Saturday, October 10, 2009

14 comments Using Myths to Dispel Myths

Don't forget to update all necessary Fantasy teams for this weekend. For some reason, I am lost with most my college football and pro football picks for this weekend. I have no idea who to choose for the NFL or college games. It's embarrassing how much research I did this week just to make the college football picks.

For the second time in less than a week I have a personal story to tell, so feel free to skip to the next paragraph if you would like. I have been informed by my loved one I write WAY too much in my posts. To quote, "It was 5 or 6 pages long, I couldn't even read it all because I had other things to do. Brevity is the key. No one has time to read everything you write. Remember, brevity." (Really I think she was just pissy because she hates AJ Burnett and thought the Yankees were going to lose) I got no sympathy for my pleas that I love to write and that is why I write a lot. So I am working on editing a little more, of course I have said that before.

Kent pointed me in the direction of an Andrew Perloff column that attempts to disprove wide receiver myths. It's just a whole bundle of assumptions and statements that I am not sure are 100% true. Let's take a lot at some of the problems I see with this article and feel free to point out any I may miss because honestly, for a small article there was a lot to digest...I feel like I missed something.

1. Teams need a tall, fast wide receiver.

Only a handful of teams have a 6-foot-4 receiver with speed. That model of the dominant No. 1 receiver is outdated as the rules continue to change and receivers don't need to be as physical.

Obviously a tall receiver with speed is the "model" teams search for, but I don't recall a time in NFL history when more than a handful of teams had 6-foot-4 inch receivers with speed. Really just because few teams have that model of a 6-foot-4 receiver with speed doesn't mean the model is outdated, but it's just difficult to find. It's not like there are just a large group of 6-foot-4 inch receivers with blinding speed who are now unemployed because teams don't need them. Quite the opposite actually, teams still want guys like this, there are just not a whole hell of a lot of them. I don't even think there were a bunch of teams that had this "model" receiver in the past, so nothing has really changed.

I think he believes the rules that favor receivers mean teams don't need tall physical receivers. I actually sort of see it the opposite way. Now that the receivers can be more physical, a tall physical receiver can be of more benefit to a team, especially in the red zone.

Let's look at this year's top receivers (so far) and how tall they are to see if tall, fast dominating receivers are hard to find. Out of the Top 10 receiving yards leaders in the NFL as of now, here are the heights of these players:

Steve Smith (NYG): 5 foot 11 inches
Reggie Wayne: 6 foot 0 inches
Vincent Jackson: 6 foot 5 inches
Calvin Johnson: 6 foot 5 inches
Randy Moss: 6 foot 4 inches
Andre Johnson: 6 foot 3 inches
Antonio Gates: 6 foot 4 inches
Hines Ward: 6 foot 0 inches
Jerricho Cotchery: 6 foot 0 inches
Dallas Clark: 6 foot 3 inches

This tells me a receiver doesn't have to be big and tall to be successful in the NFL today, that would seem to support the theory Perloff is trying to support here. The old "model" of the 6-foot-4 fast receiver is not needed anymore or at least aren't as productive. Of course then using my completely non-scientific method (for lack of time for a ton of research), let's see if the NFL EVER had a group of 6-foot-4-inch fast, dominating receivers.

Let's look at the Top Receivers by Yardage in NFL History and their heights now:

Jerry Rice: 6 foot 2 inches
Tim Brown: 6 foot 0 inches
Isaac Bruce: 6 foot 0 inches
James Lofton: 6 foot 3 inches
Marvin Harrison: 6 foot 0 inches
Cris Carter: 6 foot 3 inches
Henry Ellard: 5 foot 11 inches
Andre Reed: 6 foot 2 inches
Steve Largent: 5 foot 11 inches
Terrell Owens: 6 foot 3 inches

Granted, receiving yards are not the end-all-be-all that determines if a player is a good receiver or not. The fact there is not a single 6-foot-4 inch player in the Top 10 all-time in receiving yards tells me that requiring a player to be that tall at wide receiver has never really been one of necessity for a team. This isn't the strongest evidence in the world but it at least shows the "model" receiver never seemed to be the dominant "model" the NFL wanted for their receivers. Actually, this year the league leaders in reception yards are actually on average taller than the all-time leaders in receiving yards, which if I had done more research could potentially show the dominating receivers in the NFL have actually gotten taller as the years go by.

Since I think the "model" is not actually not needed anymore, merely hard to find, I still say the new rule changes benefit these receivers and they will be in just as much demand now as they ever have been...possibly even more so.

It's not really a wide receiver myth because it has never been true.

2. A talented wide receiver will find a way to make plays.

I really don't have a huge problem with this reasoning because to an extent it is true. I do have a problem with a statement he makes though:

Even a guy who thrived in a system can find himself boxed out by the defense or a slight tweak, like Larry Fitzgerald so far this season. Meanwhile, Indianapolis' offense is turning nobodies like Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie into fantasy stars.
Garcon and Collie being fantasy stars has nothing really to do with them being good wide receivers. A player can have different value in real life and in Fantasy Football, so I just don't want us to mix the two up. They are really two completely different values and I don't see the point of mentioning players being fantasy stars when talking about real football performance. Not to mention the fact Garcon and Collie are catching passes is because Clark or Wayne are being boxed out by the defense. So they are thriving because Perloff's #2 may in fact be true...still fantasy is a bad thing to bring up in this discussion.

3. Numbers tell the story.

Is this where we talk about how important a player's grit and determination is to his team's success and that is what makes him such a great receiver?

Lynn Swann was a controversial Hall of Fame pick because he ranks 181st all time with 5,462 receiving yards. That's less than Larry Fitzgerald, who is only 26 years old.

Read that sentence again. To me, the numbers tell me the entire story. Lynn Swann did not get a lot of receiving yards and he seems to have been more of a deep threat for the Steelers. Was he a great deep threat? Possibly. One of the best receivers in NFL history? I don't think so. Numbers tell me enough of the story here in my mind. I am sure there are other numbers for Swann that are impressive (actually when we look at his career numbers, this isn't really true) but I don't see how receiving yards can be deceptive for Swann here.

Look at Swann's overall career numbers. The only thing that sticks out for me is how fairly unimpressive they are to me. He may have played in an era when throwing the ball was not quite as prevalent as it is today, but I would love to see what story, outside of these numbers, spoke to Hall of Fame voters to think numbers didn't tell the whole story. Not having great numbers and really helping your team is fine, but it doesn't mean you should be voted to the NFL's Hall of Fame.

Hall of Fame Vice President Joe Horrigan said. "Whenever there's a big debate on receivers, it's dangerous to look at the statistics too much because they're not always a perfect indicator of what that player did for the team.

It's perfectly freaking great that Lynn Swann did something fantastic for his team, but he wasn't voted into the Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame, but he was voted into the NFL Hall of Fame. There are hundreds of players who have done great things for their team but that doesn't mean those players are one of the best players at their position of all-time. Being voted into the NFL Hall of Fame means a player is one of the best players at his position of all-time.

There is a huge, massive difference in what a player does for his team and if what that player has done for his team makes him one of the greatest football players of all-time. I've never thought about it, but after using this reasoning and seeing his numbers I don't know if Lynn Swann should have been a Hall of Fame receiver. Really, in this example, numbers do tell a story to me and that story is that Lynn Swann may not have deserved to be in the Hall of Fame.

4. Great receivers win Super Bowls.

First off, we have to define a "great receiver," which is nearly impossible. I won't even try since it is such a subjective definition to give to a receiver. I will just rely on who I personally think are great receivers.

Let's look at who I would consider to be great receivers on the last 10 Super Bowl winning teams: (Remember this doesn't include guys like Randy Moss and Larry Fitzgerald who made it to the Super Bowl but didn't win the game for reasons potentially out of their control)

2009 Pittsburgh: Hines Ward
2008 New York Giants: Plaxico Burress
2007 Indianapolis Colts: Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison, (to a lesser extent...Dallas Clark)
2006 Pittsburgh: Hines Ward
2005 New England: None
2004 New England: None
2003 Tampa Bay: Keyshawn Johnson
2002 New England: None
2001 Baltimore: None
2000 St. Louis: Issac Bruce, Torry Holt

What this tells us just from looking at wide receivers who have won a Super Bowl is that it doesn't take a great wide receiver to win the Super Bowl if you are the New England Patriots or have one of the greatest defenses of all-time. Those Patriots teams still had Troy Brown, Deion Branch, and David Givens who weren't exactly bad receivers for them, but I wouldn't consider them "great" receivers. So you do sort of need a great receiver to win a Super Bowl. Does a team need a Hall of Fame receiver? Probably not, because there are only so many of those to go around for each team. Just because a receiver is not HoF worthy doesn't make him not a great receiver though.

Of course the only comparison for this "myth" is with Hall of Fame receivers which is much too high of a standard. It's like me saying you don't need a great quarterback/coach to win a Super Bowl and then list quarterbacks/coaches who aren't in the Hall of Fame who won a Super Bowl.

Amongst active players, the only two sure-fire Hall of Fame receivers -- Randy Moss and Terrell Owens -- have zero Super Bowl rings.

I think I disagree with those two being the only two sure-fire Hall of Famers. I can think of a couple others, especially if we use the Lynn Swann "he did so much for his team" theory for HoF entrance. Holding a "great receiver" to the standard of a Hall of Fame receiver is a bit much in my opinion.

A few borderline-to-probable Canton guys have won Super Bowls -- Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, Hines Ward -- but their teams probably could have captured titles without them.

I personally don't necessarily consider Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt to be borderline Hall of Fame candidates. They have a pretty good claim in my mind.

I also find it laughably funny at the idea the 2000 Rams could have won the Super Bowl without Isaac Bruce AND Torry Holt at wide receiver. Andrew Perloff does realize they played on the same team, right? Marshall Faulk was a great running back but I am pretty sure the Rams would not have won the Super Bowl with Az-Hakim and Ricky Proehl as their starting wide receivers. I don't want to seem like a jerk, but to indicate the Rams still would have won the Super Bowl with those two starting, and not Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce, is so blatantly false it shouldn't even be written.

I have read this sentence at least 6 times, and I love Ricky Proehl because he played for my favorite team and lives in the same city I do, but this statement is incredibly false. I am laughing right now at the idea the Rams didn't need Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce.

Drops are a bit overrated. Obviously they're not good, but if guys like Edwards and Owens get open and don't haul it in, it still makes the defense adjust and creates opportunities for others.

I can see the logic on this statement but I don't think the fact the defense is forced to adjust when a ball is thrown to a receiver like Terrell Owens or Braylon Edwards makes drops overrated. It means anytime the ball goes to a star receiver the defense has to adjust a little bit...drops are missed opportunities for first downs and I never see those missed opportunities as overrated.

The Patriots are 18-0 in the regular season when Tom Brady and Wes Welker on the field together. That's better than the Brady-Moss combo.

For a guy who thinks Lynn Swann belongs in the Hall of Fame based on the idea he stretches the field for other receivers, it sure is funny that Perloff doesn't see the value of having Randy Moss on the field, to stretch the field, for Wes Welker. Welker is a good receiver but part of his value is he has a Randy Moss to stretch the field for him. I don't know if you can even really compare these two combos or say one is better than the other because they are fairly dependent on each other in the Patriots system.

Everyone said the Giants lost last year's Super Bowl because they lost Plaxico Burress. Has anyone considered they were not a dominant Super Bowl champ in the first place? They were a wild-card team who beat the Patriots on a miracle catch.

Even the most diehard New England Patriots fan will admit the Giants team didn't just beat them on a miracle catch. That team also played good defense and ran the ball well. It was a miracle catch but the entire reason the Giants were in the game at that point was because of their good defense and good running game.

The Giants were also 10-2 with Burress in the starting lineup and 2-3 without him in the lineup, so it seems like his absence had some sort of impact on the team.

They were never a dynasty to start with, so pointing to one player as the reason they didn't repeat seems far-fetched.

Nobody ever said the New York Giants were a dynasty. It has just been acknowledged the Giants didn't repeat IN PART because they were missing their #1 wide receiver and really their record with and without Burress shows it to be true his absence had an effect on their season.

Everyone talks about how the spread offense in college makes evaluating quarterbacks difficult. Don't forget how deceiving receivers' production in college is these days as well. And don't even bother scouting spread offense tight ends.

Let's just look at tight ends from the 2009 draft who played in a spread (or spread type offense...there are so many hybrids now it's hard to define but a couple teams that run an actual spread offense) offense in college and their numbers in the NFL this year:

Brandon Pettigrew (Ok. State): 10 catches 131 yards
Chase Coffman (Missouri): no stats
Shawn Nelson (USM...not really spread but sort of close): 3 catches 26 yards

Now for tight ends from the 2008 draft who played in a spread offense in college:

Martellus Bennett (Texas A&M): 20 catches 283 yards 4 TD's (2008), 4 catches 40 yards (2009)
Jermichael Finley (Texas): 6 catches 74 yards 1 TD (2008), 11 catches 190 yards 1 TD (2009)
Martin Rucker (Missouri): 2 catches 17 yards
Derek Fine (Kansas): 10 catches 94 yards 1 TD (2008), 5 catches 34 yards (2009)

So what do all these wonderful numbers really mean? I have no idea. Remember these are rookie and 2nd year tight ends and outside of Pettigrew and Bennett were not high draft choices, not guys who are counted on to start. I don't know what type of numbers the other tight ends who weren't in the spread offense in college put up in their first and second years in the NFL, but I would take a guess they do on average similar to how these "spread offense" tight ends have done. It's clear there are some tight ends who came from spread-based offenses in college, who have contributed in the NFL. Remember, there aren't a lot of great tight ends that put up huge numbers in the NFL and it also matters what type of offense the tight end plays in while in the NFL.

I don't know if a tight end in a spread offense should have his numbers be considered any more deceiving than a tight end who plays in a run-based offense in college. Should you not bother scouting tight ends who play in a run-based offense too? Their college numbers could be deceptive as well. The player should be scouted for his skills and if those skills can transfer to the NFL. I don't think we can assume the numbers for a tight end who plays in a spread-offense in college are deceptive.

I don't know if all these statements were wide receiver myths, but they seemed more like blanket statements that I didn't agree with 100% to me.

-Boy, my MLB playoff picks are sure going straight to hell aren't they? 2 teams I have winning their series are going to get swept. I fully expect the Red Sox to pull it out though, if they know how to do anything, it's comeback when their backs are against the wall. The Cardinals could also comeback in my mind because they should have won Game 2 and if they make it to Game 5 I have confidence in Adam Wainwright.

I am not a Yankees fan at all, but I can't lie and say I wasn't absolutely pleased A-Rod hit a game tying homerun last night. I got so tired of people being on his ass for not being a "clutch" playoff performer. The only difference I can tell in his swing is that he is making the pitcher pitch to him now and not actually looking to hit a homerun, but waiting for a pitch to hit. His at-bat against Nathan last night was a thing of beauty because he laid off the crap Nathan threw early in the count knowing he wasn't going to throw him anything good he could hit until he had to.

In the past, he has swung at the crap pitchers threw early in the count. I think that is what makes Jeter a good hitter in the postseason or at least makes him seem "clutch," because he knows pitchers aren't going to want to throw him a strike in a tight spot so he waits for a pitch to hit and then tries to hit it. A-Rod's a cheater and probably a piece of shit, but I get tired of people being on him for being a playoff "choker."


KentAllard said...

Actually, the main reason the Giants lost the Super Bowl last year was they weren't in it.

Lynn Swann was a very good receiver who played on a great team. This is one of the reason HoFs have become jokes.

I think his idea that WRs with dropsies are still great to have because they force the defense to adjust to them is hilarious. A lot of defensive strategy is playing the percentages, and when you're defending a guy with stone hands, why adjust because he keeps getting open and dropping the ball? If Perloff is going for some sort of psychological effect on the defense, it probably hurts the offense worse, since it demoralizes them, and the QB is too distracted with planning to cut StoneHands brake lines after the game to concentrate as much as he should. Plus it's hard to maintain a fan base, since you keep having to replace those fans who have strokes when a wide open receiver for their favorite team drops the game winning pass.

Martin said...

I used to see the Steelers and Swan play a lot while growing up. I'd go so far as to say Swan was a great, HoF level receiver, who was hurt so often on a team that threw so little, that he really doesn't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. He really was a fantastic receiver, but his career was so short with so much time lost, his induction was really a mistake.

My only comparison would be something like Eric Gagne had a couple spectacular years for the Dodgers. Let's say he broke his arm and could never pitch again instead of becoming the roid catastrophe he did. His career had HoF potential, but didn't deserve an induction on "What he might have done." To me Swan is the same thing. He was well liked in football, and he was voted in on the "Well if he'd been healthy, or played on a passing team in the 80's...."

Bengoodfella said...

Well, that's true. It's hard to win a game you aren't in.

I think Swann could have been an even better receiver in a different era when the ball was thrown more but I don't know if we can do that "what if" game. Overall, his numbers just aren't the impressive to me. He seems like the kind of guy who I could support more if he had a longer career and had better numbers that could support his induction, but he doesn't.

I think it is stupid to believe the defense might think, "oh no, they got the ball to T.O. but he dropped it, may want to cover him better next time." Really, they will want to cover the receivers who can actually catch the ball when thrown to them. It probably does hurt the offense more because it is a blown opportunity. Dropping open passes causes seizures for me, so I don't see how the defense could not see it as a positive for them. It just depresses me when it happens.

Martin, let's start an Eric Gagne for HoF movement. Is it weird his numbers just took a dive when they started testing for steroids? If I am not wrong, it was almost the season after they started when he just lost the ability to pitch.

dan said...

On one hand, always listen to the woman...on the other hand I like the style of your columns. Normally, I do not read longer stuff but somehow you pull it off. Just tell her this style is what has made you popular and if you get popular enough ESPN will buy you out and not only buy you out but make sure you write much less for much more money. That should keep her quiet.

Bengoodfella said...

I told her that. Nobody has no editorial control over me! I may make my posts even longer now.

I will tell her that ESPN thing. I am pretty sure she won't get her hopes up.

Gene said...


You gotta keep the style the way it is, your posts are thougtfhul, funny and unique. The original (now used to be like your site. Long, thoughtful posts that took a them and analyzed ths shit out of it. Then, it got more popular and a lot of youg kids got on with very short attention spans. The number of posts quadrupled, but they went way down in quality.

One sentence and one word posts started dominating and no train onf continuity could be maintained. Comment after comment about how Francesa mispronounces words and things like that.

Some people like it that way and there are a lot of boards out there like this. However, I can't stand it and prefers something that really makes me think and laugh.

I am a new fan but a big one and wondering how popular you are. What is your readership and what can we do to help you? What ar eyour goals for the site?

Bengoodfella said...

I am glad everyone seems to enjoy the blog the way it is. Really I do write long posts and J.S. and Fred write posts that are long enough as well. I don't have a specific amount of space I am trying to take up or edit down to. I write what I write and if it is too long, then so be it, and if it is shorter for one day, then so be it. That's what I love, there's no editor so I write as much or as little as I like in a given day.

Obviously writing longer, more involved posts takes more time, which can be a problem when I get busy, but that's why it's great to have J.S. and Fred to write when they want to and they put up great posts that can be longer also. Now that I have over-analyzed everything too much...

I don't think I am that popular and I haven't looked at Google Analytics lately. We probably have 100 original visitors a day or so, nothing too big and that doesn't count those who return more than once in a day, which bumps up the total visits we get in a day.

I don't really have goals honestly. I want to write because I enjoy it and talk about sports because I enjoy that, while at the same time not getting fired from my job or ignoring my family. As long as it doesn't have an effect on my personal life or affect my work, I keep writing and enjoying it. I can't speak for J.S. or Fred, but I am assuming the same thing goes for them. You don't personally have to do anything but read if you want to and if you want to comment on something then comment on it. I like the discussion (or arguing) if need be on topics.

I think I just stated everything but my personal life goals but that's about it.

Anonymous said...

Check it out guys. "Chip Caray" is twittering.

Bengoodfella said...

The Corey Lidle thing was horrible/yet hilarious. I think I may start following him.

Gene said...

Yeah its funny. That was from me. Don't know why it came up as anonymous.

Was going back and reading some of your old stuff last night and Simmons was getting on that Frank Caliendo about imitating some people that weren't so old. You correctly responsded about Simmons quoting 25 year old movies.

Reminded me of him telling HBO to make some docs for a younger audience and opening with that hockey trande and the BALTIMORE colts marcking band from 1984.

We are awaiting your review on the Gretzky video. When do you think you will watch it.


Gene said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bengoodfella said...

I have no idea when I am going to watch that 30 for 30 Gretzky trade. I wanted to watch it this weekend but didn't get a chance. I am hoping to do it some time this week. I am eager to watch it, but it doesn't take precedent over the other shows on the DVR unfortunately and with baseball in the playoffs my nights are spent watching that. I am going to aim for it soon.

Yeah, I am not going blame Simmons that much for defending the ESPN docs b/c it is his pet project, but it's not like they are re-inventing the wheel and doing much more modern stuff.

Martin said...

If J.S. is in Australia, is his writing upside down and you have to turn it right side up for the site?

This passes for humor after 4 hours of sleep.

How long till every writer outside of ESPN, and the NYC and Los Angeles markets starts decrying the fact that 3 of the 4 teams come from "big market" cities, and the need for a salary cap?

I couldn't watch that baseball game last night, it just looked too freaking cold.

Bengoodfella said...

Nice humor, and no, he writes right side up.

I think it is just going to be a few more hours until they start decrying the "big market" problem. I didn't even realize it to be honest.

The game was on too freaking late for me. I didn't even see one pitch unfortunately.