It’s been four games.
That’s what I plan to stress this week and the month ahead. A four game sample size is not enough for us to gather that players have “improved” or “declined” based on last season or that teams will have offensive and defensive tendencies that are sure to continue. If anything, let’s call the first month of the season more of a guarantee of what probably won’t happen for 13 more weeks.
Aaron Rodgers won’t finish with 52 touchdowns and no interceptions and the Packers will turn the ball over.
Russell Wilson won’t throw 64 touchdown passes.
Dak Prescott won’t have 6,790 passing yards on 808 attempts.
Myles Garrett won’t have 100 pressures.
The Bills won’t
go undefeated lose. Well, anything is possible.
To take a sample size of four games and make determinations on things like accuracy improvement or better ball security is damaging to the psyche of your future self. Is Rodgers that much more accurate and unstoppable this season as compared to the last five? He had 19 “bad throws” in a meaningless Week 17 game against the Lions last year, 10 more than he had in any other start. It impact his bad throw percentage and if you think that you know Rodgers is “more accurate” because of his bad throw percentage, I question if you actually do understand statistics.
Speaking of Green Bay, the team first in scoring, they have tied the 2016 Falcons for the fifth-most points through four games ever. Of the other five teams to score at least 152 points through four besides these Packers, all five failed to win the Super Bowl, all five averaged fewer points per game over their last 12 contests, and four of the five averaged more than a touchdown less per game after their hot starts. They were all contained in the playoffs by good defenses.
It’s been four games.
The following stats are not predictions or projections or statements on what will happen in the future. They are simply facts about the first four games. Interesting facts, plus what these stats mean to me.
72.1-percent, 1,063 yards, 6 TD, 2 INT, 8.7 Y/A, 108.1 rating, 73.8 QBR, 1 rush TD, 1 fumble, 4 sacks
Has Goff ever completed this many passes over a four game stretch? Indeed. Goff completed 76.7-percent of his passes from Weeks 2-5 in 2018 with 10 touchdowns and four interceptions, 11.2 Y/A. And then from Weeks 12-15 in 2019, Goff completed 69.75-percent of his passes with six touchdowns, but also five interceptions and 7.5 Y/A.
Goff’s 6.1 intended air yards per attempt is the second-lowest in the NFL, only ahead of Drew Brees at 5.6. The four quarterbacks ahead of them are Daniel Jones, Derek Carr, Cam Newton and Nick Mullens, in that order.
But because he’s completing a high percentage of his throws, Goff’s completed air yards per attempt of 4.0 ranks tied with Mullens for the 18th best in football. The 6.5 yards after catch per completion that Goff gets is the second-most in the NFL behind Justin Herbert. Only Herbert and Dwayne Haskins have a fewer percentage of their total passing yards coming via air yards.
Goff’s accuracy is good, he’s tied for fifth in completion percentage, but he is only 14th in bad throw percentage and 12th in on target percentage. Still, Goff has 17 “bad throws” this season and he never had that few over a four-game stretch in any time last year.
Goff’s 2.6 seconds of time in the pocket is tied with Lamar Jackson as the third-highest mark in the league. He leads the NFL with 64 play action pass attempts.
What it means to me: I think it is fair to say that through four games, against a mixed bag of defenses without an “elite” in the bunch yet, Goff has been proficient at running Sean McVay’s offense. It’s his fourth year in the system, so why shouldn’t he be comfortable at this point? Goff is not creating a ton of plays on his own, he’s completing a high percentage of short yardage throws, but he’s also avoiding mistakes and basically not Wentzing the season.
Let’s track how Goff and the offense performs in Week 6 and Week 7 against the San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears and then re-evaluate the numbers on both a general and game-by-game basis. Washington Football Team ranks third against the pass by DVOA.
43 carries, 223 yards, 5.2 YPC, 2.1 yards before contact, 3.0 yards after contact, 2 broken tackles
45 carries, 182 yards, 4 YPC, 2.6 YBC, 1.5 YAC, 1 broken tackle
There’s little evidence to suggest that Brown is a better option at running the football than Henderson is right now. Henderson’s better at winning outside and inside but Brown continues to get the majority of the snaps, probably because of his experience with the offense and blocking. Henderson is getting double the yards per carry after first contact but overall the Rams have four broken tackles on running plays.
What it means to me: The Rams drafted Cam Akers for this reason. They don’t love Henderson as an every down back, obviously, and neither of this players have taken full advantage of one of the best run blocking units in the early part of the season. LA also isn’t one of the teams dumping off a bunch of passes to backs but maybe they’d like to be and just don’t trust the players they currently have in the backfield.
Will Akers return this Sunday?
23 of 28 targets, 297 yards, 12.9 YPC, 10.6 YPT
19 of 26 targets, 228 yards, 12 YPC, 8.8 YPT
The Rams couldn’t get much going with their passing offense against the Giants until a 55-yard catch and run touchdown by Kupp midway through the fourth quarter. Kupp’s 7.6 yards of average depth of target was his deepest of the season and that has gone up each week: 3.8 to 4.3 to 7.2 to 7.6. Kupp had seven games in 2019 with an ADOT over 7.6, so I assume that Goff will continue to look deeper down the field for Kupp.
Kupp also had his first drop of the 2020.
Woods had six catches against New York but only 35 yards. His ADOT was 5.0 as compared to 2.3 in Week 1, 12.0 in Week 2 and 2.7 in Week 3. I expect his ADOT to regress up but this is clearly a much different Woods than the one that McVay was utilizing in 2018, when he had only one game with fewer than 8.7 ADOT.
In general, Goff is targeting Woods at less than five yards and then getting most yards after the catch. In 2019, Woods’ ADOT was 8.4 and in 2018 it was 11.4.
What it means to me: McVay is basically using Woods as a running back, whether that actually means handing the ball off to him or throwing to it to him at or behind the line of scrimmage. Sometimes it’s working but in two out of four games to start the season, it’s been mostly ineffective. At least directly speaking, it could have an impact on how defensive coordinators plan to stop it and then opening up opportunities for Kupp and others.
13 of 15 targets, 155 yards, 6.8 YBC, 5.2 YAC
Not much to add this week. Higbee caught three of four targets for 21 yards, another offensive weapon that was mostly contained by the Giants defense. Higbee’s ADOT of 4.3 was his lowest of any game since Week 6 of 2019 against the 49ers.
As posted Tuesday morning, the Rams rank third in run blocking by ProFootballFocus. SportsInfoSolutions has Andrew Whitworth and Austin Corbett has have zero blown pass blocks, one for Rob Havenstein and three for Austin Blythe. Corbett and Havenstein have zero blown run blocks, one each for Whitworth and Blythe. Take those numbers with a grain of salt. Take ‘em all that way.
Stock up on salt.