Is it Time for a Statistical Revolution in Football?

By Aynom

melodurant

What if I told you that in the NBA, you can win the scoring title without having the most points? I know it sounds crazy but it happened last season. Kevin Durant had 2280 points last season but the scoring title was awarded to Carmelo Anthony who had 1920 points. The reason why Carmelo Anthony won the scoring title was because he averaged more points per game. This seems strange to casual sport fans but most of us know that sports like basketball and baseball use averages to quantify a player’s contributions instead of the season total. This system doesn’t penalize a player’s stats if he misses time to injuries.

The weird thing is that football, the sport that is most known for violence and a high number of injuries doesn’t use this system. Football players know that injuries are a part of the game so why don’t the statisticians calculate stats by averages to account for this?

Changing the stat system to averages would cause us to see some players in a different light. The current system is designed to have players with the most longevity to break records. Statistically, Brett Favre is the best passer and Emmitt Smith is the best rusher. I know most fans disagree with that but the current system is designed to statistically credit the least injury prone players and not necessarily the most talented players.

Another disadvantage of the current system is that it puts players of past eras at a disadvantage because they play more games now in the NFL. Many consider Eric Dickerson to have the greatest rushing season since he broke the single season rushing record with 2105 yards. What fans don’t realize is that Dickerson needed 16 games to break the record. O.J. Simpson ran for 2003 yards but did it in 14 games. If you judged the 2000 yard seasons from Simpson & Dickerson by the average of yards per game, you would realize that Simpson had a more impressive season since he had a higher average.

ojsimpson

Even in college football, some teams play more games in a season compared to others. If we installed the statistical averages system in college football it would make it easier to select Heisman candidates, All Americans, and other award winners. It doesn’t seem right for a player not to have the chance to break a record because his team didn’t schedule enough games and/or make it to a bowl game.

No statistical system is perfect, this system is no different. You don’t want guys who have 1 good game all season (like Matt Flynn a few years ago) to win the passing title. With this statistical averages system, you would need to have minimum qualifiers to prevent any statistical anomalies. But overall, it would help us reward players in a fairer manner.

Fantasy football week 10 waiver wire pickups

By A-Train

Percy Harvin (WR, Seahawks)
Rashad Jennings (RB, Raiders)
Andre Brown (RB, Giants)
Michael Crabtree (WR, 49ers)
Riley Cooper (WR, Eagles)
Tim Wright (TE, Buccaneers)
Nick Foles (QB, Eagles)
Shonn Green (RB, Titans)
Case Keenum (QB, Texans)

Deeper leagues (higher risk, lower reward)
Nate Burleson (WR, Lions)
Lance Moore (WR, Saints)
Mike Glennon (QB, Buccaneers)
Tiquan Underwood (WR, Buccaneers)
Shane Vereen/LeGarette Blount/Brandon Bolden (RBs, Patriots)
Greg Little (WR, Browns)

Foles Gold?

By AynomImage

Nick Foles tied an NFL record with 7 touchdown passes yesterday. Foles’ amazing game has some wondering if he is the quarterback of the future for the Eagles. Foles is a free agent after this season. If the Eagles don’t sign him, there will be teams that will wonder if Foles can be developed into a franchise quarterback if given the chance. Foles has all the physical tools but is he the real deal or a fraud?

The greatest indicator of the future is the past. When I think back of similar situations, the first name that comes to mind is Matt Flynn. Flynn was Aaron Rodgers’ backup in Green Bay. Flynn once had a 6 touchdown performance in the final game of his contract year. This 1 game caused his stock to skyrocket that offseason. He signed a $20.5 million contract with the Seattle Seahawks. Only to lose the QB competition during his first training camp to a rookie named Russell Wilson. But skeptics might say that Flynn only started two games in his career and Foles is more experienced so lets keep looking into other examples.

Another backup that fooled GMs is Kevin Kolb. Kolb, like Foles, was drafted and developed by Andy Reid. He never had a 6 or 7 TD game but he did show flashes in limited opportunities. He was eventually traded to the Cardinals for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie , and a 2nd round pick. Kolb never produced in Arizona. Last I heard of Kolb, he was injured in the offseason by slipping on a doormat (seriously).

Image

The crazy thing is, Kolb wasn’t the first Andy Reid QB to fool a GM (and as Redskins fans know, Kolb wouldn’t be the last either). We all are familiar with the Donovan Mcnabb trade with the Skins for a 2nd round pick, and the Kolb trade for the 2nd round pick but Reid had also traded AJ Feeley for a conditional 2nd round pick. Feeley wasn’t even a 2nd string QB, he was a 3rd stringer. He came in late in the season and helped the Eagles win 4 out of 5 games and helped get them in to the playoffs in time for Mcnabb to return.

For our next example of a team fooled by a backup, we’ll go back 20 years. In 1993, Dan Marino was injured and backup, Scott Mitchell took over the job. He didn’t finish the season either but did win offensive player of the month in October. His small span of good games were enough to convince the Detroit Lions to offer him a big contract the following offseason.

Again, Foles has all the physical tools. He has already started in 9 regular season games, he’s gaining experience and confidence with every start. He’s has yet to throw an interception this season. The problem is that he’s had his two best games of his young career against the Raiders and the Buccaneers. These are two bad teams. I want to see him dominate against a good team (or at least a team that doesn’t have a pirate mascot) before I become a believer. I’m not saying he can’t be great, I’m just not quick to trust backups without a larger sample size.

Ritchie Incognito is a Psycho

By Aynom

20131104-153053.jpg

Yesterday was a confusing day in regards to the Jonathan Martin story. We all heard that he left the team after bullying but it wasn’t confirmed by the Dolphins until yesterday. In fact they initially released a statement yesterday that they weren’t made aware of any bullying.

“The notion of bullying is based on speculation and has not been presented to us as a concern from Jonathan or anyone else internally.”

Miami Dolphins Statement On Jonathan Martin

Whether it’s the locker room, the class room, or the streets some feel that it’s taboo to report wrongdoing and be labeled a “snitch.” I would assume that Martin was reluctant to release the full details of the abuse he’s been dealing with in his workplace. We later learned that Martin was bullied by fellow offensive linemen Ritchie Incognito. If Martin wasn’t worried about being labeled a snitch then maybe he was worried about repercussions. Incognito left Martin voicemails in April saying he’d shit in Martins Mouth and slap his mother in addition to calling him the n-word. Even on social media, Incognito always referred to Martin as “big weirdo.”

I find it interesting that Incognito was not accused of any wrong doing until AFTER the Dolphins released the statement that there is no proof of bullying. But I find it even more interesting on how Incognito reacted when the Dolphins released the statement. He basically demands that the media clear his name.

20131104-145357.jpg

20131104-145408.jpg

In the end, the Dolphins ended up issuing another statement later that night stating that Incognito is suspended indefinitely from the team. Dolphins will eventually release him but for now they are going to keep Incognito on the suspended list. If he’s suspended they don’t have to pay him since they can prove his conduct was detrimental to the team. If they cut Incognito now, he would actually make more money then if they kept him suspended.

This now leaves the most sacked team without two of their starting offensive linemen (and keep in mind they have another offensive linemen who was just issued a subpoena ).

20131104-152613.jpg

Repeating?? Worry about making playoffs

It’s hard to repeat as Super bowl champs, the Baltimore Ravens are learning this difficult lesson this season, and honestly they need to be more worried about making the playoffs. After a great Super bowl run, the Ravens parted ways with 8 players off their super bowl winning team. The most a team has lost after winning a SB is 5 players. Now GM Ozzie Newsome and front office are tasked with finding replacements for those players while keeping the production almost at the same level. That is easier said than done. In the 2013 NFL draft Ravens used 6 of their 10 picks to get defensive players. Using 1st, 2nd and 3rd of their picks to get safety Matt Elam, Linebacker Arthur Brown and Defensive tackle, respectively. Ozzie also signed Elvis Dumervil a three time probowler OLB after a fax snafu in Denver, Michael Huff a versatile DB, Marcus spears and Chris Canty. Even with these experience players signed, it is very hard to get everyone one the same page and get the chemistry going. This is evident by week one beat down Denver put on Baltimore (even though that should have been a home game, no thanks to the orioles). Throughout the season it’s been a series of problems on the defense, if it is not the run D then it’s the pass D, if it’s not the pass D then it’s the run D. Head coach John Harbaugh and DC Dean Peas need to get this leaky defense back to where it belongs, Top 10 even Top 5 Defense.

 Image

When Anquan Boldin was traded for a 6th round pick to the San Francisco 49ers, everyone thought he would be the most missed offensive player. Then the unthinkable happened, Dennis Pitta, one of the best young, up and coming, talented TEs gets hurt for possibly for the season. That right there threw the whole Ravens offense into shambles, as Pitta was expected to fill the void left by Boldin. The Pitta injury hurts way more than the Boldin trade, look at the numbers the players replacing Boldin, Tandon Doss and undrafted rookie FA Marlon Brown, are putting up. These numbers compare favorably to Boldin’s numbers. What you miss with Boldin is a physical presence that can move the chains.

 But now the Ravens have to find ways not only to replace boldin but Pitta as well. Least to say, it has been difficult in trying to find Pitta’s replacement, the backup Ed Dickson is inconsistent with brick hands (it was only 2 yrs ago when he had 54 catches, what happened to that guy?), front office signed veterans Dallas Clark and Brandon Stokley but that’s only a temporary solution. The loss of Pitta is very apparent on the field. In today’s NFL, teams have to be able to take advantage of the middle of the field, with all the rules that are put in to protect the players,  the seam route is open 8 out of 10 times and you will get some type of flag on the other two times. Look at NO, DEN, now that Gronk is back NE, they have good TEs and they are consistently taking advantage of the middle of the field. Losing Pitta has put the Ravens offense in limbo, inconsistent and sometimes none existent offense is the main reason the ball club is at 3-4.  

Image 

 In addition to the loss of Pitta, the lack of run and pass blocking by the OLine has ruined the Ravens offense.  Juan Castillo was hired right before the Super bowl run, from what I hear Castillo is a well-respected Offensive Line coach who spent 10 years in Philadelphia before he was ran out of town by the Eagles organization as the scape goat of the abysmal 2012-13 season. Castillo has come in and changed the running scheme from man blocking, which Ravens excelled in, into zone blocking. Just look at Ray Rice’s stats to see the difference the scheme has made. Ray Rice is perennial probowler, one of the most dangerous RBs in the league, he has 250 rushing yards through week 7, with a dreadful 2.8 ypc , granted he didn’t play one game because of injury. The zone scheme works, actually it is a great scheme, take a look at Houston and Washington. These teams run this scheme to perfection; main reason is because they have the personnel to do. Ravens don’t have the right offensive lineman to run the zone blocking scheme, especially with a new starter at center. Gino Gradkowski is a second year player out of Delaware; he was selected in the 4th round in the 2012 NFL draft. He is having difficulty playing the position. I have a new found appreciation for centers after going what the Ravens are going through. Gino is getting outplayed mentally and physically. This was evident in week 6 loss to the Green Bay packers, A.J. Hawk is one of the best 3-4 inside LBs in the league but he is not known as a sack master, his career best was 3.5 sacks in his rookie year, in week 6 he had 3 sacks while blitzing the A gap (gap between the center and guard) every time Gino failed to recognize and pick up the blitz. If the Ravens want to make the playoffs, the offensive line is the first thing they have to fix and that starts with the center.

Image

As much as Ravens fans don’t want to admit it, the 2013 Ravens are a rebuilding team or transitioning team whatever you want to call it. They have a franchise QB, in Joe Flacco, who needs all the help he can get to win football games. He is not your regular elite QB; Flacco needs a good running game and good scheme to be successful. They seem to have found a good receiver in Torrey Smith; I already talked about Ray Rice. I also talked about the up and down defensive showing the Ravens have had. Knowing all this, an experience coach who has been in difficult situations would know what do. Not coach John Harbaugh, now don’t get me wrong he is very good coach, it is not easy to make it to the playoffs your first 5 seasons, add 3 AFC championships and finally win a super bowl. But so far this season, he has made the wrong decision time and time again. He has made 3 decisions that led directly to three of the four losses. It will take another article to talk about these decisions. They don’t call it conventional wisdom for nothing. You can’t have an aggressive state of mind when the team is clearly in a rebuilding mode. The Baltimore media is useless, they are scared as a Turkey in November, when it comes to asking the coach tough questions. Coach Harbaugh needs to take a look at the mirror and do some self-evaluation. The owner of the Ravens, Steve Biscotti said in the offseason that he wants a team that can contend every year, well Mr. Biscotti it might be time to step down from your high chair and hold the coach accountable, ask him some tough questions, demand some kind of change before the season is lost.  

I think repeating as Super bowl champs should be the last thing in the coaches’ and players’ minds. They need to worry about fixing leaky offensive line, stopping the run, cutting out mental breakdowns in the secondary and finally the coach needs to make smarter decisions to put the team in a better position to win ball games. With nine games left in the season, there is still time for the Ravens to salvage their season. That starts with a critical game against the Browns, a division rival.