By Aaron Schatz
Special to Page 2

Note: Go to the bottom of the table for a more complete explanation of how Aaron's QB rating system works.

Peyton Manning has put up such insane numbers over the past few weeks that some fans are beginning to accuse him of padding his totals to get the record. (If you don't believe me, check any Colts message board on the Internet, or read this insanely long comment by a reader on my Web site.)

Peyton Manning
The Colts made the right choice when they selected Peyton Manning.

These accusations come in two flavors: first, Manning is throwing touchdown passes in the red zone instead of handing off to Edgerrin James; and second, Manning is throwing all the time even when he has a big lead. There's even a bit of conspiracy theory involved in the first accusation, with some people suggesting that Manning is deliberately keeping down Edge's numbers so he'll be more affordable when he needs a new contract after this season.

It sure seems like Manning has been throwing more than most quarterbacks, but perception doesn't always match reality. So I decided to compare Indy's pass/rush ratios to the NFL's pass/rush ratios in various situations to find out: is Manning really trying to pad his stats, or are people criticizing the Colts just "Manning haters"?

Let's start with the red zone. The average NFL team this season has passed on 49 percent of red-zone plays. The Colts have passed on 51 percent of red zone plays. Not much difference there. Goal-to-go situations? The average NFL team passes on 43 percent of those. The Colts have passed on 23 of 50, or 46 percent. That's only the difference of one or two plays.

If it seems like you never see James get a carry at the goal line, that's because for the last few weeks the Colts have hardly ever been near the goal line. In their last six games, the Colts have only run eight plays from the 5-yard line or closer, and five of those were against Houston in Week 10. Only one of these plays in the last six weeks was a run, but the Colts don't run near the goal line because James hasn't been very good from there, not because they want to pad Manning's stats. Edge has run nine times from the 1- or 2-yard line, and scored twice. Manning has thrown four times this year from the 1- or 2-yard line, and all four were touchdowns.

The other accusation is that the Colts pass with a big lead instead of running out the clock. This one, it turns out, is more accurate. With a lead of at least three scores (17 points or more) the Colts have passed 77 of 164 plays, 44 percent. The average NFL team passes on only 36 percent of the time. With a lead of at least two scores (10 points or more) in the second half, the Colts pass on 47 of 115 plays, 41 percent. The average NFL team passes on only 35 percent of plays.

So if you have been complaining that the Colts never run at the goal line, stop. They tried it, it didn't work very well, and they are hardly ever there anyway. But if you think Manning is running up the score with a lead, there is evidence to support your theory. Of course, if you had to depend on the Indianapolis defense to hold your leads, wouldn't you want a little extra cushion?

  • Get overall season rankings at footballoutsiders.com.

    SNAP JUDGMENT'S QB RANKINGS FOR WEEK 12
    Quarterback Skinny DPAR
    1. Peyton Manning
    23/28, 236 yards
    6 TDs, 0 INT
    By halftime, the only question left in this game was, "How do you pronounce 'Sorgi'?" 17.7
    2. Kelly Holcomb
    30/39, 413 yards
    5 TDs, 2 INTs
    This is the same Bengals defense that sacked Ben Roethlisberger seven times and kept him under 100 net passing yards a week ago. 13.2
    3. Drew Brees
    28/37, 378 yards
    2 TDs, 0 INTs
    104 rushing
    Man, Chargers fans could not be more psyched for the Philip Rivers Era! 12.3
    4. Donovan McNabb
    18/27, 244 yards
    1 TD, 0 INTs
    Goofy stat of the week: Has thrown for 424 yards behind his own 20-yard line, most in NFL. 11.9
    5. Brian Griese
    27/39, 347 yards
    2 TDs, 1 INT
    Note from FO writer Russell Levine: "It's not that he hasn't made mistakes this year -- yesterday's pick-six to Peppers being a prime example -- but when he does, he has shown the ability to bounce back. In past years, he always seemed to go into a shell when things went wrong." 11.9
    6. David Carr
    21/30, 201 yards
    2 TDs, 1 INT
    Much better game than conventional stats indicate because 1) Tennessee pass defense is very underrated and 2) Two third-down TD passes in red zone. 8.2
    7. Jake Delhomme
    14/21, 213 yards
    2 TDs, 1 INT
    Has remarkable knack for pulling big pass plays out of you know where. Game-winning TD to Colbert was a jump ball, but Delhomme's guys always seem to come down with those. 6.9
    8. Tom Brady
    15/30, 172 yards
    0 TDs, 0 INTs
    According to my ratings, Brady -- not McNabb, not Culpepper -- has been the No. 2 QB this year if you look at value per play. Dillon lets him throw less often than before. 5.8
    9. Drew Bledsoe
    25/37, 275 yards
    1 TD, 3 INTs
    Buffalo is reportedly petitioning league to move to NFC West. 5.2
    10. Steve McNair
    25/34, 227 yards
    3 TDs, 1 INT
    Was really humming through three quarters, but two fourth-quarter turnovers cost him this game. 5.0
    11. Quincy Carter
    8/12, 133 yards
    1 TD, 0 INTs
    Santana Moss TD vindicated Jets fans who have been complaining about conservative, predictable offense since Pennington went out. 4.1
    12. Ben Roethlisberger
    9/20, 131 yards
    0 TDs, 0 INTs
    Sacked as many times last two games (11) as entire season before that. One sack Sunday knocked Steelers out of field-goal range and led to an absurd SEVEN-yard punt. 2.8
    13. Daunte Culpepper
    19/27, 235 yards
    1 TD, 1 INT
    Escapes with a win, but Jaguars showed some ways to stop Vikings passing game: 1) Moss is clearly still hobbling and you don't have to cover him long like usual; 2) watch out for bootleg right followed by short pass to Onterrio Smith, which Vikings ran roughly 300 times. 2.5
    14. Vinny Testaverde
    9/14, 92 yards
    1 TD, 1 INT
    I know Henson was awful but does Tuna really think he's making a playoff run? 1.5
    15. Michael Vick
    16/29, 212 yards
    2 TDs, 1 INT
    69 rush
    Yes, he led the comeback, and the winning TD pass to Alge Crumpler was super sweet. But only two QBs this season, Ken Dorsey and Josh McCown, had fewer net passing yards against the Saints. 1.3
    16. Mike McMahon
    11/15, 77 yards
    0 TDs, 1 INT
    I do believe this game is listed in the dictionary under "showing up." 1.1
    17. Kerry Collins
    26/45, 339 yards
    4 TDs, 2 INTs
    A lot of TDs, a lot of yards, but also a lot of incompletions because he just kept throwing and throwing. Have you ever seen a team playing in snow run less? 0.9
    18. Carson Palmer
    22/29, 251 yards
    4 TDs, 3 INTs
    3 picks do a lot to cancel four TD passes, especially given how Palmer depended on Rudi Johnson to get in TD position. 0.9
    19. Trent Green
    21/34, 208 yards
    0 TDs, 1 INT
    Thanks, Trent, for messing up my fantasy week. 0.7
    20. Joey Harrington
    14/23, 156 yards
    0 TDs, 0 INTs
    You've gotta roll sevens against the Colts, not threes. 0-for-4 in the red zone just won't cut it. -0.1
    21. Jake Plummer
    14/23, 245 yards
    1 TD, 1 INT
    I kept waiting all night on Sunday for Theismann to refer to him as "the little girl with the curls" again. -0.5
    22. Byron Leftwich
    19/34, 235 yards
    1 TD, 0 INTs
    Troy Brown, who practices with his fellow Marshall alum in the offseason, once said Leftwich is the hardest throwing quarterback he's ever seen. After watching those first few passes Sunday, who would doubt him? Threw so hard that his own receivers couldn't catch them. -0.6
    23. Craig Krenzel
    5/10, 46 yards
    0 TDs, 0 INTs
    Injured ankle probably solidifies his title as 2004's least valuable quarterback. Total
    -37.9 DPAR for season is far below second-worst QB, Jay Fiedler at -23.3 DPAR.
    -0.8
    24. Matt Hasselbeck
    19/38, 185 yards
    1 TD, 1 INT
    He's been much worse on third downs this season (39% conversions, 5 INT) than last season (47% conversions, 2 INT). Engram's injury is partly to blame -- that guy was a third-down machine last year. -1.2
    25. Tim Rattay
    23/28, 181 yards
    0 TDs, 0 INTs
    Three weeks ago, was only bright spot on 49ers team going nowhere. Now there are no bright spots. -1.3
    26. Josh McCown
    5/10, 62 yards
    0 TDs, 2 INTs
    This week's quiz: Josh McCown next year will be a) holding clipboard for Drew Brees, b) placeholder for Aaron Rodgers, c) leading 7-9 Cardinals to NFC West title. -1.5
    27. Patrick Ramsey
    19/34, 138 yards
    1 TD, 1 INT
    Much of this can be blamed on the receivers. Laveranues Coles spent more effort trying to talk officials into calling pass interference than trying to catch passes. -1.5
    28. Shaun King
    14/26, 119 yards
    0 TDs, 1 INT
    Yep, it turns out he's not the answer either. -1.6
    29. Aaron Brooks
    19/34, 189 yards
    1 TD, 2 INTs
    Major slump here. Five of his last six games have been below replacement level. -1.6
    30. Drew Henson
    4/12, 31 yards
    0 TDs, 1 INT
    E-5 -4.5
    31. A.J. Feeley
    17/33, 159 yards
    2 TDs, 1 INT
    Fewest passing yards against SF defense. His two TD drives started at SF 34 and SF 21. -5.1
    32. Kyle Boller
    15/35, 93 yards
    0 TDs, 1 INT
    Snow or no snow, if you average less than five feet per pass attempt, you will go down and go down hard. -7.2
    33. Eli Manning
    6/21, 148 yards
    0 TDs, 2 INTs
    He's in the Xmas spirit, combining hideous red alternate jersey with an awfully green performance. -10.6
    34. Jonathan Quinn
    10/21, 86 yards
    0 TDs, 2 INTs
    "Do you hear that? That's JEFF GEORGE'S MUSIC!!!" (apologies to Jim Ross and Bill Simmons)

    -14.3

    How DPAR (Defense-adjusted Points Above Replacement) works

    The success of each play is judged based on yardage gained towards both a touchdown and a first down. Then each play gets compared to the NFL average on similar plays, based on down, distance, and other variables. Quarterbacks are judged not based on how many yards they get, but on how important those yards are in the context of the game.

    Ratings are also adjusted for the quality of the opposing defense. The quarterback's performance is then translated into an approximate number of actual points that such success (or failure) is worth when compared to a "replacement level" quarterback (defined as any quarterback named "Billy Joe").

    When all offensive, defensive, and special teams plays are added together for one team, the result comes very close to the actual difference between points scored and allowed.

    Among the advantages of this system:

    1. Gives value for first downs, which are not really included in any other QB rating system but are hugely important.

    2. Does not punish quarterbacks who are always in bad field position because of a poor defense, nor does it punish quarterbacks who are always stuck in third-and-long because of a poor running game.

    3. With enough data to begin including defensive adjustment, quarterbacks receive bonuses when they play well against good defenses, and they don't get rated as world-beaters when they shred the 49ers

    4. Includes both passing and rushing plays, which obviously helps a QB like Michael Vick.

    5. DPAR punishes quarterbacks for turnovers but also for fumbles that his own team recovers. Different kind of fumbles have different penalties depending on how often defense recovers for a turnover. Sacks are punished as well.

    6. 5-yard scramble on 3rd-and-10? Worthless!

    7. Actual points! Easy to understand!

    An even longer explanation of these numbers can be found here.

    Aaron Schatz is editor-in-chief of FootballOutsiders.com.




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