The NFL Playoffs started with a bang over the weekend. We saw incredible performances by top players up and down rosters, from starting QBs to less well-known contributors. With another action-packed weekend around the corner, let’s look back at the top offensive players at each skill position from Wild Card Weekend according to the Offensive Value Metric (OVM).
Why we are using the OVM to evaluate the top offensive players from Wild Card Weekend
For those unfamiliar with the metric, the OVM is a measuring system created by the (Bx) Movement. It grades QBs, RBs, WRs, and TEs based on how much influence they had on their offense’s success.
Using those parameters means that some of the players listed below might surprise you. None of them were the statistical leaders at their positions. In fact, several had games that seem downright disappointing by conventional standards.
However, it is essential to remember what kind of player earns high OVM grades. They are not necessarily the most talented players from the week or those with the best box score statistics. Instead, they are those who performed the best given the situations they were in. And that won’t always align with traditional statistical success.
Top offensive players from Wild Card Weekend: QB
Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears: 35.25 (199 YDS, 1 TD)
We begin with a player that I doubt anyone was expecting to see on this list. After all, Trubisky was on the losing side of the least competitive game of the weekend.
In what might have been his last appearance as the Bears starting QB, Trubisky’s offense was unable to get anything going against the New Orleans Saints. For the vast majority of the game, it produced just three points. The only touchdown the team was able to score occurred as time expired in the fourth quarter.
However, as is so often the case, scapegoating the QB for the offense’s struggles oversimplifies the situation. As you can see from his OVM grade, Trubisky provided significantly more value to the Bears offense than his statistics might indicate.
Explaining Trubisky’s high OVM grade
Trubisky’s excellent performance on the OVM largely comes down to a high level of efficiency despite an aggressive play style.
On the surface, that doesn’t seem possible, as Trubisky’s 65.5% completion percentage does not look particularly impressive. Although, it is worth pointing out that it ranked in the top half of qualifying QBs during Wild Card Weekend. More importantly, according to the NFL’s calculations, Trubisky’s percentage was expected to be just 57.5%.
There are several factors involved in lowering Trubisky’s expected completion percentage. He threw into tight coverage on 27.6% of his pass attempts. That was the highest percentage of any of the 12 qualifying QBs from the weekend. He also threw the ball an average of 9.8 yards downfield, the fifth-highest average.
As such, while Trubisky’s numbers don’t look impressive, he completed 8% more of his passes than expected, the third-best differential of the weekend. And he did so despite consistently pushing the ball downfield into tight coverage.
On the whole, it was a solid outing from Trubisky, something that has been fairly common from him in recent weeks. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that his late-season surge will be enough to keep Trubisky in Chicago. However, it may have been enough to earn him a role elsewhere.
Top RB from Wild Card Weekend
Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans: 21.21 (40 YDS, 0 TD)
After pulling off the upset against the Baltimore Ravens in last season’s playoffs, the Titans lost the rematch on Sunday. Henry likely isn’t too pleased with his performance on Sunday, which was well below his usual standards in many ways. His low box score statistics speak for themselves, and the NFL’s best running back often appeared frustrated on the sidelines.
Most of Henry’s advanced metrics are unimpressive as well. His efficiency rating, which measures the number of yards a running back travels for each yard they gain on the field, was the second-highest of the weekend, at 6.26. He also gained an average of 1.05 fewer yards than expected on each of his attempts, the third-worst average. All told, he was one of Wild Card Weekend’s least efficient running backs.
Despite those struggles, Henry still earned his highest OVM grade of the season. That is because of how much resistance he faced.
The Ravens had eight or more defenders in the box against him 72.22% of the time — a percentage surpassed on only three occasions during the entire NFL season to this point. Even for a running back of Henry’s caliber, it would take a monumental performance to have a good statistical game in those conditions.
Baltimore committed everything to stop Henry from running them over in the same way he did last season. Unfortunately, the Titans passing game wasn’t able to force them to reevaluate the situation. Henry is a phenomenal running back, one of the best in recent memory. However, even he couldn’t overcome such difficult circumstances. Still, he put forth a valiant effort.
Top WR from Wild Card Weekend
Deonte Harris, New Orleans Saints: 50.12 (83 YDS, 0 TD)
Harris picked an excellent time to have his best game of the season. The second-year wide receiver had the most single-game yards of his career, leading the Saints in receiving yards against Chicago. He also received the highest OVM grade of any player during Wild Card Weekend, despite this game being just the third time in his career that he qualified for a grade.
In terms of his advanced metrics, Harris was exceptional. He caught 100% of his targets, one of just two wide receivers to do so during Wild Card Weekend. Additionally, while he was given an above-average amount of cushion, at 6.3 yards on average, he made the most of that space by averaging 4.8 yards of separation when targeted. That was the highest average among all qualifying players.
All told, it was a breakout performance for the young receiver. It seems likely that New Orleans would have found a way to defeat the Bears even without a career-best day from Harris. Still, the Saints probably wouldn’t be upset if he continues to contribute at a high level as the playoffs progress. However, even if he doesn’t, Harris still led the OVM’s top offensive players from Wild Card Weekend.
Top TE from Wild Card Weekend
Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts: 36 (70 YDS, 1 TD)
The Buffalo Bills’ playoff victory was one of Wild Card Weekend’s best storylines. It was their first in more than a quarter of a century. However, the elation felt by Buffalo is unlikely to console Indianapolis, who fell just short of pulling off the upset.
Still, we shouldn’t allow the Bills’ success to completely overshadow the Colts players who performed at a high level. Doyle is an excellent example. The veteran tight end had his most successful game of the season on Saturday. He earned both his highest yardage total and his highest OVM grade of 2020.
He caught 77.78% of his targets, more than 10% higher than the next qualifying tight end. Additionally, despite being given 5.5 yards of cushion, third-lowest among qualifying tight ends, he still managed to average three yards of separation when targeted. That was tied for the third-highest average.
Doyle’s performance might not have been enough to propel the Colts to victory, but it should still be commended. He played a relatively minor role in Indianapolis’ passing game this season. Wild Card Weekend was only the second time he was targeted enough to qualify for an OVM grade this season. However, his performance against Buffalo showed that he can still be a valuable contributor.
Lucas Ellinas is a writer for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter @Lucas_Ellinas.
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