Bruce-Ski & Russell Both Stink...and other Week 10 Analysis

Ryan PopilchakCorrespondent INovember 18, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 11:  Bruce Gradkowski #5 of the Oakland Raiders warms up before playing the New York Giants on October 11, 2009 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Many of the stats in this post are derived from the publicly available and premium database statistics at, and

Belichick was Right – But I'm Glad They Failed

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a Colts fan, so I despise Bill Belichick. I have to; I think that’s written into the Colts fan by-laws. So, naturally it hurts to say this, but he made the right call on Sunday night.

If you were him, would you rather put the game in the hands of your consistently clutch quarterback, Tom Brady, or the other team's 4th Quarter Assassin, Peyton Manning? Yup, me too. I’d tell Brady to go win the game. All the momentum was in the Colts corner and the Patriots needed to play for the win, rather than playing not to lose.

After watching the play a few times, the play call wasn’t bad, and the spot on Faulk’s catch could just as easily been ruled a first down on the field, it was that close. However, when Brady watches the film this week, he’s going to choke on his triple latte when he realizes that Welker was wide open and could probably have taken it to the house.

Given that I’m supposed to be giving you some sort of insightful analysis on the topic, I’d like to turn you over to the team at Advanced NFL Stats for this article. They break down the win probabilities of both going for it on 4th and 2, as well as the chances of the Colts scoring from each field position.

For those that are less nerdy than me, and I’m sure that’s just about everyone, or just statistically challenged, let me break down the idea.

By going for it, the Pats had a 60% chance to convert and win the game outright. In the event that they didn’t convert, they still only had to worry about the average NFL offense scoring 53% of the time. By combining those probabilities, they had a 79% chance of winning the game.

If they punted, they had a 70% chance of winning the game, meaning that going for it gave them 9% better odds.

Think of it like a poker hand, you always want to play to better odds than your opponent, but sometimes he beats you anyway. In this case, that Pats had the advantage in either situation, but going for it was the better decision.

Belichick made the right decision and went all in, but Peyton Manning got a great card on the river.

JaMarcus Russell vs Bruce-Ski

With JaMarcus Russell once again getting pulled from a game, I thought it would be interesting to review his performance this season versus the Raiders backup, Bruce Gradkowski, or as I like to call him Bruce-Ski. Admit it, he sounds like he should be the #1 fan for Da Bears!

I also included Jeff Garcia in this analysis given that the Raiders cut him before the season started.

"JDR and myself are very similar except he's really good looking and was a great player. So other than that we're very similar."
-- Jets coach Rex Ryan on the similarities between him and Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio (Twitter)

That quote could just have easily been twittered by Bruce-ski about he and Russell. They have completely different talents, different salaries and different draft positions, but they both suck equally.

Darius Heyward-Bey

In a related note, the Raiders quarterbacks may be terrible because they’re forced to throw to Darius Heyward-Bey. At this point, DHB has 6 catches, for 96 yards and no touchdowns, for the whole season!

That places him 24th in rookie receptions and 19th in rookie receiving yards. On top of that, most of the players ahead of him on the list are either their team’s third receiver or backup running back, while DHB is a starter.

Easily my favorite DHB play was the way he handled a pass against KC this Sunday like a live grenade. I didn’t know you could bobble a ball with your hands AND knees while still bouncing it to a defender for an INT. Take a look at the 3:40 mark of this clip.

For that performance, DHB gets the Bud Adams salute from Raiders fans.

Unexpected League Leader

Quick, tell me who’s leading the NFL in interceptions?

The correct answer is free safety Jairus Byrd of the Buffalo Bills. With 8 interceptions and 18 passes defenced (2nd in the league), the rookie from Oregon is making a name for himself. 

Unfortunately, he's about the only bright spot in the Bills season so far, and now he'll have to adjust to a new coach with Jauron being the first coach to get fired.

Will Larry Johnson help the Bengals?

With the Bengals announcing that they’ve signed Larry Johnson, let’s take a look at his impact. I get the feeling that the Bengals haven’t learned their lesson about having disruptive players in their locker room, but is Johnson worth the risk?

He’s 29 years old and figures to have a few good years left in him, but has his productivity decline been due to injuries, his offensive line or just being past his prime?

The following table shows LJ's performance over the last 4.5 seasons along with the corresponding Adjusted Line Yards of his offensive line.

Johnson's production took a steep drop after the 2006 season, not only due to injury, but also on a per play basis, as shown in his Yards per Carry and DVOA.  Coincidentally, that was the same year Kansas City's offensive line play started to slip as well. 

The Bengals line currently is average 4.01 Adjusted Line Yards, which would be a lot closer to the blocking LJ had during his peak years.  Given that he will be a backup to Benson and an insurance policy for injury, I think it could turn out to be a savvy move by a play-off bound Bengals team, but they already have one major attention hog on the team in Ochocinco, so they better hope he and LJ don't try to out do each other on Twitter.


    Bengals Ranked Poorly in Pass Protection Efficiency

    Cincinnati Bengals logo
    Cincinnati Bengals

    Bengals Ranked Poorly in Pass Protection Efficiency

    Chris Roling
    via Bengals Wire

    Rivers' Offseason Job? Playcaller for Son's Football Team

    NFL logo

    Rivers' Offseason Job? Playcaller for Son's Football Team

    Eric D. Williams

    Alex Smith Knows 1st Year with Redskins Is Crucial

    NFL logo

    Alex Smith Knows 1st Year with Redskins Is Crucial

    Bell Isn’t Worried About His Body Wearing Down

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    Bell Isn’t Worried About His Body Wearing Down

    Josh Alper
    via ProFootballTalk