Thursday, January 27, 2011

5 comments Joe Morgan Is Back Briefly and Defending Aaron Rodgers...Sort Of

You know you have missed Joe Morgan. I have. This upcoming summer won't be the same for me without him around doing chats for ESPN. Hopefully, the Reds organization will force him to do some chats in his spare time. For the time being, Joe has done an interview with radio station KJR in Seattle and the greatest second-baseman of all-time, yet one of the most headache-inducing announcers, had a couple interesting things to say.

The question is in bold and the answer from Joe is in bold italics.

So you’re going to move on here. You’re young enough. Do you have any plans yet in terms of working in broadcast?

“Uhhh…I’m not sure what I want to do in that direction yet. I actually work for the Reds. I’m a special advisor to the Cincinnati Reds.

I like how they transcribed Joe's "uhhh..." It just seems right.

I help them with their personnel and help them in the marketing department and help them in their community relations.

As if I didn't harp on this enough when I did his chats, this was a huge conflict of interest in my opinion. It was his job to be an analyst for ESPN while at the same time he helped the Reds out with their marketing and personnel decisions (maybe decisions...I hope not). Even members of Congress would be embarrassed to be paid to analyze a business or industry, while also being an advisor to said business or industry.

I also just opened up a Honda dealership in Cincinnati “Joe Morgan Honda,” so I’ll be working there with that.

Let's imagine the slogan for Joe Morgan Honda for a second...

"Joe Morgan Honda equals consistent satisfaction."

"We can't say for sure you will like the car. It's too early to tell you that, but we do know it's possible. Ask us if you will like the car after you have driven it for 100,000 miles."

Or perhaps a commercial...

"Here at Joe Morgan Honda, just name the price you want. We have no prices on the cars, in fact we hate numbers. Our salesperson will tell you how much he thinks the car is worth based on how much he remembers he enjoyed the previous models of that car."

Any better suggestions for a commercial or slogan? The possibilities are endlessly hilarious.

What made the “Big Red Machine” so tough to handle for opposing teams throughout the 1970′s looking at the back-to-back World Series Champions years of 1975-and-1976?

“Well I think the big difference is a lot of people don’t give give him enough credit and that’s Sparky Anderson.

Sparky Anderson is in the Baseball Hall of Fame. I am not sure how much more recognition a baseball manager or player should get than that. Even if he doesn't get enough credit, the fact he was managing a team of Hall of Fame players could be the reason for that. Still, to be elected to the Hall of Fame...that's getting some credit for your achievements. Does Joe want the Hall of Fame to put a statue up in his honor?

You know to have a great team. We did things, we gave up our own individuality to make the team better. You know I could have stolen a few more bases at times.

Of course Joe could have. Why would he do that though when he could stand on first base and give up his individuality to make the team better by not getting in scoring position? THAT'S DETRIMENTAL TO THE TEAM!

I think Bench [Johnny] could of hit a few more home-runs, but there was a time for a single to right stuff like that and he did it.

Because, why get two sure runs on the board for the Reds and be a rally-killer when you can single and get one run in? It's all about the team. Individuality was given up for the benefit of the team to score fewer runs.

(Sparky Anderson in the clubhouse) "Look Johnny, I know you can probably hit a two-run home run here and put us ahead by two runs. I'm going to need to single to right field though. Let's get that run in. We don't need two runs right now. Help the team more by scoring fewer runs."

(Joe Morgan walking around the clubhouse naked) "You don't get enough recognition Sparky."

(Sparky Anderson) "Put some clothes on Joe."

So I think we all gave up a little bit of ourselves to make the team better and I think that’s what made it such a great team because we all knew what we were supposed to do.

Apparently what they were "supposed to do" is score fewer runs for the team if given the chance. I fail to see how scoring more runs for the team is a good thing, but I also don't live in the world of Joe Morgan, which feels like a parallel universe really. A parallel universe where passing up a home run for a single is to the team's advantage.

It has been obvious for a while that Joe subscribes to the "clogging up the bases" mentality of Dusty Baker, but I don't see how a single instead of a home run is a good thing. I'm not baseball coach, but scoring the most runs possible in a game seems like the best possible strategy.

It's good to hear things haven't changed for Joe.

-Mike Tanier writes an article about how passer rating is an overrated statistic and I could not agree more. It's a fairly old way of measuring how good a quarterback has played. Like many other statistics it doesn't have a lot of meaning in itself in comparing quarterbacks to each other over different generations. I think it is a decent statistic to compare quarterbacks to each other using the same year's statistics, but even then I wouldn't use it solely to prove a point.

So I agree with him on his main argument. He does go overboard a bit. He uses Aaron Rodgers as the main example of how quarterback rating is overrated and creates a theory that I am not sure I agree with.

Aaron Rodgers is currently the NFL’s all-time career leader in passer rating, a fact that should leave you impressed, baffled, and maybe a little insulted.

Not really. He's only started for three years in the NFL. Of course he is also awesome, so that could have something to do with him being #1 as well. Still, this doesn't mean he is the best quarterback ever. Reasonable minds who like Rodgers could agree upon this.

Rodgers’ career passer rating is 98.4. Super Bowl foe Ben Roethlisberger ranks eighth on the all-time list at 92.5. The players between them, in order: Philip Rivers, Steve Young, Tony Romo, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Kurt Warner. Some nobody named “Joe Montana” comes in ninth, with Drew Brees rounding out the top 10.

What do these players all have in common? They played in the NFL over the last 20 years. We can see the first problem with comparing passer ratings of quarterbacks that played during different periods of the NFL's history. Passer rating naturally favors the modern quarterback.

The “best” quarterback — Johnny Unitas or Bart Starr — typically did a lot of things well, but not well enough to lead the league in any one category.

So the NFL decided they needed a new statistic, and the league formed a committee. That’s what the passer rating is — a stat developed by a committee. A committee that met in the early 1970s, when pocket calculators were the size of blimps.

I hate to pick on this article because it is fairly well-researched. Yet, I must go is in my contract that I must do so.

The mathematical juggling hides two major flaws.

First, it’s an insanely over-engineered solution to a simple problem, but we’ve come to expect that from a league that can turn a simple concept like a “fumble” into Supreme Court-worthy legislation. Second, the rating compares quarterbacks to an “average” that was established in 1970, which might as well have been the Stone Age.

You get the point. Can we overhaul the passer rating statistic though? What would the harm in it be? The NFL has changed and comparing quarterbacks across generations is nearly impossible, because older guys like Joe Namath look terrible in comparison to today's most average quarterbacks, when this may not be the case.

Then Tanier goes into detail about what the quarterback rating formula entails and proves his point very well. The passing game has exploded in the NFL, cornerbacks could hold in the past where they can't now, and essentially the league has let this happen through rule changes.

OK, that explains why Rodgers outranks Staubach, or even Montana. How the heck does he outrank Brady, Manning, and Brees?

The passer rating is built exclusively from percentage stats, not raw totals. Percentage stats can go up and down during a quarterback’s career. As you know, quarterbacks usually play poorly as rookies, improve until they peak for a few seasons, then (if they are very good) hang around for a few seasons as their performance and statistics decline

Now he begins to overcomplicate the issue in an effort to prove his point. It is really a basic issue. Rodgers has only started for three seasons in the NFL, so he hasn't had much of a chance to have a bad year. Staubach and Montana are retired and Brady, Manning, and Brees have had a chance for bad seasons (for them), plus Manning started as a rookie on a bad team, which affected his statistics.

Now, look at Rodgers’ career. It’s all peak. He spent his “rise” throwing 59 passes in three years while waiting for Brett Favre to cut bait. He hasn’t had time to fall yet.

So this whole over-analytical discussion about how the hell Aaron Rodgers is the all-time leader in passer rating is answered with the simple answer that he hasn't been in the NFL long enough nor has he accumulated enough data for it to be relevant. That's not enough though, there always has to be a theory.

Rivers, second all-time, shares a similar resume. He spent two seasons behind Drew Brees instead of throwing stat-deflating interceptions. Romo (third) hung around the bench for several seasons and was more-or-less at his peak the moment he stepped on the field.

To be fair, while this is true, these quarterbacks still have to play well when they get on the field. It's not that to practice for 2-3 years and then have to step on the field and play well. It is not like Rivers and Rodgers were just able to automatically play well because they were on the bench and knew the offense. They still have talent and were able to play well when put in the lineup. So a little credit should be shown to them, rather than act like it is obvious they would play well just from sitting on the bench for a couple of years.

Steve Young and Kurt Warner also had the chance to sit on the bench and then come in at their peak as well. So it is not exclusive to just Rodgers and Rivers. Essentially both quarterbacks (Young and Warner) were handed Super Bowl-type talented offensive teams to put around them. They just had to execute the offense well and they did. I take nothing away from them, but I would put them in the discussion with Rivers and Rodgers as quarterbacks who started playing at their peak.

Call it the “Iceberg” Theory: Active quarterbacks often reach the top of the passer rating list because we only see the tip of their iceberg.

This is kind of a blanket statement. While true to an extent, it's not completely true:

Out of the Top 20 passers in NFL history in passer rating (only the active ones) here are their rankings on the list and when they started full-time for their team:

1. Aaron Rodgers- 4th season
2. Philip Rivers- 3rd season
4. Tony Romo- 3rd season
5. Tom Brady- 2nd season
6. Peyton Manning- 1st season
8. Ben Roethlisberger- 1st season
10. Drew Brees- 2nd season
11. Matt Schaub- 4th season
12. Chad Pennington- 3rd season
13. Joe Flacco- 1st season
16a. Carson Palmer- 1st season
16b. Matt Ryan- 1st season
20. Brett Favre- 2nd season

I am not completely disagreeing with the "Iceberg" theory, just stating out of the 13 active quarterbacks in the Top 20 that 8 of those quarterbacks started full-time for their team in the 1st or 2nd season they were in the NFL. Some parts of the theory have merit, but Flacco and Ryan are already at #13 and #16 and they presumably haven't reached their peak yet. So their peak will move them up the list further (presumably), so I am not sure their presence on the list is a result of being an "Iceberg" quarterback.

Brady and Manning will probably wind up like Young and Montana, hovering at the top of the list forever, but always wedged among a bunch of young guns coming off two or three hot seasons. They deserve better. The league should raise the minimum pass attempt requirement for the career rating list from 1,500 passes to 2,500. That would cut our Rodgers Romo, and Rivers for at least another season, forcing them to prove a little more before they sneak into a club that’s too exclusive for them.

I am not sure a smart football fan really believes a quarterback who has been in the NFL for 3-4 seasons is better than Montana, Young, or Dan Marino. This whole problem seems to be one caused by a small sample size.

Ironically, Rodgers’ high passer rating could be held against him. When television announcers use graphics to show that Rodgers has the highest rating in history, it forces viewers to be skeptical.

Is this really ironic? I am not sure if two different assumptions based on the presentation of data can be considered ironic or not.

If Rodgers ranks as the best ever at some bogus stat, maybe there’s something bogus about his performance.

So here's how we got to this point and see how it holds up using the assumptions we are supposed to use:

-Aaron Rodgers has the highest passer rating in NFL history.

-He must be the best quarterback of all-time.

-This isn't true because quarterback passer rating favors the modern quarterback.

-So Aaron Rodgers must not be the greatest quarterback of all-time.

-The passer rating statistic must be bogus on some way.

-If the passer rating statistic is bogus, then other statistics must also be bogus.

-Aaron Rodgers has other good statistics.

-Aaron Rodgers may not really be a good quarterback because the statistics he accumulates all could be bogus.

Couldn't we use that same logic to say ALL modern quarterbacks' numbers are bogus and not just Rodgers? If modern statistics are bogus in some ways, then all modern quarterbacks who put up great numbers could not really be great quarterbacks.

Maybe it's too many screens, too much reliance on his receivers, something inherently “wimpy” about completing five-yard smashes to Greg Jennings when every Staubach pass was an 80-yard bomb into the Steel Curtain.

Yes, because we all vividly remember Joe Montana throwing the ball deep continuously. Is Montana overrated because he had the greatest receiver of all-time to throw the ball to? Is Kurt Warner any less of a quarterback because he had two Hall of Fame-type receivers and a Hall of Fame running back playing with him? I don't think so. I'm not sure why these type of things could be held against Aaron Rodgers either then.

I am not sure if Tanier is being sarcastic here, but Staubach's three longest completed passes over three seasons (I didn't delve into how many 80+ completed passes he had in one season) were 75 yards in 1969 and 1979, 85 yards in 1971, and 91 yards in 1978. Granted, Staubach led the NFL in average yards per pass attempt, but I don't know if this makes him a better quarterback any more than a high passer rating makes Aaron Rodgers a good quarterback.

Staubach also didn't start full-time for the Cowboys until his 3rd year in the NFL and was 29 years old when he did. He could perhaps be an "Iceberg" quarterback.

Rodgers is an excellent quarterback, just achieving his potential. He doesn’t need a glitch antique statistic to make him into something more. As for the passer rating itself, think of it as a grandfather: Old fashioned, set in its ways, and a little silly, but still worth listening to, if only to understand how quickly times have changed.

Agreed, passer rating is an old statistic that should be overhauled. I am just not sure if Aaron Rodgers' passer rating can be used against him at all. I also believe the presence of more active quarterbacks at the top of the all-time passer rating list is a product of the changes in the NFL passing game and some quarterbacks on the list not having accumulated enough seasons in the NFL. Tanier seems to somewhat agree with this.

I don't know how much the influx of modern passers has to do with "Iceberg" seasons where the majority of modern quarterbacks on the list started for their team when they were at their peak. Many of the quarterbacks in the Top 20 of all-time passer rating did start for their team when they would throw stat-killing interceptions that would move them down the list. What's interesting is Tanier says this:

As quarterbacks age, the law of averages starts to temper their statistics, which is why Brady, Manning, Roethlisberger and Brees have slipped below the newcomers.

What is interesting is three of these quarterbacks were not "Iceberg" quarterbacks in that they started in their 1st or 2nd year in the NFL. So really wouldn't they throw their stat-killing interceptions at that point in their career and not have their statistics tempered as they got older? It may be a to-may-toe or to-mah-toe discussion either way I guess.


Fred Trigger said...

"here at Joe Morgan Honda we concetrate on giving you the best possible deal"

FormerPhD said...

"Here at Joe Morgan Honda, we think that Americans should sacrifice their individuality to help the country. That's why we offer one type of car. Cincinnati Reds' red Civics!"

ivn said...

Maybe it's too many screens, too much reliance on his receivers, something inherently “wimpy” about completing five-yard smashes to Greg Jennings when every Staubach pass was an 80-yard bomb into the Steel Curtain.

isn't this basically all he had to write? the West Coast Offense (which almost every team runs some variation of at this point) made shorter, high-percentage passes the staple of the passing game as opposed to the 60's and 70's when passing was more high-risk high-reward. there. that's it, just wrote your column for you, Mike. maybe with the time I just saved you, you can go spit on Bill Walsh's grave or something. if you're that upset about QB rating.

ivn said...

Maybe it's too many screens, too much reliance on his receivers, something inherently “wimpy” about completing five-yard smashes to Greg Jennings when every Staubach pass was an 80-yard bomb into the Steel Curtain.

isn't this basically all he had to write? the West Coast Offense (which almost every team runs some variation of at this point) made shorter, high-percentage passes the staple of the passing game as opposed to the 60's and 70's when passing was more high-risk high-reward. there. that's it, just wrote your column for you, Mike. maybe with the time I just saved you, you can go spit on Bill Walsh's grave or something. if you're that upset about QB rating.

Bengoodfella said...

Fred, nice. That was fantastic.

Rich, is there a Big Red Honda Machine joke in there somewhere? "Come buy a Big Red Machine from Joe Morgan."

Ivn, I don't love QB rating. I think it is a great stat to compare QB's over the same generation. Other than that, it is not a good tool for comparison. I do think that comment was out of line and didn't make too much sense.

Like you said, the West Coast offense helped bring the short passing game into fashion. It may have had a bad effect on passer rating comparisons but I think it was good for football. Maybe that comment was tongue in cheek, but I feel like he was complaining about Rodgers being too productive.