Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

18 Dec 2017

Week 15 Quick Reads

by Vincent Verhei

And now, a quick update on the status of one Alvin Kamara. Three weeks ago, we noted that the Saints running back was having one of the best rookie seasons on record. Now, we are very close to removing the "one of" qualifier from that sentence. With two weeks still to play, Kamara is up to 265 DYAR rushing and 223 DYAR receiving. That's 488 combined DYAR, the second-best total for a rookie running back in our database. Clinton Portis' rookie mark of 501 DYAR, set in 2002, is in serious jeopardy. Assuming opponent adjustments and league-wide baselines remain stable, Kamara needs only 14 DYAR against the Falcons and Buccaneers to break Portis' record. The last time Kamara failed to get 14 DYAR in back-to-back games was in Weeks 2 and 3 -- when Adrian Peterson was still on the Saints and Kamara was fighting for playing time.

Kamara's season will likely finish as the best for a rookie runner most of us have ever seen, and one of the best for any running back, period. Only 23 times has a running back topped 500 combined DYAR in a season; that includes Edgerrin James doing it twice, Priest Holmes doing it three times, and Marshall Faulk doing it four times, including the all-time mark of 846 DYAR in his MVP season in 2000.

In addition, Kamara will likely join the 200-200 club. Only seven runners -- Faulk (four times); Holmes (twice); and Thurman Thomas, Charlie Garner, Tiki Barber, Steven Jackson, and Le'Veon Bell (once each) -- have ever had 200 rushing DYAR and 200 receiving DYAR in the same season. Barring a sudden surge of fumbles, Kamara should become the eighth name on that list. Todd Gurley of the Rams has 221 rushing DYAR and 173 receiving DYAR, so he could make it nine with a big finish in the passing game.

     

Finally, Kamara goes into Week 16 leading all running backs in both rushing and receiving DYAR. Only three times has a player done that over the course of an entire season: Thurman Thomas in 1991, Faulk in 2000, and Brian Westbrook in 2007. As a rookie, Kamara is already one of the most versatile, efficient, and explosive backs on record. If he can make any significant improvement as he develops, he could become a generational talent.

But then, we had already established what a great year Kamara was having back in Week 12. The point of this essay is to show that many other rookie running backs are having good seasons too. In fact, the running back leaderboards are just loaded with rookie players. The top 20 running backs by rushing DYAR include five rookies: Kamara, Kansas City's Kareem Hunt (fifth with 197 DYAR), Jacksonville's Leonard Fournette (14th, 124), and Green Bay's duo of Aaron Jones (10th, 137) and Jamaal Williams (15th, 91). Going a little deeper, we find several more rookies shining in part-time roles. Philadelphia's Corey Clement, an undrafted free agent, is 21st with 68 DYAR even though he hasn't started a game. Other successful part-timers include Cincinnati's Joe Mixon (22nd, 63 DYAR, five starts), Minnesota's Dalvin Cook (29th, 43 DYAR, only four starts before he got injured), San Francisco's Matt Breida (31st, 37 DYAR, no starts), and Seattle's Chris Carson (33rd, 28 DYAR, three starts).

And that's just the rushing data. Several rookie runners have made excellent receivers as well. As mentioned, Kamara leads all running backs in this category, but Carolina's Christian McCaffrey (fourth, 146 DYAR), Hunt (seventh, 97), and Willams (ninth, 89) also make the top 10. The top 20 also includes Washington's Samaje Perine (14th, 73) and Clement (17th, 62).

Combine the rushing and receiving numbers, and you'll find the names of eight rookies in the list of most valuable running backs this year. Those eight players: Kamara (first), Hunt (third), Williams (eighth), McCaffrey (13th), Fournette (16th), Clement (17th), Jones (28th), and Mixon (30th).

It shouldn't come as a surprise to see so many first-year running backs playing this well. Our BackCAST projections before the draft said this would be "an amazing class of running backs." (Of course, we also labeled Kamara as a potential bust, but that was based in part on a Tennessee Volunteers coaching staff that didn't give Kamara nearly enough opportunities in college.) The question, then, is not whether this rookie class is living up to expectations -- the question is, is this the best group of rookie runners we have ever measured?

Since 1989, the best rookie class of running backs hit the league in 2006. That group set the high-water marks for total rushing DYAR (837), receiving DYAR (647), and combined DYAR (1,483). The 2017 rookie runners have already broken the records for receiving DYAR (751) and combined DYAR (1,536). They also have 785 rushing DYAR, which would be the fourth-best total for any rookie class. Using the simplest possible method of projecting that over a full season (dividing by the 14 games each team has already played and then multiplying over a full 16-game slate), we can guess they will finish with 897 rushing DYAR. So that mark is also in serious jeopardy.

Counting that 2006 class, there have been five other seasons in which rookie running backs totaled at least 1,000 combined DYAR. In chronological order:

  • 1989: Any group that includes Barry Sanders is likely going to be a good one. In his first year with the Detroit Lions, Sanders ran for 1,470 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 239 DYAR. He had negative DYAR as a receiver, but you can live with that when you're getting that kind of production on the ground. Other rookie stars that year included Denver's Bobby Humphrey (188 combined DYAR), Dave Meggett of the New York Giants (163), Atlanta's Keith Jones (115), and Kansas City's Todd McNair (100).
  •      

  • 2006: This year's class was led by a pair of AFC South freshmen. Indianapolis' Joseph Addai led all rookies that year with 1,074 rushing yards and 412 combined DYAR, while Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew ran for 13 touchdowns and had 320 combined DYAR. They were followed by Atlanta's Jerious Norwood (189 DYAR), Leon Washington of the New York Jets (171), Carolina's DeAngelo Williams (153), and the player who was supposed to be the best of them all, the second overall pick in that year's draft, New Orleans' Reggie Bush (125).
  • 2007: Welcome to the NFL, Adrian Peterson. The Vikings rookie hit the scene with 1,344 rushing yards, a dozen touchdowns on the ground, and 323 combined DYAR. He was followed by New Orleans' Pierre Thomas (142 DYAR), Miami's Lorenzo Booker (124), and the Buffalo pairing of Marshawn Lynch (105) and Fred Jackson (100).
  • 2008: Yes, the mid-2000s did offer an abundant crop of running backs, though the 2008 class had less staying power than their contemporaries. Denver's Peyton Hillis had less than 600 yards from scrimmage, but with a 65 percent success rate on the ground, no fumbles, and a half-dozen combined touchdowns, he led all rookie runners that season with 223 combined DYAR. He was followed by Dallas' Tashard Choice (178), Chicago's Matt Forte (177), Houston's Steve Slaton (142), Tennessee's Chris Johnson (120), and Dallas' Felix Jones (117). Really, it was the next tier of rookies that season -- Ray Rice, Darren McFadden, Jamaal Charles, Jonathan Stewart, and Mike Tolbert -- who would prove to be the better players over the long haul.
  • 2015: Not that long ago, Arizona's David Johnson (253 DYAR) and Seattle's Thomas Rawls (228) seemed poised to carry their teams to the top of the NFC for years to come. Things change. That year also gave us St. Louis' Todd Gurley (195), Buffalo's Karlos Williams (170), and Chicago's Jeremy Langford (139). Just two years later and Gurley is the only one of those players who did much of anything this season, though the Cardinals and Seahawks are obviously hopeful that Johnson and Rawls can return to health.

Only three rookie classes have failed to amass even 100 combined DYAR, and two of them came in a three-year stretch from 1990 to 1992. (The 1991 class was sixth-worst; clearly, the early 1990s were a bad time to need a running back.) The best rookie runner in either of those years, Blair Thomas of the New York Jets, had just 90 combined DYAR. Even Dallas' Emmitt Smith got off to an inauspicious start with just 74 DYAR for the 1990 Cowboys. Meanwhile, Cleveland's Leroy Hoard was dragging everyone down with his -138 combined DYAR. The other stinker of a rookie class came in 1999. Yes, that group included Edgerrin James and his 300 combined DYAR for the Colts. But James and Denver's Olandis Gary (180) were the only rookie runners to top 100 DYAR. Meanwhile, seven rookies had -50 combined DYAR or worse, "led" by the -148 DYAR of New Orleans' Ricky Williams.

That discussion brings up an interesting point -- considering DYAR can be negative, is totaling the DYAR for a given class really the best way to measure its strength? If we're looking for the draft class with the most good players, would it be better to count the rookies with least 100 (or 150, or 200) DYAR? Also, should we be counting what each player did in their entire careers, not just in their first seasons?

Those are fair questions to ask, but given its strength at the top and its depth at the bottom, its clear that the 2017 class of running backs would be among the best by any measure.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
1.
Blake Bortles JAC
21/29
326
3
0
1
171
171
0
HOU
Bortles definitely picked his spots against Houston. Only eight of his passes traveled more than 6 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. But he made those plays count, with six completions and a DPI totaling 223 yards and two touchdowns. He also got a lot of help from his receivers, with a league-high 9.6 yards after the catch per completion this week.
2.
Eli Manning NYG
37/57
434
3
1
1
155
155
0
PHI
Remember, DYAR is a counting stat, and Manning had a league-high 58 chances to rack up DYAR this week. Here's some fun with cherry-picked stats: On passes that traveled 7 to 9 yards downfield OR 12 to 20 yards downfield, Manning went 12-of-13 for 208 yards. Yes, that one incompletion was an interception, but all 12 completions picked up first downs.
3.
Cam Newton CAR
20/31
242
4
0
1
149
140
9
GB
Newton had his struggles in the first half. At one point he had one completion for 4 yards in a stretch of eight passes. In the second half, though, he went 10-of-12 for 133 yards and three touchdowns. A 13th throw resulted in a 3-yard DPI, and he was also sacked once.
4.
Jameis Winston TB
27/33
299
3
0
2
130
130
0
ATL
5.
Alex Smith KC
23/30
231
2
0
1
113
120
-7
LACH
Smith only threw one pass this entire game that traveled more than 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. It was completed for a 64-yard touchdown on third-and-2. He made those short completions count, though, by making the most of his short-yardage plays. With 3 yards or fewer to go for a first down, he went 7-of-9 for 104 yards and six conversions, including both of his touchdowns. He only had three first downs with more than 3 yards to go.
6.
Case Keenum MIN
20/23
236
2
0
2
110
101
9
CIN
Keenum threw six passes that traveled 10 to 20 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Five were completed for 118 yards and a touchdown; the sixth resulted in a DPI for 13 more yards.
7.
Brock Osweiler DEN
12/17
194
2
0
1
110
97
13
IND
Osweiler entered the game in the second quarter, and most of his action came before halftime. He didn't throw many passes in the second half, but then, he didn't have to. After falling behind 13-7 midway through the third quarter, Osweiler went 5-of-6 for 120 yards and two touchdowns.
8.
Kirk Cousins WAS
18/26
196
2
0
1
108
113
-5
ARI
Cousins made a lot of good throws in this game, but didn't have much success on third downs: 3-of-6 for 12 yards with one conversion and one sack. One of those completions was a zero-yard gain on third-and-23.
9.
Jimmy Garoppolo SF
20/29
201
1
0
1
85
85
0
TEN
Garoppolo, on the other hand, made a lot of plays on third down, going 7-of-10 for 79 yards and six conversions, including a touchdown. He also had a 17-yard completion on third-and-18.
10.
Tom Brady NE
22/35
298
1
1
2
78
78
0
PIT
On throws to receivers not named Rob Gronkowski, Brady went 13-of-22 for 130 yards and only six first downs.
11.
Nick Foles PHI
24/38
237
4
0
1
70
69
1
NYG
Foles practically spent the entire game in the red zone. Inside the New York 20, he went 9-of-13 for 56 yards and all four touchdowns. Jacoby Brissett has started 13 games and has only thrown four red zone touchdowns all year.
12.
Tyrod Taylor BUF
17/29
224
1
0
2
68
46
22
MIA
It may be time for the Bills to give up on the long ball. Taylor threw five passes against Miami that traveled at least 25 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. All five were incomplete.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
13.
Drew Brees NO
26/36
295
2
1
0
67
67
0
NYJ
Brees threw for 13 first downs in this game. Five of them came on five straight passes over the first and second quarters, and four more came on four straight passes in the fourth quarter. His streakiness rating (the percentage of passes that were either back-to-back successes or back-to-back failures) was 63 percent.
14.
Marcus Mariota TEN
17/24
203
1
0
1
57
60
-3
SF
Passes to receivers within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage: 7-of-10 for 32 yards and only one first down. Any deeper than that: 10-of-14 for 171 yards and 10 first downs.
15.
Matthew Stafford DET
25/33
237
2
0
4
57
57
0
CHI
Stafford's accuracy was nearly perfect when throwing to his right: 13-of-15 for 129 yards and a touchdown. In full disclosure, only six of those completions picked up first downs.
16.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
22/30
281
2
1
2
55
55
0
NE
The controversial non-touchdown at the end of the game was just one example of Pittsburgh's troubles at tight end. Throwing to that position, Roethlisberger went 3-of-6 for 15 yards and only one first down.
17.
Derek Carr OAK
21/38
171
2
0
0
53
52
2
DAL
Maybe it's because they fell behind early, but the Raiders threw a ton of passes on first down. It didn't work -- on first downs, Carr went 8-of-17 for 50 yards, with only two first downs.
18.
Aaron Rodgers GB
26/44
290
3
3
3
51
31
20
CAR
The magic range for Rodgers was on passes that traveled 10 to 13 yards downfield: 6-of-8 for 110 yards and two touchdowns. The cursed range for Rodgers was on passes that traveled 18 or more yards downfield: 1-of-5 for 24 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.
19.
Matt Ryan ATL
17/31
212
1
0
1
42
25
17
TB
20.
Jacoby Brissett IND
17/30
158
0
0
1
31
22
9
DEN
Brissett did not complete a pass that traveled 10 yards or more beyond the line of scrimmage, going 0-for-6 on throws of that distance.
21.
Joe Flacco BAL
26/42
288
1
0
1
21
10
11
CLE
Flacco lost 62 DYAR due to opponent adjustments, most of any quarterback this week. Not that it mattered, but he was dreadful in the red zone, going 2-of-6 for 9 yards and no first downs.
22.
Jared Goff LARM
14/21
120
2
1
2
-11
-11
0
SEA
The average pass thrown to a receiver behind the line of scrimmage this season has gained 5.1 yards. Goff threw four such passes, completing all of them for 47 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown and two other first downs.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
23.
Bryce Petty NYJ
20/39
179
1
2
1
-15
-17
2
NO
Petty had some success throwing to his right (10-of-21 for 94 yards, plus a 22-yard DPI), but not so much up the middle (2-of-6 for 10 yards) or to his left (8-of-12 for 75 yards, but only two first downs, plus a 15-yard DPI and two interceptions).
24.
T.J. Yates HOU
12/31
128
1
1
4
-46
-46
0
JAC
Yates gained 89 DYAR due to opponent adjustments, most of any quarterback this week. With 6 minutes and change left in the third quarter, he completed a pass for a 9-yard gain on third-and-4. That would be his last completion of the day. From that point forward, he went 0-for-8 with two sacks. On third downs, he went 5-of-11 for 77 yards with three conversions, four sacks, one fumble, and one interception. On throws to his backs and tight ends, he went 3-of-9 for 4 yards. No, that is not a typo.
25.
Dak Prescott DAL
18/27
212
0
2
2
-53
-75
22
OAK
Third-down passing: 4-of-9 for 45 yards with as many conversions (two) as interceptions.
26.
Trevor Siemian DEN
5/9
67
0
1
2
-55
-55
0
IND
All of Siemian's passes came in the first quarter.
27.
Philip Rivers LACH
20/36
227
1
3
2
-58
-58
0
KC
On L.A.'s first drive of the second half, Rivers threw a 10-yard touchdown to Antonio Gates that put the Chargers up 13-10. From that point forward, Rivers went 6-of-13 for 30 yards with no first downs and three interceptions. He did pick up a first down on a 14th throw, which resulted in an 8-yard DPI.
28.
DeShone Kizer CLE
20/37
146
0
2
2
-73
-75
2
BAL
Kizer gained 69 DYAR due to opponent adjustments. His first three completed passes were a 5-yard loss on first-and-10, a 6-yard loss on second-and-15, and a 1-yard loss on second-and-8. On throws up the middle, he went 1-of-5 for 15 yards with two interceptions.
29.
Mitchell Trubisky CHI
31/46
314
1
3
2
-77
-63
-14
DET
Inside the Detroit 30, Trubisky went 4-of-9 for 22 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
30.
Russell Wilson SEA
15/30
145
1
0
7
-89
-98
8
LARM
Wilson gained 59 DYAR due to opponent adjustments. He spent a good chunk of the day trying and failing to dig out of long-yardage situations. With more than 10 yards to go for a first down, he went 4-of-11 for 27 yards and three sacks. His average pass play came with 12.1 yards to go for a first down. Even his vaunted fourth-quarter magic failed him against the Rams. In the final frame, he went 2-of-7 for 11 yards, plus an intentional grounding foul for a safety. On passes to his wide receivers, he went 7-of-16 for 62 yards and none, zero, nada first downs. (He would have had one, but Tanner McEvoy fumbled the ball away on what would have been a third-down conversion.)
31.
Jay Cutler MIA
28/49
274
0
3
3
-133
-130
-3
BUF
Red zone passing: 2-of-6 for 11 yards with no touchdowns and one sack. The Dolphins lost this game by eight points, you'll recall. Cutler was shockingly effective throwing to the middle, going 7-of-10 for 74 yards and five of his 13 first downs. In addition to his three interceptions, he fumbled the ball twice on sacks.
32.
Andy Dalton CIN
11/22
113
0
2
3
-142
-142
0
MIN
Dalton only threw for five first downs in the whole game. His first came on his first pass of the second quarter; by that time, he had already thrown a pick-six and the Bengals trailed 17-0. He did not convert a third down until they trailed 27-0 in the third quarter. He never did pick up a first down in Vikings territory.
33.
Blaine Gabbert ARI
16/40
189
0
1
5
-153
-170
17
WAS
Gabbert gained 54 DYAR due to opponent adjustments ... and still finished in last place. On five separate drives in the red zone, he went 1-of-8 for 9 yards with no touchdowns, one interception, and two sacks. He had four plays with 1 or 2 yards to go for a first down, and only converted one of them, going 1-of-3 for 8 yards, plus an aborted snap.


Five Best Running Backs by DYAR (Total)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Todd Gurley LARM
21
152
3
3/3
28
1
94
68
26
SEA
This was the second-best game for a running back so far in 2017. The only game better was Ezekiel Elliott's against San Francisco in Week 7, which is up to 103 DYAR with updated opponent adjustments. Gurley had only two hits for no gain or a loss, but five runs for 10 yards or more, including a 57-yard touchdown on third-and-20. Speaking of touchdowns, he had a pair of 1-yard scoring runs that dinged his average but boosted his DYAR. His receiving touchdown was a 14-yard gain on third-and-10.
2.
Kareem Hunt KC
24
155
1
7/9
51
1
76
57
19
LACH
Ten first downs on the ground, including runs of 23, 21, 17, and 13 yards, while being hit for no gain or a loss just once. His biggest receptions were a 3-yard touchdown and a 21-yard gain on fourth-and-3.
3.
Christian McCaffrey CAR
12
63
0
6/7
73
1
71
26
45
GB
Every one of McCaffrey's runs gained at least 1 yard, and he had four first downs, including gains of 10, 11, and 15 yards. Five of his receptions produced first downs, including a 7-yard touchdown.
4.
Mark Ingram NO
12
74
2
5/6
77
0
53
36
17
NYJ
Ingram had a 54-yard catch in the first quarter, and a 50-yard touchdown run in the fourth. He had three other first downs on the ground, while being hit for no gain or a loss twice.
5.
C.J. Anderson DEN
30
158
0
0/1
0
0
45
52
-8
IND
Only two of Anderson's 30 carries -- 17 of them killing a lead in the second half -- went for no gain or a loss. He ran for nine first downs, including four gains of 10 yards or more.


Five Best Running Backs by DYAR (Rushing)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Todd Gurley LARM
21
152
3
3/3
28
1
94
68
26
SEA
2.
Kareem Hunt KC
24
155
1
7/9
51
1
76
57
19
LACH
3.
C.J. Anderson DEN
30
158
0
0/1
0
0
45
52
-8
IND
4.
Buck Allen BAL
13
70
0
1/3
4
0
26
44
-18
CLE
Allen gains 19 rushing DYAR due to opponent adjustments. He had five first downs on the ground, including three runs of 10-plus yards, while being hit for no gain or a loss just once.
5.
Mark Ingram NO
12
74
2
5/6
77
0
53
36
17
NYJ


Worst Running Back by DYAR (Total)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Alex Collins BAL
12
19
0
5/8
33
0
-32
-9
-23
CLE
Collins gains 16 rushing DYAR due to opponent adjustments, and yet here we are. His longest run gained just 6 yards, he only had three first downs on the ground, and he was hit for no gain or a loss five times, including on third-and-1 and fourth-and-1. Only of of his recpetions -- a gain of 14 on first-and-10 -- was a successful play.


Worst Running Back by DYAR (Rushing)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Carlos Hyde SF
13
19
0
1/1
8
0
-25
-28
3
TEN
A long run of 8 yards, only one first down on the ground, and seven hits for no gain or a loss.


Five Best Wide Receivers and Tight Ends by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Rob Gronkowski NE
9
13
168
18.7
0
62
PIT
Eight of Gronkowski's receptions produced first downs, including a fourth-down conversion. DYAR also accounts for the 23-yard DPI he drew to convert a third-and-3.
2.
Keelan Cole JAC
7
9
186
26.6
1
61
HOU
Only four of Cole's receptions produced first downs, but those four plays came on gains of 31, 42, and 73 yards, plus a 9-yard touchdown.
3.
Jaydon Mickens JAC
4
5
61
15.2
2
45
HOU
Mickens came into this game with one career catch for 11 yards. He had 5- and 14-yard touchdowns against Houston, plus a gain of 41, and a 13-yard DPI to convert a third-and-11. Not bad for a guy who was sleeping in his car earlier this year.
4.
JuJu Smith-Schuster PIT
6
6
114
19.0
0
42
NE
Four of Smith-Schuster's receptions produced first downs, including a pair of third-down conversions. He also had a 69-yard catch-and-run to give Pittsburgh a chance to win the game at the end. Alas.
5.
Tavarres King NYG
2
3
70
35.0
2
42
PHI
Only two catches, but they were touchdowns of 57 and 13 yards.


Worst Wide Receiver or Tight End by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Brandon Coleman NO
3
5
30
10.0
0
-52
NYJ
Three catches for 30 yards is not bad production -- unless you fumble the ball away on two of those catches. Then it is.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 18 Dec 2017

59 comments, Last at 21 Dec 2017, 2:55pm by t.d.

Comments

1
by iapetus :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 7:40am

Blake Bortles is still terrible, though, am I right?

2
by James-London :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 7:50am

Probably, but Blake Bortles is gonna get PAID and some team's going to regret that for some time to come...

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

4
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 8:53am

I’m having flashbacks of Scott Mitchell.....

34
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 4:09pm

Remember that one year when the NFC Central had a ton of great QB years, topped by Kramer, Mitchell, and Favre (in that order)?

38
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 4:59pm

Yea, 1995. That was of Favre's first prolific seasons, and one of Warren Moon's last. For Mitchell and Kramer, however, it's one huge sore thumb of an outlier.

5
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 9:09am

There are many potential things which would be hugely entertaining about the Jaguars winning playoff games, and The Blake Bortles Auction is one of them.

IT MUST HAPPEN!!

9
by hrudey :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 10:13am

I don't mean to alarm anyone, but if you lined up all the QBs who have thrown passes in all three games in December, and told everyone who had thrown an INT in December to sit down, the QBs who would still be standing are Blake Bortles and... well, nobody.

(edit: For purposes of this, the week 13 November 30th game is counted as December, although Prescott didn't throw a pick that game and Cousins threw another one the next week).

10
by Sakic :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 10:24am

Am I the only one that would LOVE to see Jacksonville versus New England in the playoffs?

I typically give a great offense versus great defense edge to the great defensive team but if they cancel each other out the outcome of the game depends on...Blake Bortles. That's a drama bomb waiting to happen!

11
by billprudden :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 10:27am

If BB went into that game with a devil-may-care attitude, slung it all over the place, and got somewhere between Flacco-luck (safety badly misplays deep ball) and Eli-luck (self-explanatory) and what I'd call general chucker's luck, that defense could make life very difficult for TB.

13
by nat :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 10:37am

Bill Belichick would never do that....

What?

Oooooooooh.........

Never mind.

16
by CaffeineMan :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 10:44am

"Chucker's Luck" is a great phrase! Haven't seen it before. It's kinda like a cross between "having a puncher's chance" and "taking pot luck". When it's time for a high variance strategy, one can say "we going to take chucker's luck here."

14
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 10:43am

If a Tom Coughlin operation were to once again show up and spoil Darth Hoodie's postseason, they should change the name of the team to the Jacksonville Jedis, and have a little Yoda mascot running around on the sideline.

31
by roguerouge :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 3:23pm

That would be awesome, even at the cost of a Pats loss in the playoffs!

35
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 4:10pm

They should do that anyway.

19
by lokiwi :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 12:14pm

NE still has the worst rush defense in the league by DVOA. They have to be Jacksonville’s preferred matchup. Bortles might only throw 5 passes in a game in New England.

20
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 12:27pm

The biggest loser of the PIT-NE result other than Pittsburgh (or maybe even more-so than Pittsburgh) was Jacksonville.

They had a clear-shot at the #2 seed if NE lost, getting to host a potential matchup in JAX instead of Foxboro, and then going to a place they already beat Pittsburgh in.

Now, they would have to beat Pittsburgh first, then potentially go to Foxboro, and have to play on Wild Card Weekend.

21
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 12:35pm

Jacksonville-New England is an intriguing matchup (cannot believe I just wrote that); if Jacksonville gets ahead and can just run consistently while the pass rushers tee off on Brady, they look good, but if it gets into any kind of close game where it becomes a matchup of Bortles vs. Belichick . . . hoo boy.

I'm absolutely looking forward to every Jacksonville playoff game just to see exactly how the heck Bortles handles it.

26
by RickD :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 1:06pm

It's a given that the Pats would stack the box if they face the Jags. Dust off David Harris and give him a ton of snaps. Dare the Jags to try to use Bortles to beat them.

28
by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 1:41pm

A large part of the Patriots terrible rush defense is teams running on them while down significantly - IE, Leshaun McCoy having 95 yards rushing while Tyrod Taylor only has 60 yards passing, and the Bills are getting crushed.

If the Pats play Jax, they'll force Bortles to throw.

12
by billprudden :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 10:30am

1) Kirk Cousins gets not only record-braking deal this offseason, but in a plum situation like Pitt or Denver.

2) Blake Bortles gets similar deal, with well over 50m guaranteed.

3) RG3 suffers aneurism.

59
by t.d. :: Thu, 12/21/2017 - 2:55pm

thing is, bortles isn't actually a free agent

53
by nottom :: Wed, 12/20/2017 - 10:34am

I feel like he has improved from "guy you can't win with" to "guy you can win in spite of"

3
by RobotBoy :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 8:20am

Cole's numbers are supernatural. 26.6 average YPC? And here I was thinking Gronk had done something otherworldly. I assume opponent adjustments are the reason he didn't get out-DYAR'd by Cole. Which is eminently fair, as Houston is much worse at the moment than DVOA would suggest. That team is cursed.

6
by Mike B. In Va :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 9:39am

Have you seen Buffalo's receivers? It may be time to give up on throws to anyone but the tight end.

7
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 9:44am

Two Jags receivers in teh Top-5, and none are Allen, Allen or Lee. Strange happenings this year in Jacksonville...

8
by Raiderfan :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 9:56am

Does Gronkowski get anything for the two point conversion?

22
by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 1:01pm

No, we leave those out of DYAR/DVOA.

48
by MC2 :: Wed, 12/20/2017 - 2:57am

Why?

49
by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 12/20/2017 - 5:12am

On their own, they are so rare and random that they offer little predictive value at the team level and zero value at the individual level. You could argue that they should be counted as fourth-and-goal plays, and that's something we might consider down the line.

50
by MC2 :: Wed, 12/20/2017 - 6:54am

I don't see why they are any more random than any other offensive plays, but of course, they are a lot more rare, so lumping them in with the fourth-and-goal plays makes sense.

15
by jschroe36 :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 10:43am

Vince, how close was 1993 draft class to hitting the 1,000 DYAR threshold? From the naked eye, I see Jerome Bettis with 401 DYAR, Terry Kirby with 266, Natrone Means 131, Ronald Moore 100, Reggie Brooks 85, Robert Smith 61, Derrick Brown 53, Greg Robinson 71. Looks like Roosevelt Potts and Garrison Hearst weighed 'em down?

17
by jschroe36 :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 11:05am

Picking nits here, but the use of "only had three first downs on the ground" with respect to Alex Collins is not accurate. When a guy has 12 carries and produces 3 rushing first downs, that's a 25% first down rate and would be a higher rate than any of the top ball carriers in the NFL (Bell 22.8%, Gurley 23.7%, Howard 23.3% Hunt 22.3%, etc)

18
by lokiwi :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 12:12pm

Garoppolo’s stat line is wrong. He’s listed as 20/29 for 201 yds. I forget his yards but he threw the ball over 40 times.

23
by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 1:04pm

You are correct. The fourth quarter of that game inexplicably did not make it through the parser. Will have to fix that later.

24
by greybeard :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 1:05pm

31 for 43. 381 yards and 1 TD.

25
by Laufy :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 1:06pm

Re: Cutler "he fumbled the ball twice on sacks." is incredibly generous given that he just dropped the ball for no reason and then fell on it (technically sacks). Fun times!

27
by The Powers That Be :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 1:09pm

Ingram did not have a 54-yard TD catch in the first quarter. It would probably have been a 64-yard TD catch if the Saints had challenged the ruling that he stepped out at the ten, but they didn't.

29
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 1:56pm

"As a rookie, Kamara is already one of the most versatile, efficient, and explosive backs on record. If he can make any significant improvement as he develops, he could become a generational talent."

Or he could become Sproles, Woodhead, Pierre Thomas, Green-Ellis, or any number of fungible wingbacks employed by NO and/or NE. His low volume statistics suggest he's more likely this than he is McCoy, Rice, or Bell.

30
by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 2:36pm

He's been great, but yeah, we're talking about a guy who is going to finish the season with 120 carries or so, and not because he only played a few games. If NO thought he could produce like this with a real load, he'd be getting more carries.

32
by Bryan Knowles :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 4:02pm

While I understand what you guys are saying, Kamara is currently 26th in offensive opportunities (carries + targets in the receiving game) among running backs. Yeah, a player like Latavius Murray or Marshawn Lynch is getting plenty more carries than Kamara is but it's not like the Saints are hiding Kamara; he's getting plenty of work in that offense, just in a somewhat unorthodox way. More than 45% of his role on the Saints' offense is catching the ball; to go "he has only 120 carries or so" is doing him a really significant disservice.

Also, remember that Kamara missed nearly a full game with a concussion and was part of a three-man backfield for the first month of the season with Adrian Peterson taking up snaps and opportunities.

33
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 4:07pm

My larger point is that NO and NE in particular (KC and SD to a lesser extent) generate these guys. They usually get between 150 and 250 opportunities, between rushes and passes, and usually prosper for a few years before either being discarded or split between a small group of similar guys, or they go somewhere else and turn out to not have been entirely a flash in the pan (Sproles, mostly).

Basically, dude's got 600 yards rushing. Let's slow our roll. Jamaal Charles got dinged for small sample sizes and he was rushing for 1500 yards. He was utterly fantastic for 5 years and he probably won't even make the cut for Hall consideration.

37
by Eddo :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 4:53pm

"Jamaal Charles got dinged for small sample sizes and he was rushing for 1500 yards"

Maybe he got dinged in his first year (67 rushes) or maybe even his second (190), but by the time he hit 1467 yards in year three, no, Charles was not getting dinged for small samples sizes.

Also, when you watch Kamara, he is different than the players you mention in your first post. Sproles, Woodhead, and Thomas were all third-down types, whose primary value was catching passes. Green-Ellis was a three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust runner.

Kamara reminds me the most of a younger Marshawn Lynch. He runs hard and was more versatile as a young player than he has been the last few years (300 receiving yards in his second season).

40
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 5:30pm

No he's not.

NO's offense uses three kinds of backs, although they often only have two types at a given time.

A big back who is nearly a pure rushing back. (McAllister, Bell, Ivory, Ingram)
An intermediate back who rushes and receives, but rushes more than receives. (Bush (early), Thomas, Kamara)
A scatback who rushes and receives about equally -- basically a small, fast H-back. (Bush (late), Sproles, Spiller)

Bush actually had pretty similar rookie numbers, although less efficiently. Bush was still too pre-occupied trying to imitate Sanders at this point.

43
by Eddo :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 5:56pm

New Orleans has historically used backs that way, I will give you that.

But I'm talking about when I watch the Saints play, I don't see a back in the Pierre Thomas style, but one that is more like a younger Marshawn Lynch. Thomas and Bush (early) didn't run with the same style.

I can't say if Kamara would be this successful on another team (he probably wouldn't, given how good Ingram has also looked), but to lump him in with Woodhead and the Sproles (and, for some bizarre reason, Green-Ellis) is not right, either.

(Also, Woodhead and Sproles are interesting arguments as "only good because of the system" players, given they each had success with other franchies.)

44
by BJR :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 7:13pm

Watching Lions/Bears on Saturday (yes, I know) I commented to a friend that it would be interesting and revealing to see a parallel universe in which Tarik Cohen & Kamara were drafted by opposite teams.

54
by ChrisS :: Wed, 12/20/2017 - 11:26am

Cohen has been criminally underused, but part of that is that the QB's have been so awful it is hard to be successful with anyone catching the ball. Kamara is a bit bigger than Cohen so if he were on Chicago I think he would get about the same number of rushes per game but receiving would be way down and Cohen on NO would probably have production similar what Darren Sproles produced in NO (very good).

36
by ryan5581 :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 4:32pm

"is totaling the DYAR for a given class really the best way to measure its strength?"

I actually don't have a problem with the methodology. You would HOPE that as RB's prove themselves less effective, they would earn fewer carries, as to not further drag down the class total.

As an alternative, I'm not sure I would force the analysis to include only the "good" players. Maybe include the top 5 or so for each class?

"Also, should we be counting what each player did in their entire careers, not just in their first seasons?"

Depends on the question. If we're asking about the best rookie "season" then I think you've answered it well. If we're truly interested in the best "class," again maybe compare the top 5 from each class in career DYAR?

39
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 5:08pm

Cole's numbers are supernatural. 26.6 average YPC? And here I was thinking Gronk had done something otherworldly. I assume opponent adjustments are the reason he didn't get out-DYAR'd by Cole. Which is eminently fair, as Houston is much worse at the moment than DVOA would suggest. That team is cursed.

That's the biggest reason. Without opponent adjustments, Cole beat Gronkowski 76 YAR to 58 YAR.

Vince, how close was 1993 draft class to hitting the 1,000 DYAR threshold? From the naked eye, I see Jerome Bettis with 401 DYAR, Terry Kirby with 266, Natrone Means 131, Ronald Moore 100, Reggie Brooks 85, Robert Smith 61, Derrick Brown 53, Greg Robinson 71. Looks like Roosevelt Potts and Garrison Hearst weighed 'em down?

They were next on the list with 957 DYAR. Bettis was a monster, but he, Kirby, and Means were the only players over 100 DYAR. You're overstating the numbers for some of those other guys because you're not including their negative receiving DYAR. And there were a lot of bad rookies that year too -- nine at -10 DYAR or worse, six at -20 or worse. Garrison Hearst had -88 for Phoenix. Tyrone Montgomery had -90 for the Raiders.

Or he could become Sproles, Woodhead, Pierre Thomas, Green-Ellis, or any number of fungible wingbacks employed by NO and/or NE. His low volume statistics suggest he's more likely this than he is McCoy, Rice, or Bell.

Of the seven names you listed, only Bell has ever done what Kamara has already done this season.

Also, Kamara's touches per game, by month:

September: 6.7
October: 13.3
November: 14.5
December: 12.0 (only three games, got knocked out early against Atlanta -- had 18 touches against New Orleans this week)

Ingram did not have a 54-yard TD catch in the first quarter. It would probably have been a 64-yard TD catch if the Saints had challenged the ruling that he stepped out at the ten, but they didn't.

My mistake. Will fix.

41
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 5:43pm

He's done well with some extra volume, but you see Ingram on these lists too. You also see James White, Dion Lewis, Tim Hightower, Danny Woodhead, and guys like that. My point is that NE and NO turn out these guys like the 2000s Broncos turned out 1000 yard rushers. Maybe Ingram and Kamara are better than these guys usually turn out to be, but maybe we're looking at a small sample-size flash in the pan who is prospering in an offense and a position that DVOA really likes.

DYAR really loves RB receiving. It's going to love a change-up guy in a pass-happy offense that throws a lot to RBs who don't run a ton. Or, a guy whose job looks a lot like Kamara's.

42
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 5:46pm

Most yards from scrimmage since Week 4:

Le'Veon Bell: 1,613
Todd Gurley: 1,436
Alvin Kamara: 1,202

I can't guarantee he'll be good in 2018 and beyond, but this is one of league's most productive players right now, not "a small sample-size flash in the pan."

46
by The Powers That Be :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 8:10pm

Amazingly, the man in 4th is Ingram, 15 yards behind Kamara at 1,187. For the season, New Orleans RBs lead the league in yards from scrimmage by over 400 yards. Neither of these guys is "low volume" in today's NFL.

56
by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Wed, 12/20/2017 - 3:05pm

One can be both one of the league's most productive players right now, and a small sample size flash in the pan.

Remember - DVOA isn't telling you Kamara is good - its telling you that Kamara, running behind the saints line, with Brees quarterbacking, etc, is effective - so the fact that Ingram is producing in a similar manner should tell you that the "Saints line, with Brees, etc" may be a very important part of this.

The Saints offensive system thrives on finding mismatches against LBs for its running backs (similar to NWE, with both its RBs and Slot receivers).

45
by milo :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 7:51pm

A guy who's job looks like Kamara's is a guy leading the league in RUSHING DYAR. And RUSHING DVOA. (And RB receiving DYAR)

51
by MC2 :: Wed, 12/20/2017 - 6:59am

Just because a team produces a lot of "system players" doesn't mean that everyone who does well for that team is simply a product of the system. I remember when people made that claim about Portis, saying that he was no different than Mike Anderson or Olandis Gary. I thought, based on the eye test, that he looked a lot better than those guys, and I think the same thing now about Kamara.

55
by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Wed, 12/20/2017 - 2:50pm

"Just because a team produces a lot of "system players" doesn't mean that everyone who does well for that team is simply a product of the system."

I don't see anyone saying that.

What we're saying is that "he's the best ever" needs to be tempered with the fact that the floor for this position in this offense is really high.

Kamara could be really friggen good. Or he could be Reggie Bush having a good couple weeks. We don't know at this point, and pretending we do, is ridiculous.

57
by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 12/20/2017 - 4:05pm

"Kamara could be really friggen good. Or he could be Reggie Bush having a good couple weeks. We don't know at this point, and pretending we do, is ridiculous."

Reggie Bush's career highs were 97 rushing DYAR and 122 receiving DYAR. And those weren't even in the same season. Kamara has already been so much better than anything Reggie Bush ever was.

47
by jschroe36 :: Tue, 12/19/2017 - 8:41pm

Thanks for replying, appreciate it. Good stuff as always.

52
by MC2 :: Wed, 12/20/2017 - 8:55am

Of course, we also labeled Kamara as a potential bust, but that was based in part on a Tennessee Volunteers coaching staff that didn't give Kamara nearly enough opportunities in college.

Actually, I think being "underutilized" in college is a good thing, at least for a RB. QBs need all the experience they can get, but RB is such a physically grueling position, anything that minimizes the amount of wear and tear that a guy enters the NFL with, is probably a blessing. In fact, if I were a scout/GM, I would give preference to drafting guys, like Kamara or Terrell Davis, who had been "underutilized" in college.

58
by Bryan Knowles :: Wed, 12/20/2017 - 4:07pm

While your logic makes sense, we have not found that to be the case, statistically.

Running backs with fewer opportunities in college generally have fewer opportunities because they can't beat out the guys in front of them. If you don't rise to the top in college, the odds of you doing so in the NFL are significantly lower.

Now, that assumes, of course, that the college coaching staff knows what they're doing, and correctly identify the talent they have available to them. The fact that Butch Jones is no longer the head football coach at the University of Tennessee perhaps indicates that that wasn't necessarily the case in Knoxville.