Every season is full of surprises. Here are five that caught my eye.
1. Ben Roethlisberger is leading the NFL in completion percentage at 71.6%. That’s higher than Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Kurt Warner. Roethlisberger has a 63% completion rate over his career. The offensive line, which has been so maligned, must be doing something right.
2. Cedric Benson leads the NFL in carries. I tried in vain to get Benson in my fantasy league. I remember having a discussion with an anguished Bears fan about Benson. He said he didn’t care what Benson did in 2008 against those mediocre teams on the Bengals’ schedule, he was certain CB would be a bust in ’09. So far so wrong. Sometimes our regrets about a player blind us to their advancement in new places. Benson’s on the right track and so are the Bengals.
3. The Washington Redskins are ranked sixth in the NFL in yards per play. The rest of the top 10:
- 1. Dallas (7.3)
- 2. Indianapolis (7.2)
- 3. New Orleans Saints (6.5) – *Kudos to Dick Jauron and company for limiting NO to 172 passing yards.
- 4. Baltimore Ravens (6.1)
- 5. San Diego Chargers (5.9)
- 6. Washington Redskins (5.8)
- 7. New York Giants (5.8)
- 8. Denver Broncos (5.8)
- 9. Houston Texans (5.7)
- 10. Philadelphia Eagles (5.7)
For me, the ‘Skins are the clear surprise here. Washington is tied with Detroit for 13th in pass attempts, but the Redskins are third in first downs achieved via the pass. They are averaging a pedestrian 4.0 yards per carry on the ground (17th in the league). Jason Campbell, who has completed 67.6% of his passes this season, also has a QB rating of 92.5.
4. Red Zone Efficiency. A great deal is often made of evaluating QB’s based on how well they perform in the Red Zone (inside the opponent’s 20 yard line). While these statistics do not tell the entire story, we can, in some instances, see a connection between a team’s struggles and these QB numbers.
- Peyton Manning. 5 of 10 for 27 yards. 2 TD, 1 INT. Rating 56.2
- Philip Rivers. 5 of 16 for 28 yards. 1 TD, 0 INT. Rating: 61.5
- Tom Brady. 10 of 23 for 81 yards. 2 TD, 0 INT. Rating 82.0
- Jason Campbell. 8 of 13 for 47 yards. 2 TD, 0 INT. Rating 108.0
- Ben Roethlisberger. 8 of 10 for 33 yards. 1 TD, 0 INT. Rating: 113.8
- Drew Brees. 13 of 19 for 106 yards. 6 TD, 0 INT. Rating: 121.9
The performance of Drew Brees isn’t surprising in the least. Frankly, I’m surprised that Jason Campbell’s numbers look so good here. It’s not that I didn’t think he could do it. I just didn’t think he WAS doing it. The team has struggled to score points since Week 9 of the 2008 season. As stated above, there is more to this than the passing game and the QB.
With targets like Antonio Gates, Vincent Jackson, Malcolm Floyd and Chris Chambers, Philip Rivers should have better numbers than he does. I haven’t watched the Chargers closely enough this season to discern the problem, but this statistic must change if this team is going to compete and make the deep playoff run that people have been waiting for since 2004.
5. The New York Jets and New York Giants are ranked first and second in pass defense (yards per pass attempt). Quarterbacks have a rating of 49.2 vs. the Giants and 50.2 vs. the Jets. That’ll get you benched — if you’re Byron Leftwich, but not if you’re Tony Romo (29.6 vs. the Giants) or Kerry Collins (41.5 vs. the Jets).