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New York Times: Post-Week 1, 2013

For the past few years, I have written a weekly in-season article for the New York Times’ football blog, The Fifth Down. The Fifth Down has been folded into the regular sports section, so you can find my weekly articles on the NYT Sports Page. The main subject in my article this week revolved around Chip Kelly’s NFL debut and the failure of the running game in week one. But since today is also game day, here is an excerpt about a bit of trivia for the Jets-Patriots game:

Belichick against Rookies

The Patriots defeated Buffalo and rookie quarterback EJ Manuel on Sunday, 23-21. On Thursday Night, rookie Geno Smith and the New York Jets travel to New England in hopes of pulling off a big upset. Rookie quarterbacks are now just 4-11 in games against Bill Belichick’s Patriots, although one of those wins came from the last Jets rookie to start against New England: Mark Sanchez. New York is a thirteen-point underdog in week two, which is par for the course. With the exception of a meaningless week 17 game against Vince Young and the Tennessee Titans in week 17, 2006, no team with a rookie quarterback has ever been favored to beat Belichick’s Patriots. At thirteen points, that makes Smith’s Jets the largest underdog of any of these rookie-led teams.

20131BUFEJ ManuelHomeBoxscore10Loss2123
20126SEARussell WilsonHomeBoxscore4Win2423
201211INDAndrew LuckRoadBoxscore10Loss2459
201213MIARyan TannehillHomeBoxscore9Loss1623
201217MIARyan TannehillRoadBoxscore10Loss028
20109CLEColt McCoyHomeBoxscore4Win3414
20092NYJMark SanchezHomeBoxscore3.5Win169
200911NYJMark SanchezRoadBoxscore11Loss1431
200617TENVince YoungHomeBoxscore-3Loss2340
20048PITBen RoethlisbergerHomeBoxscore3Win3420
200413CLELuke McCownHomeBoxscore11Loss1542
200420PITBen RoethlisbergerHomeBoxscore3Loss2741
200315JAXByron LeftwichRoadBoxscore6Loss1327
200213DETJoey HarringtonHomeBoxscore6Loss1220
200117CARChris WeinkeHomeBoxscore6.5Loss638

For his career, Belichick is 18-9 as a head coach or defensive coordinator against rookie quarterbacks.

You can read the full article here.

  • Sunrise089

    Chase, I didn’t want the Eagles game so take this with a grain of salt, but could this be an example of arbitrary endpoints fitting into a narrative that lots of sportswriters want to write? Philly’s overall play count doesn’t seem too high, and while I understand their second half slowdown could be intentional, that also corresponded to fewer free possessions via turnovers. Not saying there ISN’T something special about the offense, but the data doesn’t convince me. Maybe had I watched my eyes would have…

    • Chase Stuart

      According to MNF, the 53 snaps in the first half were the most of any team since the ’98 Vikings. I think both the pace and the running game are very real. If we look at just first-half stats — 53 snaps, McCoy well over 100 yards — I think that makes the case.

      To be fair, Philly got lucky in terms of plays, too. They fumbled and it was returned for a TD right at the Washington goal line, and the Redskins committed two turnovers — all of those things contributed to the high play count. I’m not sure there’s something special about the offense, but the stats do show that just about every team in the NFL was terrible at running in week one except Philadelphia.

  • Mark


    Thanks for this. As always the question is, compared to what? Eg Belicick’s record against vet QBs or better vs overall rookie win loss records

    • Chase Stuart

      Well, someone asked me what Belichick’s record was against rookies, and I thought that would make for a neat post. A bit of trivia for the folks to get ready for the game.

      • Nate

        By my reconing New England is 163 and 53 since 2001 when Tom Brady started. The average opponent has just under a 25% history of win, and rookies won just over 25% of the time, but the sample sizes are way too small to make any meaningful inferences on the scale of the difference.

  • Mark

    Fair enough. As a predictor of tonight’s outcome that’s a good one. I was just looking at it from the Belicick side and how to put his record in context.

    Last year excepted I would think most rookie QBs have mediocre records, otherwise why were they drafted and why are they starting so soon?