Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Peter Schrager don't need no Calculator!

To determine the best 99 players in the NFL.

At least he didn't put 102 guys on the list.

To tackle the mission, I opted not to go all Bill James/Baseball Prospectus style in my methodology. Yes, to the dismay of some, there are no mathematic formulas or sabermetrics involved in what's below. And my apologies to the fine men at Football Outsiders, but I left the abacus at home for this one.

For the fantasy football crowd, you might not be too thrilled either. Sometimes it's not all about statistics. And in ranking the NFL's Top 99, many times it wasn't.

"If I'm wrong, don't worry, there's really no math behind what I did."

Keep in mind: 99 players breaks down to about three guys per team. So once you start putting guys on the list who aren't on the top five on their teams, well...

99. Reggie Bush
98. Rasheen Mathis

Goddamnit Peter Schrager!&!

Kevin Mawae is like the 8th or 9th best player on the Titans. The duo of Devin Hester and Matt Forte suggests the Bears are a top five offense, which, not exactly. Lamarr Woodley is a curious inclusion. Up at No. 67, Matt Cassel is a pretty bad joke. Terrell Suggs can't make it higher than 61? How do you figure that 60 guys are better than Terrell Suggs. Osi Uminyiora gets to be No. 35, and he didn't even play last year.

The top 20, is quite perplexing. If only because being good at football doesn't seem to be a prerequisite to being one of the 20 best players in the NFL according to Peter Schrager.

17. Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants: Now a year removed from the Super Bowl MVP performance, Eli's critics are all over the 212 again. Manning didn't throw a single touchdown pass to a receiver after the Plaxico Burress suspension last season, and failed to inspire in the wind at Giants Stadium in the postseason. Will rookie Hakeem Nicks become his go-to guy? Fellow rookie Ramses Barden? Lots of question marks for Eli this season.

However, clearly better than Donovan McNabb, Carson Palmer, and Tony Romo, who don't have stupid questions to answer this season. In fact, I'd say there are only 16 players in the NFL who are better than a guy who has to prove he can throw a touchdown pass after losing a single player on their team.

14. Albert Haynesworth, DT, Washington Redskins: The $100 million man. After signing the biggest deal for a defensive tackle in NFL history, Haynesworth has a giant target on his back. Having never stayed healthy for a complete NFL season, there are critics out there. He had better perform. He should.

Clearly, there are 13 players in the NFL better than the 2 time reigning NFL Defensive POY.

9. Julius Peppers, DE, Carolina Panthers: The best defensive end in the game


8. Jared Allen, DE, Minnesota Vikings: An absolute beast and arguably the NFL's best pass-rushing defensive end since Michael Strahan...

Wait, but you just said the best defensive end in the game was-

6. DeMarcus Ware, DE/LB, Dallas Cowboys: A three-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro, Ware is only getting better with every passing year-

Wait, but you just said the best pass-rushing-

5. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings: A.D. had an incredible sophomore season, tossing the Vikings on his back down the stretch and carrying them to an NFC North title. There's no player in the league who has greater big-play potential, and he brings that big-play potential 25 times a game. Hands down the best running back in the league, he will be in the MVP conversation over the next decade of his career.

I guess every top five players in the NFL list needs to include the one really athletic guy who has never won a playoff game and has a career record of 18-14. He clearly carried his team to new heights. Look at what I can do!

I guess when you leave Brian Westbrook at 53, there's no argument that Peterson is the best. It's not like he leads the league in fumbles every year or anything.

3. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers: Say what you want about the strength of the Super Bowl champions' defense, but Big Ben is unquestionably the true leader of the Pittsburgh Steelers. With two Super Bowl rings and three AFC championship game starts in just five NFL seasons, he's one of the top three quarterbacks in the league. Win another one and he could be No. 1 on this list next year. Kick and scream all you want about it — Roethlisberger's the real deal.

If I say: you can build your team around any defensive player in the NFL, or any offensive player in the NFL not named Brady or Manning, and you answer Ben Roethlisberger, I'm taking my hypothetical offer and going to someone who isn't a fucking moron.

After putting Peyton at No. 1...

Give me anyone in the league to build a team around — and I'm still taking Manning ... yes, even Tom Terrific. , and Ben Roethlisberger, apparently.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Fire Mark Schlereth

On NFL Live today, quoth Schlereth:

"Tony Romo is still a young quarterback. He's still learning how to play the position."

I realize that once you get to a certain age, everyone seems young. But next month, Tony Romo turns...29.

Romo is older than Rex Grossman. He's older than Kyle Boller. Older than JP Losman. And that's just a bunch of guys you could have basically for free.

Tony Romo is old enough to have had a "down year" this season.

He's a lot of things, but inexperienced and especially young are not any of those things.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Wojciechowski Rips Cutler for...commenting on Cutler

ESPN "Blogger" Gene Wojciechowski was this close to writing one of the worst journalistic pieces of all time, only to find out that he, like myself, is not a journalist at all.

Will someone please give Jay Cutler his pacifier, hand him his favorite blankie and put him back in his crib for his afternoon nap? Because if he cries anymore about a trade that didn't happen, we'll have to check his Pampers.

Quick update: Denver was interested in Matt Cassel, and due only to extremely unfortunate circumstances, their offer for him ended up falling through, so they are stuck with 25 year old pro bowl QB Jay Cutler. Poor souls.

Cutler, for some godforsaken reason, doesn't like that his name has come up in trade talks. What a goddamn fucking child, right?

But the mere thought of a possible trade upset Cutler so much that he went into full waaaa-waaaa-waaaa mode, wailing like an infant. Why are they being so mean to me? That sort of thing.

"I'm upset," he told The Denver Post. "I mean, I'm really shocked at this point."

Apparently, Cutler's agent (Bus Cook) is also a whiny child:

James "Bus" Cook told The Associated Press, "Nobody's going to call the [New York] Giants and ask for Eli [Manning]. Nobody's calling the [Indianapolis] Colts asking about Peyton [Manning]. [Tom] Brady? Come on. So, why call Denver and ask about Jay? And if they do call, why not say, 'That's not for discussion. What else do you want?'"

Uh, these are the Denver Broncos. Obviously, since they had a strong defensive showing last year (i.e. better than the Lions), the only way they can possibly compete in the ferocious AFC West is by tinkering with their QB situation. Or by winning one of their last three games, and/or beating the Raiders at home.

Either or really.

Why call Denver and ask about Cutler? Because the Broncos haven't reached the playoffs since the 2005 season.

Neither have the Bills, Texans, Bengals, Browns, Raiders, Lions, Rams, or 49ers (1/4 of the league). In fact, none of those franchises have sniffed the success that Cutler and the Broncos have had in the last three years.

Because Cutler's record as a starter is 17-20.

Loser! Cut him!

Because new Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels just happened to coach Cassel last season.

He also coached Jabar Gaffney. Looks like Brandon Marshall is in trouble. Wait, no, I didn't mean...

And Cassel's team finished 11-5, including a 41-7 victory against Cutler's Broncos in October.

Yeah, even Jake Plummer beat the Patriots! Jake Plummer is not a loser, right?

Nobody is calling the Giants and the Colts about the Manning brothers because the Manning brothers actually reach the postseason and have won Super Bowls. And here's guessing somebody called the Patriots asking whether Brady might be available.

Ave. Manning Brothers playoff apperences, first three seasons: 1.5
Total Manning Brothers playoff wins, first three seasons: 0
Total Manning Brothers playoff wins, non-Super Bowl seasons: 3

Total Manning Brothers playoff wins, non-Super Bowl seasons, not over (non-loser) Jake Plummer and the Denver Broncos: 1

But Shanahan is Broncos history. It happens. Last week it happened to 11-time Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Brooks of the Bucs. He was cut after 14 years.

Brooks didn't pout like Cutler. And his agent didn't issue any angry criticisms of the Bucs' decision. Instead, Brooks articulated the essential truth of the NFL: It's business, not personal.

Derrick Brooks: 36 year old linebacker
Jay Cutler: 25 year old Quarterback

Comparability Factor: Asinine

So what if the Broncos considered proposals from the Bucs? Who cares whether they listened to an offer from the Detroit Lions? When you haven't reached the playoffs since '05, when you gag away a three-game division lead with three games left, you listen to everybody about anybody.

Come to think about it, what's so bad about the Bucs?
New coach -- Raheem Morris. New tight end -- Kellen Winslow. Newly re-upped wide receivers -- Antonio Bryant (franchise-tagged) and Michael Clayton. And did we mention that Broncos receiver Brandon Marshall was arrested again?

Nothing's bad about the Bucs. The Bucs didn't gag away a playoff spot by losing their final three games including a loss to the Raiders at home!

Oh wait, they most definitely did.

Looks like Brandon Marshall IS in trouble, again.

"If they were in fact trying to trade Jay Cutler, then I think that's a situation that's going to cause a very serious problem for the organization," Cook huffed and puffed.

Why? Because Cutler's precious feelings were hurt? Please.

Well, I'd think it'd have something to do with the obscene amount of points this team gives up and the fact that they'd no longer have an offense that could win 8 games independent of this.

But, yeah, Cutler's feelings are the big story here.

The nontrade causes serious problems only if Cutler wants it that way. To whine about the Broncos' kicking the tires on a trade accomplishes nothing. Especially from a guy with zero playoff appearances and a grand total of 37 NFL games.

Cutler has accomplished nothing in this league. He has pretty passing numbers, but so what? It's time for him to do a Brooks and grow up. It's time for him to spit out the pacifier.

37 games, whoa! That's like when he started 35 games at Vanderbilt and didn't even lead them to a measly bowl game! C'mon, that's a given once every 40 years!


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Donovan McNabb, Hall-of Famer?

Mike Greenberg, on ESPN Radios Mike and Mike in the Morning, is trying to argue that Donovan McNabb is a Hall-of-Famer.

His basis for doing this is that:

1) Donovan McNabb will have better numbers than Troy Aikman when he retires.
2) Donovan McNabb will have better numbers than Steve Young when he retires.
3) Both Troy Aikman and Steve Young are Hall-of-Famers.

He also says that Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady are the sure-fire Hall-of-Famers from this era. Does McNabb belong in the same category with these guys?

There is no doubt that players in the current era will have the strongest passing statistics of players in any era ever. So the direct comparison to Young/Aikman is already imperfect.

I'll get to Aikman/McNabb in a minute. Here's Young vs. McNabb in career rate totals.

Completion Percentage
Steve Young 64.3
Donovan McNabb 58.9

Yards per Attempt
Steve Young 8.0
Donovan McNabb 6.8

TD Rate
Steve Young 5.6%
Donovan McNabb 4.5%

Sack Rate
Steve Young 7.94%
Donovan McNabb 6.96%

INT Rate
Steve Young 2.6%
Donovman McNabb 2.1%

Passer Rating
Steve Young 96.8
Donovan McNabb 85.9

I included stats where McNabb was better to show how close it was in comparison to Young, and without coming up with a complicated era regression multiplier to normalize the numbers. On all stats that don't pertain directly to negative plays, McNabb is clearly inferior to Young, and it really isn't even all that close. I don't have any idea how Greenberg is claiming that McNabb has better numbers than Young. Even ignoring the elephant in the room -- the fact that McNabb played in a big passing era on a big passing team -- he's still not even remotely comparable to Steve Young on merit.

But since "compares well to Steve Young" is not necessarily a hall of fame criteria, let's look at Greenberg's other comparison: Troy Aikman.

McNabb actually compares much better to Aikman.

Completion Percentage
Troy Aikman 61.5
Donovan McNabb 58.9

Yards per Attempt
Troy Aikman 7.0
Donovan McNabb 6.8

TD Rate
Troy Aikman 3.5%
Donovan McNabb 4.5%

Sack Rate
Troy Aikman 5.21%*
Donovan McNabb 6.96%

*Well above average for the time, but again, Aikman's protection was particularly outstanding, perhaps the best in history. McNabb's had very good protection by current standards, but nothing like Aikman.

INT Rate
Troy Aikman 3.0%
Donovman McNabb 2.1%

Passer Rating
Troy Aikman 81.6
Donovan McNabb 85.9

Aikman, statistically, is a much better McNabb comparable. Although era-adjusted Aikman would put McNabb to shame, Aikman's best years are concentrated in the six best years in the history of the Cowboys franchise: 1991-1996. In those seasons, he never posted a completion percentage below 63.7. Outside of those seasons, he never got above 59.5. That's unheard of, and probably had everything to do with the talent around him. Aikman's 61.5% career figure is one he not ever came within two points in any single season. Astounding.

But here's the point: A random player with Troy Aikman's numbers is NOT a hall-of-famer. That's the big point here. Troy Aikman is in Canton because and only because he won three Super Bowls, not because he was a particularly great passer. Donovan McNabb is also not a particularly great passer, and happens to have no Super Bowls. If he can win his next two games, he will have a single Super Bowl. And he still won't have anywhere near Aikman's credentials for hall-of-fame selection.

Although, if you want to use the innovator angle on McNabb, he is widely credited with bringing the bounce pass to football. That's got to be worth something, right?

Look, Donovan McNabb is a good player. But if he goes in the Hall-of-Fame for any reason but sympathy, then what do you tell Jeff Garcia?

Or Mark Brunell?

Or Rich Gannon?

Or Chad Pennington?

Or Steve McNair?

Or Trent Green

Or Marc Bulger

Or Matt Hasselbeck?

Or, eventually, (in no specific order) Jay Cutler, Carson Palmer, Phillip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Brady Quinn, Eli Manning, Matt Ryan, or Joe Flacco?

Most, if not all, of those guys will never make the hall of fame. But if Donovan McNabb deserves it, don't all those guys deserve at least the same honor, if not a greater one?

Donovan McNabb and Hall-of-Fame, probably the worst thing said this entire football season.

Friday, December 12, 2008

One more word, pre-Heisman

ESPN's Chris Fowler, making the argument for Florida Quarterback/H-back Tim Tebow's Heisman credentials:

"Well, he's not going to win the stats argument...his stats are down from last year"

Tim Tebow, Passer Effiency 2007: 172.5
Tim Tebow, Passer Effiency 2008: 176.8

Tim Tebow, Interception % 2008: 0.75 (!)
Sam Bradford, Interception % 2008: 1.4
Colt McCoy, Interception % 2008: 1.9

Tim Tebow, Interception % 2007: 1.7

Actually, I'd say the stats argument is a pretty good one for Tebow.

Editors Note: If I had a vote for Heisman, I would take McCoy. His completion percentage is downright insane, and he did it with the least amount of offensive firepower of the three. This post is just to show that Tebow's got a good argument for his candidacy through stats, probably better than last year. It's just that, it's college football, so why would anyone look past TD totals when they refer to "stats".

Hat tip, Dr. Saturday

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tim Tebow. Heisman Winner. H-Back?

Mel Kiper Jr. on Sports Center today (12/11, bottom half of 2 o'clock EST hour) just suggested taking Tebow in the first two rounds, and then converting him to an H-Back. I don't often agree with Todd McShay, but I have to think that he was on to something when he explained that you probably don't draft an H-Back in the first round, especially when "YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW IF HE CAN CATCH".

Kiper countered that no one knew Antawn Randle El could catch "until the Super Bowl". Redskins fans disagree: they still don't think he can catch.