Did you know Ryan Tannehill’s box score from last Sunday pegs him as roughly the greatest quarterback in NFL history? He went 18 of 19 for 282 yards and 4 touchdowns. The NFL world was abuzz over him setting the record for most consecutive completions. On the flip side, did you know that 248 of those yards came after the catch? Tannehill himself only technically threw for 34 yards on 19 attempts. That’s an obscene amount of screens and flares and quick slants. It’s also emblematic of what has started to separate the NFL from the NBA.
Update: This article was originally written for the Houston Chron before the start of the NFL season. Watt plays offense too now and has scored more touchdowns than LeSean McCoy, Andre Johnson, etc. Please JJ don’t hurt em.
The NFL is the American, everyman gladiator sport. Especially in football, we like to hold our athletes to idealized blue-collar demigod versions of themselves. We gladly shine the pedestals for these upholders of the quintessential American virtues – grit, endurance, and civic virtue.
Last week belonged to that one word. Scandals left and right rocked the two most popular sports in America.
For everyone who thought the Ray Rice furor had ended, JUST KIDDING! The league might have gone full Richard Nixon to sweep issues under the rug. For those who thought racist issues in the NBA were over after Donald Sterling, NOPE! The Atlanta Hawks will see that and raise you one by stereotyping and talking about African heritage as though it were some delinquent character trait. And this is without even mentioning that Adrian Peterson, NFL MVP and one of its most marketable superstars, was involved in a child abuse case brought about this weekend.
Watching the Giants game last night, one thing was clear. This was not the type of football that defined the Giants. There was no power in the trenches, especially on offense. Nothing pronounced that more clearly than when they called fade routes on 3 out of 4 plays at the goal line rather than trust their running backs.
One thing most followers of football take at its face is that you need to be strong up front in the NFL to be successful. And given high profile offensive line failures like the Falcons last year, coupled with high profile offensive line successes like the Giants during their Super Bowl years, who could blame them?
It’s hard to definitively predict anything year to year in the NFL. This is one league where parity reigns above all. With that said, the beauty of numbers is that they can still allow you to get a general sense of the landscape.
The New Orleans Saints, my hometown team, are walking into this season with their heads held high. And for good reason- they’ve had an aggressive offseason and bolstered both sides of the ball. Walter Football puts them at one of six teams that could realistically win the Super Bowl. As such, I wanted to explore some key statistics to try and understand where they stand, less than a week from opening day.
The NFL offseason is a time for the talking heads and the analysts to rehash some age-old and accepted talking points in previewing the season ahead. One of those popular points is that turnovers are unsustainable for a defense. They say always that you are surely bound to see a sharp regression in your turnover count following a really high number of forced turnovers the previous year. The extremes don’t last, everything always reverts to the middle, fundamentals matter most, etc.