By Luis DeLoureiro
Cold, Hard Football Facts third-string waterboy
The NFL lockout is wreaking havoc on fans from all walks of life. While no games have been missed, off-season talking points have been hard to come by.
Some NFL reporters and websites have maintained CNN-like coverage of the details of the current legal situation.
We know enough to have gathered that the NFL is a big moneymaker and the owners feel like they don't get a big enough piece of the pie.
However, you'll forgive us if we aren't too concerned that Bill Bidwell can't buy each of his grandchildren their annual ivory backscratcher – or that Dan Snyder spends most of his waking hours seeking vengeance on a world that made him the last one to know when it's raining.

[Note #1 about that last paragraph: There's a 94 percent chance that nothing in that paragraph was based on fact; Note #2 : You see, Dan Snyder is short, so he feels the rain after the tall people ... get it?]
So, given the current lack of NFL activity – and, our general inability to stay on topic anyway – we have decided to offer a potpourri of fact based ramblings and observations.
As a special treat, we have decided to introduce each of our musings with a relevant quote from the movie that bears the same name as this weekly offering – The Waterboy.
[Note: You'll probably get two weeks of this since our own Waterboy will be on vacation next Monday.]
Rams Are Growing Up
Bobby Boucher: Nice hit
Mama Boucher: Thanks baby. Now you go on and have some fun becomin' a man.
Sam Bradford and the St. Louis Rams made some nice progress in 2010 – but, they still have some work to do before we can consider them "men."
The reasons for optimism:
  • The Rams improved from a league worst 1-15 record in 2009 to 7-9 and narrowly missing a playoff berth in 2010.
  • The Rams improved their Scoreability Index (a team-wide measurement of ability to turn yards into points) from 25.54 Yards Per Point Scored to 16.77 Yards Per Point Scored (lower is better because it means you needed to generate fewer yards for each point scored). That was a staggering, league-best 8.8 point improvement.
  • Their all-important Passing Yards Per Attempt average improved from 4.57 YPA in 2009 to 5.24 YPA in 2010 – an increase of about two-thirds of a yard. By the way, YPA has proven year in and year out to have an exceptionally high correlation to offensive points scored.
  • St. Louis made incredible advances defensively from 2009 to 2010, as we chronicled a few weeks ago on
So, why do they still have some work to do?
The 2009 Rams were really, really bad. Even after the aforementioned improvements, the Rams are still looking up at the better teams in the league.
Consider these three problems:

ONE - Even after an almost nine point improvement in the Scoreability Index (we have to research this, but that may be the largest one-year improvement since we started keeping the stat), the Rams still ranked only 26th in this Quality Stat. Put another way, the 2009 Rams average of 25.54 Yards Per Point Scored  was almost 4.5 points worse than the average produced by the woefule 2010 Panthers (21.1 YPPS).

Put yet another way, the 2009 Rams average of 25.54 Yards Per Point Scored was twice as high as that of the 2009 Saints (12.67 YPPS) – meaning the Rams needed twice as many offensive yards to generate the same number of points as the Saints.

TWO - Despite a significant increase in victories from 2009 to 2010 (the Rams were one of only three teams with an improvement of at least six wins), the Rams still only managed a 7-9 record. Again, we should give credit where credit is due, but the 2009 Rams had nowhere to go but up.

THREE - Finally, despite a significant improvement in Passing YPA, the Rams still ranked 30th in this metric.
There are strong indicators that the Rams have the pieces in place to build on their 2010 improvements. But, they still have some work to do before we start to consider them "men".
Thank You For Your Services Mr. Clausen
Guy Grenouille: Nice going sh*thead. You lost us the football game.
Bobby Boucher: Sorry. Will you please still be my friend?
Guy Grenouille: No, Get away.
Rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen, a second-round pick last year, started 10 games for the Carolina Panthers in 2010. The results were so putrid that the Panthers used the No. 1 pick in this year's draft on quarterback Cam Newton.
How bad was the Panthers' 2010 passing offense?

Clausen, Matt Moore, Brian St. Pierre and Tony Pike combined to pass for 2,289 yards (32nd in the NFL), nine touchdowns (32nd) and 21 interceptions (tied for 29th). In the more important Quality Stats, Carolina was dead last in Offensive Passer Rating (56.96) and in Passing Yards Per Attempt (4.39 YPA).
But, aggregate numbers generally mean little when it comes to wins and losses. As you know, at CHFF we believe it's all about efficiency and Quality Stats.
Unfortunately, the story doesn't get any better for Carolina's offense when you look at the Quality Stats. The Panthers finished dead last in:
  • Passing YPA (4.39 YPA) – almost 3.5 yards worse than the No. 1 Chargers (4.76 Passing YPA).
  • Scoreability (21.1 YPPS), 2.2 Yards Per Point Scored worse than the 31st-ranked Dolphins (18.94).
  • Offensive Passer Rating (56.96)
  • And Passer Rating Differential (-23.99) - and they had a fairly decent pass defense. It was the offense that made the Panthers the worst in the league in this critical measure of success.
In the interest of fairness, Scoreability and PRD are not exclusively offensive statistics – they can be influenced by other team units. 

OK.  Enough fairness.
We looked at the quarterback play in Carolina in 2010 and compared some of the stats to the worst passing offenses in the last 15 years.
We'll save the minutiae (including adjustments for changes in league-wide passing offenses) for a future MMWB, but the Panthers were right there with the worst – including the 1998 Chargers (Ryan Leaf anyone?), 1997 Saints and 2000 Cardinals. The 2010 Panthers generated the seventh worse passer rating – 57.0 - in the time period analyzed.
Cam Newton has his work cut out for him.
Seeking Consistency at the QB Position
[after Bobby demonstrates his tackling ability]
Coach Klein: Bobby, can you do that for me every game?
Bobby Boucher: Coach, not only will I do it for you, I... I... I... yes, yes, I'll do it for you.
In "The Waterboy," Bobby Boucher expresses a reserved confidence in his ability to produce game after game.
In the NFL, some teams wish their quarterbacks could do the same. Some quarterbacks' production wavered significantly depending on the quality of the opposing defense.
To get an idea of which quarterbacks play up or down to the competition, we ran an analysis that compared a quarterback's overall production to the passing defense of the opposing team, measuring each opponent by their Defensive Passer Rating (DPR).
The actual metric is a simple correlation between two variables – a player's production for each game and the average passing production allowed by the opponent (production was measured by QB rating and some fantasy metrics). A positive score indicates the player tends to take what they defense gives him. A lower - or  negative - score indicates that there is little or no relationship between a players output and the quality of the opponent.
Here are the results:
Player Team Metric
Josh Freeman TB 67.60%
Jason Campbell OAK 64.80%
David Garrard JAC 60.00%
Alex Smith SF 50.50%
Eli Manning NYG 44.40%
Peyton Manning IND 43.50%
Derek Anderson ARI 36.70%
Matt Cassel KC 36.00%
Matt Ryan ATL 35.70%
Mark Sanchez NYJ 28.90%
Shaun Hill DET 26.00%
Philip Rivers SD 25.80%
Jay Cutler CHI 24.30%
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 24.30%
Donovan McNabb WAS 23.80%
Michael Vick PHI 17.10%
Jon Kitna DAL 16.40%
Sam Bradford STL 14.60%
Joe Flacco BAL 13.30%
Tom Brady NE 10.90%
Matt Schaub HOU 9.40%
Carson Palmer CIN 8.90%
Matt Hasselbeck SEA 5.80%
Drew Brees NO 5.00%
Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF 3.90%
Brett Favre MIN 3.80%
Chad Henne MIA -3.70%
Kyle Orton DEN -21.20%
Aaron Rodgers GB -24.20%
The results were interesting.
ONE – Aaron Rodgers, Kyle Orton and Chad Henne were the quarterbacks who were least sensitive to the quality of the opponent's defense.  Of course, consistency doesn't always mean the same thing.
Rodgers was consistently great – making great defenses look bad.  Henne was consistently bad – making bad defenses look good.

Tampa Bay's Josh Freeman produced the highest score with a 67.6%.

Freeman impressively produced a rating of 100+ in seven different games in 2010.  However, five of those seven came against teams whose Defensive Passer Rating was below the league average of 82.2.  the other two came against the Carolina Panthers – who somehow had the 12th best DPR in the NFL last year.

Freeman faced two teams in the top five in DPR – posting a 67.1 against Pittsburgh (2nd in DPR) and a 67.6 against Baltimore (5th).
THREE –David Garrard had the third highest correlation between output and quality of the opponent. Consider:

In 2010, David Garrard produced a quarterback rating of 100+ in five different games. Those games were five of the six lowest rated teams in terms of Defensive Passer Rating – the Texans (32nd in DPR) , Broncos (30th), Cowboys (29th), Bills (28th) and Colts (27th).

For the record, the Jags ranked No. 31 in DPR, so Garrard produced against the five worst passing defenses he could possibly play.

Garrard played three games against teams in the top 11 in DPR – posting ratings of 62.1 against the Chargers (4th in DPR), 57.1 against the Giants (10th ) and 38.9 against the Eagles (11th).

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Waterboy Potpourri next Monday.