Saturday, April 11, 2020

NFL20 Update

More on Pro Football Reference's AVs, which as previously noted, I don't know that much about ...

Of the 12 NFL19 playoff teams, three had a starting quarterback with an AV of less than 14, and none had a starting QB with an AV below 11. Of the 20 teams that did not make the NFL19 playoffs, three had starting quarterbacks with AV of 14 or greater, and 11 had starting QBs of sub-11 AVs.

Furthermore, nine of the 12 playoff teams had at least four players (of any position) with AVs of four or more. Three of the 20 non-playoff teams had that many.

So this morning, with the all four of the females in my house still gloriously asleep, I'm prepared to announce two findings from my analysis:

-- You've got to have a handful of very good players.
-- One of them better be your quarterback.

The NFL19 Dolphins didn't really have either of these attributes. They won five games, and I think they actually overachieved. Thirty-seven-year-old Ryan Fitzpatrick was their only player with an AV in the double digits, and his was a 10. It was only the fourth time in his 15-year career (and first time since 2015) to reach such heights. I love Ryan Fitzpatrick. I'm not sure if it was him or Brian Flores who is primarily responsible for the NFL19 Dolphins having even as little success as they had, but it sure looks to me like it had to be one of them, and, so, I'm glad they are both back to be part of the NFL20 team.

Speaking of which, ...

The Dolphins have picked up a 29-year-old linebacker in the offseason, Kyle Van Noy, and this appears to be a really great move. He immediately has the best NFL19 AV (13) among the NFL20 Dolphins; plus, it took one away from the Patriots' NFL19-leading pile of 10 of those guys (Tom Brady is gone, too, leaving New England with eight, which still would've finished second in the league). 

Van Noy was a second-round draft pick in NFL14. His AVs with Detroit were ones in both of his first two seasons, and then he became a starter at linebacker in the first seven games of NFL16. His AV with the Lions that season bumped up to a three. In October of that year, he was traded to New England.

Van Noy started at linebacker each of the three seasons with the Patriots, and here went his AVs: seven, 10 and 13. Flores, of course, was part of the coaching staff with New England in each of Van Noy's first seasons there.

So, anyway, he's a great add for Miami, and I am hopeful that Flores targeted him because he knows precisely how to use him ...

Oh,wait ... ladies are up ... continued in the comments ...


  1. OK, so Van Noy ... good. He seems pretty likely to be one very good player for NFL20. That's one.

  2. Fitzpatrick played better at the end of NFL19 than he played at the beginning. Plus, the Dolphins' new offensive coordinator, Chan Gailey, was Fitzpatrick's head coach at Buffalo in NFL11 and NFL12 and offensive coordinator with the Jets in NFL15--those were the other three seasons of double-digit AVs in Fitzpatrick's career. So, anyway, maybe Fitzpatrick in NFL20 is a very good player. That would be two.

    1. I'm not going to lie. The comps are not in Fitzpatrick's favor here. Pro Football Reference lists for a given player other "players whose career was of similar quality and shape" after a certain number of seasons. Part-time-starting late-1970s Billy Kilmer, early-2000s Chris Chandler or early-2010s Kerry Collins are among the most hopeful models you can find for the possible Ryan Fitzpatrick of NFL20 and beyond.

      The absolute best case among the Pro Football Reference comps is Craig Morton. After his Super Bowl season with the "Orange Crush" Broncos of NFL77--in his 13th year, at age 34, when he had an AV of 12--Morton continued to be Denver's primary starting quarterback for four more seasons. His AVs were seven, seven, eight and--in his 17th year, at age 38--10. This was NFL81, and Morton started 15 games as the Broncos went 10-6 and just missed the AFC playoffs. Morton threw for a career-high 3,195 yards that season, had a 95-yard touchdown pass and was sacked a league-leading 54 times.

      The next (strike-shortened) season, Morton missed all but three games, as the Broncos slipped to 2-7 and turned mostly to Steve DeBerg. And then Morton retired, and John Elway arrived in NFL83.

  3. It would be great if DeVante Parker's fifth NFL season turns out to not be the highlight of his career. The Dolphins' NFL15 first-round draft choice had an AV of nine in NFL19, after injury-riddled seasons of two, six, five and two. It could be that the Dolphins were so inept last season that opposing defenses played super-conservatively against them, content to just prevent giant plays and allowing Fitzpatrick and Parker to record some impressive but mostly harmless statistics.

    It could very well be.

    But that's no fun to think about, and so let's be hopeful that our old friend from Louisville Ballard is ready to take another leap forward in his development. Maybe he's a third very good player on the NFL20 roster.

  4. After this, however, we are down to hope for veteran breakout/comeback seasons--one or more of, perhaps, running back Jordan Howard, tight end Mike Gesicki, center Ted Karras, guard Ereck Flowers, defensive ends Christian Wilkins or Shaq Lawson, linebacker Jerome Baker or Raekwon McMillan, cornerbacks Byron Jones or Xavien Howard?

  5. Or, of course, there's hitting the lottery in the April 23-25 draft.

  6. In NFL19, there were four rookies who logged double-digit AVs. The No. 1 overall pick, quarterback Kyler Murray, was a 14 for Arizona; the No. 2, defensive end Nick Bosa, was an 11 for San Francisco. Then there was a second rounder, Tennessee wide receiver A.J. Brown, and sixth, Jacksonville quarterback Gardner Minshew, who each had 10s.

  7. Miami is currently slated to pick No. 5 in the first round, and it sets up reasonably likely that the Dolphins could actually end up there with the guy who turns out to be the best prospect in the entire draft class, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, because of his injury concerns. That would be freaking amazing, if the Dolphins draft Tua, he turns out to be healthy and he racks up season after season of AVs in the high teens and 20s. That would be amazing!

  8. But I'll tell you what would stink is if the poor kid ended up with injury-dashed careers that look like Greg Cook's or Robert Griffin III's. Man, I root for Robert Griffin III. I would love it if that guy some day came back to have a great season for somebody (other than the Patriots) at quarterback.

  9. There is plenty of talk that the Dolphins are trying to trade up to get Louisiana State quarterback Joe Burrow, who is probably going to end up getting picked first overall one way or another.

  10. Here are the last 12 quarterbacks to be picked No. 1 overall and their rookie-season AVs:

    -- Kyler Murray 14
    -- Baker Mayfield 10
    -- Jared Goff -2
    -- Jameis Winston 13
    -- Andrew Luck 13
    -- Cam Newton 19
    -- Sam Bradford 9
    -- Matthew Stafford 3
    -- JaMarcus Russell 1
    -- Alex Smith -3
    -- Eli Manning -1
    -- Carson Palmer 8

  11. That's an average AV of seven. But I think the more correct takeaway from that list is that quarterbacks drafted No. 1 overall tend to be as likely to be really very good from the very start as they are really not ready (or at least really not ready to prevail with a really bad team around him). And I mean that's an encouraging thing. And, by the way, three of those 12 guys have already played in Super Bowls. I mean that as an encouraging thing, too.

  12. So, in the spirit of having to have several very good players but needing one of them to be your quarterback, ...

    + the fact that Ryan Fitzpatrick is already 37
    + the fact that the Dolphins have a slew of draft picks next year
    - the fact that Tua might turn out to be better than Burrow, anyway
    = gosh, I just don't know.

  13. On balance, I think I'm most hopeful that the Dolphins feel out the Bengals to exactly what it would take to trade up to No. 1, and, basically, the answer is there is no answer:

    -- We had Greg Cook, and he was going to be great, but then he got hurt.

    -- We picked up Virgil Carter off the scrap heap, and he was OK.

    -- We got Ken Anderson in the third round, and he was very good for a long time and great some years (but that was because Dad was a genius).

    -- We got Boomer Esiason in the second round, and was very good for a good while and great a few years.

    -- We got David Klingler at No. 6 overall, and he was never much good at all.

    -- We got Jeff Blake off the scrap heap, and, you know, he was very good and actually almost great there for a couple of years.

    -- We got Akili Smith at No. 3 overall, and he was never much good at all.

    -- We got Jon Kitna off the scrap heap, and was mostly OK, though occasionally quite good.

    -- We got Carson Palmer No. 1 overall, and he was very good some years and great a couple, and I wonder what would've happened had he never got hurt.

    -- And we got Andy Dalton in the second round, and he was very good for a long time (but never great).


    = gosh, I just don't know. Let's just take Burrow.

  14. And then I hope Miami gets Tua (and that he's great forever).

  15. And you know what else I hope? I hope the Patriots don't get Cam Newton or Jameis Winston.

  16. But most of all what I hope is that there is an NFL20. Dear Lord, please end this virus.

  17. Updated final prediction: eight wins, last berth in expanded AFC playoffs, Super-Bowl champions.