Friday, October 11, 2019

Lowest Defensive Passer Rating Through Six Games Since 1978

LOOKING BACK
By John Turney
Stephon Gilmore
The 1978 NFL season marked a divide in the NFL passing game due to the rule changes that were implemented beginning in that season.

In 1973 the Hall of Fame invented the passer rating as a statistic to determine the career and season leader in passing. As TJ Troup has mentioned what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander—meaning that if a high passer rating is good for an offense then a low passer rating is good for the defense.

Below is a list of the lowest defensive passer ratings since 1978 through six games (those with a rating of 50.0 or lower). The Patriots are ninth in that category, impressive since the nearest in time to them are the 1996 Packers—23 years prior. The passing game has open up some seemingly every year so when compared to a league-average the Patriots 42.6 is likely even more impressive than many ahead of them.

Regardless, the Patriots pass defense (and pass rush—25 sacks) has been impressive, though critics will point out the level of competition the Pats have played is not stellar. Nonetheless, the Patriots are 6-0 and the defense is excellent and they have two, maybe three players that could be considered the defensive MVP though Week 6—Jamie Collins, Stephon Gillmore, and Kyle Van Noy.

We'll monitor this and see if the Patriots can keep up the blazing pace.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

At the 5-game Mark, We'd Vote for Grady Jarrett as the All-Pro DT

PERSPECTIVE
By John Turney
Aaron Donald is the best 3-technique in the NFL. There is no doubt about it in our view and in the view of everything we've read on the Internet.

However, does the best player always have the best year? Here is an example. From 1954-65 Willie Mays was the best player in the National League. One metric for that is Baseball Reference's Wins Above Replacement.
In 1956 and 1959 and in 1961 he was not first. But, who would you want to have on your team—Willie Mays or whoever was tops on those three seasons? FYI the players were Duke Snider, Ernie Banks and Hank Aaron who were all great.

So, similarly, through five weeks, Donald is like Mays—the best in all phases. But, for whatever circumstances, Jarrett is having a slightly better season like Snider, Banks, and Aaron did those few seasons.

Here are the stats for both Donald and Jarrett
Jarrett leads the NFL in run stuffs with 5.5 and has forced a pair of fumbles and has two sacks and has twice as many tackles.

So, will this keep up? At the end of the season will Jarrett still be outperforming Donald? There is no way to tell. Our prediction is that Donald will go off and start making plays game after game, week after week and will end up with double-digits in sacks and stuffs and will be the All-Pro 3-technique, but that is based on the past and his skill level. It's a projection, not a prophecy. 

As of this week, in all honesty and fairness we'd list Jarrett as top 3-technique—again not because his skill set is greater but because he's making more plays so far.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Book Review— Strength in Numbers: Quarter by Quarter with the Green Bay Packers

By John Turney
Strength in Numbers: Quarter by Quarter with the Green Bay Packers Paperback – July 29, 2019
by Eric Goska

If you like lists, and if you like a unique way to look at things this is a good book. It's not required that you be a Packers fan to enjoy it but it will help.

Goska has more statistical information about the Packers than anyone, and the Packers are blessed wti some great historians like Lee Remmell, Bob McGinn, and Cliff  Christl and others.

This book takes the concept of the four quarters of a football game and listing who had the most yards or picks or you name it of the first quarter of Packers games, and then the second quarter and so on.

With a franchise as historic as the Packers, it becomes pretty fascinating. Begin with quarterbacks like Bart Starr, Brett Favre, and Aaron Rodgers—their names dominate but you still get a name like Don Majkowski mixed in there.

So, we certainly recommend this book because it is interesting and we know the amount of effort that was needed to complete this task. It was a hard row to hoe, to say the least.

Bob McGinn said, “The fact is that the Packers as a franchise couldn’t have been more fortunate to have the league’s pre-eminent independent historian/statistician/author chronicling them.” TJ Troup will say to anyone who listens, "Every NFL team needs an Eric Goska" and he's right.

Goska is a great treasure to the Packers—when the team needs something statistical they may not be sure about they go to Eric.

So, treat yourself and buy the book, it's worth it.





Monday, October 7, 2019

Sans Davante Adams, Packers Prevail in Dallas

By Eric Goska
Davante Adams (17) and Aaron Rodgers (12) have combined for 325 receptions
in the regular-season. Adams did not play in Green Bay’s 34-24 victory in Dallas
For the past 10 years, Aaron Rodgers has always had at least one frequent collaborator in the lineup with him when he has taken to the air in a regular-season game.

Not so Sunday in Dallas.

For the first time since 2009, Rodgers went into the fray without a security blanket – a pass-catcher with whom he had a longstanding working relationship. Fortunately for the Packers, that mattered little as Green Bay jumped on the Cowboys early and held on for a 34-24 win at AT&T Stadium.

The Packers prevailed largely because of an improved running game and an opportunistic defense. Running back Aaron Jones rushed for 107 yards and four touchdowns. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s unit came away with three interceptions.

The Packers hardly seemed to miss Davante Adams. The club’s leading receiver watched the game from the sidelines with a toe injury.

But Adams’ absence was news in and of itself. For the first time in a decade, Rodgers operated without a 100-catch collaborator at his disposal.

Rodgers completed 22 of 34 passes for 238 yards. He failed to throw a touchdown pass for the 15th time in 163 regular-season starts.

Steady and turnover-free, the veteran quarterback did enough to win.

Perhaps Rodgers would have done more had his top target been available. Rodgers and Adams have been playing pitch-and-catch since 2014 when the Packers selected the Fresno State product in the second round of the draft.

Adams and Rodgers are 100-catch collaborators. They are more than a little familiar with each other’s style of play.

Rodgers has thrown more than 100 passes to nine different players throughout his career. Prior to meeting the Cowboys, one or more of those nine had been with him on the field for each of his last 142 regular-season starts.

Donald Driver was the first. The ebullient receiver caught his 100th pass from Rodgers in a 30-23 loss at Minnesota on Oct. 5, 2009.

Greg Jennings joined the ranks 13 days later. He shagged his 100th ball in a 26-0 victory over the Lions at Lambeau Field.

Those who have teamed up most often with Rodgers include some of the better receivers in franchise history: Jordy Nelson (469 catches), Randall Cobb (429), Adams (325), Jennings (324), James Jones (266), Driver (241), Jermichael Finley (214), James Starks (120) and Richard Rodgers (114). Seven of the nine continued to play long after hitting 100, thus serving as reliable outlets for Rodgers when he encountered trouble: Nelson (74 games), Cobb (67), Driver (54), Jones (51), Jennings (47), Adams (38) and Finley (32).

As Rodgers’ career unfolded, the Packers become so laden with veteran receivers that from the second week of 2011 through the fifth game in 2013, Rodgers could count on having at least three and as many as five 100-catch collaborators on the field with him every week. Green Bay went 29-7 (.806) over that stretch.

After two seasons (2014 and 2015) in which the number of frequent collaborators dropped to two, Rodgers again found himself with three and as many as five in 2016. That was the last year in which the Packers made the playoffs.

A year ago, Cobb and Adams were the only 100-catch collaborators remaining. This year, Adams is the last man standing.

Adams and Rodgers have played in 71 regular-season games together. They have combined for 325 receptions and 34 touchdowns.

Adams caught his 100th pass from Rodgers on Oct. 9, 2016. It was the fifth of five passes he snared that day in a 23-16 win over the Giants.

That chemistry between Rodgers and Adams was missing Sunday. Those who attempted to fill the void had far less experience with the veteran quarterback.

Rodgers’ most seasoned partners in Dallas were tight end Jimmy Graham (62 catches), receivers Geronimo Allison (53) and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (52), and Jones (40).

The drop off after that was steep. Rodgers has logged relatively little time with the likes of tight end Marcedes Lewis (8), receiver Jake Kumerow (7), tight end Robert Tonyan (6) and fullback Danny Vitale (3).

For the most part, Rodgers looked in the direction of those with whom he was most familiar. He aimed 21 of 31 passes at Jones (8), Allison (6), Valdes-Scantling (4) and Graham (3).

But he also found Tra Carson – a player called up from the practice squad on Saturday – four times for 18 yards. In all, running backs snagged 12 of the 22 passes that found their mark.

Rodgers’ two longest completions – both for 23 yards – went to Graham and Tonyan on the Packers’ second touchdown drive. Jones and Allison also set up scores, each with a catch of 22 yards.

How the Packers would have fared with Adams in the mix will never be known. What the team did learn is that it can win without him against a quality opponent on the road under the right circumstances.

Some or all of those who chased down passes against the Cowboys will continue to do so in the coming weeks even after Adams returns. Eventually one or more might become 100-catch collaborators.

Stocked with enough of those, Green Bay’s passing attack could become especially potent, perhaps ranking again among the best in the league.

Extra point
Jim Taylor (three times), Terdell Middleton, Dorsey Levens and Aaron Jones have all scored four rushing touchdowns in a single game for the Packers. Jones crossed the goal line for the fourth time on just his 12th carry against the Cowboys. The other three players all required at least 19 attempts to get there.

Are You Experienced?
The nine players who caught 100 or more passes from quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the regular season.

Name                          Rec.    Yards       Avg.       LG    TD
Jordy Nelson                469      6,919      14.75       t93     65
Randall Cobb               429      5,092      11.87       t75     39
Davante Adams            325      4,013      12.35       t66     34
Greg Jennings               324      4,980      15.37       t86     38
James Jones                 266      3,885      14.61       t83     41
Donald Driver               241      3,130      12.99       t71     22
Jermichael Finley          214      2,683      12.54       t62     19
James Starks                120         965        8.04       t31       5
Richard Rodgers           114      1,117        9.80       t61     13

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Jordan Phillips, at 341 pounds, Gets 3.0 Sacks in a Single Game—Most Ever?

PERSPECTIVE
By John Turney
We don't know what Jordan Phillips weighs. He's listed by the Bills at 341 pounds. So, we'll go with that. NFL Linemen, as Paul Zimmerman once wrote cannot really claim one weight.

Sunday Phillips recorded 3 sacks versus the Tennessee Titans. We say that he had the sacks on the first half and it made us wonder if a man that heavy had recorded that many sacks in a game.

First, we'll deal with post-1982, when sacks became official.

For players 340 or more pounds we found only Shaun Rogers, then of the Lions,  had 2.5 sacks in 2007. He was listed at 350 pounds but we suspect he was 10-15 pounds heavier than that.

Johnathan Hankins listed at 340 has a 2.5-sack game to his credit as well.

Akiem Hicks also listed in the 350s, has five games of 2.0 sacks but none with more. Dan Wilkinson was listed at 340 (likely heavier in some seasons) had seven games with 2.0 sacks but also with none more than that. Sam Adams also had seven games of 2.0 sacks. He was listed at 350 or so.  Grady Jackson (listed at 345, often was over 360) had four games of exactly 2.0 sacks.

Kris Jenkins, at 360 or so, had three games of 2.0 sacks.

There have some several other big men of 340+ with games of 2 sacks, but none with 3.0.

In the pre-1982 era it's hard to find a defensive linemen who was over 300 pounds, much less 340. Certainly there were a few. Roger Brown of the Lions was around 300, usually more, but he was never 340 or more. Maybe 310-320 at most. The Rams had a defensive tackle named Phil Murphy who was over 300 but listed at 290. That was a common practice in that era.

So, we conclude, (but welcome any corrections) that Jordan Phillips has the NFL record for most sacks by a player listed at 240 or more pounds.

Hows that for esoteric?

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

IT STARTS WITH A WHISTLE: Steve Sabol

By TJ Troup
Life here in Fort Worth Texas has been eventful—more on that at the end of this essay. Today would have been Steve Sabol's 77th birthday. So many folks respected him and I sure miss my conversations, and communication with him.....he was and still is a visionary.

Not many of those around today. I sure hope the Hall of Fame Blue Ribbon Committee that is responsible for the Centennial Class of Hall of Famers is giving him a fair discussion, he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

Though I am still involved in watching the games each week; I cannot do in-depth since my library is in Kentucky. That said, will go to my tried and true, and a stat Steve relished discussing with me—the defensive passer rating.

No stat tells all except points scored and allowed, yet this stat is a tool that has served me well. The top 10 teams in this category have a combined record of 28-10-1.
Devin McCourty
The Patriots probably cannot sustain the suffocating team pass defense they are playing, yet they sure are flying to the ball, and have seen virtually no mental errors in coverage. I will have more on them in December when I return home. 

The bottom three teams in this category have a combined record of 0-12. Yeah, yeah, I know and have heard it all before how this stat is meaningless. Ok, explain the Dolphins pass coverage, and define "meaningless".

Next up, since 2002 when the league aligned in eight divisions only twice has a division recorded at least 40 wins. 2007 AFC South with 42, and in 2013 in the NFC West with 42. After four weeks the NFC North has 10 wins....can they keep up the pace? No doubt the strongest division this year.

Next up....the Rams and a historical aspect to the seasons they lost the title game. After losing to the Browns in '50; the next year the Niners beat them 44-17 on 10-28. After losing to the Browns in '55; the next year the Colts beat them 56-21 on 11-25. After losing to the Patriots in 2001; the next year the Chiefs beat them 49-10 on 12-8.

Last week in the Coliseum they were outscored by Tampa Bay after losing to the Patriots last February. Maybe I should have seen this coming?

No doubt Wade Phillips did not. Closing out the essay is a short update on the movie "12 Mighty Orphans". The young actors have had eight days of camp so far, and much has been shared with them concerning the nuances of the game at the high school level in Texas in 1938. The young actors are a very likable group and will know the progress tomorrow morning when the director (the distinguished Mr. Ty Roberts) shows up to watch the plays being run. Stay tuned.