Good afternoon! Let's talk some football!
Coach Spags in St. Louis was with Rod Hood in Philly, prior to him becoming Giants DC. That said, is he the reverse Mangini? He isn't bringing any of his former players with him to the Rams but the Browns look like a lesser version of the Jets. Is it wise to bring in 2nd tier players who know your system if they are still 2nd tier?
I can tell you that if Spagnuolo could have picked up Hood and passed on the chance, I don't understand why. Hood had a very solid 2008 season. To be fair, his performance did drop off a bit later in the year but overall he is still a starting caliber CB. Cleveland made a great move in picking him up.
KCJ: Thanks for taking my question! In my opinion, there are few NFL organizations that have clearly established they value character over winning. That being said, why wouldnt a receiver needy team bring in Plax and offer him a contract (with "behavioral" clauses) that is contigent on him accepting the incredibly lenient plea deal? Seems this would be a win-win-win situations: Win for Plax, win for that team (reducing the risk associated with Plax in exchange for a good #1 receiver), and win for the NFL, in that a problematic player would likely behave himself.
It comes down to PR. If a team brought Plaxico in, even with a contract like the one you mention, how much backlash are they going to get if Plaxico has another off-field issue. It just may not be worth the negative to pick up his potential on-field positive.
KC, assuming the Giants do not add another WR, do you believe they will try to mirror their previous offense with a current WR filling in for Plax, or will they essentially use a WR-by-committee setup and let Manning dictate?
The Giants seem quite content with their WRs and I can see why. Hixon has vertical potential, Steve Smith can be the short pass target, Kevin Boss has posted numbers as good as Shockey's and Hakeem Nicks has Torry Holt-like potential (see my NY Times blog post for more on Nicks).
KC, do you believe Roethlisberger could be even better with a great offensive line, or does the line issues actually play into his stregths, making him more valuable with a lesser-talented line?
That Ben won a Super Bowl with that O line is just amazing. He could definitely be better if he wasn't having to run around for his life back there.
KC, I wanted to suggest that you've got a real chance at some interesting work this season - can you keep an eye out to answer the following questions? How much better did Marshall and Royal make Cutler? How much worse will Hester and co. make Cutler? How much better will Marshall and Royal make Orton? How much better will Cutler make Hester & co? How much worse will Orton make Marshall and Royal? Are you planning a lot of work around this trade? Seems like a great chance to begin to answer some major questions in the NFL on the relative value of QBs and WRs. I bet Denver's OL looks worse and Chicago's looks better too.
Chris, I couldn't agree more with you that the offseason moves this year could make for a very interesting Scientific Football 2009. Regarding Cutler, I've said many times and I'll say it again - he'll make Bears fans remember Rex Grossman quite fondly.
When doing the breakdown of O-linemen, did you noticed metrics for players that seemed to good to be true? Who disappointed too?
I just finished up with the Arizona O line and found that their metrics were not nearly as bad as I thought they would be. They weren't great but only one of their linemen was below the 80% mark that is considered adequate for an O lineman.
Do you have any metrics on real football? Kidding of course...KC Im wondering which of these 2nd year RBs is most likely to have the biggest season stat-wise: Mendenhall, McFadden, Ray Rice, Jonathan Stewart, or Kevin Smith?
Real football? Heck, I watch more tape than just about anyone out there. That counts as real football, right?! As far as your RB question, give me Kevin Smith. He had a solid year for a team that was in terrible shape last season and I think things can only get better for him.
Have you done a lot of analysis on LaDanian Tomlinson? Will he be back on form this season?
I've only had a chance to look at a few SD games but from what I've seen, LT hadn't lost his burst. With his toe fully healed, I expect him to give us one more really good year before starting the inevitable aging RB decline.
Random question KC- In this day and age (especially with roster spots being at such a premium) why havent we seen guys who can punt AND kick? I played soccer my entire life and did both for my highschool football team. Surely there are players out there who can do both, freeing up a roster spot right? Would this be legal?
Chuck, there have been many who have tried this but it almost never works. John Madden gave a possible reason for this in one of his books. I don't remember the exact quote but the gist of it is that punters lock one part of their leg when kicking and kickers lock another. It just puts too much wear and tear on their legs to try to do both.
How do your metrics do when choosing the winner of games (not that I'd encourage betting)?
It sounds a bit negative but one of the things I've found my metrics do is show which players lose games for their teams. It only takes 1-2 bad players to cost a team a contest and my metrics are pretty good at showing which players fit that mold.
Based on your overall metrics...Who has the best O-line & D-Line in football?
I'm still working on run metrics for the league (which will be a centerpiece of SF 2009). I have nine teams done right now (AFC East, NFC West and Dallas) and as it stands at the moment, the Patriots have the best run blocking O line.
Let's pretend for a minute that the Raiders are a well-run organization that does not scoop up the troubled youth of the NFL. Where would players go for their second chances? Is it in the CBA that a team like the Raiders must exist in order for these guys to continue to earn a paycheck?
Cosmo, one thing I have found in evaluating teams over the years is that someone will always give 2nd chances to players who have off-field troubles as long as they have on-field skills.
Expanding on the Punter/Kicker issue, you know that people have two legs...in all seriousness though is it feasible that a WR/CB could potentially pull double duty and punt or kick? A lot of the star players do this duty in HS?
Dave, I'm not saying it can't be done, just trying to provide a potential reason why it hasn't worked the many times it has been tried. As far as double duty, absolutely it could work. Danny White was the P/QB for Dallas for a long time and there are certainly others who could do it.
KCJ: What do you make of the Favre saga? Why would it be so hard for his camp to come out and say either "Yes, Im looking at returning, but Im not 100% sure if I will" or "No, Im staying retired"? Seems to me that he is deliberately staying mute to increase the controversy, and in turn, the coverage.
Shane, you've hit Favre on the head. He is a glory hound who likes nothing better than to see his name on a screen or in print.
You think Cutler will make Bears' fans remember Grossman, I think he'll make the Bears' WRs into fantasy stars. Cutler hit Marshall in double coverage a LOT. With Orton, those will end up being INTs or dump offs to outlets.
Chris, I have no doubt that Cutler will make the Bears wideouts better fantasy picks. I'd also point out that Grossman took the Bears to the Super Bowl and even that wasn't enough for Bears fans to forgive him his mistakes. Cutler forces more passes into coverage than Grossman (he had the highest bad decision percentage in the league last year) and there is no reason to think he won't do that for Chicago as well.
I could have been a pro-bowl punter!!!
Interesting. Care to name some names that cost teams a victory?
One that happens to be on my mind is Lyle Sendlein, the Cards center. He barely topped the 70% POA win mark. If Arizona could upgrade that by 10 percentage points, they would have a solid run blocking line all around.
KC, have you ever taken all of your metrics once completed, basically arrange them team-by-team, factored in schedules and historical trends (like traveling, home field records, head to head, etc) and predicted winners each week, in order to predict how the season will unfold. Am I crazy to think that it could possibly be surprisingly accurate?
I've thought about doing something like that but my metrics are very player-oriented more than team oriented. Doing something more team oriented would require something of a change in the metric approach.
Doug Flutie!!!! Punter Extraordinaire!
Example #2! Of course, no one has yet mentioned the best punter/QB of all time.
KC, Do you see the Raiders having any chance to make it to the playoffs? Will Cable succeed?
At the moment, I am on the Cable bandwagon. I wouldn't go so far as to say Oakland makes the playoffs, as they are in a division with maybe the most talented team in the AFC (SD) but it would be a surprise if they don't make a run at a .500 record this year.
Reggie, you were one of my favorites (rest in peace) but you weren't quite the best punter ever.
Cutler can and he should force passes - that's why God gave him that arm and that's what made Elway Elway. When your physical tools allow you to make bad decisions good, then you're a superstar.
Chris, that's the point on Cutler - his arm doesn't make bad decisions good. His bad decision rate is 5%. That means one out of every 20 passes he throws is either an interception or a near interception because of a mistake he made. A high YPA can offset a high bad decision rate but the upper limit for offsetting tends to be around somewhere between 3-4%. Cutler has got to stop making so many mistakes, period.
Do you use metrics to see how well NCAA players will do on the pro-level? Are you a believer that Tebow's game will not translate well as he is only a byproduct of Urban Meyer's system and won't even play QB in the NFL...
The issue for Tebow is that he hasn't run enough of a pro-style offense for NFL personnel people to know if he can make the transition to being a pocket passer. I'm in Tebow-central (Orlando is filled with Gator fans) so I get the hype all the time but the scout in me still isn't on his NFL bandwagon.
Finally, someone got the question right! Jeff, you deserve a medal (or maybe a free copy of SF 2009!).
Any ideas on how the Redskins will fare this year? Thank you
Good timing on the Washington question, as they have just hit my team radar. I'm not on their bandwagon if only because of how the team seemed to lose its faith in Zorn last year. I'll be writing more about this in the coming weeks and why I think it happened, but the gist is unless he can get that team to buy back into what he is selling, I'm not at all feeling good about their future.
Jeff, Just email me your address at email@example.com and I'll see that a book gets sent your way!
Jeff, just email me your address and I'll send you a book.
George Blanda for K/QB
There you go!
Does MINN. win the NFC norris (sorry) again considering GB going 3-4, yes I know your feelings on it, or does Cutler put Chi over the top?
I've got the Vikes winning the North this year. GB is making a questionable move to the 34 (to say the least), Detroit still has a serious talent issue and Cutler will sell tickets but not make the team better won/loss-wise.
I will buy a book, but can I get a question answered each week? I will be sure to pick something charger metric related out of the text
Ryan, we've got lots of Chargers fans in these chats, so I'm all for more SD questions!
Fact: Despite his early showings, Trent Edwards was a flop. Do you see any possible improvement this year and can he finally lead the Bills into the playoffs?
I've said it before but it bears repeating - is Edwards over the hit he took from Adrian Wilson? He didn't seem to get over it last year and it was a key reason he game fell off. Unless and until he proves the hit hasn't rattled him to the core, I'm seeing inconsistent QB play out of the Bills.
Which team is more likely to have a better season than expected, KC, Cincy, St Louis, or someone else?
I'm not sold on those three. If I had to pick one, give me Cleveland. I like some of their personnel moves and think Mangini will get the team to play closer to its talent level than Romeo did.
I'm just trying to get my old issues autographed. Is that you first auto request or am I way down the line?
It's not the first autograph request but I'm always glad to sign copies! Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll find a way to get an autograph your way.
Seeing as how the Jets fancy themselves as a running team, how did thier run-blocking metrics look?
They were superb. You can actually find them online both on the NY Times Fifth Down site and via an ESPN.com blog post that Tim Graham did a couple of weeks ago. I sent Tim the AFC blocker totals and he did a blog post on each team with comments.
Randall, relax, you could not have been a pro bowl punter
Do you remember that punt he made against the Bills? That was a thing of beauty.
I would take Randall over any punter/QB, and speaking of Philly QBs, what kind of year do you see McNabb having? Some days i think he could still be a Pro Bowl QB, but there are also days when I am not so sure.
My take on the Eagles this year is that they are going to lean on McNabb less than they have in years past. They started to run the ball a lot more late last year and Jason Peters will only make them better in that area. I think they know McNabb is starting to drop-off a bit.
Metrically speaking, or not...Hands down...LT was the best Defensive player ever...Thoughts?
I'm with you there. I did an article on LT for ESPN.com a couple of years ago. I did a tape review of him and some other players and found that he was just as good as I remembered him being.
Malcom Jenkins has a sub par forty speed, but so have many big time players and many players (like Peter Warrick)Have had great forty times but wernt so fast on the field. That being said do you think Jenkins will be one of those player who play faster than their recorded Forty speed?
I didn't get a chance to look at any Jenkins tape but I can say that I believe the 40-time is only good for measuring a player's go route effectiveness. The other vertical routes (i.e. post, corner, etc.) require the ability to keep up your speed while making a cut. As long as Jenkins can do that, he should have a strong impact.
I'm torn. I kind of like the Wildcat, but I get the criticism too. A lot of people point out that teams had Miami's version "solved" by the end of the season, as Baltimore showed... but don't you think someone like Josh Cribbs, Pat White, or Anquan Boldin would make that scheme way more effective than Ronnie Brown? Someone who's arm may not 'scare' defenses, but at least gives them pause, and has to be respected as a passing threat? Imagine if teams couldn't load 9 guys into the box for fear of the QB's arm... Mike Vick, if he still has that athleticism, would be a great Wildcat guy.
The thing about the Wildcat is that, as it was run by Miami last year, it wasn't a true option play. If they told Brown to hand the ball off, he handed the ball off. If they told him to keep it, he kept it. If Miami could put Pat White back there to take the snap and make it a true option play and let him read on the run, it would change what the Wildcat is capable of.
KC, Why doesn't the NFL have prospects run in game gear. Wouldn't that be closer to gaging there speed on a football field?
Because we've all becomed accustomed to the 40-time as it is currently run. Any change today would require re-educating the public as to what numbers are good.
How do your metrics compare to popular media mythology? For example, Brett Favre has been proclaimed Greatest Quarterback Ever but surely the numbers don't match up.
Steiny, one of the things I always pitch is that my work is driven by a No-Hype philosophy. I don't buy into the PR machine at all and am not hesitant in the least to throw players under the bus if their performance says they should be thrown under it. In the six seasons I've been doing this, Favre has pretty much always been good at certain metrics (i.e. vertical passes) but bad at others (i.e. bad decision percentage). He's never been the best QB in the league in that time and I just don't buy into the PR schtick that says otherwise.
I find the entire combine silly. Imagine if a basketball player was graded on how many dribbles he can get in in 60 seconds with his left hand, then he is ranked based on that. So a guy getting in 70 dribbles is a "freak" but a guy with only 63 is average. Its chaos.
What a great way to point out the weakness of the combine! Well done, Billy!
How about if the NFL had a rookies vs sophomores game like the NBA?
It sounds great but the league already has enough trouble getting its best players to go to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl (a walk through game if ever there was one). They'd also have to give the players some kind of injury insurance, as there is no way a young player is going to risk a few years of salary for an exhibition.
Tell Jake that I hate this idea. It is almost as dumb as playing flag football in the sand.
Now that's just funny!
Any super bowl predictions?
I was on record at the Dr. Z function as saying the Chargers and Eagles will be in the Super Bowl. Barring any offseason injury news, I'll stick with that pick.
How are Matt Jones' metrics? Now that he's not being suspended and is probably available for cheap, is he worth the risk for a team like my Cowboys?
In the studies I've done on Jones, I've found that he is good at running certain types of routes. He isn't a full-tree type of WR but as long as the Cowboys realized that and tried to use him in the way his skills say he should be used, he'd be a good pickup for them.
So does the fact that the Cards and Steelers' O-lines were both mediocre or worse suggest that all of the old adages about the importance of the offensive line are overblown?
It does show that a weak O line can be worked around. That would be a corollary of what I said in Blindsided about left tackles. They are good for an O line but having a dominant one is not necessary. Having a dominant O line is obviously a positive but if you have some other overwhelming strength (i.e. great QB/WR combo, stifling defense), you can overcome a subpar O line.
If you aren't necessarily on the Cutler bandwagon, what do you think of Orton in Denver now that he has an elite WR like Brandon Marshall and another potential star in Eddie Royal?
I like Orton a lot. He had solid metrics with a terrible WR corps and should only get better in Denver. I will point out that Marshall was on my overrated list last year, so he might see a drop-off, but all in all I like the move.
I think the Eagles are way overrated. Donovan McNabb is old. Brian Westbrook is old. The defense sucks. But I like your predictions of the Chargers in the Super Bowl. Go Chargers!!!
My Evil Twin? Don't tell Mrs. Scientist about him! Well, it's been fun but dinner is just about on the table so I've got to run. Hope to see you all next week!