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Krauser last won the day on April 30 2018

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  1. The 2018 Kirk Cousins Megathread

    PFF: Kirk Cousins is at his best when the whole nation watches COUSINS HAS ACTUALLY PLAYED BETTER IN PRIME TIME Kirk Cousins is 43-36-2 since he became a full-time starter for the Washington Redskins at the start of the 2015 season, but he's only 8-15-1 in prime-time games (or island games), which we define as any game that was not slated on Sunday afternoon. So, does this mean Cousins has played significantly worse in those games? To investigate this, we looked into the data and found that to be false, and according to our PFF passing grades, it is even the other way around. Cousins has actually played very well when the lights have been brightest, and he's actually been a mostly mediocre quarterback on Sunday afternoons. Interestingly, though, his efficiency in terms of expected points added per pass play is only slightly better in the prime-time sample, which suggests that his supporting cast hasn’t helped him as much in prime-time games. We want to take a closer look at Cousins' play in prime-time games compared to all other games through the chart above, which shows various measurements of quarterback play normalized to a scale between 0 and 1 (for measurements indicating bad play, 1 means the lowest rate). We note that he might indeed change his style to a more conservative approach in prime time (shown by the purple dots). And while his rate of positively graded throws is almost the same, he has produced fewer big-time throws most likely because of a lower average depth of target. However, he's easily made up for this by avoiding mistakes better than any other quarterback, as his rate of negatively graded throws is the lowest in the league when he is playing in prime time. He has also mostly avoided turnovers. HIS SUPPORTING CAST HAS PERFORMED WORSE IN PRIME TIME So, if Kirk Cousins hasn’t played worse, why has he lost so many prime-time games? Well, the answer is simple: Things he can’t control haven’t gone in his favor. No team has been worse at rushing the football in prime time than Kirk Cousins’ teams (the Redskins from 2015-17 and the Vikings since 2018). This has led to his offense posting the same efficiency in both samples, even though the passing offense was better in prime time, as we see above. Offensive efficiency, in particular, can’t explain the discrepancy in the win-loss column, but the defensive performance apparently solves the riddle. On Sunday afternoons, Cousins has been used to watching his defense overwhelm the opposing quarterback, but opposing offenses have been largely successful against the Vikings in prime time. This is not surprising, and it's also not necessarily the defense’s fault. A defense is more of a function of the opposing offenses that they face, and, naturally, teams face better offenses and better teams in prime time. Our data confirms this intuitive statement, as the average PFFELO of Cousins’ opponents in prime time has been 55 points higher than in Sunday afternoon games, and the average career grade of the quarterbacks who have thrown passes against Cousins’ teams in prime time is on the level of Tony Romo and Deshaun Watson while opposing quarterbacks on Sunday afternoon have been on the level of Sam Bradford and Marcus Mariota. Our analysis suggests that Kirk Cousins is a step above the average quarterback that teams tend to face on Sunday afternoon but a step below the average quarterback that teams tend to face in prime time. Along with some bad luck in small samples, this explains the large discrepancy of the win-loss records.
  2. 2019 Defense Thread

    Bigger picture: Find a way to keep Griffen. He's loyal to the team and the team has supported him. He tailed off a bit as the year went on but then he had a monster game in New Orleans. He's a leader on the team. The voidable option on his reworked contract is just an option, so convince him to stay either by paying him next year as written (cap number $13.9M) or giving him a mini-extension to replace the rest of his deal, something like $33M/3 with guaranteed money tying him to the team for 2 more years. Hunter/Griffen/Odenigbo is legit pass rush depth. Weatherly hasn't really taken the next step this year. He can go to free agency. They can draft a DE4 in the mid rounds. Linval's played OK but he isn't a game changer these days. His $13M cap number next year will be hard to manage. Try to renegotiate him for something like $8-9M x 2 years. If he won't budge, they can move on. Watts, Stephen and Jaleel Johnson can be the base defense DTs next year, plus a DT taken in the first 2 rounds. Hopefully they still get something from Jalyn Holmes if they open up some snaps that way. The LBs are Barr and Kendricks, they're both locked in for years. Gedeon is a FA but doesn't need to be retained -- Wilson or maybe Cam Smith can play WLB in base defense. Rhodes has lost his long speed and he can't stay healthy. I think he's done. They should release him. Waynes is a pretty good CB2. He lacks ball skills but he's otherwise a good player: knows the defense, doesn't make mistakes in coverage reads, good tackler, stays healthy. Assuming he'll settle for CB2 money (something like Amukamara's deal with the Bears a couple of years ago, ~$10-11M/year), they should keep him. Alexander is the only option at NCB right now. Hughes wasn't good there and they stopped playing him in the slot. NCBs aren't typically expensive, and he's only been a good player not great who hasn't shown any ability to play outside corner effectively, so I hope they could extend him for not too much (~$7M/year). Hughes (assuming he can recover from the neck problem) / Waynes / Alexander / Hill / Boyd would be my corners next year, along with a rookie. Smith is still playing at a very high level. I think he'll be good until his mid-30s. He has 2 years left on his contract (ages 31 and 32). I'd extend him now for an additional 3 years, work in more guaranteed money and lower his cap hit for 2020. I'd be happy to have Harris back but wouldn't pay him as a star. Amos got $9M/year from the Packers, that would be about right, maybe $10-11M on the outside. If he wants $14M because of all the INTs, I'd move on and replace him. Kearse will move on so I'd try to keep Sendejo for some veteran depth. ... On offense, I think they should extend Cousins to lower his cap number. Rudolph and Reiff are both on the team next year under their current deals, as of course are Thielen and Diggs. Kline's contract is not cuttable, and he's played OK. I'm very skeptical of the value of RBs but they pretty much have to find a way to have Cook on the team next year. If he threatens to hold out, they'll be in a bind. So there's little cap relief from this side of the ball, unless Cousins' extension is heavily backloaded.
  3. 2019 Defense Thread

    I like Harris a lot. I predicted a couple of years ago they'd move on from Sendejo and make him the starter. I wanted to extend him last year at this time. Still, I'm not super excited to pay market rate to keep him. He's put up so many interceptions (tied for 1st in the league over the past 2 years combined, IIRC) that he might end up with something close to Eddie Jackson money. I don't think FS is a major priority in Zimmer's defense. The Vikings have invested basically nothing in the position beyond drafting Smith and later extending him. Zimmer has consistently be able to get above average to excellent play from his deep safeties despite that minimal investment (Iloka and Kearse were late picks, Harris and Sendejo were UDFAs). I'll be happy if they work out a deal to keep him, but it won't surprise me if they let him go and replace him with some combination of a cheaper vet (Sendejo again?) and a day 3 draft pick.
  4. 2019 Defense Thread

    Harris is good but he's not young -- turns 29 before training camp next year. He's almost exactly a year younger than Rhodes, and 2.5 years older than Mac Alexander. I really wanted the Vikings to extend him Harris this preseason, something like 3-4 more years for ~$7M AAV. He'll be much more expensive now. Thing is, Zimmer has a track record of turning late round picks and UDFAs into good safeties -- not just Harris, but Sendejo and Iloka. I think they'd have a decent chance replacing him with another late round pick or developmental player.
  5. The 2018 Kirk Cousins Megathread

    Apparently even if I do give examples that fit your arbitrary criteria (neither the Eagles or Rams games were in week 2, they were both winning teams who went to the playoffs, etc), you ignore them. I'm no big fan of Kirk Cousins, but I don't think it's fair to blame him for the team's shortcomings the last 2 years. He's played well in general, about as good as expected given his track record. He's good enough to win big games, as he showed on Sunday.
  6. The 2018 Kirk Cousins Megathread

    Say what? Tom Brady takes less money because he's already wealthy and the Pats pay his company under the table. He's not scrimping and saving to make the team better. Cousins has only ever had the chance to negotiate one contract in his career, and he took $2M less per year than the Jets offered in order to sign with Minnesota. Cousins' comparables (Stafford, Garoppolo, Goff, Ryan) are making the essentially the same money or more.
  7. The 2018 Kirk Cousins Megathread

    You didn't say "played well against a winning team and won", you said "played well in important games against good opponents". Nor were there limits on what week it was, or what quarter of the game it was, or whatever other goalpost-moving you want to do now. The Rams game on TNF last year was important. It was a primetime game on the road against a team that went to the playoffs the year before and the Super Bowl that year. Cousins played great, and lost from no fault of his own. The Eagles game this year was important. They've been to the playoffs 3 times in a row now. They were relatively healthy at the time. They were a winning team coming into the game, and for the rest of the year, and had the same record as the Vikings (9-6) for the season outside of that head-to-head matchup. Cousins played great, and the Vikings stomped them. Even by your standards, that's "Cousins played well against a winning team and won".
  8. The Zim-Zam Flim-Flam: All Things Zimmer

    The discussion really has nothing to do with your team. The point is that the Vikings have had an unusually difficult draw every year they've made the playoffs under Zimmer. If you want to play compare: The 2017 Vikings finished 13-3, got the 2 seed, and had to face the #1 team in the league by DVOA (the Saints) in the divisional round. The 2019 Packers finished 13-3, got the 2 seed, and get to play the #9 team in the league by DVOA (the Seahawks) in the divisional round. 2017 New Orleans had a much better OL, much better running game, comparable passing game, and much better defense than 2019 Seattle. They were a much harder matchup. The 2017 Vikings drew the much harder matchup for reasons beyond their control, despite being a stronger 13-3 team and 2 seed than the 2019 Packers (by points differential, DVOA, PFF grades, etc). That's bad luck for Minnesota in 2017, and good luck for Green Bay this year. Some Vikings fans wanted to see Zimmer fired because he only had one win in the playoffs coming into this year. But in context, the Vikings playoff record under Zimmer is at least as good as you'd expect given their level of competition.
  9. The 2018 Kirk Cousins Megathread

    Again, that just isn’t true. Cousins’ highest graded game last year (93.6) was at Lambeau. Led a comeback from down 3 scores. If Carlson hadn’t missed 2 FGs in OT, they win it. His next highest graded game of 2018 was home to the Saints (89.0), in primetime. Thielen fumbled, and Diggs stopped his route leading to a pick six. The OL was terrible and the defense couldn’t get off the field. They lost to the eventual NFC top seed and DVOA #1 team,, but not because of Cousins. His 4th highest game of last year was at the Rams (84.9). He put up 38 points on the eventual NFC champions, on the road, in primetime. But McVay tore apart Zimmer’s cover 3 scheme and the defense got obliterated, leading to another loss. This year, his best graded game (93.0) was against the Eagles, a division winner who came into the game with a winning record, finished the season with a winning record, and arguably would’ve won a playoff game on Sunday if Wentz hadn’t gotten hurt. The Vikings beat Philadelphia by 18, handing them their 2nd biggest loss of the year. He also played really well on the road against a Lions defense that hadn’t quit yet (beating a team by 12 that the Chiefs with Mahomes had only beaten by 7), and against a Chargers team with a very good pass defense (which held the Chiefs under 200 passing yards twice, and embarrassed the Packers). And now this weekend he had the highest graded game by any of the starting QBs in the wildcard round, on the road on national TV against a very good defense, winning the game with his arm in overtime. Yes, Cousins has also had some mediocre games, and a few terrible ones. And he’s had more trouble with stronger defenses. But basically every QB is like that, at least to some extent.
  10. The 2018 Kirk Cousins Megathread

    PFF grades for QBs, wildcard round (10+ dropbacks): 82.5 Cousins 78.3 Watson 76.7 Wilson 62.5 Brees 61.2 Allen 54.5 Brady 52.8 McCown 45.5 Tannehill
  11. The Zim-Zam Flim-Flam: All Things Zimmer

    They were a higher seed than the 2015 Seahawks and the 2017 Saints. Since Zimmer took over in Minnesota, the top team by DVOA has been the 1 seed in the NFC 3 times: 2014 (SEA) 2016 (DAL) 2018 (NO) The other 3 years, the top DVOA teams finished as the 6th, 3rd and 3rd seed. In all 3 of those cases, those teams were the Vikings initial playoff opponents. Do you know how rare it is to face an elite team like the 2015 Seahawks as wildcard round matchup? They're the 13th best team ever by DVOA, which dates back to 1985. The Packers lost the division to the Vikings that year and had a much easier matchup as the 5 seed, on the road at Washington, the 15th best team in 2015 by DVOA (comparable to playing the Bears or the Bucs in the first round this year, given their 2019 DVOA performances). This year, the Vikings were better than GB, SEA and PHI by DVOA, a little worse than SF and quite a bit below NO. The Eagles got lucky playing the weaker wildcard team despite finishing in the 4th seed. The Seahawks got lucky playing a weaker opponent as a 5 seed than the Saints got as a 3 seed. Now that the Vikings upset NO, the Packers as a 2 seed get an easier Seattle team (9th by weighted DVOA) than the 1st seeded Niners (Vikings are 7th by weighted DVOA). So there is an element of luck. Sometimes you have to face Wilson, Brees, Brees, and the eventual Super Bowl MVP in your 4 playoff games. Sometimes you get end up as a 4 seed playing at home to Josh Allen, or as a 5 seed playing on the road against 40 year-old Josh McCown. That's the point: the bottom line analysis ("only won one playoff game in 6 years") is missing context (for one thing, it was only 5 playoff seasons until yesterday, and now it's 2 wins). The Vikings have played really well in the playoffs under Zimmer, given the quality of their opponents, except for the disastrous 2nd quarter in Philadelphia, which in retrospect was a game they were probably always going to lose given that Foles could elevate his game and Keenum couldn't. The Vikings have been one of the better teams in the league under Zimmer's tenure. There's no reason to think that firing him is going to improve the situation.
  12. The Zim-Zam Flim-Flam: All Things Zimmer

    Excellent post. I'll go one step further and point out that Zimmer has had an unusually tough draw in the playoffs so far: The 2015 Seahawks were a 6 seed, but they were the #1 overall team in the NFL by DVOA (38.0%) and weighted DVOA (51.1%) -- both of those numbers are dominant, comparable to the Ravens coming into the playoffs this year. They were also the 2-time defending NFC champions. And as you pointed out, they'd trounced the Vikings in Minnesota a month earlier. The 2017 Saints were a 3 seed, but they were the #1 overall team in the NFL by DVOA (30.7%) and 2nd to the Patriots in weighted DVOA (32.9%). The 2019 Saints were a 3 seed, but they were the #1 overall team in the NFC by DVOA (29.3%) and weighted DVOA (38.5%), ranking 4th and 2nd in the league respectively in those categories. In other words, the Vikings have had the toughest possible opponent in the NFC each time they've made the playoffs under Zimmer. And as you point out, he's one shanked FG away from winning all 3 of those games despite bad luck along the way (fumble luck vs Seattle including the ridiculous play by Wilson, and the blocked punt in the Saints game). The one game where they might have been considered favorites was the 2017 NFCCG, but that in retrospect was entirely due to the fact that Foles was playing. At the point when Wentz got hurt (week 14), the Eagles were 3rd in the league in DVOA (29.9%) and weighted DVOA (33.9%), both numbers comparable to where the Saints finished the season, tops in the league. Foles had been terrible at the end of the regular season and in their first playoff game (where they were lucky to beat Atlanta). But of course he turned it on in the 2nd quarter vs the Vikings and carried that right through an historic MVP performance in the Super Bowl, scoring 41 points on Belichick's defense. Anyone who could have predicted that Foles could play at that level would've had the Vikings as decided underdogs on the road in Philadelphia, where the team was undefeated all year until resting starters in week 17. ...and that was the easiest matchup Zimmer's seen so far in the playoffs -- the 41-34 Super Bowl winner, on the road.
  13. Terrible Omen or Bad "Break?"

    My brother gave me one of those ugly Vikings sweaters (the one with blinking lights except the lights never work for some reason) for Xmas. I wore it for the first time for the game yesterday. Obviously, that makes it a lucky sweater. My wife, who has excellent taste, hates the ugly Christmas sweater. I came downstairs yesterday morning in my finest purple and yellow and she mock shrieked in horror. I was texting her about the score as the 4th quarter was winding down. One of us had to pick up our son from soccer mid-afternoon. I would've had to turn off the game after the coin toss, but luckily she was able to swing by and save me the trip. Once the Vikings scored I sent her a message:
  14. The 2018 Kirk Cousins Megathread

    They lost to the Packers because the OL got overwhelmed and they had no run game. Stefanski abandoned the play action bootleg game and had no answers to scheme open receivers. Cousins wasn’t great but he’s not the reason they lost. The Bears game last year was similar. The entire offense was dysfunctional, as it was for much of the last half of the season (especially in Chicago and Seattle). The whole line of argument is an exercise in moving goal posts: games they won are discounted, games they lost are amplified. It’s a product of pot-stirring sports journalism and sports talk shows, which design narratives to drive engagement, keep people tuning in. I associate it with Coller and Zulgad, mainly because they’re my only exposure to that kind of approach, but it’s the standard on ESPN and every NFL pregame and postgame show. I guess it’s fun and gives people something to argue about, but it doesn’t hold up as analysis.
  15. The 2018 Kirk Cousins Megathread

    I see this kind of thinking all the time from Vikings fans and I’m sorry, but it’s way off. It’s revisionist history to say none of their wins were big games, and all of their losses were. The Eagles were 3-2 coming into the Vikings game, and both of their losses were by 5 points or less. Alshon Jeffrey was back for that game. They went on to finish 6-4 for the rest of their season, winning their division. They would’ve had a better record than the Vikings this year, had they won in Minnesota. But the Vikings beat them by 18 points, thanks mainly to a fantastic game from Cousins. The Lions were a good team before Stafford got hurt. Should’ve been 3-1-1 coming in, if the refs hadn’t jobbed them at Lambeau. They didn’t lose another game all year by more than a TD with Stafford playing. Stafford had a great game, but Cousins outdueled him and won by 12, on the road. The Cowboys were very good this year (at least as good as the Seahawks and Packers), but lost almost all of their close games (the opposite of SEA and GB). Vikings beat them on the road, in prime time, and Cousins played well. The Chargers were another team that kept losing close games. They had a positive points didn’t coming into the Vikings game and had beaten up on the Packers at home a few weeks earlier. The Vikings beat them by 29. Their only other loss this year by more than 7 points was by 10, in KC. It’s stupid to think of those wins as games that somehow didn’t really count. In the NFL, basically every game is a big game. Very little separates middle of the table teams from the top of the league, which is why upsets are so common.