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A Statistical Analysis of Jimmy Raye

When new 49ers Offensive Coordinator Jimmy Raye’s name came up as a candidate, Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat provided a statistical analysis of his past performance in the same position. I thought it would be telling to go a little deeper, as only a total geek can, and take a look at what players he had available to him when he held that position. First the analysis of what I found, followed by the exhaustive (or exhausting) numbers.

A few things stand out about Jimmy Raye’s career. First is that none of his starting Quarterbacks finished a season with less than 20 sacks, aside from DeBerg who narrowly missed the mark with 19. In the cases where the running game was poor, one would assume the Offensive line was also poor. 20 Sacks is by no means an alarming number, but where it gets closer to 30 you pay more attention.

The next thing you see is that there were only two instances where the team had a top 10 Defense: the 2001 Redskins under Schottenheimer and the 1998 Chiefs, also under Schottenheimer. Those teams finished 8-8 and 7-9, respectively. The only seasons where his team finished above .500 was the 1999 Chiefs, and the ’83 and ’84 Rams. The 1999 Chiefs also had to contend with the Western Division Champion Seahawks, otherwise they might have made the playoffs that season.

The most statistically impressive seasons are obviously the years with Dickerson at the Rams, then the 2000 season with the Chiefs. Without the 49ers standing in the way, there’s no way to tell how far those Rams teams could have gone. As for the 2000 Chiefs team, despite Grbac throwing for career-high numbers, they finished 7-9. It’s important to note that the leading rusher was fullback Tony Richardson, whereas Kimble Anders was the Halfback. They were 18th in Total Defense that season.

In the old days of football, the Head Coach was more important than the coordinators he hired. The obvious response is “Singletary doesn’t know offense.” I wouldn’t be so sure about that, and you’d be hard pressed to convince me that it’s not sentiments about Mike Nolan repeating themselves, viz. a “defensive-minded” coach. In fact, it is a new phenomenon for the position of Offensive Coordinator to get as much attention as it does now. Nobody cared who Bill Walsh’s coordinator was, until we started to see Shanahan and Holmgren emerge as Head Coaches.

People know who Bruce Arians is, as Pittsburgh’s Offensive Coordinator, but he’s not known as an innovator by any stretch. In my opinion, I believe many fans are too easily swayed by whether or not a coordinator has a name people would recognize, or whether they have coached in the Super Bowl or Playoffs. There are so many variables that go into successful teams, that to suggest the Offensive Coordinator is the most important piece to that would be folly.

Throughout his career, Raye rarely had a top-tier defense, so it’s hardly fair to blame him for the team records. Coordinators also must answer to the Head Coach, who is supposed to provide the framework in which to operate. On the rare occasion Raye had talent in the backfield, he made spectacular use of them. On a few occasions you see where the back had significant numbers in the passing game, which bodes well for Gore as a multi-purpose threat. In 2000, he had arguably one of the least stellar backfields in history and a career backup in Grbac as his starter, yet Gonzalez and Alexander both exceeded 1000 yards receiving.

We know Frank Gore is the most talented player on the 49ers roster, so it only makes sense that he be highlighted, and we know Mike Martz is not the man to do that with our personnel. What we don’t know is just how good everyone else around him really is. We haven’t had a winning record since Gore has arrived, so the assumption is that his supporting cast may not be very good. However, one cannot ignore the specter of Mike Nolan. He proved himself a terrible coach, so we don’t really know how his work may have held players back or failed to bring the best out of them.

Singletary and his staff, including Jimmy Raye, have an opportunity to show us the answer to those questions. I suggest we give them that opportunity.

2005: Raiders (4-12) Head coach: Norv Turner
Total offense 21st, Rushing 29th, Passing 10th, Pts 23rd

QB: Kerry Collins 3759 Yds, 20 TDs 12 INTs 39 Sacks
RB: LaMont Jordan 1025 Yds, 9 TDs
WR: Randy Moss 60 rec 1005 Yds

* LaMont Jordan 70 rec 563 Yds
* 27th total defense, 23.9 ppg and 330 ypg

2004: Raiders (5-11) Head coach: Turner
Total offense 17th, Rushing 32nd, Passing 8th, Pts 18th

QB: Kerry Collins 3495 Yds, 21 TDs 20 INTs 25 Sacks
RB: Amos Zereoue 425 Yds 3 TDs
WR: Jerry Porter 64 rec 998 Yds

* 30th total defense, 27.6 ppg and 371 ypg
* Turner oversaw the bulk of the play-calling.

2001: Redskins (8-8 ) Head coach: Marty Schottenheimer
Total offense 28th, Rushing 8th, Passing 30th, Pts 28th

QB: Tony Banks 2386 Yds, 10 TDs 10 INTs 29 Sacks
RB: Stephen Davis 1432 Yds 5 TDs
WR: Michael Westbrook 57 rec 554 Yds

* 10th Total Defense, 18.9 ppg, 302.9 ypg

2000: Chiefs (7-9) Head coach: Gunther Cunningham
Total offense 8th, Rushing 25th, Passing 5th, Pts 9th

QB: Elvis Grbac 4169 Yds, 28 TDs 14 INTs 29 Sacks
RB: Tony Richardson 697 Yds 3 TDs
TE: Tony Gonzalez 93 rec 1203 Yds 9 TDs

* Kimble Anders was the HB
* Derrick Alexander 78 Rec 1391 Yds 10 TDs
* 18th Total Defense, 22.1 ppg, 330 ypg

1999: Chiefs (9-7) Head coach: Cunningham
Total offense 12th, Rushing 4th, Passing 22nd, Pts 8th (tie)

QB: Elvis Grbac 3389 Yds, 22 TDs 15 INTs 26 Sacks
RB: Donnell Bennett 627 Yds 8 TDs
TE: Tony Gonzalez 76 rec 849 Yds 11 TDs

* Bam Morris 414 Yds
* Derrick Alexander 54 rec 832 Yds 2 TDs
* 14th Total Defense, 20.1 ppg, 314.9 ypg

1998: Chiefs (7-9) Head coach: Schottenheimer
Total offense 19th, Rushing 23rd, Passing 16th, Pts 14th

QB: Rich Gannon 2305 Yds, 10 TDs 6 INTs 25 Sacks
RB: Donnell Bennett 527 Yds 5 TDs
TE: Tony Gonzalez 621 Yds 2 TDs

* Kimble Anders 64 Rec 462 Yds 2 TDs
* Bam Morris 481 Yds 8 TDs
* 9th Total Defense, 22.7 ppg 303.4 ypg

1991: Rams (3-13) Head coach: John Robinson
Total offense 18th, Rushing 27th, Passing 7th, Pts 24th

QB: Jim Everett 3438 Yds 11 TDs 20 INTs 30 Sacks
RB: Robert Delpino 688 Yds 9 TDs
WR: Henry Ellard 64 Rec 1052 yds 3 TDs

* 21st Total Defense, 24.4 ppg 325.2 ypg

1990: Patriots (1-15) Head coach: Rod Rust
Total offense 26th, Rushing 25th, Passing 20th, Pts 28th

QB: Marc Wilson 1625 Yds 6 TDs 11 INTs 29 Sacks
QB: Tom Hodson 968 Yds 4 TDs 5 INTs 20 Sacks
QB: Steve Grogan 615 Yds 4 TDs 3 INTs 9 Sacks
RB: John Stephens 808 Yds 2 TDs
WR: Irving Fryar 856 Yds 5 TDs

* 27th Total Defense, 27.9 ppg 356.1 ypg

1986: Buccaneers (2-14) Head coach: Leeman Bennett
Total offense 27th, Rushing 12th, Passing 27th, Pts 26th

QB: Steve Young 2282 Yds 8 TDs 13 INTs 47 Sacks
RB: James Wilder 704 Yds 2 TDs
WR: Calvin Magee 45 Rec 564 Yds 5 TDs

* Steve Young 425 Rush Yds 5 TDs
* Steve DeBerg 610 Yds 5 TDs 12 INTs 9 Sacks
* 28th (Last) Total Defense, 29.6 ppg, 395.8 ypg

1985: Buccaneers (2-14) Head coach: Bennett
Total offense 23rd, Rushing 21st, Passing 17th, Pts 21st

QB: Steve DeBerg 2488 Yds 19 TDs 18 INTs 19 Sacks
RB: James Wilder 1300 Yds 10 TDs
WR: Kevin House 44 Rec 803 Yds 5 TDs

* Steve Young 935 Yds 3 TDs 8 INTs 21 Sacks
* James Wilder 53 Rec 341 Yds

1984: Rams (10-6) Head coach: Robinson

Total offense 21st, Rushing 2nd, Passing 27th, Pts 12th

QB: Jeff Kemp 2021 Yds 13 TDs 7 INTs 24 Sacks
RB: Eric Dickerson 2105 Yds 14 TDs
WR: Henry Ellard 34 Rec 622 Yds 6 TDs

* 14th Total Defense 19.8 ppg 328.7 ypg

1983: Rams (9-7) Head coach: Robinson
Total offense 12th, Rushing 9th, Passing 12th, Pts 11th

QB: Vince Ferragamo 3276 Yds 22 TDs 23 INTs 21 Sacks
RB: Eric Dickerson 1808 Yds 18 TDs
WR: Mike Barber 55 rec 657 Yds 3 TDs

* Eric Dickerson 51 Rec 404 Yds 2 TDs
* 15th Total Defense 21.5 ppg 336.6 ypgA

The Sullying of Alex Smith

Let the love fest for Trent Dilfer begin.

When Alex Smith went out with a separated shoulder, opinion ran the gamut on when he would see action again, whether or not he would require surgery, and how this injury would affect the 49ers season.  Smith started against New Orleans, and after every throw he would grimace and pull on his shoulder pad at the obvious discomfort in his shoulder.  Time after time his throws sailed on him, something they had never done before.

We saw Smith go to the sideline where trainers removed his pads, pressed his shoulder down, taped it up, and he came back out.  After the game Smith was praised by his coach for his toughness, and we all hailed him as finally becoming the leader on this team.  However, this sort of thing continued against Atlanta, and finally the debacle against Seattle on Monday Night Football.  Fans declared on the message boards that something was still medically wrong with Alex Smith, and he shouldn’t even be out there.  Cries abounded that Mike Nolan was mortgaging the future and wasting his very expensive quarterback of the future.

After the Seattle game, the obvious truth came out:  Alex Smith was still hurt, and it was affecting his play.  Now, Mike Nolan had two roads to pick here, and unfortunately for him and us, he took the low one.  For the entire length of the losing streak, we heard Mike Nolan say that the losses came down to execution by the players, and in large part he was right.  From Wide Receiver drops to Offensive line play, I’ve screamed this from the mountaintops, and it’s very fair to say.

However, Nolan also failed to realize the ineptitude of his Offensive Coordinator until Week Eleven!  The medical staff also apparently failed to recognize that Smith’s ligaments were still torn!  How does this escape doctors reading an MRI?  In fact, we were flat lied to because they said it appeared that the ligaments had reattached and had scarred over properly, and the only thing that remained was to play through pain. 

We now know that to be patently false, for in fact the ligaments are still torn and have not scarred over, and Smith may after all require surgery.  We also now understand that the agressive rehabilitation strained Smith’s forearm, rendering him incapable of gripping the ball properly, directly resulting in the sailing throws.

Mike Nolan continued the player execution mantra, saying Smith was fine and merely lacked confidence throwing the football, and Smith had finally had enough.  When Nolan decried his quarterback going to the media first, Smith was asked about it.  He said he did in fact tell Nolan that he was not up to par, but that he was apparently misunderstood.  Judging by Mike Nolan’s historic inability to:

  1. Understand offense
  2. Realize Hostler’s shortcomings
  3. Properly use timeouts
  4. Bench an offensive lineman for bad play
  5. Bench a wide receiver for bad play
  6. Know how a player did BEFORE reviewing game film…

Is it really any surprise that he would misunderstand what Smith is telling him?

Instead, after praising Smith’s toughness, Nolan said, “Everybody’s sore.  I’m sore, but do I talk about it?  No.”  Nolan gave us the old “Tom Brady played well last year with a forearm strain,” without mentioning the severity of said strain.  When Smith’s agent Tom Condon said that the rehabilitation from the injury was too much too soon, thereby causing the forearm strain, Mike Nolan said, “I respect your question, but I don’t respect the source,” a backhanded insult to Condon. When Julian Peterson of the Seahawks said that Smith was still hurt, Nolan lambasted him as not being a doctor.  Turns out he was right, eh Mike?

Finally, in the most astounding episode of this saga to date, Mike Nolan apparently stated some time after the Rams game, that Dilfer’s performance in that game was “the best quarterbacking play since I came to the team.”  If this is true, this is the most ridiculous, most asenine, most detrimental thing to say in regard to his relationship with Alex Smith.  Trent Dilfer threw for 47%, 232 yards, and 2 interceptions, for a quarterback rating somewhere around 48.  Last I checked, Alex Smith has had a slew games better than that, most especially last year’s performance in Seattle.

To be told Trent Dilfer is a better quarterback for throwing no touchdowns and two interceptions can only come across poorly to Smith.  He is the youngest starting quarterback in the NFL, and one of the youngest starters ever.  It is hardly fair to say that with the offense finally having gotten on track that Smith had ample chance to show his improvement.  It is so easy to forget that Smith’s accurate passes have been dropped, or that the line failed to open any lanes for Frank Gore in roughly every game in which Smith played.  And we cannot understate the effect of his injury.

Mike Nolan may be thinking that if he ticks Alex off enough, the fire in his belly will be unquenchable and he’ll develop that devil-may-care, stay out of my way attitude displayed by Brett Favre, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.  He’s walking a fine line here, though.  On the other side lies the crushing of a kid’s confidence and livelihood, or the forced trade of a commodity any number of NFL teams would jump at the chance to acquire.  It’s okay, though: maybe Nolan will part with him for a 4th round pick.  I’m not worried about Alex Smith.  I’m worried that we might lose him for good.

As far as Trent Dilfer is concerned, his whole career has been marked by average games followed by terrible performances.  Dilfer has long since been crowned king of the letdown.  He’s so old that he was a bust before Akili Smith was a bust.  He’s the only Super Bowl-winning quarterback to be traded by his team the following season.  As a matter of fact, his career passer rating is about equal to Smith’s rating from last season. 

Over the course of his career, Dilfer has failed to be cognizant of his own limitations.  Whenever people praise him enough, whenever he has a game most would consider good, he begins to think of himself as John Elway.  In his Super Bowl winning season he played in 11 games, threw for 1500 yards on 59% completions, threw 12 touchdowns to 11 interceptions and finished the season with a rating of 76.6.  His career average is 6.6 yards per completion, nowhere close to the elites of the league, and he has never thrown for more than 2,800 yards in a season.

Conversely, last season Smith threw for 2980 yards, 58% completions, 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, and finished with a rating of 74.8 in his second year as a pro.  So drag the name of Alex Smith through the mud, 49er fans.  It’s so very easy to do. 

After all, we have the guy who was traded because Elvis Grbac was seen as an upgrade to a Super Bowl winner.


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