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||"+/-"|
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.
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.