton Berrios) are the relative strength of the Jets offense. LaFleur and Saleh may want to load up some old Patriots film for some ideas, or just go run 'n' shoot once Wilson is healthy and let the chips fall where they may.
     

  • Keep an eye on Douglas. Joe Douglas has a sterling reputation among the Twitter intelligentsia, which in itself raises Walkthrough's suspicions. (When the loudest name-droppers on the Internet all agree on something, they're usually wrong.) Everything that has gone wrong so far during his Jets tenure has been blamed on Gase, just as the collapse of the Eagles was blamed almost entirely on Howie Roseman. That's another yellow flag. Trading a draft pick for Flacco instead of yanking some Kyle Sloter-type off the waiver wire is a third: the Jets need to horde every future resource right now, and Douglas should realize that.

    Douglas' Eagles drafts were rather weak, and his 2020 Jets draft already features a few critical misses (Denzel Mims, La'Mical Perine). Granting a general manager multiple years of benefit of the doubt is a great way to end up with another affable, approachable, clueless Mike Maccagnan type.

How Bad are the Jets? The Jets have the worst roster in the NFL. Saleh and his staff are capable of coaching them up to be better than the Jaguars and Texans.

What's Next? The Jets host the Bengals next week. They have a winnable stretch of games starting in Week 11: Dolphins, at Texans, Eagles. A pair of wins in those three games would provide at least a little evidence that the organization is coming out of its Gase coma.

Comments

35 comments, Last at 29 Oct 2021, 4:20pm

1 Kirk Cousins

Mike-that first part of your article about Cousins, P.Manning, and Marino is very interesting. Those 115 games represents roughly 7 years as a starting QB in the NFL.                                                                                                                                  It is very different when you compare numbers from then on especially when you compare almost any franchise QB's numbers to Marino. Dan's numbers after those 1st seven years really drop off. For example his TD passes average less than 20 per year.                                                                                                                  So Cousins will have trouble staying with Manning from here on in, but he should have no problem passing Marino's numbers if he remains a starter.                         Rivers, Rodgers, and Big Ben have passed or are passing Marino now in Career Passing Yards and Career TD Passes, and Matt Ryan and Stafford are creeping up on him as a result of throwing as many passes per game on average that Marino threw-around 35.

3 Sorry Mike

In reply to by Bob Smith

Sorry Mike, I have to correct something from above. I was using Marino's last 5 year stats when I said that he averaged less than 20 TD passes per year, but in his last 10 years he did average a little more than 20 per year.                                          But P.Manning averaged 32 per year in his last 10 years so Cousins will probably not match that. 

21 Cousins and other modern QBs…

In reply to by Bob Smith

Cousins and other modern QBs may linger on lists like these because the career lengths of second-tier QBs keep increasing, as do passing averages. So it will take longer for mediocrity to catch up to them, and when it does, they are still likely to average 250-plus yards per game as they slide from the NFL.

The bottom line is QB milestones like these make fun broadcast fodder and fan engagement but terrible analysis!

23 That could be

That could be, but it turns out that 1 of the QB's involved in the fact presented (Marino) ended up being 1 of the most inconsistent QB's in history. He started good enough to be part of that threesome, but boy did he become very mediocre right after that.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In Marino's last 14 years in the league he only averaged 21 TD passes per year, and 3,476 yds. per year. That is why these younger guys are passing him by now.

24 Last 13

In reply to by Bob Smith

Change the above to read Marino's last 13 years in the league. 

28 The last 13 years of Marino…

In reply to by Bob Smith

The last 13 years of Marino's career, when he averaged 3476 yds/21 TD, were 1987-1999.  You define those numbers as "very mediocre".  Here's the QBs who had individual seasons that topped both those numbers in those seasons:

1987 - none (strike year, fewer games played)

1988 - 4 - Marino, Everett, Cunningham, Esiason

1989 - 7 - Marino, Rypien, Moon, Everett, Esiason, Montana, Majkowski

1990 - 4 - Marino, Everett, Montana, Moon

1991 - 4 - Marino, Moon, Rypien, Kelly

1992 - 1 - Marino

1993 - 3 - Moon, Elway, Young (Marino was hurt, only played 5 games)

1994 - 6 - Marino, George, Everett, Bledsoe, Favre, Young

1995 - 9 - Marino, Everett, Moon, George, Kramer, Elway, Blake, Mitchell, Favre (Marino made this benchmark in only 14 games)

1996 - 4 - Blake, Testaverde, Bledsoe, Favre (Marino only played 13 games)

1997 - 5 - Moon, George, Bledsoe, Favre, Elway

1998 - 5 - Marino, Manning, Favre, Young, Cunningham

1999 - 6 - Favre, Brad Johnson, Gannon, Manning, Warner, Beuerlein (Marino only played 11 games)

  In this span QBs topped the 3476/21 (not arbitrary numbers at all) mark 58 times or about 5 times per non-strike season.  8 of those seasons were by Marino, basically if he played a full season he topped those benchmarks.So apparently by "very mediocre" you mean "consistently among the Top 5 QBs when healthy".

The real point is that passing numbers have changed a LOT since Marino's career:  58 QB-seasons over 3476/21 combined in the 12 years from 1988-1999 vs. 169 from 2009-2020.

 

30 Pass attempts

One thing that plays into those numbers is pass attempts. Check the current list of Career Pass Attempts Per Game and you will see 2 names up there with the younger guys-Marino and Bledsoe and Bledsoe ended his career with over 1,600 LESS pass attempts than Marino.                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My point-you have to compare Marino's career resume with everybody playing today because he was throwing as many passes per game as these guys are today in most cases. Back in the day nobody was throwing as much as Marino was until Bledsoe came along 10 years later.                                                                               Jim Kelly threw less than 30 passes per game on average throughout his career for example.

31 More on pass attempts

In reply to by Bob Smith

One other thing- Total Career Pass Attempts. Marino is the only guy from the 80's way up on the list and then there is Favre from the 90's. One guy was allowed to throw 35 passes per game in the 80's and that was Marino.

33 One more

One more thing-only 8 QB's in history have amassed over 8,000 pass attempts in their careers so far, and Marino is one of them. Those 8 definitely can all be compared and looked at in the same light.  

34 Marino under todays rules…

Marino under todays rules would average 50 tds and 5000 yards.  With legitimate weapons he would average a 6 beginning both numbers.  Young marino was unlike any qb i've ever seen.  Only Herbert rivals what marino was in the mid 80s at this point.  

35 So what

So what ??  Let's PRETEND it would have even been 70 TD passes and 7,000 yds. yds. passing, None of that matters when you get to the more important part of the season-the playoffs, and that is where Marino really left his teammates down by playing mediocre to bad a majority of the time.

2 The most interesting thing…

The most interesting thing about Cousins to me is that he may have wider disparity between his performance when comfortable in the pocket, and performance when pressured by 4 rushers, than nearly any other qb I can think of. That's a subjective judgement, of course, so I easily could be wrong, but he can go between MVP production to the dregs pretty easily from week to week, and the ability of 4 rushers to make him uncomfortable always seems to be the variable. 

My beef with him as a Vikings fan has always been that his cap % is too close to the guys who handle that kind of pressure much better. That's the nature of the qb market, however, and there isn"t much to be done about that, except hope to get lucky, while avoiding Ponderous fiascos. While the Vikings have had good fortune in accumulating receiver talent for most of the past decade, they really have had bad luck with regard to oline talent acquisition until the last couple years, If Darrishaw ends up being an above average olt, the Cousins era could still turn out to be a success. The next 4 games might be illuminating.

9 This is the Cousins conundrum.

He looks like Joe Montana when he has a clean pocket.  He looks like Sam Darnold with anything but.  

I can't see paying anything close to elite QB money for Cousins, but he can get you a SB if you can protect him.

I predict this weekend's game at home against Dallas will follow that trend.  I trust the Vikings offense over the Dallas defense here.

 

4 jests

the problem with my Jets dates back a decade.  2011 was the last remotely decent draft.  The last Tannebum draft in 2012, both izdik drafts and all five Macaganan Aprils were borderline terrible.  Mac had a few no-brainer first round picks fall into his lap, but ultimately was below average.  Now a year later, the first Douglass draft appears to be a complete bust. Becton appears to be above average as a tackle, but now cant stay on the field.  Mims and Perine are healthy scratches while Clark and morgan arent even on the team anymore and Zuniga cant crack THIS roster.  That's five guys drafted in the top 130 who are doing absolute zero in year 2.  Douglas shouldnt just be watched, he should be fired.

i get the Gase hate.  He reminds me of my high school Calculus teacher.  Despite winning math awards, i did horribly in that class.  As an arrogant 17 year old i of course blamed the teacher.  The next year in college Calculus was the easiest A i could get.  When my new professor said things, i immediately understood what my old teacher was trying to teach.  i think that's how Gase fooled so many people for so long.  Regardless, this LaFleur character makes Gase look like Bill Walsh.  At least Gase had a knack for a good 15 play script.  under lafluer we cant get a first down until like five minutes into the second quarter.  

The jets wont be good until they can hire a GM that knows how to draft and an offensive coach that can call plays and develop a quarterback.  All Salah knows how to do is blitz an injured offensive line and clap on the sidelines after a three and out, sadly for both sides of the ball.  

5 Gase had Peyton Manning and Ryan Tannehill

In reply to by Jetspete

Clearly Tannehill was better than Miami thought. Apparently adequate QBs can keep the illusion of good coaching alive for a little while. With the Jets Gase never had that and everything else about him (which is negative) was all that was left. Miami and NY still have two epic games this year. I can't wait to not watch them because what's the point?

6 The Steelers' victories over…

The Steelers' victories over the Bills and Broncos may help their eventual head-to-head or conference-record tiebreaker scenarios.

 

Neither the Bills or Broncos are going to be head-to-head wild card challengers to the Steelers. Barring unforeseen disaster, the Bills will likely lock up the division by Thanksgiving and the Broncos are in freefall.

7 Trading a draft pick for…

Trading a draft pick for Flacco instead of yanking some Kyle Sloter-type off the waiver wire is a third: the Jets need to horde every future resource right now, and Douglas should realize that.

Hoard, not horde. Hordes should be gathering for every head they can get in New York (and Philly for that matter, but you strangely don't have my loathing of Howie Roseman).

On topic, though, trading for Flacco was probably less work for Douglas than actually scouring the wire and trying to figure out who could work there, and Flacco's vet min.

And there's also probably a not-so-crazy chance that they get the 6th round pick back, too, as it's likely that some team picks up Flacco for more than the 6th round compensatory formula, which is ~$3.5M. And really, 6th+ round picks are just candy anyway. Flinging that to Philly is probably worth the goodwill with Roseman alone.

8 Hey did you guys know that…

Hey did you guys know that Cooper Kupp is one of two receivers with 800+ yards and 9+ touchdowns in his first seven games? The other being Randy Moss. My, what company to be in!

10 Kupp runneth over.

It's obvious that Stafford looks for Kupp more than any other receiver on the Rams by far.  Woods is far down the depth chart in terms of targets per PFF.

It's good he has a good connection with Kupp, but as you saw in the Arizona loss, if the other team has a secondary focused on taking him away, the other guys have to make catches.  They didn't.

If the Rams had a better receiving corps, you would have a better distribution of targets and Kupp wouldn't have the inflated stats.   I guess, good for Kupp fantasy owners, but bad for the Rams when you face the better NFC teams.

 

13 > Be me > Point out funny…

> Be me
> Point out funny example of arbitrary stats in the style of the article.
> Be DIVISION
> Have a psychology degree
> Write response
> Words, Words words words. Words words more words words Kyler Murray is MVP words words. Words words words Rams stars and scrubs words words words. Words, words words here’s why your teams success is illusionary. Words words words

Words words words more words words. Words words words tome of knowledge words. Words words words words JJ Watt is an all star words. Words words words.

Words words Cardinals most balanced team, words words. Words, other QB not named Kyler Murray is limited. WOrds words words. Words words words Kyler Murray dual threat words words words.

14 Did you know

Did you know? DIVISION is one of only two commenters to EVER:
- reply under your comment
- not as the originator of the comment thread
- make a great point, actually

18 I mean it's three now but…

In reply to by wrbrooks

I mean it's three now but look at that company! Jheildeberg, wrbrooks, and DIVISION. In the top 100 best looking people in the world who also posted a comment in this thread.

19 LOL!!!!

theTDC makes history as the only person to ever put me in a sentence that includes me as being in the top 100 best looking people in the world.

25 Finally

In reply to by jheidelberg

I can finally take my rightful place among the top 100 most beautiful in the world

 

who commented in this thread. 

26 So all I need to get in on…

In reply to by jheidelberg

So all I need to get in on the action now is to make a good point... hmmm...  hmmm...

 

...Kyler Murray MVP? No, wait. Let's go with, Civilization is for kiddies, real men play Europa Universalis IV.

Post #13, btw, is one of only four that have me laugh out loud this year.

15 theTDC Kupp example

I did not know this, but I do know that Cooper Kupp is someone that is not on any of my fantasy teams, and is kicking my butt.  I did not know that I was being torched by a Randy Moss clone.

I wish that we had at least one commenter that was a fan of each of the 32 teams.  The assignment this week would be to take your team and come up with some irrelevant statistic showing how great one of your players is by using arbitrary benchmarks.

After every good game that Lamar Jackson plays we get a combo platter of Lamar Jackson accomplishments of passing, running, TD passes and more. Of course no one has accomplished any of these things, as no QB has ever accomplished the rushing figures that he has.  

Lamar Jackson is the only QB in history to rush for at least 1200 yards in a season in which he threw at least one TD pass.

 

 

17 That would be an absolutely…

That would be an absolutely hilarious recurring theme. I'm trying to think, Aaron Donald absolutely has to have a few of those.

"Aaron Donald one of three defensive tackles ever to record 89.5 or more sacks before the age of 31 while making the transition with another franchise to a new city in his fourth season." 

I'm sure we can come up with much better seemingly plausible stats that some PR firm might actually come up with.

20 "Did you know Jared Goff is…

"Did you know Jared Goff is the first quarterback since the AFL-NFL merger to change teams and have four 4th quarter comeback opportunities in his first seven games?"

I'm not positive that this stat is actually true, but it sounds right.

11 Arbitrary to who?

These kind of lists are what agents will use to justify getting Baker that max contract.

I am going to predict that Cleveland pays Baker.  

With all the money he's making from endorsements, he could play for free and still be a Millionaire many times over.

12 If they were going to give…

If they were going to give Baker an absolute top-level contract, they would've already.

Well, OK, maybe. They are the Browns, after all.

I think it's more likely that they target something like a Cousins-size contract, just more flexible (and they likely won't get screwed by some new global disaster). 

16 I totally agree that if he…

I totally agree that if he were to get that top deal he would have it already.  Now he needs to go on the Flacco run to the Super Bowl at minimum to get that top deal.

Unfortunately for us AFC North fans the Browns are truly now the New Cleveland Browns.  GM Berry and Coach Stefanski are too smart. The endless regimes of idiocy and incompetency are gone.  Thus, so ends the revolving door of QB's that show up as backups around the league.

That is what makes this so interesting to me, I expect Cleveland to do the right thing, but this is uncharted territory, so there is no standard as to what the right thing actually means.

27 I suspect Tom Brady could…

I suspect Tom Brady could compete (for a century or two) with Goff if he were only throwing 250-290 yards a year.

This does make me wonder if there is an NFL writer with 200 hours of Maths teaching and a decade and half of experience playing Civilization...

The games vs games played-in trick is particularly sneaky. Of course poor Tony Romo was likely holding in most of those early career games, so he even saw the pitch, but without getting any passing stats (did he throw many fakes?).

32 If Cousins' current passer…

If Cousins' current passer rating holds, he'll be only the fourth QB ever with three straight seasons with a 105+ passer rating along with Mahomes, Wilson, and Brees. Brady and Manning never did this. I was surprised Rodgers hadn't but he was a 104.9 season in 2013 away from having 4 in a row from 2011-2014 (a great example of the power of arbitrary benchmarks!).