Defensive Player Corrections

Just a note that individual defender statistics have been recomputed. Previously, when a player started some games at one position and started some games at another position, his statistics were divided among those positions. In other words, if a player had +0.50 WPA at DT and +0.25 WPA at DE, you'd see him with +0.50 WPA on the DT page and you'd see him with +0.25 WPA on the DE page. You'd also see him listed twice on his team page, once under DEs and once under DTs.

Now, each defensive player gets assigned a single position for each season based on the position he played most frequently.

Pre-Season Predictions Are Still Worthless

Last year I started my stint at the NY Times by calling attention to just how bad NFL preseason predictions are. I compared the “advanced” projections for team win totals compiled by a fellow stats website called Football Outsiders to two benchmarks. They had predicted doom and gloom for the Jets last year, and my article was intended to relieve Jets fans of needless worry. As it happened, the Jets made the playoffs and went all the way to the AFC Championship game.

The first benchmark was a mindless 8-win prediction for every team. Let's call this the Constant Median Approximation system, or CoMA for short. This benchmark represents zero knowledge. It’s what you would guess if you had no information at all about any of the NFL teams except that they each play 16 games. Certainly anyone can out-predict a coma patient, right?

Is The NFL Better Off Without A Team In LA?

Los Angeles has been without a football team since 1995 when the Rams moved to St. Louis and the Raiders returned to Oakland. As the nation’s second largest metropolitan area, it seems odd that the NFL wouldn’t have a single team call LA its home. Talk of finding a team for LA, either by expansion or by relocation, has been growing while the civic leaders clear the path for a possible new stadium.

It may be that the NFL would be foolish not to take advantage of such a large market, but perhaps the current 32 teams are better off leaving LA wanting for a team.

Haynesworth's Value

Albert Haynesworth’s refusal to adjust to the Redskins’ new 3-4 scheme has attracted criticism from all directions. The coaches, the media, former Redskin greats, and the fans are fed up with the disgruntled tackle’s attitude. His teammates have been especially harsh. But for all his criticism for both his on and off-field antics, his level of play in 2009 was statistically consistent with previous years.

Player Salaries and Economic Rent

A couple months ago, I wrote about rookie salaries--whether or not they're "too high," and how the NFL's next labor agreement is certain to reduce them. With all the recent attention on NBA free agents, some are wondering why a backup point guard on the Orlando Magic is paid more money than NFL superstar Tom Brady. The issue of player salaries is an emotional one because it touches on our human instincts for fairness.

First, let's look at some facts. From USAToday's salary databases, here are the 2009 salaries for the three major professional sports leagues, plus something I'm told is called "hockey."