Noles in the NFL Week 16: All I Want for Christmas is an Offensive Rookie of the Year Award

We're two weeks from the end of the season, which means that those writers who don't have playoff hopes to write about focus their attention on award season. In particular, Jameis Winston has received a ton of support for Offensive Rookie of the Year. Winston's stiffest competition will most likely be Todd Gurley, running back for the Rams, with fellow rookie QB Marcus Mariota and standout receiver Amari Cooper trailing just behind. Most rookies go through ups and downs during their first seasons, and Winston has been no different. Pretty much every week we see mentions of how Jameis "looked" in that week's game, but rarely was it put into context. After all, looking bad against a D like the Panthers is not the same as looking bad against a D like the Saints. To try to parse Winston's season, I put together the following chart (to spoil the suspense, Jameis is "Player 1"), which compares actual QB rating performance against the opponent aggregate rating against and picks out significant divergences from the norm (which is an arbitrarily selected/eyeballed 20 rating points). Green marks indicate the QB significantly outplayed what would be expected given the defense he was going against, while red marks indicate poor performances relative to the aggregate. I wish I could have done the same thing with other measures like QBR but was limited in what stats I had on hand for defenses this season.

Player 1 Player 2 Player 3
Game Rating Opponent Agg Rating Against "+/-" Game Rating Opponent Agg Rating Against "+/-" Game Rating Opponent Agg Rating Against "+/-"
1 64 102.7 -38.7 1 52.9 71.3 -18.4 1 158.3 100.5 57.8
2 114.6 116.5 -1.9 2 107.5 92.3 15.2 2 96.3 102.1 -5.8
3 69.3 87.1 -17.8 3 75.7 89.8 -14.1 3 84.2 89.4 -5.2
4 57 71.8 -14.8 4 81 76.8 4.2 4 68.1 88.1 -20
5 122.5 96.3 26.2 5 51.3 78.2 -26.9 5 67.6 100.2 -32.6
6 128.1 96.2 31.9 6 74.8 86.6 -11.8 6 135.7 116.5 19.2
7 85 86.6 -1.6 7 89.5 92.7 -3.2 7 72.4 71.8 0.6
8 74.7 95.1 -20.4 8 105.6 83.4 22.2 8 82 96.3 -14.3
9 55.9 90.8 -34.9 9 80.1 89.8 -9.7 9 69.4 87.6 -18.2
10 131.6 90.4 41.2 10 63.2 86.9 -23.7 10 118.2 96.3 21.9
11 74.4 89.4 -15 11 71.9 84.4 -12.5 11 65.5 78.3 -12.8
12 89.6 86.6 3 12 70.8 91.7 -20.9 12 66 83.3 -17.3
13 83.1 116.5 -33.4 13 50.6 92.7 -42.1
14 85.7 90.9 -5.2 14 95.6 80 15.6

As you can see, Jameis has had significant ups and downs, though I would posit that some of the downs are not helped by the fact that QB rating does not take into account drops. In any event, compared to the fellow rookies in the table, Jameis doesn't have an inordinate number of true poor games in his first NFL season, but the number (and quality) of the positive games is encouraging (that performance he put in against Philadelphia being the most noteworthy).

For comparison, Player 3 is Marcus Mariota, who is hurt (again) and won't be generating any more stats this season. Mariota was largely average this season, with his standout performance against a very leaky Tampa Bay defense in Week 1 being the only real standout.

Player 2 is a notable comparison because, though he did not win OROY that year, he was the number one pick in the draft and started all of his team's games. That would be Andrew Luck from 2012. As you can see, his lows are comparable to Winston's but he did not put together a collection of games where he appreciably outplayed expectations against opposing pass defenses like Winston has.

It's tough to call OROY competitions when the main competitors play different skill positions, but I think Jameis has a very good chance against Gurley, especially if he puts in a strong performance against the Bears this week and acquits himself well against the Panthers in Week 17.

Next week we'll take a quick look at Defensive Rookie of the Year, where Ronald Darby is battling it out with fellow rookie corner Marcus Peters while Mario Edwards, Jr. has made a late push championed by Pro Football Focus and Eddie Goldman deserves mention as he leads all rookies in sacks.

In other awards news, Devonta Freeman was selected to his first Pro Bowl in his second season. Freeman, who has faded a bit in the rushing title race partly due to getting nicked up here and there, still leads the league in rushing touchdowns. Congrats to Devonta!

Also in the news was Bengals practice squad running back James Wilder, Jr. JWJ was forced to leave a Kentucky Toys 'R' Us in what has been characterized by some as a case of racial profiling. He took to social media to protest his treatment, and from there the press took off with the story. At this point, he's letting his representatives handle the situation. This is why I do almost all my Christmas shopping online.

Roster Movement

The Chicago Bears played the Grinch this holiday season, waiving Antone Smith. Antone had a whopping one carry (for 11 yards -- got to love that YPC) in his time with the Bears.

Depth Chart Movement

In more Bears Grinchitude, Christian Jones was demoted and made a healthy scratch in last week's game. A standout as an outside linebacker for the Bears' 4-3 defense last season, the undrafted Jones has struggled a bit since shifting to inside linebacker in John Fox's 3-4 defense. Oddly enough, the Bears depth chart reports still list Christian as starter.

The Raiders put Mario Edwards, Jr. on the injured reserve list this week after sustaining what his coach called "a significant" neck injury against Green Bay last week.

Top News from the Past Week

Watch out for Telvin Smith this week. He's officially listed as questionable after sustaining a "slight" shoulder separation and a dislocated finger last week. Given how much of a warrior he is, I'd expect him to still play, but his snap count may be affected.

Timmy Jernigan received the wrong kind of attention during the Ravens' matchup against Kansas City. Jernigan was called for personal foul on a late hit out of bounds on a quarterback scramble by Alex Smith on what would have been an unsuccessful third down. Instead, the Chiefs had new life and scored a touchdown on a long run on the very next play. The cameras captured Ravens head coach John Harbaugh having a lengthy discussion with Timmy while announcers Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon discussed the boneheaded play ad nauseum.

Graham Gano kept the Carolina Panthers perfect on the season with a 49 yard field goal with under 2 minutes left.

Nick O'Leary got his first catch of his career, ultimately rumbling for 37 yards down the sideline. The yardage was challenged by Washington but upheld, giving NOL some extra time and lots of replays to savor the moment.

Storylines to Watch

If you happen to be able to watch the San Francisco/Detroit game, keep an eye out for Anquan Boldin. His next catch will be his thousandth for his career. (And really, that's the only reason to watch Niners/Lions this season.)

It looks like Karlos Williams will be getting the start for Buffalo against Dallas. He'd lost some touches due to injury and a focus on starter LeSean McCoy of late, but we should see lots of him this week.

Like last week, the NFL has added an extra night of football to the schedule. Rodney Hudson and Sebastian Janikowski's Raiders go up against Patrick Robinson and the Chargers on Thursday, while Chris Thompson and Dustin Hopkins hope to help Washington clinch the NFC East against Philly Saturday. After a full slate of Sunday games capped off by Xavier Rhodes and the Vikings facing off against Bobby Hart and the Giants, we're "treated" to a Nole-less Monday night game.

Now for the table. As always, it will be updated with stats and status as the games commence this weekend.

Name Team Position Week 16 Status Week 16 Stats Season Stats
Devonta Freeman Atlanta Falcons Running Back Starter 22 carries, 73 yards (long: 14), 1 TD, 3 catches, 17 yards (long: 5), 5 targets, 1 fumble recovery 218 carries, 907 yards (long: 39), 10 TDs, 68 catches, 543 yards (long: 44), 2 TD, 88 targets, 2 fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 tackle (1 solo)
Terrence Brooks Baltimore Ravens Free Safety Backup (2nd) 8 tackles (7 solo), 1 PD, 1 QB hit
Timmy Jernigan Baltimore Ravens Defensive End Starter 1 tackle (1 solo, 1 sack, 1 TFL), 2 QB hits 30 tackles (14 solo, 3 sacks, 1 TFL), 3 QB hits
EJ Manuel Buffalo Bills Quarterback Backup (2nd) 52/84, 561 yards, 3 TDs, 3 INTs, 17 carries, 64 yards (long: 16), 1 TD, 2 fumbles
Garrison Sanborn Buffalo Bills Long Snapper Starter 2 tackle (2 solo)
Karlos Williams Buffalo Bills Running Back Backup (2nd), Probable (shoulder) 17 carries, 76 yards (long: 26), 1 TD, 2 catches, 39 yards (long: 20), 2 targets, 1 fumble lost, 70 carries, 417 yards (long: 41), 5 TDs, 1 fumble, 6 catches, 72 yards (long: 26), 2 TD, 9 targets
Nick O'Leary Buffalo Bills Tight End Backup (3rd) 1 target 1 catch, 37 yards (long: 37), 1 target
Nigel Bradham Buffalo Bills Linebacker Starter, Questionable (ankle) Inactive 59 tackles (42 solo, 1 sack, 3 TFL), 3 PD, 2 QB hits
Ronald Darby Buffalo Bills Cornerback Starter, Questionable (groin) Inactive 68 tackles (61 solo, 3 TFL), 21 PD, 2 INT (long: 27)
Graham Gano Carolina Panthers Place kicker Starter 2/2 FG (long: 47), 1/1 XP 27/33 FG (long: 52), 50/53 XP, 3 tackles (3 solo)
Kelvin Benjamin Carolina Panthers Wide Receiver IR
Christian Jones Chicago Bears Linebacker Starter 6 tackles (4 solo), 1 PD, 1 QB hit 75 tackles (54 solo, 3 TFL), 3 PD, 2 QB hit, 1 fumble recovery
Eddie Goldman Chicago Bears Defensive Tackle Starter 22 tackles (16 solo, 4.5 sack, 3 TFL), 2 QB hit
James Wilder Jr. Cincinnati Bengals Running Back Practice Squad
Cameron Erving Cleveland Browns Offensive Guard Starter, Questionable (ankle) 1 fumble recovery
Rodney Smith Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Practice Squad
Letroy Guion Green Bay Packers Defensive Tackle Starter, Questionable (foot) 2 tackles (2 solo) 16 tackles (10 solo, 3 TFL)
Bjoern Werner Indianapolis Colts Linebacker Backup (2nd) 13 tackles (7 solo, 3 TFL), 1 fumble recovery
Rashad Greene Jacksonville Jaguars Wide Receiver/punt returner Backup (3rd) RB, Starter punt returner 1 catch, 2 yards, 1 target, 1 fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 1 punt return, 4 yards 15 catches, 86 yards (long: 18), 2 TD, 28 targets, 13 punt returns, 247 yards, 1 TD (long: 63)
Telvin Smith Jacksonville Jaguars Linebacker Starter, Doubtful (finger) Inactive 128 tackles (99 solo, 2.5 sacks, 11 TFL), 7 PD, 1 INT (long: 26), 1 TD, 1 QB hit
Xavier Rhodes Minnesota Vikings Cornerback Starter 2 tackles (1 solo), 1 PD 53 tackles (51 solo, 1 TFL), 9 PD
Bryan Stork New England Patriots Center Starter
Tre' Jackson New England Patriots Offensive Guard Backup (2nd)
P.J. Williams New Orleans Saints Cornerback IR
Tony Carter New Orleans Saints (signed Week 15, cut by Indianapolis Colts in Week 10, signed by Indianapolis Colts in Week 8) Cornerback Backup (3rd)
Bobby Hart New York Giants Offensive Tackle Backup (2nd)
Antonio Cromartie New York Jets Defensive Back Starter 2 tackles (2 solo), 1 kick return, 19 yards 27 tackles (24 solo, 2 TFL), 12 PD, 1 fumble recovery
Mario Edwards Jr. Oakland Raiders Defensive End IR 42 tackles (34 solo, 2.5 sacks, 4 TFL), 1 PD, 3 QB hit, 2 forced fumbles, 1 PD
Menelik Watson Oakland Raiders Offensive Tackle IR
Rodney Hudson Oakland Raiders Offensive Guard Starter 1 tackle (1 solo)
Sebastian Janikowski Oakland Raiders Place kicker Starter 18/23 FG (long: 56), 35/36 XP, 1 tackle (1 solo)
Lawrence Timmons Pittsburgh Steelers Linebacker Starter 8 tackles (1 solo) 102 tackles (69 solo, 3.5 sacks, 3 TFL), 6 PD, 1 INT, 6 QB hits
Vince Williams Pittsburgh Steelers Linebacker Backup (2nd) 43 tackles (31 solo, 0.5 sacks), 1 PD, 2 QB hit, 2 fumble recoveries
Patrick Robinson San Diego Chargers Defensive Back Backup (2nd) 47 tackles (41 solo, 2 TFL), 7 PD, 2 QB hit, 1 INT (long: 27 yards), 1 forced fumble
Anquan Boldin San Francisco 49ers Wide Receiver Starter 5 catches, 27 yards (long: 9), 5 targets 59 catches, 691 yards (long: 51), 3 TD, 97 targets, 1 fumble lost, 1 tackle (1 solo)
Tank Carradine San Francisco 49ers Defensive End Backup (2nd) 19 tackle (13 solo, 1 sack, 1 TFL), 1 QB hit, 1 forced fumble
Nick Moody Seattle Seahawks (signed Week 2) Linebacker IR
Lamarcus Joyner St. Louis Rams Cornerback Backup (2nd), Questionable (back) 3 tackles (2 solo), 1 PD 62 tackles (46 solo, 2 sack, 2 TFL), 2 QB hits, 5 PD, 1 fumble recovery
Jameis Winston Tampa Bay Buccaneers Quarterback Starter 15/29, 295 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 4 carries, 10 yards (long: 7), 1 fumble recovery 268/459, 3422 yards, 20 TD, 12 INT, 47 carries, 189 yards (long: 21), 5 TD, 6 fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries
Josue Matias Tennessee Titans Offensive Guard Practice Squad
Chris Thompson Washington Redskins Running Back/Returner Backup (3rd) RB, Backup (2nd) KR, Probable (Shoulder) 1 catch, 12 yards, 1 TD, 1 target 28 carries, 197 yards (long: 42), 34 catches, 228 yards (long: 23), 1 TD, 45 targets, 2 fumbles, 3 return, 63 yards (long: 36)
Dustin Hopkins Washington Redskins (signed Week 2) Place kicker Starter 1/1 FG (long: 28), 3/4 XP 22/25 FG (long: 54), 32/32 XP, 2 tackles (2 solo)
Brodrick Bunkley x-Free Agent Defensive Tackle
Darnell Dockett x-Free Agent Defensive Tackle
Everette Brown x-Free Agent Defensive End
Jacobbi McDaniel x-Free Agent Defensive Tackle
Jarred Haggins x-Free Agent Wide Receiver
Kevin Haplea x-Free Agent Tight End
Mike Harris x-Free Agent Defensive Back
Mister Alexander x-Free Agent Linebacker
Terrance Parks x-Free Agent Defensive Back
Antone Smith x-Free Agent (cut by Chicago Bears week 16) Running Back Backup (4th) 1 carry, 11 yards
Andre Fluellen x-Free Agent (cut by Detroit Lions Week 14, signed by Detroit Week 4, cut by Bills Week 4, also cut by Bills Week 1, re-signed by Bills Week 1) Defensive Tackle 4 tackles (4 solo, 2 TFL)
Dekoda Watson x-Free Agent (released by New England Week 4, signed by New England Week 2) Linebacker 1 tackle (1 solo)
Preston Parker x-Free Agent (released by New York Giants Week 3) Wide Receiver/Returner 5 catches, 40 yards (long: 15), 12 targets
Christian Ponder x-Free Agent (signed by Denver Broncos Week 12, released Week 14) Quarterback

On a personal note, here's wishing you the safest and happiest of holidays, whether your chosen occasion is Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Saturnalia, or some other celebration of the winter solstice. This has been a difficult year for me personally, and I know from reading comments throughout the blog, I'm not alone in that. With that, I leave you with this sentiment, meant to be both heartfelt and inclusive. Here's hoping for a wonderful 2016 for all of us.

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