Why the hell am I writing about a Cleveland Browns quarterback? Because I hate the NFL’s established metrics system. If you’re not confused, I’ve accidentally let one of my three clones escape and he’s reading this post.
NFL metrics suck. I’m talking about ‘tackles’, ‘yards per attempt’ and my personal favorite: ‘QB rating’. It took a long time for me to understand why. Let’s cast the much-debated Seneca Wallace as our lead villain: Two Face.
On the field, Two Face would show his scarred, deformed side: running out of bounds to escape pressure (resulting in a huge loss of yards, rather than just just throwing the ball incomplete), overthrowing wide open receivers, immediately checking down to running backs three feet away from a charging linebacker, and sacking himself by holding onto the ball for far too long. What was he waiting for? The second coming of Jesus, wearing a Seahawks uniform, to run a slant through the end zone? (I actually first wrote “to run a cross route” and realized the gravity of the mistake). In any case, it was maddening.
Yet, the other side of Batman’s most schizophrenic nemesis, his handsome and unblemished side, was a solid QB rating: 87.0 in 2008 (just above Eli Manning) and 81.9 in 2009. Those are respectable ratings for a guy who quarterbacked a pretty poor offense (that lost a ton of games). So what gives?
I’ll tell you: Seneca Wallace was the garbage time master. He completed passes and often scored when a win was far out of reach, and defenses were simply playing prevent and allowing successful runs or short passes to let the clock expire. Enter: inflated stats. Exit: wins. During competitive game situations he was absolutely disastrous, and was often the reason the Seahawks lost football games.
A pretty handy website exists called www.advancednflstats.com. They’ve been revolutionizing NFL metrics for years, in an attempt to follow in baseball’s footsteps. Let’s take “Expected Points Added”, a complex measure that compiles positive contributions made by a player, based on important contextual information (like distance, down, score, time remaining, etc). How’d our villain Two Face fare? He recorded an EPA of 16.0 for the 2008 season, just below Tavaris Jackson. Number one on the list that year? Kurt Warner: 176.1.
Periodically, I’ll be looking at Seahawks players or positions to see how they’re really performing, outside of the big plays we all see and fondly remember, or the big mistakes that give us frequent night terrors. First up will be the polarizing Chris Clemons and Red Bryant, Seattle’s starting defensive ends. Before the season began, Pete Carroll got a lot of flak for making these two guys the starters. How have they done in the first four weeks?
Stay tuned to find out.