Tim Tebow won the AFC West 2011 Positive Impact Factor (what's this?) standings with plays like the one above. As you might have seen yesterday, he was on fire against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs. You'll have to wait to see how Tebow ranks in the playoff PIF. Let's just say he's off to a good start.
Here's the 2011 AFC West 2011 Positive Impact Factor Standings (PIF with sacks counted as rushes like the NCAA in brackets):
1. Tim Tebow, Denver Broncos, 37.9 (43.4)
2. Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs, 24.8 (35.2)
3. Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders, 23.7 (32)
4. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers, 5.7 (28)
Tebow did not have enough touches to qualify in 2010 but showed that he could play with quality with a PIF of 55.8 (Tom Brady had the highest PIF last season with a 58.4).
Matt Cassel had a setback from his 2010 season career-best PIF (47.2) which was 7th in the NFL. He was also slightly below the 25.3 he put up in 2009. His turnover frequency stayed relatively low this season but his touchdowns also plummeted.
Palmer was down from a 2010 PIF of 26. He's been trending down since his career-best season in 2005 (45.1 PIF, 4th in NFL). His touchdown production is still good but his interception rate is too high to make it back into the 30s or 40s.
Philip Rivers was down from a 23.4 in 2010 but not as low as his 2.6 in 2007. He's not been able to come close to his career-best 44.2 PIF in 2006 (5th in NFL) since achieving that mark.
In the last post I introduced the QB Positive Impact Factor (PIF)™. Reader @LSUChadP (follow him on twitter), who runs the blog Here We Geaux, wanted to know how the Positive Impact Factor translates to the NFL.
I will take a look at two successful college QBs who have had vastly different pro careers, JaMarcus Russell and Matt Ryan and determine their PIF for both college and the NFL.
JaMarcus Russell (currently unemployed) had a miserable time on the field in Oakland for the Raiders and a much more enjoyable experience as the QB of the LSU Tigers where he went 25-4 as a starter and is in the top 5 of every passing stat recorded by LSU. Russell became the no. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft as a result. Matt Ryan guided the Atlanta Falcons to the playoffs as a rookie and although he missed the playoffs in year two, the Falcons did wrap up back to back winning seasons for the first time in franchise history (that's 44 years worth folks). Ryan was 25-7 as a starter at Boston College and, like Russell, is among the leaders in his school's history in passing stats. Ryan was selected 3rd in the 2008 NFL Draft.
Let's look at college PIF first:
JaMarcus Russell racked up 936 touches (797 passes, 139 rushes) during his career, 365 of those were negative plays (304 incompletions, 11 fumbles, 50 sacks taken). Russell had 56 TDs for an extremely positive play number of 6.0. His extremely negative plays (6.9% INT/incompletion, 5.8% Fumbles lost/attempt) give him an extremely negative play number of 25.4. His total negative play number was 63.5. When his extremely positive plays number is added to the baseline total of 36.5, JaMarcus Russell's LSU PIF was 42.5.
Matt Ryan had 1515 touches (1345 passes, 169 rushes, 1 reception), with X negative plays (539 incompletions, 8 fumbles, 52 sacks taken). Ryan did have a combined 67 TDs for an extremely positive play number of 5.0. His extremely negative plays (6.9% INT/incompletion, 5.8% fumbles/attempt) work out to 25.4. Ryan's total negative play number was 64.9. Therefore, he had a baseline total of 35.1 before extremely positive plays were added in. Matt Ryan's Boston College PIF was 40.1.
Amazingly Russell and Ryan had identical extremely negative play numbers, but Russell made more extremely positive plays on average and that gave him the slight edge over Ryan overall 42.5 to 40.1.
And for the pro numbers:
Russell had 720 touches in his Raiders career (680 passes, 40 rushes) with 421 negative plays (326 incompletions, 25 fumbles, 70 sacks taken). Russell had a mere 19 TDs for a paltry 2.6 extremely positive play number. His extremely negative plays (7.1% INT/incompletion, 37.5% fumbles lost/attempt) work out to an astronomical 89.2. His baseline total is then 147.7. With his extremely positive plays added in, JaMarcus Russell's pro PIF is quite possibly the worst in history, a NEGATIVE 44.9. The difference from his college career is over 100 points of difference. Simply astounding.
Matt Ryan has accumulated 970 touches as a Falcon (885 passes, 85 rushes) with 404 negative plays (357 incompletions, 11 fumbles, 36 sacks taken). Ryan's extremely positive play number is 4.1% based on his 40 TDs. His extremely negative plays (7.0% INT/incompletion, 3.5% fumbles lost/attempt) work out to 21 with a total negative play number of 62.6. His baseline total was a 37.4. Ryan's extremely positive plays bring his PIF to 41.5. Matt Ryan was actually able to improve his PIF in the NFL over his college days by lowering his fumbles lost percentage. The decrease in extremely negative plays made up for his decline in extremely positive plays.
PIF does translate to the NFL. In the case of two very different QBs, their similar college PIFs diverged very rapidly in the pros. Russell's negative Positive Impact Factor is clearly rooted in his inability to hold on to the football. He fumbled the ball away 15 times out of 40 attempts. Any QB who can't hold on to the ball will suffer severely when it comes to PIF because the attempts of a pro are much fewer than their college attempts. And as we just saw with Ryan, he was able to improve his PIF by holding on to the ball. His other stats were pretty similar to his time at Boston College. One final note, Matt Ryan's TPPI did not change from college to the pros, holding steady at 2.8%. Russell's increased from 2.6% at LSU to 3.4% for the Raiders.
Unfortunately, football related activities have ceased. I'm not desperate enough to say anything about NFL minicamps, so the news and notes from this past week consists of things tangential to football.
Conference Expansion: The Pac 10 & Big 12 Conferences met in Phoenix for "an informal gathering", according to Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe. The formality of the get-together aside, joining forces might be attractive in the wake of eventual Big 10 expansion. Therefore, discussing TV contracts is a fine place to start (which might or might not have been discussed). I'm not willing to go out on a limb and believe "a source" about that important matter.
Law & Order (Probably a reoccurring feature so why not kick it off with this):
NFL Hall of Fame Linebacker Lawrence Taylor ("Client-1") was charged in New York State with third-degree rape and patronizing a prostitute. This story also involves a pimp and a 16-year-old runaway. The Federal government is prosecuting this case. The arrest has been taken very serious by NutriSystem as they have dropped LT as spokesman.
LSU Center T-Bob Hebert was given a DUI after backing into a parked car. A breathalyzer showed that Hebert was over the legal limit (.08 BAC). LSU head coach Les Miles has indefinitely suspended Hebert who started every game last season except the Capital One Bowl. Hebert's arrest was the second alcohol related incident for the Tigers this offseason. Starting WR Terrance Toliver was arrested and tasered in March following a fight outside of a bar in the vicinity of the LSU campus.
Texas Tech University wants four employees removed from the lawsuit brought against the school by former coach Mike Leach (who was controversially fired "for cause", see what I wrote about it here). Tech's attorney Dicky Grigg is also trying to have the entire suit dismissed by invoking "sovereign immunity" which would preclude the school from being sued without "permission from the Texas legislature or without a waiver based on the defendant's conduct." Tech did not seek to have Craig James removed from the suit (who recently described himself as being in a "spiritual war" against Leach). The next hearing will be May 14.
From the Unemployment Line: JaMarcus Russell was released by the Oakland Raiders. I wrote about the Rise and Fall of JaMarcus here. For those of you looking for a visualization of Russell's departure, you can consult the fine work of LSUFreek (follow him on twitter) here.
Pam Ward Won a Real Broadcasting Award: Yeah, so that happened. I have laid out some details about why I oppose such a thing here. I decided to get more proactive than that and write a letter to the person in charge. You can read the letter, which has already been sent, here.
There are 117 days until college football. Hang in there...
JaMarcus Russell has been released by the Oakland Raiders. It came as a shock to no one that the Raiders have decided to cut their losses, which were substantial (Russell was paid more than $36 million and is still owed another $3 million), and move on. Russell had no chance to remain on the depth chart, much less compete for the starting job, once Jason Campbell was recently acquired. Russell only lasted this long because Raiders owner Al Davis stuck by him. Russell is going to be widely panned as the worst No. 1 NFL Draft Pick ever, but I think something else needs to be remembered about Russell's time in Oakland...
Al Davis has been mentally checked out for so long that he hired the completely unqualified Lane Kiffin to coach the once proud Raiders franchise. Davis then had an odd press conference when he fired Kiffin just 20 games later. At the point in which Kiffin was hired, the Raiders team was an untalented mess with one of the worst records in pro football over the half decade. JaMarcus Russell was a rookie that season. I cannot think of a worse position for a number 1 overall pick to have fallen into. The magnitude of difficulty only increases when you consider a) no QB has been able to do anything with the Raiders since Rich Gannon, b) the Raiders have had a revolving door of coaches, c) Lane Kiffin was Russell's coach as a rookie (I think I mentioned this), d) Russell was guaranteed a big big bag of cash for not having to do anything. I could go on but there is really no need to. Russell didn't have to be great in Oakland, he just needed to have a pulse and hope the Raiders wouldn't throw him out on the street. Now it's time for Plan B.
How did Russell get to this point? After redshirting his freshman year at LSU and limited action as a redshirt freshman, Russell weaved magic time and again for the Tigers as a Sophomore and Junior starter. It wasn't always pretty, but Tiger fans could always count on being in games and Russell making exciting plays (see here, here, here). As a starter, Russell went 25-4 and is in the top five in each category of passing stat recorded by LSU. It was basically LSU's dismantling of a barely there Notre Dame defense in the 2007 Sugar Bowl which sealed Russell's fate as a No. 1 Draft pick.
As a Raider QB, Russell was not set up for success. First, there was the contract holdout (which got him all that guaranteed money). Second, his coach as a rookie was Lane Kiffin (can't be emphasized enough). If you put a Hall of Fame caliber QB behind a porous O-Line, you will no longer have a Hall of Fame caliber QB (you might even have an injured QB). Russell sacked 70 times in 31 appearances for Oakland. The Raiders only 1,000 yard rusher of the three years Russell was in Oakland was Justin Fargas (1,009 yards in 2007). The leading WR in 2007 was Ronald Curry and in 2008-2009, it was the TE Zach Miller. In case you were wondering, none of these seasons produced a 1,000 yard receiver. What exactly besides lose big was Russell supposed to do behind an O-line that couldn't pass or run block? You can rag on Russell's work ethic if you want, but how hard would you try with a ton of guaranteed money and an owner who won't put a solid line in front of you? Despite all of that, Russell showed that from time to time, he still had the playmaking ability he was drafted for.
Now, Russell, who has a career passer rating of 65.2, would be lucky for a team to sign him as a backup. Somebody will probably take that risk, maybe your favorite team. Here's an advocate for the Cleveland Browns to sign Russell. If you thought you heard Mel Kiper, Jr. say that Russell "could be one of the elite top five QBs in this league" in three years (or "John Elwaylike") in the embedded video, you were correct--yet another example of why you shouldn't rate the NFL Draft. Instead, three years later, JaMarcus Russell is unemployed.
Jets rookie QB Mark Sanchez has had some up and down performances this season. His first playoff game was great in terms of what you want out of your game manager style of QB: 12/15 for 182 passing yards, 1 TD, 0 INT. His shaky regular season merited a QB rating of 63.0 because he threw 12 TDs to 20 INTs and only completed around 54% of his passes for less than 7 yards per attempt. His first playoff game was rated 139.4 which is more than 32 points better than his best regular season outing--a 38-0 shutout of the Raiders. The Jets running game was also rolling with rookie Shonn Greene getting most of the carries. Greene with 135 yards and a TD on 21 attempts also had his best game since that week 7 shutout of the Raiders. For the Bengals, this game was an improvement over their 37-0 drubbing at the hands of the Jets in week 17. First of all, the Bengals scored points in 2 quarters. They had the ball for over 26 minutes. Cedric Benson played and had 169 yards rushing and a TD on 21 carries. QB Carson Palmer played the whole game and crossed the 100 yard passing barrier (he had 0 yards on 11 attempts in week 17). Heck, he even threw a touchdown. WR Chad Ochocinco caught 2 more passes than the 0 he had in week 17. He was unable to celebrate a TD though. The inability of the Bengals to throw and catch the ball was simply amazing. The Bengals franchise is still not ready for the playoffs (they haven't been here often) and haven't won a playoff game since 1990. The Jets won their first playoff game since 2004 and move on to play the team they beat in that game, the San Diego Chargers.
This game turned into a blowout faster than you could have imagined. Nobody scored in the first quarter. By halftime, the game was over. Dallas got a TD on a Tony Romo pass early in the 2nd. The Eagles responded with a laser pass from Mike Vick which turned into a 76 yard TD. Dallas rattled off 20 unanswered points to make it 27-7 at half. Cowboys RB Felix Jones exploded for a 73 yard rushing TD in the 3rd to make it 34-7. Jones finished with 148 yards on only 16 carries. The Eagles had 56 yards rushing...total. Both teams' QBs threw for 200+ yards but Romo was more efficient than Donovan McNabb. McNabb was pressured often and threw 1 INT and lost 1 fumble. The Eagles turned the ball over 4 times compared to the Cowboys' 1 turnover. It is surprising to think that the Cowboys win on Saturday was their first playoff victory since 1996. It was not a shock that the Cowboys won this game. The Eagles had absolutely no way of stopping the Cowboys offense. The Eagles' defense appeared to have never defensed a screen play before. This game was similar to the Jets v. Bengals affair. It was a step forward for the Eagles over getting shutout 24-0 in week 17, but it was an effort which was far from what they needed to win the game. The Eagles finished their season in highly disappointing fashion. They had won 6 in a row until they met the Cowboys in week 17. This game was their 3rd loss to the Cowboys in the 2009 season. The Cowboys broke a two game losing streak in week 15 by upsetting the then undefeated New Orleans Saints. Dallas has been red hot ever since only allowing 31 total points during their 4 game win streak. The Cowboys play Minnesota next.
This wildcard game was over even quicker than the Eagles v. Cowboys. Aided by Tom Brady turnovers, the Ravens put up 24 unanswered points in the first quarter. It got ugly early for the Pats. The first play from scrimmage was a Ray Rice 83 yard TD run. The only Patriots players to put out any effort were RB Kevin Faulk (52 of the Pats 64 rush yards and 37 receiving yards) and WR Julian Edelman (2 TD catches). New England played this game like they were banged up and wanted to end their season. The Ravens came out onto the field jacked up and were more than ready to oblige the lethargic Pats. Ray Rice finished the game with 159 rushing yards and 2 TDs on 22 carries. The Ravens didn't need QB Joe Flacco to be good. He was terrible: 4/10 for 34 yards passing with a pick. Despite the lack of passing, the Ravens outgained the Patriots (who couldn't run--64 total rush yards) 268-196. Brady's ribs were bothering him and was clearly off during the game. He threw for only 154 yards 3 INTs and only 2 TDs. He also lost a fumble. Brady's 49.1 QB rating was the lowest of his playoff career. The Patriots were loudly booed in their first playoff home loss since 1978. Ravens LB Ray Lewis (pictured above) was dominant with 13 tackles and a sack. He also had told the CBS crew calling the game that he could pick out what the Patriots were going to run because he had Brady figured out. On certain plays where Lewis slammed into Brady or Faulk or other unfortunate Patriots, it sure seemed like he had the read the Pats playbook. The Patriots will have the offseason to try to regroup. The Ravens move on to play the Colts (a team which should be in the best of health due to basically forfeiting their last 2 games of the regular season). If the Ravens hope to stand a chance, Peyton Manning will have to turn the ball over and Joe Flacco must do something, anything, positive on offense.
If you liked the Ravens' smothering defensive performance in the early game, this latter contest (the highest scoring game in NFL playoff history) probably drove you nuts. This game started out much like the Ravens v. Patriots however. The Cardinals built a quick 17-0 lead by the end of the 1st quarter aided by Packer turnovers. Green Bay got their own offense going with a great defensive play by DB Charles Woodson. Arizona was threatening to score another TD in the 2nd quarter when Kurt Warner dumped the ball off over the middle to WR Larry Fitzgerald, Woodson used his fist like a sledgehammer and smashed the ball out of Fitzgerald's arms and Green Bay recovered the fumble. Warner was screeching at WR Early Doucet about something that had happened besides the fumble on the play. It was the only mistake Doucet made in a game where he caught his first 2 playoff TDs and set up a game winning FG chance. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers had his first pass of the game intercepted. His second pass was complete and then fumbled away. Somehow Rodgers had caught fire in the second quarter after the Arizona turnover. By halftime the Packers were only down 24-10 in a game that could have easily gotten away from them. The Cardinals scored on their opening possession of the second half and were up 31-10. The Cardinals defense then turned into swiss cheese. Rodgers threw 2 TD passes to cut the lead down to 7 points. Warner responded with a TD near the end of the 3rd quarter to extend the lead to 38-24. By the 10:57 mark of the 4th quarter, Rodgers had thrown another TD pass and set up a rushing TD and game was tied at 38. Warner threw his 5th TD pass of the game about 6 minutes later. Rodgers responded with his 4th TD pass to tie the game up at 45 with 1:52 remaining. Warner, armed with 3 timeouts, quickly hurried the Cardinals down the field and hit Doucet on a 16 yard pass down to the Packers 16 yard line. The Cards used their last timeout with 14 seconds left and sent veteran kicker Neil Rackers out onto the field for a 34 yard FG to win the game. Rackers choked and pushed the ball wide left. The game was going to overtime. The Packers won the toss and of course took the ball. Arizona's offense had to be nothing short of livid that their defense had seemingly blown the game by letting the Packers get back into it. What they were thinking about Rackers probably contained too much profanity to type. However, in overtime, the Cardinals defense finally got back to the way they were playing at the beginning of the game and ended it. Here's the play, you decide what should have happened, if anything.
The defense for most of the game was so awful on both sides that there were 62 total first downs, 1024 total yards, 9 passing TDs, 3 rushing TDs and Arizona RB Beanie Wells looked good. It would normally take a stretch of the imagination to think that Wells was fast enough to play in the NFL (I'm not saying he couldn't be good in short yardage situations). Today was not one of those days. On one play, the Packers defense checked out completely and allowed Wells to get his career long run of 42 yards. Since he finished with 91 yards, that one play severely inflated his yards per carry average to 6.5. Wells hadn't looked this good since his 110 yard performance against the Detroit Lions. To be fair, those guys are so pathetic on run defense, they can make anybody's running back look great.
This was the only game of the three wild card matchups which were played on week 17 to turn out differently. In the last week of the season the Packers demolished the Cardinals 33-7. That wasn't really a fair measure of performance as the Cards rested players while the Packers did not. The Packers won't take any consolation of sending this game to overtime into the offseason. The Cardinals have the Saints next. I would really like to see New Orleans in top form (which they haven't been anywhere close to since that Cowboys loss) to get a game which will rival this wild card game in excitement.
Gameball for the former LSU Tiger in the NFL on Wild Card Weekend: Early Doucet, WR Arizona: 6 catches, 77 yards, 2 TDs and set up Neil Rackers for an easy kick to win the game even though Rackers didn't come through.
And then there were two: of the 8 playoffs teams remaining only the Baltimore Ravens and Minnesota Vikings don't have a former LSU Tiger on the roster. There has been at least one former Tiger on every Super Bowl champion since 2001.
Origin Story: I am an NFL scavenger...not once upon a time, but instead since I was a child aware of Barry Sanders until September 14, 2008 (a date which will live in infamyJon Kitna), I was a Detroit Lions fan. Since that day I just look around the league for oddities or exciting plays or to see how LSU Tigers in the NFL are doing. It's been a good decade for Tigers in the NFL as EVERY Super Bowl Champ since 2001 has had at least one Tiger on the roster. LSU also has the longest current streak of first round draft picks (6 years) and has produced 3 straight top 5 picks.
Here's this week's rundown:
Cowboys end Saints pursuit of perfection, read extended commentary here.
Jamarcus Russell, forced into glory by the manhandling of yet another Raiders QB (Charlie Frye this time, in his first action of the season no less) by an opposing defense, finds Chaz Schilens for a TD with 0:35 remaining in the game. Raiders win in Denver--take that Broncos playoff hopes. Despite these heroics, Russell did not win his starting job back. I swear that link does not lead you to LSU v. Tennessee circa 2006--this link does.
Ben Roethlisberger throws for 503 yards (first Steelers QB to throw for 500 yards) including this mind bottling TD pass to set up the game winning XP. Big Ben's big day broke the Steelers record for passing yards in a game held by the one (and only) XFL MVP Tommy Maddox who futilely slung the ball around for 473 yards in a 2002 TIE.
Colts survive the Jaguars and move out to 14-0 all alone, see Cowboys v. Saints above. Peyton Manning ripped the Jags secondary a new one en route to attaining his 10th season of 4,000 passing yards and yet another 4 passing TD game. The latter exploit tied him with Dan Marino for second all-time with 21 such games. Brett Favre is the leader with 22 4 passing TD games. He certainly won't improve on that record if he keeps playing like he did Sunday and getting into "heated discussions" with his coach about whether he should be in the game or not.
The Arizona Cardinals won the NFC West for the second year in a row by outlasting the worst team in the NFL since 2001 (33-109 over that span), the Detroit Lions. The last time the Cardinals won their division 2 years in a row was 1974-1975 when they still played in St. Louis and were located in the NFC East.
Manning the Younger (Eli) was pretty precise in a terribly unentertaining Monday night game against the Washington [nickname redacted]. It got so out of hand that David Carr got to throw the ball four (4) times for the Giants. To close out a half of ineptness (2 whole first downs), Washington tried a fake FG um what the hell was that? pass play (?) with Hunter Smith (the punter) who promptly threw a wounded duck pass before the 3 unblocked Giants' rushers could sack him. Smith was unsurprisingly intercepted by one of the 5 eligible and willing Giants defenders who crowded underneath the pop fly from Smith. Once Washington finally did score a TD their kicking woes continued as Graham Gano's XP was blocked (Washington failed on a 2 pt try on their other TD). Remember the Unknown Who Dat game?
Shaun Suisham, fired for that miserable shank job above (I swear it was really a FG try, not an XP), was hired by his old mates down in Big D to replace Nick Folk who was more recently a victim of the Unknown Who Dat.
Let's not get too excited about Jerome Harrison breaking Jim Brown's single game rushing record for the Browns. The Browns v. Chiefs was a first class pillow fight between two teams going absolutely nowhere. Jim Brown set his record as a rookie in 1957 against a Los Angeles Rams team that won half of their games. 1957, back when the Detroit Lions won their last championship (destroying the Browns 59-14, coincidentally) and the NFL had 12 teams. However, Josh Cribbs of the current Browns team deserves far more than golf clapping for housing two (2) of Kansas City's kickoffs which gave him a total of eight for his career, an NFL record.
Best LSU Tiger in the NFL performance for Week 15: Jamarcus Russell, of course. With his struggles this season, how could it be anyone else?
That's all the No Fun League coverage I can stomach for this week.