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11/8/12

Roddy White and Julio Jones Talk About Their “linebacker mentality”

Roddy White and Julio Jones are the best wide receiver combo in the league (yes I’ve heard of Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks).  Last week the (play) brothers stopped by the Atlanta Falcons D-block show, a web series hosted by the Falcons linebackers. If you haven’t seen the series, make sure you put that on your list. It’s the best sports web series hands down (with Michael Robinson’s Real Rob Report coming in at a close second – I give D Block extra points for the southern accents).

One of the things that White and Jones talked about was finishing plays. Both of the guys took pride in having a “linebacker mentality” (Jones said he’s played some linebacker before) and blocking on run plays.White had a warning for safeties that think they’re going to blow through him and take Michael Turner down.

Jones also talked about the difficulty teams have guarding them because double teaming them just opens up opportunities for the other weapons on their team. The D-block guys seemed impressed with the way Jones talked about coverage on defense. I thought that was funny.

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11/8/12

Just a quick note on players’ missing games to see their children being born

Since I love to comment on “outrages” during the season, I figured I’d weigh in on this. Quickly, yes I do think it’s fine for players like Chicago bears CB Charles “Peanut” Tillman to miss games to see their children being born. Right now, the public only sees what that player gets paid each week to be there. They don’t see all the special moments players miss during the year (including during the increasingly short “off season”) to stay employed by whatever league they play in.

If you saw Marshall Faulk’s Hall of Fame speech, he very eloquently talked about all the time he missed out on with his kids during his playing career. Other players have also recently talked about looking forward to spending more time with family in the years to come. Playing a sport professionally requires a high level of physical commitment including travel and travel prep. And yes, for years in this country, working class folks have had no choice but to choose work over family often working miles away from home. That doesn’t mean athletes should be forced into that too.

From MY perspective, I’d rather have a husband who can be home for all the special times in a child’s life. I’d rather a man miss a child being born than miss a kid’s recital, for example, because that’s something both the child and the parent will remember. But since we can’t (and shouldn’t) give guys off for every child’s birthday, and kids’ recital, and match and games or stomach flu and the list goes on, the least we can do is let them be there for the beginning of it all.

I would address the folks who have made comments to the effect that guys should “plan” conception around the season, but it’s hard enough for me to explain the tuck rule, I’m not really qualified to give the full low down on the birds and the bees. But I do know one thing–the people who made those comments could use a refresher course.

 

11/8/12

On Hakeem Nicks And Whether Stats Are For Girls (you know, gettin’em)

 

NY Giants WR Hakeem Nicks isn’t worried about stats because he has enough women. Possibly five!

Earlier today, NY Giants WR Hakeem Nicks was quoted as saying “stats are for girls” as in guys who care about stats are only interested in showing them off. Lost in the need for him to clarify that point (for obvious reasons), was the greater point that stats are meaningful but often not as meaningful as people think. With the pervasiveness of fantasy sports, stat hogs have even more to chew on but stats out of context are just that – fantasy sports. 

I can’t tell you how it burns my grits when I see people going off about how this or that player is “trash” because he only has XXX receptions or XXX interceptions or whatever the case may be. Meanwhile, that player may be playing some of the best football he’s ever played but it doesn’t show up on the statline for various reasons.

No single stat should ever sit at the table alone. 

Not too long ago, Chuck Klosterman at Grantland talked about how fantasy sports is changing our perception of players. Klosterman used Titans RB Chris Johnson,who had a mediocre season last year and is in the midst of a pretty good one this year, as an example of how the obsession with stats is dehumanizing players and skewing the way we think of them now and could conceivably in future affect player legacies. Stats already play a big part of whether a player makes it into the Hall of Fame–we want records and things of that nature to be broken before we shower someone with praise. But Klosterman envisions this going a step further to essentially categorize non record breaking or non fantasy stud seasons as failures. 

I think Klosterman makes a salient point that also speaks to one of the major issues with stats and the inability of one stat to tell you about all relevant factors e.g. performance in clutch times (it’s basketball season so we might as well get used to that term again), snaps where a player is double teamed or has the defense rolled to his side, how one players’ absence or lack of performance affects others (ex: the impact losing a guy like JJ Watt would invariably have on the Texans secondary) or any other number of factors that can only be gauged by WATCHING the sport or, at the very least, looking at more than 1 or 2 statistical areas. 

It is for that reason ESPN came up with the total QB rating that nobody uses except them. But even though I refuse to pay attention to total QBR that doesn’t mean I don’t understand the spirit behind it. ESPN was looking for another way to measure a QBs success rather than simply looking at percentage of completed passes. In order to really get an idea of how a QB is performing in totality you want to consider a number of factors..average yards per pass attempt, what part of that is the WR’s YACs, how many times they’ve been hurried, hit or sacked, how long they hold the ball, how their O line stacks up, how they perform in the redzone specifically, how they run their 2 minute offense, what receiving weapons they have etc. etc. etc.!  

On Nicks, the Stat Gods at Pro Football Focus has him  currently at 24 overall out of 110 receivers that have taken over 100 snaps this season (last year, he finished the season ranked 7). That is damn good and the fact that he has to defend his stats at this point in the season after injury makes Klosterman’s argument even more poignant. There’s always room to improve, and I’m sure the Giants, their fans, and Nicks himself would love to have him bust into PFF’s top 10 again. But I don’t think there’s a need to press that issue at the current time.

As for whether stats can be used to impress girls, absolutely. Stats make guys popular and popularity attracts the ladies. But Nicks doesn’t seem to be struggling in that department. 

[Source: Giants' Hakeem Nicks says he did not have a setback, will play vs. Bengals. NJ.com]

Oh while I’m here…I was able to live stream some of the sessions from Blogs with Balls 5. During the diversity session, someone brought up the lack of minorities and women who are experts on sports stats. It was suggested by Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders that more minorities and women should get into the stat game and I think that’s a great idea. So yes, stats ARE for girls, or at least they should be…too.

You can watch the video from the panel on the BWB you tube channel:

10/23/12

BoomKack Choreographs Lesean McCoy’s New Touch Down Dance – Do we like it?

As I wrote this headline I realized that white people probably have ZERO clue who Boomkack is and why it’s funny. I thought about whether or not to explain cause I want my white brothers and sisters to be in on the joke. But then I was like it’s probably not that important. So I’ll just leave yall with this explanation.

The following video is Diddy’s old choreography Laurieann Gibson aka Boom Kack showing Philadelphia Eagles RB a new end zone dance. Every time he does the dance hip hop dance experience will donate money to the Lesean McCoy foundation. I don’t think that Lesean has chosen a name for the dance yet, but for now I’m calling it the Shady Swipe. I like it but I’m still partial to his normal hands up body roll. As a Philly fan, I just hope I see a lot of whatever dance he does. Almost any celebration is better than punching your coach in the stomach so he has nowhere to go but up.

10/17/12

Lardarius Webb and Ray Lewis’ Injuries Impact Ravens Differently – plus TV Networks already want Lewis

 

Baltimore Ravens CB Lardarius Webb is a joy to watch on the field. If you love DB play you have to be hoping he comes back and resume where he left off — at the top of the heap.

Everybody loves Ray Lewis. I love Ray Lewis. You love Ray Lewis. Well, maybe YOU don’t. But Ray Lewis is loved. So loved that the media waited until he tore his tricep and was officially out for the season to come out from under the covers and admit that he hasn’t been playing so well. 

I would never go so far as to say that losing Ray makes the Ravens defense better, but I have seen a few who written as much.  What I will say, however, is that the Ravens defense may get speedier and speed matters for a team that used to get 3 guys to the ball on many plays but now struggles just to get 1 there on time. The Ravens have struggled to rush to the QB, struggled in the middle of the field, and struggled to stop the run. This is not all Rays’ fault, obviously, but he has been the weak link on many more snaps this season. 

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