Chat with Football Outsiders
We'll have Bill Barnwell (2 p.m. ET) and Aaron Schatz (3 p.m. ET) stopping by for two hours, so be sure to ask about your favorite team.
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paul s philadelphia pa
i would like to apologize to donovan mcnabb on behalf of the entire city of philadelphia...ive always been a mcnabb fan and supporter and feel bad for all the bull he has to put up with i dont understand how people can judge him the way they do...how can you argue with a guy that has made the championship game in half his seasons here? thank you donovan for keeping football interesting around here year in and year out
Bill Barnwell (2:02 PM)
It's not often that you read a chat question/comment and it makes you say "Awww...." Hey everyone. I'll be here for an hour talking this weekend and next. I swear that I won't brag that DVOA had the Eagles as the best team in football after the regular season and the Ravens as #2. Well, after now.
Huge fan of your work guys. One squibble I have with your #'s is that they undervalue guys like Larry Fitzgerald because they can't quantify the amazing plays he makes. Other than that though I fully support you guys(though I know a Cards win doesn't help advance your cause)
Bill Barnwell (2:04 PM)
Thanks Van. Of course, it's difficult to quantify the amazing plays that a guy like Fitzgerald makes, but that's true of any statistic, and it's a constraint that both we as analysts and you guys as fans should always consider. Take yards for example. If Fitzgerald catches a 8-yard screen on 3rd-and-24 when the Cardinals are down 24, it means as much to his yardage total as it would on 4th-and-6 in a tie game. Does that seem realistic? Of course not. Neither accounts for the double coverage that Fitzy might see, but DVOA does a far better job of adjusting for the context therein.
Will teams revisit the playing of their starters in the last game of the year? Every team that rested their starters looked rusty and were shown the door.
Bill Barnwell (2:06 PM)
Big E, I guess it depends on whether you believe in that idea of teams having "rusty" players or not. Honestly, I don't really think that those teams had more turnovers than normal because of rust, but instead because they played two very good defenses (and the Cardinals). If the Cardinals had lost in either of the first two rounds, you could've applied the rust/lack of momentum argument to them. Maybe it's true and maybe it's not, but I don't know if I believe in that theory because it's not universally applied.
On ESPN they said that Flacco was the first rookie qb to win 2 playoff games in one season. What about Ben Roethlisberger?
Bill Barnwell (2:07 PM)
He didn't win two playoff games his rookie year. He beat the Jets in the Doug Brien game and then lost to the Patriots in the Conference Championship.
The state of Pennsylvania
Are we going to see both teams of this state in the SB?
Bill Barnwell (2:08 PM)
They've gotta both be favored. Can anyone come up with a good name for this matchup, by the way? I leave that to you as a challenge, ESPN chatters.
n one cares about donovan they have had the most inconsistant season this season they were always on and off they never had consistant wins or even consistant losses
Bill Barnwell (2:09 PM)
You could've said that about the Giants last year. Didn't stop them in the playoffs. What we've said since the end of the regular season is that the Eagles are a good enough team to beat anyone, including (perhaps especially) themselves. So far, they haven't. Maybe they will against the Cardinals or the Steelers/Ravens. Hard to say.
Nate (Mesa, AZ)
What do the Cardinals have to do to get some respect. I haven't seen even one article giving them even a glimmer of hope. I think the game is very evenly match with a defensive advantage going to the Eagles and an offensive edge going to the Cardinals.
Bill Barnwell (2:10 PM)
That's fair, except the way that you phrase that, it makes it look like those edges are similar. Meanwhile, DVOA has the Cardinals offense as tenth in the league and the Eagles offense 12th, while the Eagles have the third-best defense in the league and the Cardinals are 21st.
Jake (VA Beach)
Why would any team WANT Gilbride? Yesterday was proof that his playcalling is predictable, stale, and unproductive!
Bill Barnwell (2:11 PM)
Man, I really disagree with you there -- if anything, I thought he tried to be too cute. They should've ran the ball more -- they had enough success running it that it made sense as an offensive strategy. Trying Eli on that sneak was...not indefensible, since quarterback sneaks are more likely to gain a yard on average than dive plays, but still. You have Brandon Jacobs right there. Use the big fella.
Steve (Erie, PA)
Here's an idea; both PA teams win, we play the Super Bowl in the House Paterno Built. They could fill those 110,000 in a heartbeat...
Bill Barnwell (2:12 PM)
If you thought Simmons hated Jacksonville and Houston...
Chuck (Hershey, PA)
with a good name for this matchup, by the way? HOw about the Keystone Klash
Bill Barnwell (2:12 PM)
Ooh, I like that one. Leader in the clubhouse so far.
Matt (Medford, MA)
Statistically, do you guys have any stats on how much better the Cardinals defense is at home? I can't remember them getting lit up in their building like they've been elsewhere.
Bill Barnwell (2:14 PM)
Cardinals defense has a DVOA of 2.3% (17th in the league) at home, 16.4% (24th) on the road. Everyone's better at home, so the huge gap in DVOA is mitigated some.
Bill, do you think the Ravens will be able to change their fortune this week? Will the third time be the charm or will the Steelers make it three in a row?
Bill Barnwell (2:15 PM)
I honestly think it's about as close to a pick-em as can be -- I would say that the Steelers might win 502, 505 times out of 1000 if they played 1000 times. And that would be a lot of sacks. Remember, the Steelers' win came down to a VERY questionable call by the referees on a Santonio Holmes catch that, to be honest, I still disagree with. There's very little between these two teams, and chances are that it comes down to the way a fumble bounces or whether a field goal swings left or right, just like the Ravens-Titans game.
If the Eagles win next week they will go into the draft with 2 picks between 28 and 32 in the 1st round of the draft. What would you expect them to do with these assets? Also an interesting piece of trivia if San Diego had somehow made the super bowl they would have dropped from the 16th pick to (at best) the 31st pick.
Bill Barnwell (2:17 PM)
Keep them -- I really doubt they'd trade up, although they might trade down if they get an offer for a 2010 first. Remember, if you're dealing the 31st pick for a future first-rounder, there's only a 3% chance that the pick you're getting in return will be worse. I'd speculate that they'll probably look for help on the offensive line, where Runyan and Thomas are free agents. A safety to replace Dawkins will also be on the list.
Marc (Malden, MA)
I'm not buying the Plaxico Burress effect, I just think the Giants peaked too early.
Bill Barnwell (2:18 PM)
Well, one has a tangible effect on how teams played the Giants, where we can point to obvious situations where teams changed their defensive schemes because they weren't afraid of being burnt deep. The other is a narrative created by writers. I'll choose the former.
Do you think the NFL should make the delay of game penalty a reviewable call? Unlike most penalties, there isn't a lot of gray area in terms of the play call -- either it is at 0 before they get the sanp off or it isn't. Tennessee may have really beat themselves with the turnovers and dumb penalties, but if the ref doesn't miss that call, there's at least a decent chance the Ravens don't ever get to attempt that last kick and the game goes to OT. And because coaches would still have the same number of challenges per game, they likely wouldn't waste one on a delay of game call unless it came up in a huge spot in the game -- like this past weekend.
Bill Barnwell (2:19 PM)
I liked someone's idea. Just have a buzzer go off. Problem solved. And by the way, Titans fans -- I understand that it's upsetting to lose, but remember that you beat the Ravens this year because a Michael Roos false start was nullified by a Terrell Suggs roughing the passer penalty. Of course, had the referees whistled in time on the false start, the play would've been dead and Suggs wouldn't have had the chance to very lightly tap Collins on the head.
Shane (Phoenix, AZ)
You stated the Cardinals offense as 10th and the Eagles at 12th, while their defenses are at 21st and 3rd respectively. However, in the post season, out of a 12 team field the Cardinals offense and defense is ranked 3rd and 2nd, while the Eagles are ranked 6th in both categories. There is a cliche that says the regular season means nothing once the playoffs start, and I think the Cardinals have elevated their game to the next level. So, when is ANYONE going to give the Cardinals some respect?
Bill Barnwell (2:20 PM)
We're looking at different metrics, my friend. Not to mention that it's two games. A lot can happen in two games, including the Cardinals dramatically "raising their game" or having two quarterbacks come up with nine turnovers under little pressure.
Everyone's favorite playoff stat is rushing and stopping the run. Cardinals are averaging 115ypg, Eagles 63ypg. Cardinals are giving up 60 ypg, Eagles 140 ypg.
Bill Barnwell (2:21 PM)
Clearly, you have not read Football Outsiders before.
Will J (Portland, OR)
Bill, while I agree that the refs blew that non delay of game call, the Titans have no one to blame but themselves. They should've been well ahead of Baltimore, before that play even happened.
Bill Barnwell (2:21 PM)
Precisely. The Titans lost that game because they turned the ball over on offense. They outplayed the Ravens and still lost.
JD (eastland, texas)
why do you think the cowboys fell apart?
Bill Barnwell (2:23 PM)
Injuries and egos. Allow me to quote from the 2008 Pro Football Prospectus, whose Dallas Cowboys chapter (written by yours truly) pegged the Cowboys to go 8-8: "With nearly the entire starting lineup back, it seems absurd to suggest that the Cowboys may not be Super Bowl contenders again. The problem is that if the Dallas injury report ceases to be much smaller than the others in the league, the entire starting lineup won't be back. An injury to Romo, Owens, Adams, Ware, or Newman could turn the Cowboys overnight from a contender into a flawed team with a huge hole, and that's reflected in our pessimistic projection. It will take another season with an empty trainer's room for Dallas to live up to the standard of 2007." Pro Football Prospectus 2009 goes on sale in July.
David (Downingtown, PA)
Has the wind always effected Eli as much as it did this past game?
Bill Barnwell (2:23 PM)
Hard to say. It's funny, though, before the game, I was hearing how Eli had an advantage because he knew how the wind worked in the Meadowlands. Now? Not so much?
Jason (Myrtle Beach, SC)
I guess the Titans can always step on some terrible towels at home while watching the game???
Bill Barnwell (2:24 PM)
Ooh. Even I have to admit that was good.
Will J (Portland, OR)
Bill, what is your take on the refs, deciding not to call that pass interference penalty in the NYG/Philly game? That was really odd.
Bill Barnwell (2:25 PM)
Never seen that happen before. Don't know if it was a penalty or not, but I can tell you what -- if you make a call the moment after you see something, and then after two minutes or so, you change your mind? You're not getting to see the replays, so your recall and therefore your decision are probably worse.
Dan. Chandler, AZ
Thank you ESPN and all other sports commentators. You have just dissed the Cardinals again and they thank you as we do the fans for not picking them to win. They love this motivation and makes them want to win all the more. By the way. Cardinals a scrappy team ?!?! Maybe the Chargers but not the Cardinals.
Bill Barnwell (2:27 PM)
If the Cardinals are relying on me saying they're not as good as the Eagles to win -- when they have a trip to the Super Bowl waiting as actual motivation -- their priorities are in the wrong order. I've never understood that logic. Were the Chargers not motivated because people said they couldn't beat the Steelers? Were the Giants not motivated because people called them a fluke after their playoff run? You don't get to apply narratives where they fit and then ignore them when they don't make sense. The Cardinals have played really well in the first two rounds. Saying that it's because of a lack of respect or what-not is actually disrespecting their talent.
Dave Seattle Wa
WOW, I guess the NFC West is really the worst division in football!!! I am getting sick of hearing that. My question is, if the West is so bad, why has a team won 6 playoff games and appeared in 2 NFC Championship games in the last 4 years. As a season ticket holder for the Seahawks, I have seen first hand just how good the Cards are. Philly would make a major mistake overlooking them.
Bill Barnwell (2:28 PM)
Dave has a point, even if I don't necessarily agree with him.
David, Phoenix, AZ
Shakesphere said there lies, damned lies and statistics. All the stats said AZ had no chance. The experts are forgetting that football is an incredibly emotional game played by guys who have a ton of little kid in them. Right now AZ is the perfect storm, they have nothing to lose. Everyone is underestimating them and discounting the effect their home crowd will have. Admit it, neither of you guys are going to pick them against the Eagles, when it comes down to it. .... Right?
Bill Barnwell (2:30 PM)
That actually wasn't Shakespeare at all. And no one's saying that statistics are going to determine who wins a game, dude, or that home field won't matter. I understand that you're a fan, and that's cool and all, but you can make the same exact argument for the Eagles. They're emotional, too. They have nothing to lose. They were underestimated all season. The great thing about what we do at FO is actually look at what's happened ON the field. There's no agenda. On the field, the Eagles have -- by virtually any measure I can imagine -- been a better team than the Cardinals. Maybe they'd win this game 60 percent of the time. Even though that makes them the favorites, the Cardinals would still win the other 40 percent of the time -- not a majority, but still enough that they could easily win (just like they've done in the last two rounds). Chill out.
Mike (Boca Raton)
The Titans really seemed to move the reasonably ball well against the ravens. to what do you attribute this (balt. injuries, baltimore being tired, matchups)?
Bill Barnwell (2:31 PM)
Pass rush. The Titans OL had an awesome game and the Ravens' rush just vaporized. Part of that is probably being tired, too. I'd expect that the Steelers and their mediocre line won't be able to protect Roethlisberger as well.
Ken, Coatesville, Pa
Why are all the Cardinal fans on the "we get no respect" bandwagon? It's not like the Eagles were a superbowl favorite this year. The team barely made the playoffs and now Arizona fans are trying to turn them into the Giants or Panthers. If the "no respect" card works so well why did the cardinals go 9-7 when no one has respected them all year?
Bill Barnwell (2:33 PM)
Exactly. I mean, if you want to make a case that any team's going to win -- make it with what they've done on the field. Maybe the momentum helps a little bit, sure, but if I find a $20 bill on the floor and the guy at the pizza place slips me an extra slice, it's not like Scarlett Johansson is going to hit me up on the low and ask me out.
Matt (Glendale, CA)
Do you think the Steelers have gotten the respect they deserve...some of the front page ESPN articles picked the 8-8 chargers to beat them.
Bill Barnwell (2:33 PM)
Clearly, you haven't read the previous 30 minutes of this chat.
Rich Philly PA
Which player has made the biggest difference in the Eagles D, they good for most of the regular season but in the playoffs they have been amazing.
Bill Barnwell (2:34 PM)
Bunkley and Patterson have had an awesome playoffs. Over the second half of the year, the Eagles have had the best rush defense in the league, and that's continued into the playoffs.
Andy (Coatesville, PA)
Bill, how much do you put into the obvious edge in big game experience to the Eagles this weekend? It seems to me that Warner and Edge are the only two key players for Arizona with any real experience.
Bill Barnwell (2:35 PM)
Very, very little. I believe that the '06 Colts and the '07 Giants both had exactly zero players who'd won a Super Bowl before, although I forget whether the Colts at least had one or two.
Greg (Phoenix, AZ)
How can you tell us Cardinals fans to chill out? The Cards were picked to lose BOTH times in the past couple weeks AND THEY'RE STILL FAVORED TO LOSE AT HOME. Unbelievable.
Bill Barnwell (2:37 PM)
Again, a lot can happen in two games. What's more meaningful: That they've won their last two games, or that they were 3-7 outside their division in the regular season?
3 year projection for Kid Mac and Nolan?
Bill Barnwell (2:37 PM)
Playoffs. Shanahan and previous GM Ted Sundquist built a really talented team there. Fill in some cracks, have a good draft or two, and they'll be a playoff team in no time.
The cardinals website says Boldin wants to participate in a coupe of practices this week to see if he is ready for Sunday. Do you think his hamstring will be ready for him to start the game or even make an appearance on the field?
Bill Barnwell (2:39 PM)
Hard to say, Bruce. Hamstring injuries are very tricky -- they're the injury that an NFL player is least likely to play with as opposed to any other. By the way, when he wasn't throwing to Fitzgerald, Warner against the Panthers was 13-of-18 for 54 yards.
Eagles always had problems against Plexico. How do you think the Eagles cornerbacks matchup against the Arizona Receivers especially if Boldin plays? Also, who do you think has the edge in line play?
Bill Barnwell (2:40 PM)
I think Fitzgerald can have a huge game, still. His height is a huge factor there -- he had two TD's against the Eagles in the first game, admittedly after they were down 27 or so. Eagles absolutely win the line battles.
Mark Twain (heaven)
I feel disrespected that someone attributed my quote to William Shakespeare
Bill Barnwell (2:40 PM)
Word. Or Benjamin Disraeli.
Joel (Hamilton, ON)
To all the crazy AZers. Why on earth do you care if people are picking against your team? Do you really need "expert" validation to justify your rooting interest?
Bill Barnwell (2:42 PM)
Exactly. It's not like I'm picking the Eagles because I hate Arizona -- I mean, geez, I almost went to ASU myself. It's a nice place. After analyzing the performance of the two teams (not to mention what happened earlier this year), I think the Eagles are more likely to win than the Cardinals. If you disagree, please present a coherent narrative related to football and not lack of respect, or heart, or my bias, or whatever other non-football related topic you think colors the facts so much that the Eagles should be dogs against a team they beat by 28 points. Thanks.
Dann (Northeast Phila, PA)
I'm trying to find info on the status of Boldin. If he plays, what is your opinion of the type of impact he would have? P.S. Congrats to the Cards and their fans for getting the the NFCCG
Bill Barnwell (2:44 PM)
Nothing yet, and we probably won't know anything of relevance till Thursday, unfortunately. Boldin's a very good receiver, but I think his impact will probably be in the run game, not the pass game. If Boldin's out, the Eagles can stick Sheldon Brown on Steve Breaston and leave him in man coverage all day, allowing them to free up a safety for blitzing and run support. If he's in there, they've gotta play two-deep, and that opens up running lanes and limits the blitz.
Pretty lucky getting all 5 Cards fans online at once.
Bill Barnwell (2:44 PM)
Wow, now THAT'S just mean. I am sorry, Cards fans.
Adam (Phoenix, AZ)
What will be your reaction when the Cardinals win? Might want to give it some thought. Secondly, if you say that it is disrespectful for us to think that the reason the cards are doing so well is becuase they get no respect. PLEASE! Have you been watching interviews of the Card players, every leader on their defense has emphasized that the more people doubt them the more motivation they get. It's not that they weren't motiviated before, its just the so called "experts" are giving them more motivation than ever before. Get that response ready and you can start by saying, "Wow, I was Wrong, Cards to Superbowl."
Bill Barnwell (2:45 PM)
Adam, again, if the Cardinals are motivated by lack of respect as opposed to the opportunity to win a Super Bowl, they're playing the game for the wrong reasons. Not to mention that the "respect" argument goes both ways, as the Eagles could just as easily make such an argument.
Lucas (Philadelphia, PA)
Bill, glad to have ya. Do you get the feeling the Eagles are stringing together wins DESPITE Andy Reid? I mean, the writing is on the wall. The defense is playing monstrous football (Jim Johnson, not Green Leader), he is still passing way more than running, Donovan basically has to hand the ball to Andy's (save DeSean... more later) inept receivers in order to get a completion (referring to Curtis' horrible day), and the only player on offense after McNabb and Westbrook doing ANYTHING is a player that MIRACULOUSLY fell to the Eagles in the draft, after Andy decided not to take any one in the first round- DeSean. So my point is this. Everyone is taking the Eagles, and being a fan, so am I. But at what point does having the worst head coach in professional sports rear its ugly head?
Bill Barnwell (2:47 PM)
Come on. Reid is several -- several -- steps above the Isiah Thomas's/Rod Marinelli's of the world. I would've made that trade ten times out of ten, too, in the draft. I think Reid's been a lot better the last few weeks.
Alex (Davis, CA)
I'm a big Cardinals fan and think they have a great shot to win, but I actually think their defense would have fared better against the Giants. The Cardinals have been great the first two games of the playoffs at stopping the run and played against teams that didn't have well developed passing games. I think they will have a lot of difficulty with the Eagles spreading them out and using the short passing game. I also think, however, that the line play will not be as one-sided as it was on Thanksgiving night and that if the AZ offensive line can stop the pressure up the middle that Warner and his receivers will have a big day against the Eagles. The Eagles played excellent D against the Vikings and the Giants, but both of those teams were as one-dimensional offensively (with the run)in those games as the Cardinals were with the pass in the regular season.
Bill Barnwell (2:47 PM)
Thank you! That's a wholly reasonable argument. Even if I don't agree with it, it's logical.
Josh (New York)
Did Lucas watch the same game that I watched on Sunday. Kevin Curtis's horrible day? Admittedly, that drop on the sideline was inexcusable, but then he came back and caught three straight balls in traffic as he was being tackled.
Bill Barnwell (2:48 PM)
Yeah, I mean, you have to look at a player's entire body of work. Sure, that was an ugly drop, but you can't ignore everything else he did because of it.
David, Phoenix, AZ
Sorry, Bill you're right that was Benjamin Disreali, but I'm old and well.. it happens. But Bill you're getting really defensive - its a natural reaction when you guarantee something will happen and it doesn't. My point is that the game is just not statistics, its emotion, the wind blows at just the right time, the rain stops, someone is hurt and doesn't play, a rookie (DRC) has the light go-on which changes an entire defense. FYI, I am a lifelong Eagles fans. Tommy McDonald came to my banquet when I was 8. As much as I love the Eagles and I do, what AZ is doing is really special. You can only pull in that emotional well we all have so many times in life, and I think the Eagles have gone their too many times already. This is their 5th time in the Conference Championship, they've had to play really tough games all year because they had a better record. They're worn out. The body can only take so many shots a year. AZ is young, fresh and the stars are alined. I admit I'm drinking the koolaid - and enjoying every second of it.
Bill Barnwell (2:51 PM)
David -- Of course, a lot of things can happen in a game. That's why they don't play them on paper. It's certainly not just statistics, but when it comes to things like emotions, fans often create a narrative and ignore whether that actually makes sense in the broader picture, or whether it applies to other teams as well. Pretend you're an Eagles fan and reread that paragraph. You can replace the Eagles being jaded with the Cardinals inexperience. I don't even know if the Cardinals are younger than the Eagles as a whole. You can say that the stars were aligned when Tampa lost to Oakland at home and the Eagles squeaked in on the final day.
David (Houston, TX)
Who wins....Warner/Fitzgerald or Dawkins/Samuel? What is status of Boldin?
Bill Barnwell (2:52 PM)
More like Samuel/Mikell. Dawkins' Pro Bowl pick this year was a lifetime achievement award.
David (Kingwood, TX)
What do you make of the timing of the resurgance of Edgerrian James...were they saving him, or just realized its contract time?
Bill Barnwell (2:53 PM)
He wasn't really ever that bad. His DVOA this year was -0.1% -- basically, he was a league-average back. Last year, it was -1.0%. He's basically been the same guy.
Question about the Bears...... What are the chances that the Bears bring in leftwich this offseason for qb? And will the sign or trade for a wideout this offseason????
Bill Barnwell (2:54 PM)
Leftwich is a plausible target, although I certainly wouldn't commit too much to him. As for the wideout, remember, this is the same franchise who gave Muhsin Muhammad a huge signing bonus and saw him put up replacement-level production. I don't know if I'd want the Bears to bring in a big-money wideout if I was a Bears fan.
As a Giant fan I am trying to convince myself that the difference in that game was that the Eagle returned an Eli int to the one whereas Kevin Curtis tackled Fred Robbins by the ankles. Am I being bitter?
Bill Barnwell (2:55 PM)
A little bit, but you could also say that the difference in the first game was Eli being three inches behind the line of scrimmage as opposed to three inches ahead of it. Football's a tricky game, huh?
Nate (Newville, PA)
I would like to know how much you think that the Cards rejuvinated D will impact the Eagles game. The Eagle playoff games have been against some of the toprated D's and they have come out on top. Arizona's D is playing great, but will it change the gameplan of a team that has faced tough D's all season long?
Bill Barnwell (2:56 PM)
I definitely think the Cardinals have the secondary to limit the Eagles' passing game. I suspect that the Eagles will try to isolate Westbrook against the linebackers in the passing game and run over them on the ground.
do your stats have anything to say about playing the same team 3 times in one year? I would think that the 3rd time teams plays the best weapons absolutely get taken away (ala jacobs/westbrook)
Bill Barnwell (2:58 PM)
Dunno. Barber was 27-129-1 in the playoff game against the Giants last year.
Question about the dallas cowboys even though romo was out 6 games do you think he would be healthy enough next season for dallas to become division leaders in the nfc east next season?
Bill Barnwell (2:59 PM)
I don't think he was out six games, but absolutely. There's no reason to think that Romo's injury from this year would carry over to next year, and although he plays a very dangerous style relative to other quarterbacks, I think he could very well play 16 games and Dallas could very well win the NFC East next year. At the very least, they'll be better-prepared if he goes down, right?
Matt (Medford, MA)
What team could really use Matt Cassel?
Bill Barnwell (3:00 PM)
The Argonauts. Their QB situation is awful.
Bill Barnwell (3:01 PM)
Alright kids -- big poppa is on his way. Enjoy your hour with Aaron Schatz, and if you feel disrespected by this hour of chat, go out and do something special today.
Aaron Schatz (3:03 PM)
Golly, Bill, I love it when you call me Big Poppa. Throw your hands in the air, as if you don't care! OK, I'll take questions now.
Ryan (Jackson, MS)
If the superbowl were to played at University of Phoenix stadium this year and the cardinals were in the superbowl, would there have and complaints from the NFL or the other teams in the league?
Aaron Schatz (3:04 PM)
Let's start with a hypothetical... the Super Bowl is planned so far in advance that there's no way it could ever be moved based on who is making it to the game. And let's be honest -- local fans don't get tickets anyway. It's a lot of business folk and a few lucky season-ticket holders from the two teams that are in the game. I doubt it would have meant anything if the Bucs had made the Super Bowl this year or the Cardinals last year.
Cosmo (Anytown, USA)
Is a second Super Bowl appearance enough to get McNabb into Canton?
Aaron Schatz (3:07 PM)
Philadelphia people will understand this: Donovan McNabb has a Richie Ashburn problem. Richie Ashburn played at the same time as Mantle, Mays, and Duke Snider, so he always looked like at least the fourth best centerfielder in baseball, but historically the guy was really good, would have been the best in the game at other times. McNabb is going to have his entire career in the shadow of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, maybe even Kurt Warner, not to mention guys who were still good when he was young (McNair) and guys who will be good when he is old (Rivers, Ryan, Cutler, whoever else). McNabb has been very good and pretty consistent, but it is hard to say that he's ever been one of the top two or three quarterbacks in the game. I think a Super Bowl WIN might be able to get him into Canton, but without the ring, I doubt it.
Jimmy (Nutley, NJ)
Aaron, Love when you're on the BS Report... A 1, a 3, and a 6 for Roy Williams, followed by a 5 year, $45 million contract extension (which also happens to be more than what they're paying Terrell Owens, who has a history of taking note of what other WR's are being paid)... The worst personnel decision so far this decade?
Aaron Schatz (3:09 PM)
Well, it was pretty bad. That trade made no sense at the time, even before we knew that Williams wasn't going to be used much this year. I mean, it is just too hard for a wide receiver to learn the playbook halfway through the year. He's not going to make a major impact. Plus, wide receiver was not a weakness for that team. However, there's still a good chance that Roy Williams will have a few good years in Dallas, so this might be a better personnel move than, say, the insane contract that the Raiders gave Javon Walker last summer. Thanks for digging me when I'm on with Simmons.
Patrick (San Fran)
Will Pittsburgh be able to run successfully against the Ravens? Parker looked awesome and the line has looked decent the last two games.
Aaron Schatz (3:11 PM)
Ranking in run defense DVOA in 2008: Cleveland 22nd San Diego 21st Baltimore 1st In other words, it's nice that Parker and the line have looked good against the Browns and Chargers, but the Ravens are a completely different level of opponent.
I'm just curious, I'd like to know from a Cardinals Fan, what serious reasoning do you have to think that the Cardinals will win the game on Sunday? Based on how the Eagles have been playing, I just don't see any chance the Cardinals will win the game.
Aaron Schatz (3:15 PM)
Let's assume that the Cardinals have been playing over their heads and are really the league-average team that stats say they were when we consider the entire regular season. Let's assume that the Eagles are the best team in the NFL. Guess what... even the best team in the NFL is going to lose on the road to an average team, oh, probably 1 out of 10 times. That is a lot different than "there isn't any chance." And, of course, it looks like the Cardinals are better than they looked at the end of the regular season, though I doubt they are as good as they looked the last two weeks. So the odds are better than that. By the way, what is a Cardinals fan doing in Chicago? Old school Cardinals? Are you 90 years old or something?
I'm a huge Vikings fan. What do you think they need to become a dominant force in the Nfl? Do you think a new quarterback would be a good thing for the team?
Aaron Schatz (3:17 PM)
Well, it is hard to become "a dominant force." That would take more than one piece. I mean, this year, I would say that no team qualifies as a "dominant force." If you are asking me what is the most important thing the Minnesota Vikings can do to return to the playoffs in 2009, yes, I think the answer is "find a better quarterback."
I hope this Cardinal fans put their money where there mouth is and buy some playoff tickets this time.
Aaron Schatz (3:17 PM)
I believe the game is already sold out, so consider the money to be in the mouth. There's nothing like cash in a nice hollandaise sauce.
I am not a Chargers fan, but even I was frustrated watching their defense on Sunday. What can be done to fix that mess?
Aaron Schatz (3:19 PM)
Get Shawne Merriman back healthy. Improve the depth at inside linebacker. Improve the safety play.
Who would be a good fit for the Vikings at qb?
Aaron Schatz (3:21 PM)
Back to this... I'll be honest, I don't have a good idea here, because I have a hard time figuring out what kind of offensive scheme the Vikings are trying to play. It doesn't really look like what Childress did in Philadelphia. It doesn't look very "West Coasty." You need a guy who can get it deep to Berrian.
what about philip rivers makes him a standout qb? i cant get past his lack of mobility and sidearm delivery
Aaron Schatz (3:23 PM)
Rivers has excellent accuracy and touch, and good decision-making skills. He also has the arm to, as Ron Jaworski would say, "make all the throws."
Aaron, on what planet does it make sense for the owner to hire a coach without having a general manager in place? Only in bleepin' Cleveland.
Aaron Schatz (3:24 PM)
The Browns are not the first team to do this, but no, I don't think it makes sense either.
Aaron Schatz (3:24 PM)
The Browns are not the first team to do this, but no, I don't think it makes sense either.
Matt (Medford, MA)
Cassel to the Vikings for 2 second rounders.
Aaron Schatz (3:26 PM)
I don't know if that's the best fit, from the Vikings perspective. Over the second half of the season -- i.e. since Cassel discovered pocket presence -- the biggest difference between Brady and Cassel has been the ability to accurately throw the deep ball. That's a problem when your best receiver is Bernard Berrian. The Pats used shotgun over half the time, but the Vikings used it barely 20 percent of the time. They would have to significantly re-tailor the offense to get it close to the one that Cassel had so much success with this year.
Has anyone watched the Cardinals in the playoffs? They are blowing teams out...and yet they have 'no chance' against the eagles, good call.
Aaron Schatz (3:31 PM)
First of all, the Cardinals beat Atlanta by six points. That is not a blowout. The blowout against Carolina was predominantly created by turnovers. The likelihood of Arizona getting that many takeaways again is tiny. I went and put together a list of takeaways by every team in each postseason game since 1995, leaving out special teams because I'm lazy. Teams that won with 5+ takeaways had, on average, only 2.1 takeaways in the following game. The teams that did this in the first two rounds generally won big and then lost the next week. The 98 Dolphins had 5 takeaways when they beat Buffalo in the first round in 1998, then got hammered by Denver the next week. The next year, Jacksonville got 6 takeaways when they crushed Miami 62-7, but they lost the next week to Tennessee. And so on. It's not really repeatable. The only team with 5+ takeaways in consecutive playoff games between 1995 and 2007 was Baltimore in the AFC Championship game and Super Bowl of 2000.
Dawkins is 35, but other than that... Cole - 26 Bunkley - 25 Patterson - 25 Parker - 30 Gocong - 25 Bradley - 25 Jordan - 23 Samuel - 28 Brown - 29 Abiamiri - 22 Laws - 23 Gaither - 24 Clemons - 27 Sheppard - 27 Howard - 32 Demps - 23 Mikell - 27 Hanson - 27 For how good this Eagles defensive unit is, are they ABNORMALLY YOUNG?!?
Aaron Schatz (3:32 PM)
Actually, the Patriots defense in 2003-2004 was surprisingly young, particularly at cornerback and on the defensive line.
Aaron (camp hill, PA)
do you think Brian Westbrook will be able to find some running lanes against the cardinals? do you attribute his lack of production to defensive scheme or has the Eagles OLine not been opening up the holes?
Aaron Schatz (3:32 PM)
Injury. I attribute it to injury, for the most part.
Great I wanted more worthless stats about how the Eagles should be favored, the Cardinals are at home with all of the momentum in the world. I don't know how you can count them out no matter what team it is
Aaron Schatz (3:33 PM)
Scroll up to the post about how even if Arizona is as bad as the stats say they were in the regular season, they still have a 1 in 10 chance of winning. I think you need a new definition of "count them out."
Doesn't anyone in Arizona believe in the hex? Sheesh, take it easy people. You guys might be setting the record for putting on the hex!
Aaron Schatz (3:34 PM)
In FO land, we call this the "Football Outsiders message board curse." Ask some Atlanta Falcons fans about its power.
Who knew AZ fans were so annoying?
Aaron Schatz (3:34 PM)
Honestly, they are no more annoying than the Patriots fans were in 2001 and the Giants fans were last year. This happens when an underdog wins a couple games.
What are the chances of reallignment in the NFL? I'm certainly not a pats fan, but 3 teams made the playoffs with at least 2 less wins.
Aaron Schatz (3:36 PM)
Within a couple of years, different teams will build quality rosters, teams will move up and down, and there won't be any imbalance, or perhaps there will be imbalance in a completely different direction. Who knows, maybe in 2012 the best division will be the NFC West and the NFC East will be awful. You can't realign based on what happens for one or two seasons, because things are shifting constantly. This playoff system works. This alignment works. Every playoff system or alignment would have a weird year every so often, this just happens to be the weird year for the current system.
Mike from AZ has a good point about momentum and playing at home. The Eagles have absolutely NO momentum and haven't even won a game on the road in the playoffs.
Aaron Schatz (3:37 PM)
This wins the International Vermouth Prize for dry wit.
Do you believe the transition from shotgun based quarteback in college to the pro system is overated now that many teams use the shotgun so often? For example, you said the Pats used shotgun over half the time this year. Why wouldn't a quarterback like Sam Bradford, playing in shotgun all season for Oklahoma, be comfortable in that system? Do you have the league average for passes out of shotgun? Thanks
Aaron Schatz (3:41 PM)
I'm not sure what league average you are asking for -- i.e. what stat. In general, offenses are more successful in the shotgun than in standard formations. The transition from shotgun-based quarterback to the pro system is not actually an issue with the shotgun itself. It isn't an issue with whether or not a quarterback is standing a few feet behind the center vs. right underneath the center. The issue is with two things: 1) Most college shotgun spread offenses do not ask quarterbacks to progress from read to read on most downs. In the NFL, even a shotgun spread has much more read progression and has quarterbacks throwing to second and third options much more often. 2) Many shotgun spreads in college are actually shotgun spread OPTIONS, like what Florida runs, and there is a general believe that the option will not work in the NFL because it depends too much on leaving certain defensive linemen unblocked and hoping they aren't fast enough to get to the ball.
FO claims to be able to predict defenses better than anyone and I used that to grab Baltimore later than they should have been taken. How did your predictions pan out on defenses?
Aaron Schatz (3:45 PM)
Jack here is referring to our projections for fantasy defensive points, not for the actual quality of defenses when it comes to things like yards per play allowed. I assume that's what he means, anyway. I think we did pretty well this year. In Pro Football Prospectus 2008, our top-rated defenses were in order: Baltimore Philadelphia New England Minnesota Tampa Bay Green Bay There are lots of general scoring systems out there for fantasy defense, but using most scoring systems, Philadelphia and Baltimore were the top two fantasy defenses this year, and Green Bay, Tampa Bay, and Minnesota were up there in the top ten. New England was the one we missed on, but obviously the Brady injury had a major impact on the defensive numbers because they couldn't sit back there with a second-half lead in every game, just teeing off on quarterbacks for sacks and interceptions.
Dave (Mechanicsburg, Pa)
Give me a sleeper player to have a big game this weekend?
Aaron Schatz (3:47 PM)
Jason Avant. Cardinals ranked 27th in DVOA against "other wide receivers" (i.e. non-starters) and Avant has been coming on lately.
why are the steelers, a "tough" team, so bad in short yardage? Lack of creativity or Lack of o-line?
Aaron Schatz (3:48 PM)
I think there are two issues here. First, the offensive line is not that great. Second, the running backs are just not short-yardage kind of guys -- or at least, they weren't for most of the season. Willie Parker is a smaller guy, and a total boom-and-bust runner, not the kind of guy who can just push forward for that badly needed yard. Mewelde Moore is a third-down back.
What college qb is gonna be the best pro?
Aaron Schatz (3:49 PM)
I don't have Lewin Career Forecast numbers yet for this year's class, but I think Sam Bradford will really surprise people. He's going to have a learning curve as he learns to deal with pass pressure -- which he never really felt at Oklahoma -- but his high completion percentages (and just watching him play with my own eyes) show he has really good accuracy and touch on his passes.
Since Pats are aging and hurting, and their division and schemes against them are improving do you think Pats dynasty is over?
Aaron Schatz (3:53 PM)
Wait, is there anybody who thinks the Pats dynasty is still going? They haven't won the title since 2004, and they didn't win their division this year. You've got to really stretch the concept of dynasty to keep applying it to the Pats. However, if you are asking if the Patriots "run of success" is over, the answer is no. The Patriots are aging, but they are also restocking. Some players will be a year closer to retirement next year, but players like Mayo and Wilhite and Crable will have a year more experience. Yes, McDaniels will be gone, but losing Charlie Weis didn't change much. I don't think schemes against the Patriots are improving, they had a pretty good year for a team that lost their starting QB and RB for basically the whole season. The 49ers missed the playoffs in 1991 and they didn't win the Super Bowl for a few years, but it isn't like they weren't one of the top teams in football, and apparently they made it back to the top in 1994. Think of the Pats like that. But no, that's not "dynasty."
Aaron did no fantasy numbers have the Steelers picked as a top defense? It seems to me that without their defense they possibly wouldn't be as big as a threat as they are.
Aaron Schatz (3:55 PM)
Honestly, fantasy defense and real defense have very little to do with each other. I know of very few leagues that give you points for preventing yards per carry. But yes, Pittsburgh was a top fantasy defense this year. Unlike the others I listed, we did not predict them to be a top fantasy defense in the preseason.
How did DeAngelo Williams make the All-Pro team but not the Pro Bowl?
Aaron Schatz (3:56 PM)
The timing of the voting. They need to stop having the Pro Bowl voting end in mid-December.
Seriously, 3 weeks in a row that the Cards were given ZERO chance for victory. What will the pundits do if the Cards win? This Cards franchise has been so bad for so long that no other writer or fan will "respect" them. Basically they're damned if they do and they're damned if they don't. We Cards fans should just enjoy our Ws...
Aaron Schatz (3:57 PM)
What zero? Read above with the "1 in 10." Do they not properly teach kids in Arizona schools what "zero" means? Aren't you near Mexico, where the Mayans invented the concept of zero?
YO ADRIAN! How was Adrian Peterson's sophmore year compared to his rookie?
Aaron Schatz (3:59 PM)
There was no way that Peterson was going to have another year with 5.6 yards per carry like he did as a rookie. I think 4.8 yards per carry and leading the league in yardage is pretty darn good. However, he needs to get a little more consistent from run to run, and he really needs to learn how to hold onto the ball. That makes him like another great young runner who had major fumbling issues: Eric Dickerson.
Sorry for the confusion. Simply, what percentage of snaps this year have come out of the shotgun? I understand the progression of reads, but maybe the "tv scouts" should talk about that being the problem instead of just saying things like "it will be difficult for him to take the snap under center." Every time we hear Bradford vs Stafford, we hear how Stafford has played in a pro style offense under center and therefore we should assume he is more nfl ready. That makes no sense. But if you can prove the Georgia offense is more complex than Oklahoma, then you have an argument. No one can do that though...
Aaron Schatz (4:01 PM)
I'll end by answering Jay's specified question. Roughly one-third of all snaps this year came in the shotgun, and shotgun plays earned about 0.8 yards per play more than plays with the quarterback under center. The percentage of plays using shotgun has gone up steadily over the last few years, and is the biggest reason why offensive levels are up and 2008 was the most offense-oriented year in NFL history. Eventually, however, some smart defensive coordinator is going to figure out the proper defense to combat this strategy. That's how football always works. Smart offense develops to beat good defense, and then smart defense develops to beat good offense.
Aaron Schatz (4:02 PM)
See you guys next week or the week after -- not sure which -- and we'll talk Super Bowl. Also, check me out on the Bill Simmons podcast, the new one should be up tonight.