Which One?

A friend of mine who is a Vikings fan is concerned about rumors that the Vikings might replace their current QBs with Kirk Cousins, now that he seems available. His position is that while Cousins is a fine quarterback, the cost to obtain him will be greater than any difference between him and the QBs currently on the roster.

The discussion requires more than what I can do with Twitter, even with 280 characters, so I’m going to do a blog post.

The QBs in question are:
Kirk Cousins (29 years old, 57 games started)
Teddy Bridgewater (25 yo, 28 gs)
Sam Bradford (30 yo, 80 gs)
Case Keenum (30 yo, 38 gs)

Teddy Bridgewater is the youngest, and the rest are all essentially the same age. Bridgewater is also the one with the least number of games started, but we still have about two full years of data to work with.

The single most important stat when looking at QB passing is ANY/A. This is Average Net Yards per Attempt. Here is the formula: (pass yards + 20*(pass TD) – 45*(interceptions thrown) – sack yards)/(passing attempts + sacks). Since it is per attempt, we can get an idea of efficiency per play, which will reward skill as opposed to opportunity.  I’m not going to use this raw stat, but instead use the indexed version called ANY/A+ where 100 is average for a given year, so an ANY/A+ of over 100 is better than average, and less than 100 is worse than average.

I’ll also use the indexed version of some other stats. If you see a “+” in a stat, then again 100 is average for a year. Indexing makes it much more clear how a player is doing in a given year.

I’m also going to refer to AV, which is a stat the Pro Football Reference came up with to get a general approximation of player value. You can find more about its use and limitation here: https://www.pro-football-reference.com/blog/index37a8.html. It’s not a perfect stat, but it helps with general things like games played, durability, all-pro years, and that sort of thing. I’ll divide AV by games started to get an idea of what the game average is.

The above focus on passing only, so when I break things down later, I’m also going to refer to QBR, ESPN’s proprietary stat that includes running ability, and the raw rushing and fumble stats. Quarterback rating and ANY/A do not include their ability to rush, and for some quarterbacks, that’s a big part of their contribution.

So let’s see how they stack up on three  main stats. One note, all of these are their career stats, in order to get the largest possible sample size. I’ll discuss individual years as needed.

Anyway, here are the QBs:
Cousins (ANY/A+ 109, Rating+ 107,  AV/gs 0.75)
Bridgewater (ANY/A+ 91, Rating+ 97,  AV/gs 0.79)
Bradford (ANY/A+ 93, Rating+ 97,  AV/gs 0.60)
Keenum (ANY/A+ 99, Rating+ 97,  AV/gs 0.63)

One note, I’m fudging a bit on Bridgewater and Keenum’s ANY/A+ and Rating+, since they haven’t played enough games for Pro Football Reference to have totaled their career results. I calculated the scores as best I could, but I might be off by a bit. Keenum, in particular, I might be shortchanging. Still, these are close enough to work with.

As you can see, the only place where Cousins doesn’t dominate the others is Bridgewater’s AV/gs. In all the rest of the categories, each of the others is below average, while Cousins is well above average.

Let’s glance at the subsidiary stats to see if we can find why Bridgewater’s AV/gs is so high and see if there’s a way that the other QBs can match Cousins. Here we’ll see yards per carry, yards per game, and fumbles per game. Since there are much fewer of these than pass attempts, I’ll toss out a few years where the QB didn’t play much and these numbers obscure, rather than show, the actual talent in question.

Cousins (3.0 ypc, 6.7 ypg, 0.65 f/g)
Bridgewater (4.4 ypc, 14.3 ypg, 0.39 f/g)
Bradford (2.4 ypc, 4.3 ypg, 0.59 f/g)
Keenum (3.4 ypc, 7.9 ypg, 0.42 f/g)

Here we can see that if we take rushing into account Bridgewater is clearly the best of them all. He rushes for more yards per carry and per game and has fewer fumbles than them all. Bradford is awful at running, while Cousins and Keenum are mediocre. Cousins main problem, though, is his fumbles per game, worst of the four.

However, let’s look at QBR, which attempts to quantify all of the above to see if that problem puts one of the other QBs over the top. We can’t see a true average here, so I’m going to list the QBR for each QB the years where they played more than 10 games.

Cousins (71.7, 66.1, 50.5)
Bridgewater (54.4, 57.5)
Bradford (47.0, 30.5, 51.6, 42.1, 57.3)
Keenum (37.1, 71.3)

As you can see, Cousins comes off well here again. Keenum had one very good year this past year, but that might be his career year. Certainly, it represents a major step up from previous years, where he has had some decent opportunities. Bradford has these mediocre years, but was off to a great start in 2017, having a 72.4 QBR in those first 2 games. However, that’s a really small sample size and I would not lend it much credence.

It’s also clear that last year was the worst one as a starter for Cousins. His completion percentage was down, interceptions up, fumbles up, and his ANY/A was the worst of his starter years by quite a bit. Also, in 2017 his sack percentage almost doubled from 2016, leading me to think he was running for his life, thereby hurting his production. Thus, 2017 seems like it’s an aberration, but even with that he was about where the others were, except for Keenum, in QBR, and his career rating and ANY/A is much better than the rest.

But then, what about Keenum? Is that 71.3 reflective of him finally getting a full shot or just a career year. I would guess it’s a career year, as everything screams fluke year. His completion percentage hovered around 60% in all of his previous years, but he had a 67.6% completion percentage in 2017. His TD rate was around 2.9 previous, but was 4.5 in 2017. He threw far fewer INTs per pass. In short, in every category he was markedly better than his previous level of play.

Given their similar age (Cousins being younger by about half a year), and their prior track record, I will bet good money that Cousins would significantly outperform Keenum, given the same OLine and receiver set.

Interestingly, all of these QBs are unrestricted free agents. The Vikings might have a case that Bridgewater is under contract for another year, but it’s iffy and they don’t plan to contest it, thus Bridgewater will be free.

That means all of these will command big salaries if they are signed to be the starter. To discuss them, I will assume five year contracts to be consistent with Jimmy Garappolo’s recent contract that sets the bar.

Keenum will probably be the least expensive, but if signed to be a starter, I would expect a contract in the upper teens. Same for Bridgewater. Bradford is unlikely to sign with anyone for less than $20 million per year, if signed to be a starter, and he will expect that.

Cousins will be the most effective, and I bet he’ll be something like five years, $145 million, with something like $80 million guaranteed. That’s more money than Garappolo, but less guaranteed, which I think is likely given the age difference. I could be wrong, though, and Cousins might get over $100 million guaranteed.

Now, given this research here: http://socalledfantasyexperts.com/aging-curve-nfl-offensive-players-every-single-position, we can guess how the QBs will play out a five year contract.

Assuming Keenum’s only good year is valid, he would looking something like this, based on a normal AV aging curve: 13 AV, 12, 12, 10, and 9, or 56 AV total over the life of a 5 year contract. That’s his ceiling.

Bradford, based on 2016’s AV (last full season), would look something like 10, 9, 9, 7, 6, which is clearly much worse than Keenum. How Bradford keeps getting paid is beyond me. He’s a bad QB and will continue to be so.

Bridgewater is the only one of the QBs on the upslope of his aging curve. If he is healthy, a big if, and if he returns to his 2016 form at age 23, then his AV curve could look like:  15, 16, 16, 15, 15, or a total of 77. That’s probably an ideal scenario for him, though, given the severity of his injury. We don’t actually know if he’s recovered.

I’m going to also choose Cousins’ 2016 year, which matches the curve better and reflects more of his QBR base than last year where his OLine let him down. His AV curve would then go something like 15, 14, 14, 13, 12, giving a total of 68. This seems a likely scenario for me, and those are very good AVs.

In the end, I would still choose Cousins over Bridgewater because Bridgewater’s primary argument is based upon him returning fully healthy and then immediately going back to where he was at 23, thereby fulfilling his aging curve. Cousins, on the other hand, bases his argument on being a much better passer over a larger sample size.

Basically, I don’t think Bridgewater fulfills that aging curve projection. One, I took the best possible scenario. Two, I don’t think he’s healthy. He certainly didn’t look it last year. Also, the Vikings have to know his medical situation better than anyone and they are not trying to keep him for one more year of his rookie contract.

This, to me, is huge. Rookie contracts in the NFL are great for teams. Like I said, a starting QB in the NFL starts at around $15 million per year, whereas the final year of a rookie contract is under $1 million. If Bridgewater was healthy, the Vikings would work real hard to keep that huge hit off their salary cap.

Now, if you know, absolutely know, that Bridgewater can come back and still improve based on a normal aging curve, then you’ll want to give Bridgewater the 5 year contract. The Vikings, however, have chosen to go away from him, meaning of the rest, Cousins is the clear winner to me.

So, there you go. The answer was closer than I expected, and I didn’t actually expect Bridgewater to be the primary competition for Cousins, but age is huge in the NFL. Still, I feel confident that Cousins would be the best of these four options for the Vikings.

Which means as a Cowboys fan, I’m rooting for Cousins to go to the Broncos.

Rob’s Update: Waving Towards the Clearing Sky

Week 8 of 2018

Greetings everyone, with a special shout out to all of those I added this week. Thanks for joining me here.

It was a busy week, highlighted by Planet Comicon. I had a great time, and it was my best year yet. You can find my full AAR at: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=950.

One result from Planet Comicon is discovery of some more regional cons. You’ll see that I’ve added O Comic Con, an Omaha convention to my list. I’ve got several others I’m looking at in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Salina, and Hutchinson. Going to be a busy summer.

Sometimes the exhaustion of a busy con like Planet Comicon can help me think through things. I don’t have a solid number of words on Brief Is My Flame this week because I’m in the midst of switching something around. Basically, I had characters coming at something in one direction and that was fighting me. By flipping the direction, everything falls into place. The good news is that all the work I’ve done will go directly into None Call Me Mother.

I didn’t get a chance to do much writing on anything else. I did some work on the Wikis, but essentially this last week was about Planet Comicon and nothing else.

However, after I recover from a successful convention, I tend to get enthusiastic about where I am and what I’m doing. Sometimes writing is just a slog, but you gotta push through that. Not this week.

In fact, it’s time for me to get back to work.

Current Playlist Song: “Peaceable Kingdom” by Rush. Now Rush has effectively called it quits, but we thought that might be the case in the late 90s after a couple of tragedies made it so that Neil Peart didn’t want to play anymore. However, he came back and Rush gave us three brilliant albums: Vapor Trails, Snakes & Arrows, and Clockwork Angels. This one is from Vapor Trails.

Quote of the Week

Today is the birthday of Anthony Daniels. You might know him better as C-3PO. Here’s a quote from the man himself.

“I have a greater appreciation for kitchen appliances, having played one.” – Anthony Daniels

News and Works in Progress

  • TAV (1144)
  • AFS (2681)
  • Brief Is My Flame (?)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events


Today’s spotlight is on a just released novel in the Four Horsemen Universe, Assassin by Kacey Ezell and Marisa Wolf. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079YTRLFN/

Today’s Weight: 384.0

Updated Word Count: 14441

Shijuren Wiki: 738 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 159 entries

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels

Currently Available Works

If you think you received this email incorrectly or wish to be unsubscribed, please send an email to shijuren-owner@robhowell.org

Planet Comicon AAR

Greetings all

I’m home from my best Planet Comicon yet. As usual, I sold some books, met lots of people, chatted with other authors and artists, learned some stuff, and saw some great cosplays.

I should start by saying that my sales were significantly up from previous years. The big increase came from copies of For a Few Credits More. I think that this is a great sign, actually. Not everyone likes medieval fantasy, but my spiel might still be effective enough to get them interested in something by me, hence buying the military science fiction. When I add the superhero noir in the Pussy Katnip world, I’ll have another option available that ought to do real well at cons.

I saw on some of the lists that many other vendors thought the weekend was light on sales. It certainly seemed light for a Saturday, but it was my best Friday and Sunday yet for me. It might be that my sales were up with overall less traffic because I’m now a traditional regular with a larger variety of stuff, so both experiences might be valid. However, I was encouraged.

Once again, I was not on panels here. I’ve been waffling on that. On the one hand, it’s a good way to get in front of a bunch of people. On the other, I have almost no sales unless I’m the one at the booth. Next year, I think I’ll try it, though, if only to experiment.

In general, things went very smoothly in terms of setting up and tear down. My helper, the proto-incipient stepdaughter, did a great job. She doe snot shy away from work, that one.

She does the work so she can go be a total fangirl, and she got some loot, including a signed picture of Mark Sheppard, a photo with Alan Tudyk, a signed hat from Alan Tudyk, and some other stuff. She also got a signed picture of Alan from Tucker and Dale vs. Evil for her mom. I got her mom a coffee mug of Grumpy Cat as Darth Vader. It seemed appropriate for her.

Part of the fun for me is seeing all of my friends come by, many of whom came by in great costumes. I like that I get to be a bit of a base for several of them.

Probably the most fun part of the weekend came from the daughter of some SCA friends. Somehow, when they were in the line for Alice Cooper, the topic of Girl Scout cookies came up. So she brought Thin Mints and Caramel Delights for him and got a selfie, which he never does.

One thing that Comicon is good for is to let me know of other con opportunities. I have already applied for one here in Omaha I didn’t know about, and have several I’ll join in on this week. My summer’s going to be busy, I think.

So, in conclusion, I’ll see you all at Planet Comicon 2019.

Rob’s Update: The Steaks Are High

Week 7 of 2018

Greetings all

I’m making my preparations for Planet Comicon. I hope to see all of you in the KC area there to join us. I’ll be at booth 2444, and it should be a great time. This is my third year there, and I’ve really enjoyed it.

There’s been a lot of navigating government websites this past week as I deal with state sales tax stuff. It always feels like a major accomplishment when I actually manage to get something tax related done. The behind the scenes stuff of being a writer is probably the worst thing.

Aside from imposter syndrome, which is endemic to us, I think.

Anyway, I got lots of stuff done on that side of things, as well as a goodly amount of writing. The breakthrough in Brief Is My Flame is coming, as I have my characters in places where things are bursting to happen.

I have also found out that I think I was a Jewish mother in a past life. I do most of the cooking around here, since I’m home writing during the day while my sweetie goes off to her 9 to 5 job. The only real problem is that I make too much food for her.

We didn’t do anything tonight for Valentine’s because she has a work project she is focused on and we decided to do something fun and whimsical when it’s complete. Still, I bought flowers and made steaks. However, I bought about three times the amount of steak she, I, and her daughter can eat. Yes, the steaks were high.

There are, I suppose, worse problems.

Current Playlist Song: This week’s song is the Olympic Theme, which is a fantastic song, actually.

Quote of the Week

Of course, the Winter Olympics are going on. I have them on in the background pretty much all the time. There are always great scenes of raw emotion as athletes give everything they got. Chloe Kim and Shaun White have been my favorites so far, as has the Matt Hamilton, the curler with the great mustache. Yeah, I love curling. It’s such a fun game to figure out the angles.

But the Winter Olympics are always defined for me by these words, from one of the most powerful moments in my life.

“Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”
– Al Michaels

News and Works in Progress

  • TAV (1144)
  • AFS (2681)
  • Brief Is My Flame (38567)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events


As I inch closer to Brief Is My Flame, I have to start thinking cover art. Fortunately, Patrick McEvoy of http://www.megaflowgraphics.com/ has been a master at deciphering what I want from my strange clues.

Today’s Weight: 386.8

Updated Word Count: 13,335

Shijuren Wiki: 738 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 133 entries

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels

Currently Available Works

If you think you received this email incorrectly or wish to be unsubscribed, please send an email to shijuren-owner@robhowell.org

Rob’s Update: Curse You, Flying Kitty

Week 6 of 2018

Greetings all

What a strange week. I don’t have much to show for it on this post, which is clearly late, but I know I got a bunch done.

One major project that had to be done was sort through my various computers to make sure I’ve got everything backed up and all the files where they’re supposed to be.

I’ve been on a bit of a time crunch as one laptop has to get out to the manufacturer in the next few days, so I had to make sure all the data was off of it. That meant organizing the files on my secondary laptop, which I’d need anyway because it’s the one I’m taking to Gulf. To make all of this work I copied it all on my desktop and organized everything. Then I bought a WD MyCloud WiFi drive to use as a backup to that, along with duplicate copies on my secondary laptops.

Along the way, I cleaned up and organized a variety of useful files that needed to be done, including starting my tax prep.

Next week is Planet Comicon. I got packed and ready for that this week. That included shifting to a new plastic case to carry books in. This has been an ongoing challenge. I was using some file holders, but they have proven too flimsy. WalMart had some new ones which fit the books nicely, are heavier plastic, and hold the right number, around twelve to fifteen. Books are heavy, so having smaller boxes is nice, but they need to hold a useful quantity.

I also took some time to watch the Falcon launch. Cool stuff, and especially the enthusiasm it seems to have kicked into space programs. I am reminded a bit of the shuttle program prior to the Challenger explosion. Like we were really gonna make it out there. I lost that feeling in the 90s. Nice to have it back.

So when did I write? Well, I didn’t, or at least, didn’t do a lot on Brief Is My Flame. I wrote more of the snippets and characters scenes for Mar’s Auction.

I will also freely admit I’m at the stage in the novel where it’s a fight to push through. I sit here in the 30s and 40s for a while, and then suddenly I’m in the 70s and 80s and trying to figure out how to stop in only 20-30k words. However, I’m at the procrasticleaning stage and haven’t pushed through it all yet.

I’ll keep plugging away, though. Have a great week, and I’ll work at doing the same.

Current Playlist Song: “Ormurin Langi,” by Tyr. Tyr is a Faroese Norse metal band, and this is their version of an old song. There’s some neat stuff about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ormurin_Langi

Quote of the Week

The World War 1 Flying Kitty has been especially active this week, including stealing a piece of chicken out of my bowl this morning.  This quote seems appropriate for her.

In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.
– Terry Pratchett

News and Works in Progress

  • TAV (1144)
  • AFS (2681)
  • Brief Is My Flame (36732)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • Really mediocre week for me on my blog and wiki

Upcoming Events


This week’s spotlight is on Jon Osborne, who is busily working on his sequel to the Reluctant Druid. You can find his work at: https://www.amazon.com/Jon-R.-Osborne/e/B073PKR8GS/

Today’s Weight: 389.2

Updated Word Count: 12706

Shijuren Wiki: 736 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 105 entries

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels

Currently Available Works

If you think you received this email incorrectly or wish to be unsubscribed, please send an email to shijuren-owner@robhowell.org