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Week 5 Quick Reads | Football Outsiders

13 min read
Week 5 Quick Reads | Football Outsiders


by Vincent Verhei

I want you to chase me
Keep me awake at night
Make it hard to sleep

Those are the lyrics sung by country duo Alexa and Natalee Falk from their 2012 single “Chase Me,” telling an eligible bachelor that while a young lady was interested in him, she was going to play hard to get. It’s not much of a stretch, though, to apply those bars to the Falks’ brother, Luke, and his performance against the Philadelphia Eagles this weekend. Whether he wanted them to or not, the Eagles certainly did chase him. And based on the beating he took, they may well have kept him awake at night and made it hard to sleep.

Luke Falk may not have the stage experience of his sisters, but he knows what it’s like to perform in front of crowds. He set Utah state records for pass attempts in high school, and in three-plus seasons as a starter at Washington State he set Pac-12 records for attempts, completions, yards, and touchdowns.

All those gaudy numbers did little to excite NFL scouts, however. He was drafted in the sixth round in 2018 by Tennessee, but failed to make the Titans’ final roster. The Dolphins signed him to their practice squad, but his season ended that October due to a wrist injury. He spent this summer in camp with the Jets, who waived him and signed him to their practice squad, then promoted him to the active roster when Sam Darnold was diagnosed with mononucleoisis.

A few days later Falk found himself playing most of the game against the Browns on Monday Night Football after Darnold’s backup Trevor Siemian suffered a first-quarter ankle injury. And for a third-stringer playing with such little preparation, he looked fine — he avoided throwing an interception while completing 80% of his passes, even if most of them didn’t end up going very far. Things were much rougher in Week 3 against New England — Falk threw for fewer than 100 yards while giving up an interception and being sacked five times — but then New England’s defense has been historically great this season, making everyone look bad. With a bye in Week 4, Falk would basically have two weeks to prepare for the Eagles in Week 5, and surely he and the Jets would put that practice time to good use, right?

Well. Funny story…

Despite the fact that Darnold had not been cleared by doctors, and despite an initial diagnosis that he might not be cleared until Halloween, and despite the quarterback’s realistic worries about literal death if he was forced back into action too early, word broke Sunday morning that Jets coach Adam Gase had been giving Darnold first-team reps in practice, relegating Falk to scout team duty until last Friday. This meant that Falk would be making his first two NFL starts against the winners of the last two Super Bowls without a full week of practice for either one of them (the Patriots game, you’ll recall, was played on a short week after Falk’s debut on Monday night).

The results were predictably poor. Falk completed 15 of 26 passes against the Eagles for only 120 yards and no touchdowns. This was not against the mighty Patriots; the Eagles had already given up 380 yards and three touchdowns to Case Keenum, 320 yards and three touchdowns to Matt Ryan, 422 yards and two touchdowns to Aaron Rodgers this season. It’s the negative plays that really made the difference though. “Always follow when I run,” the Falk sisters sang, and boy howdy did the Eagles follow the Jets quarterback when he ran. Falk’s first dropback against Philadelphia resulted in a sack, and his last dropback against Philadelphia resulted in a sack. In between, he was sacked seven more times. Falk gave up more sacks in four quarters than Tom Brady, Jacoby Brissett, Derek Carr, Jared Goff, Patrick Mahomes, Dak Prescott, or Carson Wentz have given up in five starts apiece in 2019. Falk made a bad situation worse with an inability to hang onto the football, fumbling twice and throwing a pair of interceptions.

It really was an historic performance for Falk. According to Pro Football Reference, this is just the second time in league history that a quarterback has given up nine sacks, two fumbles, and two interceptions in a single game. The other was Cam Newton in a 2014 game against … the Philadelphia Eagles, of all teams. Newton was at least able to shake off his early struggles that day and redeem himself somewhat with a pair of garbage-time touchdown throws. Falk was actually at his worst at the end of the game against Philadelphia — he was somehow sacked on each of his last four dropbacks.

The play-by-play shows some even uglier splits. When the Jets even approached the 50-yard line, Falk was nearly useless. From his own 45-yard line to the Philadelphia end zone, he went 3-of-10 for 17 yards with three sacks, an interception, and a fumble. Two of those plays resulted in touchdowns — for the Eagles. On third and fourth downs, he went 3-of-8 for 34 yards with an interception and four sacks. Only two of those completions picked up first downs, and they both came with the Jets down by 18 points in the fourth quarter. Falk didn’t even throw a pass to the middle of the field — that part of the playbook must have been covered when Darnold was practicing.

Was this the worst game of the week? Yes. Was it the worst game of the year? Also yes. In fact, it was one of the worst games we have ever measured. Exactly where it falls on the all-time table is yet to be determined; opponent adjustments and league baselines will fluctuate throughout the season. If the Eagles defense plays like gangbusters over the next three months, Falk’s DYAR numbers will improve; if the Eagles fall apart (and with five defensive backs on the injury list this week, that is certainly possible), this could be the new Worst Game of the DVOA Era. Going into Monday Night Football this week, it ranks as the fourth-worst game on record, and the worst game since Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a half-dozen interceptions in 2016 while playing for … the New York Jets.

Worst Quarterback Games, Total DYAR, 1989-2019
Player Team Year Wk CP/AT Yds TD Int Sacks Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
David Klingler CIN 1994 4 10/30 115 0 3 7 -302 -302 0 HOIL
Ryan Fitzpatrick NYJ 2016 3 20/44 188 0 6 0 -300 -291 -9 KC
Rex Grossman CHI 2006 6 14/37 144 0 4 2 -284 -284 0 ARI
Luke Falk NYJ 2019 5 15/26 120 0 2 9 -278 -278 0 PHI
Brandon Weeden CLE 2012 1 12/35 118 0 4 2 -274 -284 10 PHI
Alex Smith SF 2005 5 9/23 74 0 4 5 -270 -263 -7 IND
Tim Hasselbeck WAS 2003 15 6/26 56 0 4 1 -270 -268 -2 DAL
Troy Aikman DAL 1990 6 9/25 61 0 2 4 -269 -259 -11 PHX
Donald Hollas OAK 1998 14 12/31 152 1 6 8 -266 -273 7 MIA
Brian Griese DEN 2001 17 16/32 151 1 4 5 -265 -272 7 IND
Kordell Stewart CHI 2003 1 14/34 95 1 3 5 -263 -256 -7 SF
Craig Erickson TB 1993 6 13/29 122 0 4 3 -259 -257 -3 MIN
Ryan Leaf SD 1998 3 1/15 4 0 2 2 -259 -256 -3 KC
Vinny Testaverde TB 1989 13 19/39 188 0 5 4 -256 -256 0 GB
Bobby Hoying PHI 1998 11 16/34 118 0 2 5 -255 -248 -7 WAS
Kelly Stouffer SEA 1992 13 12/21 109 0 2 5 -254 -254 0 DEN
Vinny Testaverde TB 1990 9 10/24 149 1 5 3 -250 -260 11 CHI
Teddy Bridgewater MIN 2014 6 23/37 188 0 3 8 -250 -257 7 DET
David Carr HOU 2002 2 6/25 87 0 2 9 -247 -258 11 SD
Drew Bledsoe NE 1999 11 16/34 201 1 5 4 -247 -247 0 MIA
DYAR totals accurate going into Monday Night Football in Week 5; they will change as opponent adjustments fluctuate throughout the year.

 

Quarterbacks

Rk

Player

Team

CP/AT

Yds

TD

INT

Sacks

Total
DYAR

Pass
DYAR

Rush
DYAR

Opp

1.

Deshaun Watson HOU

28/33

426

5

0

0

279

278

1

ATL

The Texans eventually won this game by 21 points, but for most of the time it was much closer than that — none of Watson’s passes came with a lead of more than nine points. Watson was at his best late in the game — on Houston’s last three drives, he went 11-of-12 for 184 yards and three touchdowns. On third downs, he went 9-of-10 for 187 yards and seven conversions, including two touchdowns.

2.

Russell Wilson SEA

17/23

268

4

0

1

192

187

5

LAR

Wilson was a monster in Rams territory, going 7-of-9 for 108 yards and four touchdowns on L.A.’s side of the 50. He completed five of six deep passes for 150 yards and a touchdown.

3.

Teddy Bridgewater NO

26/34

314

4

1

0

140

141

-1

TB

Bridgewater’s another passer who delivered once crossing the 50, going 11-of-12 for 128 yards and four touchdowns.

4.

Gardner Minshew JAX

26/44

374

2

0

2

120

107

13

CAR

Minshew would have ranked even higher, but he had three fumbles — two on sacks, one on an aborted snap. He had great success on passes to receivers at or behind the line of scrimmage: 7-of-11 for 56 yards and an NFL-high five first downs this week.

5.

Kirk Cousins MIN

22/27

306

2

0

3

100

100

0

NYG

Cousins’ best success came on throws that traveled 9 to 24 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. He completed all seven of his passes to that area for a total of 146 yards. All seven of those completions picked up first downs, including a pair of scores.

6.

Derek Carr OAK

25/32

229

0

0

0

89

85

4

CHI

Carr’s first throw over the middle was complete for a 21-yard gain. He didn’t pick up another first down on a throw down the middle the rest of the game, going 3-of-8 for 19 yards.

7.

Matt Ryan ATL

32/46

330

3

1

2

81

72

10

HOU

Sometimes completion percentage can be overrated. Ryan went completed all 11 of his passes to his running backs, but for a total of just 85 yards and only two first downs (though one of those was a touchdown).

8.

Dak Prescott DAL

27/44

462

2

3

3

80

78

2

GB

On five third-down dropbacks, Prescott had three incompletions and two sacks. Not ideal.

9.

Jared Goff LAR

29/49

395

1

1

0

79

84

-5

SEA

Goff was erratic but explosive on throws down the middle. He only completed seven of his 13 passes to that area of the field, but each of those seven completions was good for a first down, including a touchdown, and they produced a total of 137 yards.

10.

Kyler Murray ARI

20/31

253

0

0

1

77

45

32

CIN

Murray had a lot of short passes that didn’t go anywhere, but when he did throw downfield he was very effective. On throws that traveled at least 10 yards downfield, he went 8-of-11 for 176 yards.

11.

Andy Dalton CIN

27/38

262

2

0

1

69

82

-13

ARI

Dalton, frankly, was horrible in this game until the end. Once the Bengals fell behind by 14 points, he caught fire, finishing 10-of-11 for 144 yards. Both of his touchdowns came in the final five minutes of the game.

12.

Carson Wentz PHI

17/29

189

1

0

1

45

52

-6

NYJ

Wentz had one heck of a cold streak in the first half. On a dozen consecutive dropbacks, he went 4-of-11 for 27 yards with no first downs and a sack. That includes incomplete passes on third- and fourth-and-5 in Jets territory.

Rk

Player

Team

CP/AT

Yds

TD

INT

Sacks

Total
DYAR

Pass
DYAR

Rush
DYAR

Opp

13.

Devlin Hodges PIT

7/9

68

0

0

0

43

34

9

BAL

It’s harder to excuse Luke Falk’s performance as that of a third-stringer with little preparation when Hodges — also a third-stringer with little preparation — plays this efficiently, even in a tiny sample size. Hodges was successful on six of his ten throws this week, including a DPI that gained 7 yards. Among qualifying passers this week, only Deshaun Watson had a higher success rate. Falk was successful on eight of 35 throws, for the worst success rate of the week.

14.

Tom Brady NE

28/42

348

3

1

4

43

43

0

WAS

Most of Brady’s struggles came on third downs, where he went 7-of-9 for 74 yards, but only four conversions (including a touchdown). He also threw an interception and was sacked twice on third downs.

15.

Aaron Rodgers GB

22/34

237

0

0

2

40

41

-1

DAL

Rodgers only had three first downs on throws to his wide receivers, going 4-of-12 for 55 yards, plus a 39-yard DPI.

16.

Jimmy Garoppolo SF

20/29

181

2

0

2

40

55

-16

CLE

17.

Patrick Mahomes KC

22/39

321

1

0

4

28

25

4

IND

Mahomes was uncharasterically ineffective in the red zone, where he went 1-of-5 for 4 yards with two sacks and no first downs.

18.

Jacoby Brissett IND

18/29

151

0

1

0

15

7

8

KC

Third-down passing: 2-of-8 for 16 yards and only one conversion. He had only one first down in the second half, when he went 6-of-10 for 35 yards.

19.

Kyle Allen CAR

17/30

181

1

0

3

13

14

-1

JAX

With about six minutes left in the second quarter, something amazing happened … or rather, didn’t happen. It was the first time this season that Allen was sacked without fumbling. He took two more sacks in the game, fumbling once. Allen now has a league-high six fumbles on sacks this season. In second place: his counterpart in this game, Gardner Minshew, who has five.

20.

Josh Allen BUF

23/32

219

2

1

4

3

0

3

TEN

Allen really struggled when throwing to his right, going 7-of-15 for 48 yards and only two first downs.

21.

Marcus Mariota TEN

13/22

183

0

0

5

-1

2

-3

BUF

Third-down passing: 3-of-8 for 31 yards with more sacks (three) than conversions (two).

22.

Mason Rudolph PIT

13/20

131

1

0

1

-4

-4

0

BAL

Only four of Rudolph’s completions gained 10 or more yards. Those four plays produced 53 yards through the air, 40 yards after the catch.

Rk

Player

Team

CP/AT

Yds

TD

INT

Sacks

Total
DYAR

Pass
DYAR

Rush
DYAR

Opp

23.

Jameis Winston TB

15/27

204

2

0

6

-33

-30

-3

NO

Winston was great on throws over the middle, going 5-of-6 for 76 yards, with every completion picking up a first down.

24.

Chase Daniel CHI

22/30

231

2

2

4

-43

-42

-1

OAK

The good thing about Daniel’s day on deep balls is that he went 5-of-6 for 116 yards and a touchdown. The bad thing is that the sixth pass was intercepted.

25.

Daniel Jones NYG

21/38

182

1

1

4

-73

-84

11

MIN

Jones threw a bunch of passes to his backs and tight ends. It didn’t work — he went 9-of-15 for 58 yards with only two first downs.

26.

Joe Flacco DEN

14/20

182

1

1

3

-76

-75

-2

LAC

Flacco only threw for one first down in the second half, when he went 6-of-9 for 40 yards with an interception and two sacks.

27.

Philip Rivers LAC

33/47

211

0

2

0

-98

-87

-11

DEN

Rivers averaged only 6.6 yards per completion. Only once in NFL history has a quarterback had more completions in a game with such a poor average: In 2001, Carolina’s Chris Weinke averaged 6.2 yards on 36 completions in a 30-7 loss to Arizona.

28.

Lamar Jackson BAL

19/28

161

1

3

5

-102

-117

14

PIT

Jackson had a stretch in the middle of this game where he apparently just forgot how to play football. In seven dropbacks over the second and third quarters, he had one completion, a 7-yard gain on third-and-13; three interceptions; and three sacks.

29.

Colt McCoy WAS

18/27

119

0

1

6

-120

-129

9

NE

I’ve been writing for Football Outsiders since 2007, and I don’t remember ever seeing this split before: McCoy played the entire game for Washington, and he didn’t have a single dropback in the opponents’ territory. He had one pass at the 50; it was incomplete. On third downs, he went 3-of-7 for 12 yards with one conversion, three sacks, and a fumble. He only threw for five first downs in this game. That’s as many as Devlin Hodges produced in 10 dropbacks against Baltimore.

30.

Baker Mayfield CLE

9/22

100

0

2

4

-185

-185

0

SF

31.

Luke Falk NYJ

15/26

120

0

2

9

-270

-270

0

PHI

 

Five Best Running Backs by DYAR (Total)

Rk

Player

Team

Runs

Rush
Yds

Rush
TD

Rec

Rec
Yds

Rec
TD

Total
DYAR

Rush
DYAR

Rec
DYAR

Opp

1.

Aaron Jones GB

19

107

4

7/8

75

0

80

51

29

DAL

You’ve probably heard by now that Jones ran for four touchdowns against Dallas, but he had six other first downs too, six of them on gains of 10 yards or more. That more than offset the four times he was stuffed for no gain or a loss (including a 10-yard loss on first-and-10, which, wow). He had three more first downs as a receiver, the longest a gain of 22 yards.

2.

Christian McCaffrey CAR

19

176

2

6/9

61

1

52

22

30

JAX

McCaffrey loses 28 DYAR due to opponent adjustments. He was stuffed three times, once on fourth-and-1, but he ran for six first downs, the longest an 84-yarder. He had five more first downs as a receiver.

3.

Josh Jacobs OAK

26

123

2

3/4

20

0

52

48

4

CHI

Jacobs was stuffed just one time by the Bears while running for eight first downs, including gains of 12, 15, and 21 yards. He had one first down as a receiver, a 10-yard gain on second-and-8.

4.

Sony Michel NE

16

91

1

3/3

32

0

50

31

19

WAS

Michel had four first downs against Washington, each of which gained at least 11 yards and came in a five-carry stretch in the second half. He was also stuffed four times. Two of his catches also gained at least 11 yards and a first down.

5.

Chris Carson SEA

27

118

0

1/2

5

1

46

34

12

LAR

Carson had 12 carries with 8 yards or less to go and ran for a first down on eight of them. He was stuffed for a loss four times. His one reception was a go-ahead fourth-quarter touchdown on fourth-and-goal.

 

Five Best Running Backs by DYAR (Rushing)

Rk

Player

Team

Runs

Rush
Yds

Rush
TD

Rec

Rec
Yds

Rec
TD

Total
DYAR

Rush
DYAR

Rec
DYAR

Opp

1.

Aaron Jones GB

19

107

4

7/8

75

0

80

51

29

DAL

2.

Josh Jacobs OAK

26

123

2

3/4

20

0

52

48

4

CHI

3.

Chris Carson SEA

27

118

0

1/2

5

1

46

34

12

LAR

4.

Sony Michel NE

16

91

1

3/3

32

0

50

31

19

WAS

5.

Phillip Lindsay DEN

15

114

1

4/4

33

0

38

26

12

LAC

Five of Lindsay’s carries gained 12 yards or more, the longest a 32-yarder, and he also had a 4-yard touchdown run. He was stuffed three times.

 

Worst Running Back by DYAR (Total)

Rk

Player

Team

Runs

Rush
Yds

Rush
TD

Rec

Rec
Yds

Rec
TD

Total
DYAR

Rush
DYAR

Rec
DYAR

Opp

1.

Melvin Gordon LAC

12

31

0

4/6

7

0

-41

-22

-20

DEN

Welcome back to football Melvin! Here are six targets in the passing game, which you will turn into two receptions: 2- and 5-yard gains, both on first-and-10.

 

Worst Running Back by DYAR (Rushing)

Rk

Player

Team

Runs

Rush
Yds

Rush
TD

Rec

Rec
Yds

Rec
TD

Total
DYAR

Rush
DYAR

Rec
DYAR

Opp

1.

Melvin Gordon LAC

12

31

0

4/6

7

0

-41

-22

-20

DEN

Welcome back to football Melvin! Here are 12 carries in the running game, none of which will gain a first down or more than 7 yards, while three will go for no gain.

 

Five Best Wide Receivers and Tight Ends by DYAR

Rk

Player

Team

Rec

Att

Yds

Avg

TD

Total
DYAR

Opp

1.

Michael Thomas NO

11

13

182

16.5

2

88

TB

Nine of Thomas’ 11 catches produced first downs. He had four third-down conversions, two touchdowns, and gains of 34 and 42 yards.

2.

Amari Cooper DAL

11

14

226

20.5

1

87

GB

Cooper had seven first downs; five of them gained 20-plus yards, including a 46-yard gain on second-and-15 and a 53-yard touchdown.

3.

DJ Chark JAX

8

11

164

20.5

2

84

CAR

Each of Chark’s catches gained at least 10 yards and a first down. Three of them gained 30 yards or more, the longest a 37-yard touchdown in the first quarter.

4.

Chris Godwin TB

7

9

125

17.9

2

71

NO

Each of Godwin’s catches gained at least 10 yards and a first down. Three gained exactly 26 yards apiece; two of those came with 16 yards or more to go.

5.

Adam Thielen MIN

7

8

130

18.6

2

68

NYG

Each of Thielen’s catches gained at least 9 yards and a first down. His longest catches were gains of 28 and 44 yards.

 

Worst Wide Receiver or Tight End by DYAR

Rk

Player

Team

Rec

Att

Yds

Avg

TD

Total
DYAR

Opp

1.

Diontae Johnson PIT

4

7

27

6.8

0

-47

BAL

Only one of Johnson’s catches was a successful play, a 7-yard gain on first-and-10. He also had a 13-yard gain on third-and-8, but he fumbled at the end of the play. Pittsburgh recovered the ball and got a first down, but it still torpedoed Johnson’s DYAR.


http://www.footballoutsiders.com/quick-reads/2019/week-5-quick-reads

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