The smartest football analytics guy we know Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders provides his DVOA on Lamar Jackson and the value of his quarterback play to the Ravens – or any potential suitor in the NFL.
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Aaron Schatz, Nestor Aparicio
Nestor Aparicio 00:01
Looking back at W n s t Towson, Baltimore and Baltimore positive we are taking the Maryland crabcake tour out on the road presented by the Maryland lottery it is really cool. It’s I hope they never give me other scratches. Hope they keep these 50th anniversary scratch offs forever. Because I remember these from almost 50 years ago we give him his way throughout crab cakes are also our friends at the window nation 866 90 nation they give me the floppy hat I get the crab cakes, we get to go all over the place. And at least for this week, we’re going to be watching the Terps on Thursday at Barstool Sports in Hollywood casino up in Perry Ville, Maryland. We’re all behind you. So I’m wearing my state fair of Catonsville shirt with has the Maryland flag on it. Because it makes me think of chicken and waffles and really good stuff. I’ve had breakfast with this guy a few times at the NFL Combine this is before they threw me out of the NFL media for 27 years. But he and I used to dine on pasty oatmeal and really stale coffee on really cold days in winter days in Indianapolis where everyone else is hung over. But we were too busy getting out of bed for the underwear Olympics. He is really the OG the original. We welcome Aaron Schatz back on to the program. Originally introduced to me by James Schwartz underneath the original Hoosier dome low these two decades ago when Schwartz was still running around coaching the Tennessee Titans defense trying to figure that out he is a football outsiders you can follow him at fo underscore a shots. It’s not like the beer S C H A tz and, you know I love that he’s been on like all these highfalutin shows. It still makes time for us around a trading deadline a free agency deadline and tampering. Why aren’t you tampering right now shots? Why aren’t you I shouldn’t
Aaron Schatz 01:46
be I shouldn’t be calling writers from other websites and trying to negotiate for them to transfer to me is that what tampering period is like for for writers, I guess
Nestor Aparicio 01:56
you might get three number ones. I mean, you’re pretty good at what you do. I mean, I almost grabbed Lucas to bring this in, you know, I reached you and you are as Luke would say, and as you would say the ultimate football nerd and breaking down players and what they do and how they do it and systems and how they do it and rating them and how they do it and all of that filters to their value. And Billy keys to always say is a time for pay. And there’s a time for play. Now’s the time for pay. And we’re about to get off on all of this. And I just literally wanted your perspective because as we go to press here, and I’m an old newspaper guy, Aaron, you Lamar is getting mouthy on Twitter on the edge of the deadline and saying this is where the ravens are. This is his. This is him being an agent, right? He’s saying this is where it is. Where are you on watching this circus from afar as literally more of a football head than as a salary cap nerd.
Aaron Schatz 02:48
I mean, listen, the fact is that there are three kinds of quarterbacks in the NFL, there are quarterbacks who win for you. There are quarterbacks you can win win, and there are quarterbacks you can’t win with. And Lamar Jackson is a quarterback who wins for you. He’s not the top of the quarterbacks who win for you, right? He’s not Patrick mahomes. He’s not even Josh Allen. But he’s definitely in that category of guys who are special. And when those guys come up for contracts, you pay them because they’re really hard to find. And you don’t want to go into the quarterback wilderness where you’re signing Taylor handke and trying out third round picks for the next eight years. I mean, I think everybody knows that the biggest disagreements between Lamar Jackson and the Ravens has to do with guaranteed money. I think after Deshaun Watson, everybody assumes that after Deshaun Watson’s contract with Cleveland, that Lamar Jackson wants guaranteed money like what Deshaun Watson got and nobody not just the ravens, nobody wants to follow Cleveland down that hole of giving fully guaranteed contracts in the NFL.
Nestor Aparicio 04:02
Where were you when he came in the league on him running into linebackers because I I often say let’s go back to the Garden of Eden and the original sin the first time I watched the kid play in a number eight jersey, I was on the roof. And Canton, Ohio Ray Lewis was going into the Hall of Fame. We had a lot of fans out there. I’m up to that little rickety press box up there. They’re running around on whatever carpet they put out that day. And I watched him and I watched him take contact in July and football games hard contact, where guys we’re trying to make teams and make plays and do things. And I thought to myself, sustainability is the word right. You know, you know, how sustainable How many times is he going to do that and not be available in December or January? Well, the answer is the last two. And this is where Luke gets antsy with me because Luke, Luke is more of the defender and would say he got hurt in the pocket. You know what I mean? And they screw the offense off and they don’t pass the ball and often he could pass the ball more if you just gave him a chance and they both the thing around him, but they didn’t They haven’t and they did build it around the release needs and blockers and running and running. And I mean, a lot of things change without Mark Ingram. A lot of things changed with that Marsha Jana, a lot of things change without Ronnie Stanley. And then a lot of things change when you don’t have wide receivers that stay healthy get on the field perform. So there’s plenty of blame to go around about how they haven’t won Super Bowls. But you watch and I could get flipping here so you watch a lot of really shitty football. I mean, you watch you watch a lot of bad quarterback play. You watch the whole league, you watch the you don’t just watch Patrick mahomes You’re watching the guys like, Oh, my God, this guy’s overwhelmed. He’s not good enough. What what? Where is Lamar for you and just installing him and system x and running system why and why a team and why the Ravens were but team that said, we’re going to change everything about the way we do this. Because it feels early on, that the saints who were about to Shawn Watson last year said, We’ll take car, it felt early on the Panther said, let’s go get let’s go get a fresh kid, let’s go, we can go get to number one, let’s give a draft or two away, we’ll go do that. That’s what we want to sell to our fifth grade. Okay, let’s get instead of a $50 million year quarterback and a guarantee of whatever, three, four or five years, whatever that would be. To me the hardest part in this above and beyond owners and money and guaranteed is your head coach, your GM is going to stick their neck out and say, Alright, love the kid love the athlete, the love the durability, and he’s kind of got a run, he’s got to take contact to be who he is that that’s the part work. I like you when the science of all this five years ago would have said, This is why he was 31st. And this and him taking contact to me has to be an insurance issue, like driving a car on the freeway, you know what I mean? He just drives the car hard. And I think that I don’t know that everybody would want that right for their quarterback.
Aaron Schatz 06:52
I wonder whether the durability thing is him though. Research shows that scrambling quarterbacks do not in fact, get injured at a higher rate to pocket quarterbacks. So I don’t think it’s Lamar Jackson is a mobile quarterback and therefore he’s taking hits and getting hurt. I think it might be Lamar Jackson is Lamar Jackson. And therefore he’s getting hurt, like he might be sort of injury prone. And it might be about the sort of hits. He takes like different running quarterbacks are different in the amount that they slide the amount that they get out of bounds like he may be taking hit, maybe we can teach him to take fewer hits than he takes and get out of bounds more, maybe give up a couple of yards on some of these runs in order to like protect himself.
Nestor Aparicio 07:39
It felt like he did more of that last year. I mean, we’ve had people here call a call to business. He made some business decisions last year. And he played differently
Aaron Schatz 07:47
last year and business decisions are good because you want to stay in business, right business decisions are not good when you get to the playoffs, but at the regular season, you need to make some business decisions to stay in business. So I don’t know. I mean, I would you need to do medicals on him to figure out like Why has he gotten so injured over the last couple of years. But you’re right in that, you know, I’m going to defend him and say I think he’s a better pocket passer than anybody’s aware of I think you can throw more with him if you want to. I understand the offense to Baltimore runs because having Lamar Jackson having mobile quarterbacks in general but Lamar Jackson especially creates gravity, right? Where the defense has to respect the possibility that Lamar Jackson is going to run and it really opens up your running game for everybody else. And that’s why Baltimore runs better than almost any other team in the league because Lamar Jackson opens things up for them to do that no matter who their running backs are. But you can pass more with him they haven’t given him great receivers, although they’ve tried I mean, you know, they use the first round pick on Rashad Bateman. It’s not Lamar Jackson thought that Rashad Bateman can’t stay healthy.
Nestor Aparicio 08:57
Well, and certainly that affects his value, I think throughout the league to say, great when you’re in there haven’t been in there at the end, demanding guaranteed money, higher risk than anyone else. But is the reward higher than anywhere else. I mean, I guess he wants to be
Aaron Schatz 09:15
so good and 2019. Like we know what Lamar Jackson’s peak looks like. And it’s better his peak of what he was in 2019 is better than pretty much anyone in the league other than mahomes. The problem is he hasn’t been at that peak for three years.
Nestor Aparicio 09:31
And when assessing why that is, is I guess what? We’re all it’s what the market is doing right now and saying, Can I take him, plug him in? I need a quarterback. It’s the most important position that we have, can I plug him in? And will I immediately be better and you add these three categories, but But where in lies the value to these franchises and what they’re thinking about a guy who fundamentally has to take on content To be effective, I mean, going into the draft where Carolina’s going,
Aaron Schatz 10:04
I don’t understand some of the decisions, right? People, a lot of people have talked about this, you know, Lamar Jackson get keeps getting shipped to the Falcons, right? Everybody’s like, putting them together because the Falcons want to run this very play action run heavy offense. It seems perfectly for Lamar Jackson. I don’t know why the Falcons don’t want to give up two first round picks to sign him. Like I if I were the Falcons, I would absolutely consider that he fits what they want to do. I think he’s worth the money. I would consider it but they don’t seem to want to consider it. So at this point, Baltimore is sort of negotiating against themselves. There’s really no other team in the discussions. So you know, they’re offering what they’re offering. And I think they’re sort of sending Lamar Jackson the signal of go out there, find out if any other team wants to sign you and if not, come on back the offer still on the table. And I think he’s gonna end up having to take whatever their last offer was.
Nestor Aparicio 11:01
Yeah, I mean, I, we’ve gone a lot of directions here. And we haven’t even talked about the kid off the field and how he feels and the agent issue and how he’s marketed himself and how he probably cost themselves 20 million. He’s already 20 million underwater, just for playing last year and not taking a deal. He’d be further along toward free agency, if he just would have taken a three year guaranteed to you know, something that wouldn’t have been the standard. The union’s involved in this. Owner egos are involved in this the original sin of owner versus the the Players Association, all of that is baked into this, above and beyond why I called you which is the football player. Literally, it’s what you study is to say, Where would he work? Why wouldn’t it work? What would the salary cap look like? Or that number look like? I mean, part of the Panthers making the deal they made last week is jettisoning the salary too. So the moving around these 20 and 30 and $40 million football players under salary caps. Jalen Ramsey, I mean, all of this, these moves we’re seeing they’re different kinds of moves than just football moves.
Aaron Schatz 12:10
Right. But Atlanta, I mean, I talked about Atlanta as an example Atlanta has, I believe the cap room to sign him, which is why it’s sort of curious that they’re not interested. But I mean, Baltimore has prepared for him. He is the quarterback that they’ve prepared his cat for him to be the quarterback, the cat for him to be the quarterback, they’re ready to sign him. Whatever this offer was that he says that they gave him 133 For three years, they’re ready to sign that Shefter says that they offered 200 million over five years, although that’s not all guaranteed. So they’re ready to get him under their cap. He just needs to, he’s going to have to, I think come back with his tail between his legs a little bit going. Alright, guess I’m going back to Baltimore. No one else is making the offer?
Nestor Aparicio 12:57
Well, nobody is saying you’re the best quarterback that I’m ready to go beat Allen burrow and mahomes with you, right? I mean, nobody’s saying, your mind guy. I’m all in Let’s ride. And I’m not even sure that the Ravens have said that at any point. And I’m not sure that there hasn’t been tremendous friction, calluses, bruised feelings, whatever all of that is on both sides of the fence. Even when the Ravens don’t have feelings, they just have football, their feelings might be we’ve had enough and when it comes time to restructure what are we, you know, who are we going to call and all of these really important things that Steve shoddy would say about the future the franchise isn’t the next one or two or three years with Lamar Jackson. And they have a unique structure in their in their their their executives were to cost and hardball feel like they’re lifers. Right whereas Joe Douglas and Robert Saylor are running around chasing Aaron Rodgers in some peyote form this week who knows right hoping he comes because they’re not gonna have a gag these guys can move on and take draft picks it that that’s a flexibility here that I think another a an agent I mean, we’ve got I’ve been on with you 15 minutes here and I haven’t said the word agent yet. But this is where I think the Ravens fifth is felt like to me i Sports Radio guidance covering this for 30 years. It feels like to me the Ravens were just happy to have somebody else sign them and take some draft picks and just say you know what,
Aaron Schatz 14:26
but nobody’s it’s not going to happen. Nobody’s coming out to do it. So he’s gonna have they’re like, this is the offer we made and he’s going to have to be he’s going to have to say all right, I’m taking the either I’m taking that or I’m going to play the year on the franchise tag and then next year, we’re going to go through this whole thing again.
Nestor Aparicio 14:45
It’s fascinating around the league about teams coming together breaking up. Five minutes ago, you and I were talking at the rams and Max Stafford and winning championships and then you know 10 months later the coach is like maybe I don’t want to coach football anymore. And you know after pics and like all of that this is a time time of the year where football outsiders, you guys and Mike, I want to give you a chance to talk about draft because aside from everything else when the Ravens went out to Indianapolis and did their press conferences out there and hardball into cost into the thing I’m thinking, they better be looking for the next quarterback in this draft. Because if this
Aaron Schatz 15:18
dollar drafting way too late for that, oh my god, like, unless they want to do something kinda a little crazy. And take Hendon hooker at the end of the first round, and except that he’s going to be injured next year and then you’re not gonna get him until 2024. I don’t think anybody thinks hand in poker is good enough to go in the first round though. The top four quarterbacks are going in like the top six or seven picks. So Baltimore’s not sniffing a quarterback. And the lesser quarterbacks in this draft are terrible. There’s five quarterbacks we’re talking about. And Mike tenere, who our draft got, he would argue there’s only four quarterbacks worth talking about because he is not not a will Fs fan. But after handed hooker, there’s a big drop to the rest of this quarterback class.
Nestor Aparicio 16:05
We’ll talk about how they can get in touch with your draft stuff too, because you guys are top of class best in business. Aaron Schatz is here. You follow him at FB outsiders out on Twitter and out and all social media group into the lowdown and what’s happening here because we’re, you know, five, six weeks out and look, Lamar, no, Lamar. They played with Lamar, the last couple, they’ve won one playoff game, you know, I mean, like Lamar is gonna need help the draft is still the most important thing, even with the cost of dealing off into getting an extra seventh round pick. This is a really lean draft for the Ravens with the amount of picks they have into your point, the artillery did not really move up unless they’re giving future drafts away. And they don’t like doing that at all.
Aaron Schatz 16:43
No, they don’t. And so if you go to football outsiders.com We have a draft board that we introduced last year. It was 40 players last year now it’s 100. We have the fo 100 put together by Mike Kinnear with his top 100 players with all of his write ups, with Mike’s knowing wit and scouting plus advanced stats from our friends at sports info solutions. And we also have something called the fantasy 40 which is the top 40 players who are going to help your fantasy team next year. I mean, obviously we don’t know who’s drafted by what team yet but, you know, based on just generally how good these players are and where we think they’re going in the draft. You know, these are our top 40 fantasy guys. For next year running backs wide receivers, quarterbacks tight ends. So check that out the football outsiders 100, the fo 100 football outsiders.com Now you need to be an fo plus subscriber, you get to see the top 10 players for free. And then to see players 11 through 100 You need to be an fo plus subscriber but this is a great time to become an fo plus subscriber. Because you not only get all our advanced stats during the season, you’ll get our book in July football outsiders almanac 2023 previewing the season, and you’ll get access to the fo 100.
Nestor Aparicio 18:01
Aaron, you’ve mentioned advanced stats and in season and we see the Ravens lose alignment for $50 million to Denver again, and the value of these players that leave and where your salary cap is Coleus Campbell, you know in Baltimore this week, a cap casually dealing or trying to create this space that you talked about to create $33 million a cap space for Lamar Jackson, a number that I can’t imagine he’ll play on the nonexclusive. We didn’t discuss that part of it. But you know, but it this time of the year all of the teams are jockeying and making their moves. It really feels to me much more in depth than it was 20 years ago, in regard to the science of numbers, what’s going to work here, what works over there, and how, in the old days, no offense to you know any of the old timers and you know that we used to sit around without their and Gil Brandt and whatnot. And how they had notes and they had values and they had cards and they had their thing. We’re at a whole different level of science and fiction and and how we’re hearing these players all over the league. You watch NFL Network, your ticker, wherever you are, you’re on the WNS D tech service, you’re seeing the money that’s been distributed, how the value from the teams, the players, the Players Association, the agents come together that this thing is it’s just really really complex, more complex than sports radio could ever give it.
Aaron Schatz 19:29
I will say first of all, every team in the NFL has an analytics department at this point. And the Ravens have one of the larger analytics departments. And the next gen stats have been transformational as far as the amount of information that they’re giving teams and teams are just scratching the surface of what you can do with that player tracking you know that that’s the the chips in the pads and the chip in the ball that shows you where every player goes on every play. Like it opens up all kinds of new, you know, possibilities for measuring, blocking, for measuring tackling for measuring coverage. And we really, like I said, we’ve only scratched the surface of what those stats can do. So analytics is really going to become even more and more important over the next five or 10 years and how teams judged players and try to translate players from other teams into their system, because that’s the thing, it’s not just how good is a player on another team? It’s how good will that player be in your system, because your system may be different from the system they’re playing in now.
Nestor Aparicio 20:36
When you say to somebody pay attention to something, you’re new to all of this, and you want to see football on a different level, where where’s your focus moving forward in that this thing? It’s a river, right? I mean, you started 20 years ago, when Schwartz and I were Hey, this guy studied he studied stats, he studies things he sees an analyst of some kind, you know, to where it is at this point, if somebody comes into him wants to open the door of algebra one to this, this part of studying players what what do you what’s important to you?
Aaron Schatz 21:11
I mean, you know, the first thing is to look at averages rather than totals to look at efficiency rather than totals because that tells you how good players are doing on every play. You know, teams play at different paces some teams play slow some some teams play fast. You know, how far ahead you are changes the way you play defense, like you want stats that are going to filter out all that context. Like, you know, like the standard NFL ret rankings are based on yards allowed, which is a terrible way to rank teams. Because the fact is that you have a 25 point lead, you’re gonna allow more yards because you don’t care as long as the other team doesn’t score 25 points to come back on you. Right. So like, the fact is that the sitch NFL is a game in which the situation of the game, the down in distance, and score, and time remaining, showcases the weather, change what you’re trying to do, and you need to adjust for those things and adjust for weather too.
Nestor Aparicio 22:09
I mean, yeah, I mean, it could be my quarterback shirt, he’s not going to run today could be all sorts of things like that. And that way, there’s no way for us to know as much as the Ravens analytics department and to your point, and this is probably to the science of a guy like Schwartz introducing you to a guy like you then went on to run defenses he’s trying to beat us in Cleveland now, you know, out there is understanding that we have a salary cap for what we can do with Lamar Jackson and clays Campbell and players and how much we can win. But this is this is the part of in baseball had all of this with scouts and academies on the front end of all of that stuff. This is where they can spend more money and should be better at it, and probably have a scientific number to put on Lamar Jackson’s head and say, This is what you’re worth to us. Because as he always loved playing that I will
Aaron Schatz 23:03
say this, which is there is a salary cap on players, but there is no salary cap on coaches scouts or analytics people. So you might as well have a lot of those coaches scouts and analytics people
Nestor Aparicio 23:18
well in a billion dollar catalog. Sure you know it a billion dollar company, that’s all
Aaron Schatz 23:23
um, but yeah, it’s interesting because you want to have one number you can put on player but I’m, I’m actually a believer that you don’t always want to have one number you can pull on a player like it’s better to have a number of different statistics that tell you different things about a player strengths and weaknesses. Like if you think of statistics as the paints that if you’re a painter that paints a picture, you’d rather paint a picture with multiple colors than just black and white.
Nestor Aparicio 23:53
Fair enough Aaron shots always coloring what we do here a little bit more for the NFL and just red, white and blue. getting you ready for draft obviously. I guess Rex Ryan and Mike Patton are jumping picket fences with dogs to sign Bart Scott at midnight. We’re a little bit more genteel and how we do this now we offer tampering periods. Players without agents get to tweet out what their current offers are and put their cards on the table. So wild wild west right? I mean, all they need to do is fire go to four o’clock on Wednesday. Go right
Aaron Schatz 24:25
social media is crazy. Like the idea that you write about a player and the player reads it and responds to you. Right like not just stuff we write but like Shefter goes Lamar Jackson was offered such and such and then Lamar Jackson responds to that is kind of why
Nestor Aparicio 24:42
well I had Peter King on 24 hours ago you can find that out of Baltimore positive runner audio vol. and I said to Peter, and I’ve been at this from the beginning and they’ve thrown me out and that’s its own saga that you know is never ending at least a Miami will ever be any but after 27 years of doing it I went from a point as a reporter, where I used to go out to the castle and I have the envelopes, Phil savage and Eric de Costa. And Joe Ortiz with Lee and Brian would lead me around the castle. And they would put into envelopes who they thought they were going to pick the day before. This is back. And there was a level of trust that like, I sort of believe what they were saying now the morning that they thought Chad henne was going to be the quarterback and they drafted Joe Flacco. I knew we had jumped the shark right around 2008 that it would be all lies in the internet and Twitter. But I said to Peter, I’m like you’re so old school that like they used to tell you the truth. Now everything everything is
Aaron Schatz 25:40
no one wants anything leaking, man nobody wants anything leaking. It’s NFL teams are so hush hush.
Nestor Aparicio 25:46
Yeah, well, it’s that time of year Hey, thank you for leaking your information out to everybody. We’re gonna send everybody out to football outsiders at some point I’m gonna settle tear down that running going gangster and we’ll talk some while I’m waiting for the Lamar thing to settle before I get a hold of him. Find out where we are but get out to football outsiders FB outsiders ad on Twitter and F O underscore a shots. He is the founder of football outside his creator DVOA it I went a whole segment without talking DVOA with you because I’ve done that before I was trying to go in different directions.
Aaron Schatz 26:18
The short version is Baltimore was really good last year when Jackson was healthy. I mean, they were really good team. There were six teams last year that were clearly better than everyone else. Everyone knows what teams those are. Baltimore was just as good as those teams when Lamar Jackson was healthy
Nestor Aparicio 26:33
All right, he is leading the charge to bring Lamar back they’re out of the ice cream over there the pay Lamar ice cream they’re out of that but we’ll get a new batch for Aaron shots out of football outsiders always providing some clarity and I was trying to find some guests that we’re gonna talk football and not the whole bobbin contract and waiting for purple plumes of smoke out knowings mills. We’re gonna get the Maryland crabcakes we’re back out on the road in the meantime, Mayor them we’re all behind you. We’re gonna be at the Hollywood casino Barstool Sports at noon on Thursday. I may call an audible on Saturday if there’s an Alabama thing is it’s easy to hate Alabama around here, of course but we’re gonna be up there at lunchtime on Thursday. Good luck with all the bracketology out there. Luke and I are talking baseball football free agency Lamar all that good stuff. We are wn St. am 1570, Towson Baltimore and we never stop talking Baltimore positive