This article is part of our East Coast Offense series.
No Process Without Results
We often hear good process is more important than good results. But even assuming that were true, how can we know how good our process is without eventually relying on results? It seems the real distinction isn't really between process and result, but short-term results and long term results, with the assumption being good process leads to good long-term results.
If that's the case, how then it is possible to argue for one's process – or critique someone for having bad process – before the results are in? For example, when Dave Gettleman passed on Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen for Saquon Barkley, despite the Giants desperately needing a quarterback, he was ridiculed for it. But we don't yet know the long-term ramifications of this decision. Those slagging Gettleman would argue while we don't know the results in this particular instance, we do know historically quarterbacks are far more important to a team's success than running backs. A better process, they might argue, would be to take the most potentially impactful player with the No. 2 overall pick rather than a running back, no matter how talented.
Another way of saying this is forget about the particulars of this situation which you were hired to evaluate in your job as GM, and substitute a simple rule: "Always draft the best available QB if you need one." In their minds, this constitutes better process than evaluating the players individually and deciding which ones you think are worth the investment.
When Gettleman this year "reached" for Daniel Jones with the sixth pick in the draft, he was mocked again. Dwayne Haskins was still on the board! Jones would have fallen to pick 17! The first was undeniably true, the second conjecture, but the rule here seems to be: "If you need a quarterback, always take the one most valued by the market, rather than the one you prefer even though you were hired for your ability to evaluate talent." And "be sure to gamble that the quarterback you most prefer will fall to about where most people think he should go."
Gettleman's moves might or might not pan out, one great game by Jones notwithstanding, but the notion of process by generalized, back-tested rule doesn't strike me as especially rigorous. For starters, if you choose the wrong QB, you're probably saddled with three wasted years – even if Darnold doesn't play at a top-15 level the rest of the way, the Jets will probably have him under center again in 2020. Barkley might not have the upside of a QB, but he had a high floor and virtually no downside – even while he's hurt, it's not making the team worse the way a bad pedigreed QB would.
Moreover, until we have GM-by-algorithm, it's his precise job description to decide whether Darnold, Rosen or Allen is worth that commitment. It's also his job to decide specifically between Jones, Haskins and waiting another year, and whether his fondness for Jones meant not gambling he'd be there at pick 17. Lest you think no one in their right mind would have taken Jones before 17, remember John Elway signed Joe Flacco this offseason, i.e., we don't know for certain what other people will do.
So I don't think we can settle this argument over process simply by looking at the process itself. We cannot confidently assert it's always better to go by the rule and ignore one's own researched, professional evaluation. Even if you could show (while also factoring the downside of being stuck with a bad QB) that taking the QB is the most plus-EV choice, it would not follow that Gettleman should have done that in this instance. That something is true generally does not mean that it is also true specifically in every instance. Consider that in Texas Hold 'Em, folding pre-flop is usually the best move. It does not follow that you should always fold no matter your cards or position.
So it will come down to results. If Jones turns out to be a star (and a healthy Barkley already is one), and you killed Gettleman for passing on Darnold, you were wrong. You cannot hide behind "process" irrespective of result. The formulation cannot be "if Jones is terrible and Darnold's a star, I was right, but if it's the opposite, I still had the right process." The process – amounting to a general rule that might or might not apply in a specific case – needs results-based validation.
So far, as a Giants fan, I like Gettleman's process better than the one suggested by most of the armchair GMs in my Twitter feed.
Week 4 Trivia
Apropos of Ben Roethlisberger's injury and Eli Manning's benching, can you name the top-25 career leaders in passing yards? (Note: net adjusted YPA is a pro-football-reference stat that takes into account sacks and interceptions. Check out how Manning does relative to the other QBs in his era.)
Guessing the Lines
|Game||My Line||Guessed Line||Actual Line||ML-AL||O/U||Actual O/U||MO-AO|
|Eagles at Packers||3.5||4||4.5||1||45||45||0|
|Titans at Falcons||4||4||4||0||47||46||-1|
|Redskins at Giants||3.5||3.5||3||-0.5||50||47||-3|
|Chargers at Dolphins||-8.5||-10||-16||-7.5||42||44.5||2.5|
|Raiders at Colts||10.5||9||7||-3.5||45||45||0|
|Panthers at Texans||3.5||5.5||5||1.5||49||46||-3|
|Chiefs at Lions||-9.5||-8.5||-6||3.5||53||54||1|
|Browns at Ravens||7.5||8.5||7||-0.5||46||46||0|
|Patriots at Bills||-6.5||-7||-7||-0.5||44||42.5||-1.5|
|Buccaneers at Rams||11.5||10.5||9.5||-2||52||50.5||-1.5|
|Seahawks at Cardinals||-3||-3||-4.5||-1.5||50||47.5||-2.5|
|Vikings at Bears||0||3||2.5||2.5||41||38||-3|
|Jaguars at Broncos||1||1.5||3||2||40||38||-2|
|Cowboys at Saints||-3||0||-3||0||45||46||1|
|Bengals at Steelers||4||5.5||4||0||45||43.5||-1.5|
It looks like I'm huge on the Dolphins – what a massive road line for the Chargers! I'm also on the Colts, Vikings, Chiefs and Jaguars.
Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind in Beating the Book.
Week 3 Observations
• I knew Jones was mobile — especially compared to the Weekend-At-Bernie's style QB he replaced — but I was surprised at the extent. This will help extend plays and add some downfield shots to Shurmur's typically safe scheme, upgrading Shepard, Engram and, in two weeks, Golden Tate.
• Wayne Gallman could be useful while Barkley's out in the Jones version of the offense — he's an average back who can catch passes.
• Jameis Winston did his part, though he could have had a much bigger day had the Bucs not gone into a second-half shell. Mike Evans went crazy, and O.J. Howard showed a pulse on four targets. I still don't trust Bruce Arians or his playcaller Byron Leftwich to maximize the talent, though.
• Ronald Jones looked explosive, but keep in mind the Giants defense is arguably the worst in the NFL.
• The Browns offensive line is bad, but Baker Mayfield holds the ball too long, and he's only an average scrambler. The offense also lacks rhythm, and the play-design is bland.
• Nick Chubb looks pretty good, but in a Zeke Elliott kind of way, i.e., he has no special dimension like Alvin Kamara who's such a slick receiver and almost impossible to bring down in open space or Barkley who's a threat to break any play for 50 yards.
• Freddie Kitchens not only called a draw on 4th-and-9, but he refused to run from 1st-and-goal from the five with three timeouts and the game on the line. Bring back Hue Jackson!
• Todd Gurley got what was blocked for him and not much more. His offensive line and scheme are good, but he's just a guy now.
• The Niners should have covered but for two picks and three fumbles. Jimmy Garoppolo was efficient, but good luck handicapping the target share beyond George Kittle, and even he isn't a lock this year.
• Teddy Bridgewater settled into his caretaker role, something that worked after the Seahawks coughed up points on fumble- and kick-return TDs, but Kamara is the star of this team. Apparently, he doesn't need Drew Brees after all.
• Russell Wilson slipped in drafts because the Seahawks are typically so run-heavy, but he had 406 yards on 50 attempts and 51 yards on the ground. In a pass-first offense, I'd make Wilson QB2 without thinking twice.
• For the second week in a row, Tyler Lockett saw a massive number of targets. It looks like I was wrong about him.
• Deshaun Watson is still probably the QB2, but think of how good he'd be with an offensive line and a better coach.
• Duke Johnson barely exists.
• Kyle Allen lit up the Cardinals and gave the Panthers license to take their time with Cam Newton's foot. Greg Olsen is top-10 TE, and Christian McCaffrey gains value with a healthy Allen as opposed to a hobbled Newton.
• Kyler Murray had a terrible game, but at least he ran for 69 yards.
• Kerryon Johnson had a tough day, but he got the volume (and the TD) at least.
• Congratulations to the Jets on one of the best backdoor covers of all time. An inspiration.
• The Patriots still have not allowed an offensive TD since last year's AFC title game (16 quarters.)
• Dalvin Cook accelerates through the hole like he's on a motorcycle.
• Speaking of backdoor covers, the Ravens deserve an honorable mention.
• Lamar Jackson got his fantasy points, but he looked more like the player from 2018 in Week 3. His longest pass play was for 31 yards, and he spread the ball around. Mark Ingram ran extremely hard and caught four passes. He's the bell cow, not quite at the Zeke Elliott/Lev Bell level with Gus Edwards and Jackson around.
• Hopefully we can all agree the Pat Mahomes regression-using-historical-norms ship has sunk.
• The Chiefs receiving tree is wider than you'd like, and that's without Tyreek Hill and Damian Williams, but the soil's so fertile, there's fruit on every branch. I'd even hold onto Darwin Thompson who didn't play until LeSean McCoy aggravated his ankle injury.
• Julio Jones is a TD machine. No idea what the Falcons were doing for most of the last decade.
• System >>> QB. Exhibit A: Brissett, Jacoby. You have to be truly terrible to sink a good system. Exhibit B: Eli
• I'd like to see Aaron Rodgers break out of his caretaker role, but the Packers are 3-0 somehow.
• I can't think of anything to say about the Dolphins-Cowboys game except that the late Tony Pollard TD cost me the cover.
• Case Keenum wound up with good fantasy stats, but three picks, four sacks, two lost fumbles (he would have lost a third but for a defensive penalty) and two bad throws on two-point conversion tries are why the Redskins lost by 16.
• Terry McLaurin (who looks like a star) and Paul Richardson both made catches in traffic the entire second half. And Chris Thompson looked like the player who set the league on fire early in 2018 with excellent burst every time he touched the ball. Adrian Peterson was more or less himself, running hard, but without any wiggle.
• Just think how good the Bears would be had they taken Deshaun Watson or Patrick Mahomes instead of Mitch Trubisky. Matt Nagy's schemes make it easy for Trubisky, but he has no touch or accuracy, despite the strong completion percentage Monday night.
• David Montgomery is the bell cow, but the Bears didn't run that many plays, so he only had 13 carries. He's not especially fast, but he runs hard and is tough to bring down.
• The Redskins are not a doormat. Their defense got pressure, and their offense moved the ball. I wouldn't be surprised if Dwayne Haskins were the starter for Week 4, though.