August 19, 2010 § Leave a comment
Enough, my fellow Browns fans, enough. First and foremost, the stats that are used are as worthless as the opinions on all of the anonymous message boards, see my other article on stats. Football cannot be oversimplified to a stat sheet; players are too reliant on teammates and coaching systems, for stats to matter like they do in simpler games. Jake Delhomme is a significant improvement over Quinn or DA, and I will tell you why.
First off there is the number 18, 18 INTs from 2009, that is justifiably cause concern. That said it is not that the interceptions happened, but why they happened. For that, one has to go back and look at each individual game see all of the circumstances and attempt to watch the interceptions. Thankfully for those less obsessed with the game, I have done that and can translate it. So begins our journey with a brief run down.
1 Sun, Sep 13 vs. Philadelphia L38-10
Delhomme’s 4 picks were disgusting, but only one can be called on Delhomme. The first came on a pretty well placed ball where only S. Smith could catch it, until he tipped it to S. Brown. That led to three for Philadelphia 7-Then there was a fumble return for a TD making it 10-7 on the first play of the 2nd Q. Then Car gave up a punt return 17-7. Then there was a terrible read where S. Brown got a free one back in zone coverage and that set up a 9 yard one play drive for a TD, 24-3. 31-10 was the score at half time off non turnover related drives. In the third, a botched screen play, where Delhomme was back peddling away from pressure and A. Jordan made a great play on an underthrown ball that set up another Phi TD (38-10). Then the perfect end to his day, the very next drive was a one play drive, he just whipped up as a jump ball to S. Smith and A. Samuel just beat him. Of his 4 picks on the day, only the S. Browns second pick can be put squarely on his shoulders, and that is only if the receiver was supposed to break to the outside, if Delhomme release before the WR’s break and he was supposed to head toward the middle. The last sentence is based off of speculation, being limited to a TV camera angle (not to be confused with anything plural) it is pretty impossible to know.
2 Sun, Sep 20 @ Atlanta L28-20
Delhomme had one pick late in the game, about 2:30 left on the clock. Down by 8 in ATLs red zone he forced it into coverage trying to get the ball to S Smith. Equally important is that it was 4th and 10, and he stood in the pocket as long as possible and got hit by two guys from both sides, The coach left 7 in to block, ATL sent four, and Steve Smith was one on one with Chris Houston, so the best receiver was the only one not double covered, and it was within a second of a sack. Any QB would have thrown the same ball.
3 Mon, Sep 28 @ Dallas L21-7
Had 2 INTs on the day. First in the 2nd looking for a quick score, M. Muhammed on a fly one on one with M. Jenkins, the safety appears close, but he did not get there in time to make a play on the ball. The second was a dagger in the heart, a pick six in the fourth to T. Newman when the Panthers were down by 6 already. After the game however, Steve Smith took the blame for running the wrong route.
4 BYE WEEK
5 Sun, Oct 11 vs. Washington W20-17
1 pick on a perfect throw tipped into DeAngelo Hall’s hands, by M. Muhammed. Delhomme got a bit of retribution stiff arming Hall on a clinching drive.
6 Sun, Oct 18 @ Tampa Bay W28-21
2 INTs: The first INT to B. Ruud was inconsequential from scoring, but I cannot find video on it to tell whether or not it is all on Jake. The second was a costly one; Tanard Jackson jumped the route and took it back for a touchdown tying the game on the PAT. It looked like a terrible decision, could not tell if Delhomme did not see him or misjudged his ability to move; in either case it is inexcusable.
7 Sun, Oct 25 vs. Buffalo L20-9
Turnovers were the only reason Buffalo won this game, being out played in almost every stat. There were 3 INTs thrown and the first two caught by Jairus Byrd. The first one there was miscommunication between Delhomme and his intended receiver, Barnridge, who stopped while Jake threw it to where he would have been had he kept running. The second interception was a slight overthrow that was tipped by S. Smith right into Byrd’s hands. Finally the third to G. Wilson happened down by 11 inside o 2 minutes in Hail Mary fashion. A muffed punt also led to points in Buffalo, just worth noting.
8 Sun, Nov 1 @ Arizona W34-21
No picks for Jake, Warner had 5.
9 Sun, Nov 8 @ New Orleans L30-20
No picks again and tied with the eventual Superbowl champs at the end of the third 20-20. Delhomme did fumble around mid field in the fourth for the go ahead FG. Then on the first play of the next possession D. Williams fumbled on the Carolina one yard line, it was picked up and scored by NO.
10 Sun, Nov 15 vs. Atlanta W28-19
Panthers capitalize on Ryan’s 2 INTs for a change.
11 Thu, Nov 19 vs. Miami L24-17
Streak ended with one pick, early in the third. Nate Jones picked him off at the MIA 4; he really tried to force it, though it was a great play by Allen. It was a costly pick as they were well in field range at the 24, and could have cut into the lead as it was 14-3 at that point.
12 Sun, Nov 29 @ New York L17-6
In Delhomme’s last start of the season, he bookended the 2009 campaign with another 4 INT game. The first pick came on the biggest fluke interception I can recall, Delhomme called an audible at the line and Steve Smith did not get it. The ball ended up being thrown to Smith if he was on a hitch route, but Steve kept going, it bounced off his leg and kicked into the Hands of D. Revis who returned it for a TD. The second pick was a flat out jump ball to Smith, which Revis picked off. On the next possession he threw a terrible floater off his back foot in the face of pressure intended for M. Muhammed, but caught by Kerry Rhodes. That one helped set up a TD drive, starting them close to field goal range on the 38. Finally, the last of the season was a heave under duress with a little over a minute left and down by eleven.
Bad read/throw: 7*
Tipped Ball by WR: 3
WR Route: 2**
Jump Ball 1on1: 4^
Hail Mary: 2
* I did not give Jake Delhomme the benefit of the doubt at all. These include: week 1- Sheldon Browns second of the day that very well could have been on the WR, week 6- Unable to locate I lumped Barret Ruud’s into the bad read/throw, and week 7- where Barnridge appeared to stop while the ball was in the air. All pressured throws fell under this heading as well meaning I did not take pass rush to mean desperation Hail Marys.
** Both were Steve Smith, and both had him stating so after the fact in the ESPN.com game recaps.
^ I put the week 2 Atlanta interception under the 1 on 1 section though it easily could have been under the Hail Mary heading as it was fourth down late in the game and down by 8.
What I learned about Jake Delhomme:
1 He is a solid QB, regardless of last year’s number.
2 He is remarkably accurate on short and intermediate throws.
3 He has a nice, quick release.
4 He is not mobile, and will not extend the play with his legs outside the pocket.
5 He will, however, respond well to pressure if he has the ability to step up in the pocket.
6 He will take chances if he needs to, most of his interceptions occurred when he was forced to play catch up.
7 He can run a 2 minute drill or hurry-up offense with the best in the league.
8 He is tough, and he will hang in there assured of getting leveled to make the play.
9 He is smart, he reads the defenses very well, both in pre-snap defensive tendencies, and quickly identifies both coverage and blitzers after the snap.
Why Delhomme’s number were so terrible last year.
Basically, it comes down to the system. In Carolina he had a lot of success, but that success is filled with questions. Just because Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammed were one of the best receiver tandems in the league the year of their Superbowl run, 2003, does not mean they are the same now. One has to assume at least a few more of those jump balls would be caught by their 7-years-the-younger, former selves. One has to question Smith’s abilities as a dominant vertical threat and while Muhsin was a solid possession receiver, his retirement after the season should say something.
Last year Delhomme struggled the most when he was forced to try to mount a comeback, like most QBs do. He was then forced to try to throw the ball deep, and with Steve Smith on your team, everyone knows where the ball is going. Then Jordan Gross, the starting left tackle was out for half the year, which always hurts. One also has to keep in mind that while the offensive line can be touted as a great run blocking line, their pass protection is lacking, particularly from the guards. Here I propose to the reader that an immobile QB, behind a lack luster pass-protecting line, and a notorious vertical receiver, is cause for disaster.
Why will Delhomme do better as a Brown?
He fits the system. If the Browns can pull off a West Coast Offense (the system developed by Bill Walsh, not Kosar’s mistaken reference to the Air-Coryell-type system ran in Dallas), Delhomme should be a perfect fit. In Walsh’s system, of which Mike Holmgren is an ardent disciple, the running game is helped out by spreading the defense horizontally with short accurate passes. He will not be in a position to await vertical receivers to get down field and get open; he will be throwing the ball a few seconds sooner by play design. This fits into his skill-set of not having to buy time with his legs, and his accuracy in the short and intermediate passes. His quick release is also a great quality to make use of the narrow passing lanes of a horizontal passing game.
This section also lends into why Jake Delhomme should be a significant improvement over Brady Quinn or Derrick Anderson. First he is markedly more accurate, there should not be nearly as many horribly thrown slant and short hitch routes, and he has the ability to lead receivers or thrown back shoulder to them intentionally. He is smarter and better at reading defenses, with the Steelers and Ravens in the division, and the relatively new freedom in Cincinnati’s defense due to their corners, the QB of the Browns has to be among the best in the league at reading defenses. He is tougher than either former QB, and will hang in the pocket and take the hit if need be, not whip it to a check down like the ball is on fire. And finally, as proven by his last year’s interceptions, and something that I personally questioned in Quinn, he trusts his arm and will pull the trigger when there is no other alternative.
Jake Delhomme is not built to be the quick score QB, he is a game manager. If the defense performs well, and limits scoring, and the running backs do well, he will exploit the weaknesses in the defense adjusting to the running game. He runs a no huddle like few can, but if it’s a double digit deficit in two minutes he’ll likely throw a pick. Although the last second game winners, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, are fun, they are not the position that Browns fans ever want to see while Delhomme is at the helm, or probably McCoy later. While Delhomme may never be the Otto Graham that we all would love to see, he has the potential to be every bit as good for Cleveland in these next years as Bernie Kosar ever was. The only thing that could hold him back from Kosar’s best seasons is not having Slaughter, Langhorne, or Newsome, to throw to.