Roundup 9/23/10

Keyshawn Johnson thinks Romo is average, and he's holding the Cowboys back. Jason Lisk would beg to differ. This year, Romo sports a +30 EPA, meaning his play would be expected to generate 30 points of net point advantage over five games. But he has a negative WPA, meaning he hasn't played well in high-leverage situations.

Jason has been writing at a site called The Big Lead, which, except for JKL's stuff, is mostly pedestrian. The good news is that you can subscribe to Jason's stuff only using this feed link. Here's another neat post in which Jason looks how a few teams compare to historical teams with similar statistical profiles.

Say it ain't so, Phil!

More Phil on how mainstream reporters should report on sabermetric research. I've always had a very good experience working with reporters. They've been open-minded, inquisitive, and willing to accept that sometimes there's no statistical weight to the argument they're trying to make.

How amazing are the 2010 Chargers?

This seems to be a good idea.

Detecting momentum is harder than you think. I've been thinking of various ways to construct a research test for momentum in football games for a while. I have a few thoughts, but more ideas are always welcome.

Playoff projections from Playoff teams from the AFC are PIT, NYJ, IND, KC, BAL, and HOU. In the NFC, they're NYG, SEA, CHI, GB, NO, and PHI.

The AFC West was 0-4 last week, the twelfth time since realignment that a division was swept in one weekend.

Brian Goff on the helmet-to-helmet issue. There obviously needs to be a distinction between good hard, bone crushing hits and helmet-to-helmet hits. Lowering your helmet to use as a bludgeon to hit another player's head has always been illegal. It has never been part of the game. The rules have simply been unenforced for too long.

Yes, the game is unimaginably fast to those of us who topped out in high school. But here's the fundamentally dishonest thing about the defense of helmet-to-helmet hits. A defender must have been able to see his victim at some point in order to aim at him in the first place. Their head, by definition, must have been up prior to the hit. Defenders are deliberately lowering their heads to strike with the top of their helmets. They have time to lower their heads, so they have time to keep their heads up. Just look at James Harrison's hit on Josh Cribbs last Sunday (look closely at the slow motion at the 20 sec mark). He clearly sees the runner through his facemask, then drops his head and launches himself directly towards Cribbs' head. I can still hear Coach Davis yelling at me, "Step, wrap, lift #84!" That's football. Coach Davis never once said, "Spear him in the head!"

Part of the issue is the culture of the sport. Toughness is everything to these guys, and I respect that. No one wants to the be the guy that complains about getting hit hard. Unfortunately, toughness is a relative quality. No one is ever tough enough in any absolute sense. The only thing that matters is being tougher than the other guy, and toughness becomes an irrational arms race with no end.

Another problem is the fact that some of these helmet-to-helmet hits are unavoidable. If the rules are enforced as written, some players may be unfairly fined or suspended. Unfortunately for them, that's a trade-off that's in the greater interest of the sport as a whole.

Is Singletary's intensity hurting the 49ers?

Chase Stuart is pessimistic about his Jets. (A 60-yard pass interference call can cure a lot of ills!) I love this post because it mirrors the exact same pessimism I have for my Ravens. Here's some advice to fans with teams who are good, but they just can't trust them. Don't listen to yourself or your hometown sports page or any other fan of your team. Each week, read what the sports page from your opponent's home city is saying about your team. You'll get a more honest assessment, without all the psychological hangups. Never forget that as fans, we are all in a dysfunctional and codependent relationship with our favorite team. Six days a week I can be a cool, rational stats analyst, but on Sunday I always check out of the battered woman's shelter and head back to the double-wide to get beaten and abused like that fat drunk woman on Cops. This time will be different...

Malcom Gladwell can run fast.

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4 Responses to “Roundup 9/23/10”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Playoff projections from Playoff teams from the AFC are PIT, IND, KC, BAL, and HOU. In the NFC, they're NYG, SEA, CHI, GB, NO, and PHI.

    You forgot to mention a team from the AFC East (the Jets) there.

  2. Brian Burke says:

    Thanks. Fixed.

  3. MattyP says:

    What's the difference between a lead-with-the-shoulder, wrap, and lift textbook tackle and a helmet-first spear? A few inches.

  4. James says:

    Matt, you're right, it's not a big difference. But I think intent should be a big consideration. Just look at how intentionally Harrison was trying to hurt Massaquoi on that hit. Not only does he lower his head to hit him, but he also strikes him with both forearms. That's not a tackle, that's just one man hitting another.

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