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Week 9 Quick Reads | Football Outsiders

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Week 9 Quick Reads | Football Outsiders


by Vincent Verhei

If you read our comments in Audibles at the Line towards the end of the Patriots-Ravens game, you’ll see that we discussed Lamar Jackson’s performance in the win over New England and Kyler Murray’s breakout in a Thursday night loss to San Francisco, guessing they might be among the best games of the year. As it turns out, that’s not the case, but they were two of the best games of the week.

At first glance, that might be surprising. Jackson only threw for 163 yards against the Patriots, and though he was efficient (completing 74 percent of his passes), he was not very explosive, with just one touchdown pass and averaging 7.1 yards per throw. He also ran for 64 yards and two scores, but that’s still modest overall production. Murray’s numbers are a little more eye-opening — he completed 71 percent of his passes for an average of 10.0 yards a toss — but his totals of 241 passing yards (and 34 more on the ground) are still pretty mundane. Even before the Monday night game between the Cowboys and Giants, neither Jackson nor Murray ranked in the top 10 in total offense for the week. How can they rank so high in our numbers if they did so little to actually move their teams down the field?

The biggest reason, as you have likely guessed by now, is opponent adjustments. Neither Jackson nor Murray were threatening any records, but they had the best passing statistics of any quarterback who has played the Patriots and/or 49ers defenses so far this year. (Through nine weeks, Baker Mayfield is the only quarterback who has played against both, because every single thing that can go badly for Cleveland always will go badly for Cleveland). Jackson is the 11th player to throw a pass against New England in 2019, but the only one to do so without throwing an interception. He is one of only three players to throw a touchdown against the Patriots. No quarterback who has faced Bill Belichick’s defense has completed a higher percentage passes or taken fewer sacks, and only Matt Barkley (who played less than a quarter against the Pats in Week 4) has averaged more yards per pass.

It’s a similar story for Murray against San Francisco. Only Case Keenum had a higher completion rate against the 49ers, and he did it in an ultra-conservative game plan that averaged fewer yards per completion than Murray averaged per pass. Murray’s 10-yard average is two-and-a-half yards better than any what any other passer has done against Richard Sherman and company, and he is the only player to throw two touchdowns and no picks against the scarlet & gold.

This is just what great quarterback games look like when they play against great defenses. I went back and checked the top ten pass defenses in DVOA history to see which quarterbacks had the best games against them (as measured by passing DYAR). Here are the results:

Most DYAR Against Each Team in Pass Defense DVOA Top 10, 1986-2018
Year Def Pass
DVOA
Week Player Off DYAR Cmp Att Yds TD Int Sk
1986 CHI -40.8% 7 Tommy Kramer MIN 178 12 18 239 2 0 1
1988 MIN -38.8% 16 Mike Tomczak CHI 147 16 32 285 2 1 1
1991 PHI -48.6% 11 Bernie Kosar CLE 156 14 33 246 3 1 2
1991 NO -33.1% 14 Steve Bono SF 230 27 41 347 3 0 1
1999 TB -32.2% 4 Randall Cunningham MIN 211 26 34 296 3 1 0
2002 TB -51.9% 16 Tommy Maddox PIT 209 17 23 236 1 0 2
2004 BUF -34.7% 4 Tom Brady NE 225 17 30 298 2 0 0
2008 PIT -32.8% 10 Peyton Manning IND 158 21 40 240 3 0 2
2009 NYJ -36.5% 5 Chad Henne MIA 220 20 26 241 2 0 0
2013 SEA -34.2% 5 Andrew Luck IND 162 16 29 229 2 0 2

You’re probably familiar with most of those defenses, but just in case, let’s run them down. In chronological order, you’ve got:

  • the 1986 Bears (led by Wilber Marshall, Dan Hampton, and Mike Singletary);
  • the 1988 Vikings (Keith Millard, Carl Lee, Joey Browner)
  • the 1991 Eagles (Clyde Simmons, Reggie White, Jerome Brown);
  • the 1991 Dome Patrol Saints (Pat Swilling, Sam Mills, Rickey Jackson);
  • the 1999 and 2002 Buccaneers (Derrick Brooks, Simeon Rice, Warren Sapp);
  • the 2004 Bills (Takeo Spikes, Terrence McGee, Nate Clements);
  • the 2008 Steelers (James Harrison, Troy Polamalu, James Farrior);
  • the 2009 Jets (David Harris, Darrelle Revis, Shaun Ellis);
  • and the 2013 Legion of Boom Seahawks (Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor).

One thing is clear: if you want to have a good day against a great pass defense, you should try to find a quarterback named Tom. Or Tommy. Or Tomczak. If we ever calculate DVOA for the 1940s, I can only assume that Tommy Thompson will be a thorn in the side of the top defenses of that era.

Once you get your Tom, it is critical that he hang onto the dang ball — these ten passers threw a total of three interceptions, and never more than one in a game. They also mitigated disaster by avoiding sacks, taking a total of 11 between them.

Mostly, though, we see that even the best games against elite pass defenses have limited volume. Only one of these quarterbacks, Steve Bono, went over 300 yards, and it took him 40-plus passes to get there. They averaged 266 yards apiece, and most were below 250. Collectively they completed 61% of their passes for 8.7 yards per throw. Those numbers look erratic and explosive in today’s environment, but keep in mind we’re looking at a small number of games over more than three decades of football, and standards have changed wildly over those times. And while we’re keeping things in mind, let’s remember that so far we only have full DVOA back to 1986 — which means we do not yet have DYAR for the Super Bowl Shuffle Bears of 1985, or the 270-yard, three-touchdown game Dan Marino had against them. Considering that in their other 15 contests, those Bears only gave up 13 passing touchdowns and an average of 202 yards, we’re confident that Marino’s game would show up in an updated version of this table once our 1985 analysis is complete.

As for this season, you won’t find the best games of Week 9 among the best games of 2019. Even with opponent adjustments, Jackson and Murray just didn’t have the volume necessary to show up at the top of that list. The best game of year came in the first Cowboys-Giants matchup, in Week 1, when Dak Prescott went off for 400-plus yards and four scores.

Top Quarterback Games by Total DYAR, Weeks 1-9, 2019
Player Team Week Cp Att Yds TD Int Sacks Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Def
Dak Prescott DAL 1 25 32 405 4 0 0 264 254 10 NYG
Aaron Rodgers GB 7 25 31 429 5 0 1 259 251 8 OAK
Deshaun Watson HOU 5 28 33 426 5 0 0 241 241 0 ATL
Russell Wilson SEA 3 32 49 406 2 0 0 213 179 34 NO
Kirk Cousins MIN 7 24 34 337 4 0 0 209 209 0 DET
Tom Brady NE 1 24 36 341 3 0 1 204 204 0 PIT
Matt Ryan ATL 3 29 34 304 3 1 0 202 203 -1 IND
Russell Wilson SEA 5 17 23 268 4 0 1 201 193 8 LAR
Matthew Stafford DET 7 30 45 364 4 1 2 200 200 0 MIN
Patrick Mahomes KC 1 25 33 378 3 0 0 199 205 -7 JAX

 

Quarterbacks

Rk

Player

Team

CP/AT

Yds

TD

INT

Sacks

Total
DYAR

Pass
DYAR

Rush
DYAR

Opp

1.

Lamar Jackson BAL

17/23

163

1

0

1

165

144

22

NE

Jackson’s passing was spotty at the start of drives, but his accuracy improved once he left the shadow of his own end zone. Between the Baltimore 40 and the New England goal line, he went 9-of-12 for 101 yards. All nine of those completions picked up first downs, including a touchdown.

2.

Jimmy Garoppolo SF

28/37

317

4

0

1

155

158

-3

ARI

Third-/fourth-down passing: 13-of-15 for 160 yards plus a 5-yard DPI and one sack with 11 conversions, including all four touchdowns.

3.

Kyler Murray ARI

17/24

241

2

0

3

141

142

-1

SF

It was all or nothing for Murray against San Francisco. He only threw for eight first downs, which was not even in the top 20 this week, but those eight plays gained an average of 23.3 yards, third-most. (The two players ahead of him were Mitchell Trubisky and Brandon Allen, so this may not be a particularly meaningful stat.)

4.

Philip Rivers LAC

21/28

294

0

0

2

131

133

-2

GB

On throws down the middle of the field, Rivers went 5-of-6 for 101 yards.

5.

Russell Wilson SEA

24/35

308

4

0

3

128

116

13

TB

Throughout his career, Wilson’s best throws have usually been deep balls, but this year he has gotten very proficient on screens and checkdowns. On throws to receivers at or behind the line of scrimmage, he went 7-of-8 for 56 yards. Six of those completions picked up first downs, including a touchdown. For the season, only Teddy Bridgewater has more DYAR on such passes.

6.

Derek Carr OAK

20/30

289

2

0

1

126

126

0

DET

Carr threw nine passes that traveled 7 to 17 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. All nine were complete, for eight first downs (including a touchdown) and 131 total yards.

7.

Ryan Tannehill TEN

27/37

331

1

2

4

125

114

11

CAR

Because he had 41 dropbacks against a good Carolina defense, Tannehill gained 61 DYAR due to opponent adjustments, second-most behind Kyler Murray this week.

8.

Deshaun Watson HOU

22/28

201

2

0

1

114

109

4

JAX

In the red zone and front zone (the area between Jacksonville’s 20- and 40-yard lines), Watson completed each of his seven passes for 66 yards and two touchdowns, with one sack.

9.

Ryan Fitzpatrick MIA

24/36

288

3

0

4

113

110

3

NYJ

Fitzpatrick was phenomenal when throwing to his right, going 9-of-12 for 131 yards and a touchdown.

10.

Jameis Winston TB

29/44

335

2

0

2

106

98

8

SEA

Winston, like Russell Wilson, is known for his deep balls, but that’s not how he almost beat the Seahawks. He threw nine passes that traveled at least 20 yards beyond the line of scrimmage against Seattle, and none were complete (although one did result in a DPI for 16 yards).

11.

Carson Wentz PHI

26/39

239

1

0

4

86

79

7

CHI

With or without DeSean Jackson, the Eagles just can’t get any big plays out of their wide receivers. On passes to Jackson, Nelson Agholor, and Alshon Jeffery, Wentz went 8-of-17 for all of 62 yards, and a long catch of only 13 yards. An 18th throw resulted in a DPI for 8 more yards.

12.

Kirk Cousins MIN

19/38

220

3

0

1

81

84

-3

KC

Cousins had mixed results on third and fourth downs. He went 6-of-12 for only 66 yards and six conversions (plus one sack), but that includes all three of his touchdowns.

Rk

Player

Team

CP/AT

Yds

TD

INT

Sacks

Total
DYAR

Pass
DYAR

Rush
DYAR

Opp

13.

Baker Mayfield CLE

27/42

273

1

0

2

76

75

1

DEN

Most of the few big plays Mayfield had against Denver came on Cleveland’s half of the field. Once crossing the 50, he went 14-of-24 for 104 yards with a 10-yard DPI, one sack, and one touchdown.

14.

Dak Prescott DAL

22/35

257

3

1

0

48

47

2

NYG

15.

Matthew Stafford DET

26/41

406

3

1

2

46

62

-16

OAK

For obvious reasons, the focus after the game was on Stafford’s incompletion on fourth-and-goal at the gun, but he struggled in the red zone all day. Inside the Oakland 20, he went 3-of-8 for 18 yards with only one first down (a 2-yard touchdown to Marvin Jones), one sack, and one interception.

16.

Tom Brady NE

31/46

285

1

1

2

41

41

0

BAL

The Ravens mostly took away Brady’s weapons to his left, limiting him to 9-of-14 passing for only 52 yards and a touchdown to throws in that direction. One of those completions was fumbled away, resulting in a Baltimore touchdown. Obviously that’s not Brady’s fault and does not affect his DYAR, but it does show how well the Ravens played on that side of the field.

17.

Matt Moore KC

25/34

275

1

0

5

37

37

0

MIN

Four of Moore’s five sacks, and both of his fumbles, came in the fourth quarter. Somehow he and the Chiefs made enough plays to overcome those mistakes and rally for the win.

18.

Brandon Allen DEN

12/20

193

2

0

3

33

25

8

CLE

The Broncos averaged 8.8 yards after the catch on Allen’s completions this week, second only to Kyler Murray (11.6).

19.

Josh Allen BUF

14/20

160

1

0

2

14

16

-1

WAS

Most of Allen’s success came on throws to the outside. On throws down the middle, he went 4-of-5 for only 16 yards. One of those completions was an 8-yard loss on second-and-8.

20.

Brian Hoyer IND

17/26

168

3

1

4

9

10

-1

PIT

Just think, if Jacoby Brissett hadn’t been hurt, we likely would have had three Allens in a row. But since Brissett did get hurt, this seems like a good place to point out that Hoyer had a full year’s worth of red zone excitement in just one game. He had three red zone touchdowns on Sunday; that’s only one fewer than Baker Mayfield or Mitchell Trubisky have thrown all year. But when Minkah Fitzpatrick took Hoyer to the house, it made Hoyer the only quarterback to throw a pick-six in the red zone this season.

21.

Kyle Allen CAR

17/32

232

2

1

3

-2

2

-4

TEN

Allen threw four passes down the middle against Tennessee. None were complete. One was intercepted.

22.

Mason Rudolph PIT

26/35

191

1

1

1

-7

-10

3

IND

Rudolph was at his best throwing down the middle against Indianapolis: 10-of-11 for 109 yards.

Rk

Player

Team

CP/AT

Yds

TD

INT

Sacks

Total
DYAR

Pass
DYAR

Rush
DYAR

Opp

23.

Aaron Rodgers GB

23/35

161

1

0

3

-25

-26

1

LAC

Most of Rodgers’ good plays came after this game was already lost. At the point when the Chargers had gone up 26-3 in the fourth quarter, Rodgers had gone 11-of-19 for only 61 yards with three sacks.

24.

Gardner Minshew JAX

27/47

309

0

2

3

-29

-33

4

HOU

Minshew was OK at getting Jacksonville into Houston territory and not much good at anything beyond that. On the Texans’ side of the 50, he went 5-of-17 for 44 yards with two sacks, a fumble, and an interception.

25.

Dwayne Haskins WAS

15/22

144

0

0

4

-30

-24

-7

BUF

Third-/fourth-down passing: 5-of-8 for 48 yards with two sacks and only one conversion.

26.

Mitchell Trubisky CHI

10/21

125

0

0

3

-38

-49

11

PHI

Trubisky only threw for three first downs, all of which came with the Bears down by at least 12 points in the second half. He gained 96 yards on those three plays, 29 yards on his other seven completions. He did not throw a single pass down the middle of the field.

27.

Daniel Jones NYG

26/41

210

1

1

5

-92

-96

4

DAL

28.

Sam Darnold NYJ

27/38

260

1

1

3

-116

-114

-2

MIA

Darnold is in the reverse situation of Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray — his raw numbers don’t look too bad, but he loses 95 DYAR due to opponent adjustments, most in the league this week. He is only the third quarterback to throw an interception against the Dolphins, and he is the first to surrender three sacks. He averaged 6.7 yards per throw, worse than everyone except Case Keenum. And he only threw one touchdown — every other quarterback who has thrown double-digit passes against Miami threw for at least two scores.

 

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.

Christian McCaffrey CAR

24

146

2

3/3

20

1

98

71

27

TEN

McCaffrey was stuffed just once in 24 carries while running for five first downs, the longest a 58-yard touchdown. His three catches: a 7-yard touchdown on fourth-and-2; a 3-yard gain on third-and-1; and a 10-yard gain on second-and-7.

2.

Kenyan Drake ARI

15

110

1

4/4

52

0

74

46

28

SF

Drake was stuffed just once in 15 carries while running for eight first downs, including gains of 11, 11, and 36 yards. His catches included a 21-yard gain on second-and-6 and a 17-yard gain on first-and-15.

3.

Ezekiel Elliott DAL

23

139

0

0/0

0

0

61

61

0

NYG

4.

Devin Singletary BUF

20

95

1

3/4

45

0

42

37

5

WAS

Singletary ran for six first downs, with a pair of 17-yarders, while being stuffed twice. He only had one successful catch: a 49-yard gain on second-and-6.

5.

Melvin Gordon LAC

20

80

2

3/4

29

0

40

24

16

GB

Gordon was perfect in short yardage, converting all seven of his carries with 3 yards or less to go for a first down. Both of his stuffs came on first-and-10. All three of his catches resulted in first downs.

 

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.

Christian McCaffrey CAR

24

146

2

3/3

20

1

98

71

27

TEN

2.

Ezekiel Elliott DAL

23

139

0

0/0

0

0

61

61

0

NYG

3.

Kenyan Drake ARI

15

110

1

4/4

52

0

74

46

28

SF

4.

Devin Singletary BUF

20

95

1

3/4

45

0

42

37

5

WAS

5.

Josh Jacobs OAK

28

120

2

0/2

0

0

21

32

-12

DET

Jacobs was stuffed only once, while seven of his runs resulted in first downs, including a gain of 17.

 

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.

Frank Gore BUF

11

15

0

0/0

0

0

-37

-37

0

WAS

Gore only ran for two first downs and his longest run gained only 6 yards, while he was stuffed five times.

 

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.

Frank Gore BUF

11

15

0

0/0

0

0

-37

-37

0

WAS

 

Five Best Wide Receivers and Tight Ends by DYAR

Rk

Player

Team

Rec

Att

Yds

Avg

TD

Total
DYAR

Opp

1.

Mike Evans TB

12

16

180

15.0

1

92

SEA

Each of Evans’ catches resulted in a first down. So did his two DPIs for gains of 10 and 16 yards. That includes three third-down conversions.

2.

Tyreek Hill KC

6

8

140

23.3

1

73

MIN

Hill’s totals include 65 DYAR receiving, 8 DYAR rushing for his one carry for 5 yards. Each of his catches picked up a first down. That includes a 40-yard touchdown and gains of 30 and 41 yards.

3.

Tyler Lockett SEA

12

15

148

12.3

2

57

TB

Ten of Lockett’s catches produced first downs, including a 30-yard gain on second-and-22.

4.

Kenny Golladay DET

4

7

132

33.0

1

50

OAK

Each of Golladay’s catches gained at least 21 yards and a first down; he also picked up a 26-yard DPI.

5.

Preston Williams MIA

5

9

72

14.4

2

44

NYJ

Before leaving the game with a torn ACL, Williams picked up a half-dozen first downs — one on each of his caches, and one more on a 25-yard DPI. That includes a pair of third-down conversions.

 

Worst Wide Receiver or Tight End by DYAR

Rk

Player

Team

Rec

Att

Yds

Avg

TD

Total
DYAR

Opp

1.

Jarius Wright CAR

0

4

0

0.0

0

-45

TEN

Wright’s totals include -33 DYAR receiving, -12 DYAR rushing for his one carry for a 7-yard loss. Each of his targets came with 9 yards or less to go, and he still couldn’t pick up a first down.


http://www.footballoutsiders.com/quick-reads/2019/week-9-quick-reads

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