Mailbag: featured letter on 'payback' players
Posted Sep. 17 at 04:27 AM
I have a featured letter for the Mailbag this week; it comes from Dave Smith from Walls, Mississippi. He wants to know if there’s any truth behind the rumor/theory that players perform better against their former teams.
It’s a timely question, with a host of receivers squaring off against former teams this week – T.J. Houshmandzadeh is at Cincinnati, Kassim Osgood returns to San Diego, Greg Camarillo gets a shot at the Dolphins and Nate Washington plays against Pittsburgh. Does that make any of those guys worth a roll of the dice this week?
In your weekly updates, you occasionally say that a player who is playing against his former team might do better than expected -- I guess you could call it the revenge factor. Have you ever researched whether that is true? Or is it just a "feeling"?
Both, I would say, are true. I’ve taken a non-mathematical look at this trend a couple of times over the years. And when I’m compiling my draft board each week, sometimes a funny feeling will come over me.
Look at the numbers below. I skimmed through current rosters and pulled out the names of any players I noticed who had played against former employers. Figuring that time tends to heal wounds, I focused on the first matchup against the old team – I listed both of the first-year matchups for inside division moves).
Now to make this a truly scientific deal, you would want to compare the production below against the production in other games in that season – maybe compare to similar opponents. But I don’t want to spend that kind of time on it.
Instead, simply look at the list of players and games. I think there’s something to it. Lots of big games in there – more, I think, than what you’d see if you took the same players and looked at how they did the week before or the week after.
There are exceptions, of course. Often times, I suppose, the team that was left behind is just as eager to shut down a former teammate. And every player is different and situation is different; I’m pretty sure Thomas Jones would like to stick to the Jets, if given the chance, but I don’t know that it’s a big deal to him when Kansas City plays Arizona or Tampa Bay.
Bottom line: I think there’s something there. Particularly if there is clearly some hatred or bitterness there, I will elevate guys a little bit on my board when they’re running into their former team for the first time. Houshmandzadeh, Osgood and Camarillo aren’t even starters, of course, but I think you move all three of those guys up at least a little on your board this week.
How current NFL skill-position players have played in their first games against their former teams. This isn’t a complete list, but I think I got most of the big ones.
Brett Favre (Minnesota v. Green Bay 2009)
24 of 31, 0 int, 271 yards, 3 TD (first game)
17 of 28, 0 int, 244 yards, 4 TD (second game)
Chad Pennington (Miami v. Jets 2008)
26 of 43, 1 int, 251 yards, 2 TD (first game)
22 of 30, 0 int, 200 yards, 2 TD (second game)
Drew Brees (New Orleans v. San Diego 2008)
30 of 41, 0 int, 339 yards, 3 TD
Eli Manning (Giants v. San Diego 2005)
24 of 41, 0 int, 352 yards, 2 TD
Philip Rivers (San Diego v. Giants 2009)
24 of 36, 2 int, 209 yards, 3 TD
Michael Vick (Philadelphia v. Atlanta 2009)
expanded backup role; TD run and TD pass
Michael Turner (Atlanta v. San Diego 2008)
31 carries, 120 yards
Clinton Portis (Washington v. Denver 2005)
20 carries, 103 yards
Cedric Benson (Cincinnati v. Chicago 2009)
37 carries, 189 yards, TD
Willis McGahee (Baltimore v. Buffalo 2007)
19 carries, 114 yards, TD
Thomas Jones (Chicago v. Tampa Bay 2004)
13 carries, 52 yards, TD
Thomas Jones (Chicago v. Arizona 2006)
11 carries, 44 yards
Larry Johnson (Cincinnati v. Kansas City 2009)
4 carries, 11 yards (backup, hardly played)
Ricky Williams (Miami v. New Orleans 2005)
17 carries, 82 yards
Fred Taylor (New England v. Jacksonville 2009)
11 carries, 35 yards (broke 10-game streak of not playing)
Julius Jones (Seattle v. Dallas 2008)
11 carries, 37 yards
Derrick Ward (Tampa Bay v. Giants 2009)
5 carries, 2 yards
Chester Taylor (Minnesota v. Baltimore 2009)
8 carries, 22 yards (usual backup role)
Correll Buckhalter (Denver v. Philadelphia 2009)
5 carries, 42 yards – filled usual change-of-pace role
Sammy Morris (New England v. Buffalo 2007)
12 carries, 46 yards, TD
Sammy Morris (Miami v. Buffalo 2004)
18 carries, 91 yards
Sammy Morris (New England v. Miami 2008)
9 carries, 27 yards
Randy Moss (New England v. Oakland 2008)
5 for 67, 2 TDs
Derrick Mason (Baltimore v. Tennessee 2005)
8 catches, 60 yards, TD
Bernard Berrian (Minnesota v. Chicago 2008)
6 for 81, TD (first game)
4 for 122, TD (second game)
Wes Welker (New England v. Miami 2007)
9 for 138, 2 TDs (first game)
5 for 49 (second game)
Chris Chambers (Kansas City v. San Diego 2009)
7 catches, 70 yards, TD
Nate Burleson (Seattle v. Minnesota 2009)
6 catches, 100 yards
Justin Gage (Tennessee v. Chicago 2008)
4 catches, 47 yards, TD
Santana Moss (Washington v. Jets 2007)
4 catches, 49 yards
Joey Galloway (Dallas v. Seattle 2001)
7 catches, 82 yards (7 rec was season high)
Joey Galloway (Tampa Bay v. Dallas 2006)
3 catches, 71 yards
Kevin Walter (Houston v. Cincinnati 2008)
5 catches, 70 yards, 2 TDs
Jabar Gaffney (Denver v. New England 2009)
6 catches, 61 yards (as No. 3 receiver)
Nate Washington (Tennessee v. Pittsburgh 2009)
1 catch 8 yards (wasn’t fully healthy)
Bryant Johnson (Detroit v. Arizona 2009)
2 catches, 11 yards (hey, he’s Bryant Johnson)
Bryant Johnson (Detroit v. San Francisco 2009)
2 catches, 11 yards (hey, he’s Bryant Johnson)
Jeremy Shockey (New Orleans v. Giants 2009)
4 catches 37 yards, TD (scored in 1 of other 12 games)
Visanthe Shiancoe (Minnesota v. Giants 2007)
1 catch, 13 yards
Kellen Winslow (Tampa Bay v. Cleveland 2010)
4 catches, 32 yards
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