Saturday, January 19, 2008

Playoff teams don't need studly WRs

I will make it no secret that I love what the guys at do. I think their methodical ripping of all things false and unintelligent in the world of sports journalism is wonderful and has made me a better/smarter sports fan. This entry is blatantly inspired by the guys there. I encourage anyone reading this to check FJM out for a good laugh.

Reuben Frank over at has claimed that NFL playoff teams "rarely" feature stud wide receivers. With guys like Moss, Welker, Burress, Driver and Jennings classifiable as "studs" I somehow doubt he's right.

Reggie Wayne's mighty Colts lost at home. So did Terrell Owens' top-seeded Cowboys.

Totally their fault. Owens had a TD on four catches for 49 yards (not great, but certainly fine) and Wayne had a TD on seven catches for 76 yards, a solid game for a WR. Come on guys, can't you catch 2 TDs? Or have like 150 yards?

Chad Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Brandon Marshall and Braylon Edwards didn't even get to the playoffs. Neither did Roddy White, Marques Colston or Torry Holt.

Again, totally their fault. These teams (Bengals, Saints, Browns, Rams, Broncos, Falcons and Cardinals) were 27th, 26th, 30th, 21st, 19th, 29th and 17th in the NFL, respectively, in yards allowed on defense. They all also ranked 21st or higher (worse) in terms of points allowed per game. Their defenses stunk. That's probably why they didn't make the playoffs, not because their WRs were too good or something.

Only one of the top 10 wide receivers in yardage this year played for a team that won a playoff game, and that's nothing new in the NFL.

The key word here is "yardage" and the arbitrary benchmark Frank has attached to it to evaluate WRs. Yardage for WRs is much less relevant than it's made out to be. If a WR catches 20 TDs for 1 yard each, he sucks in Frank's eyes. It's like saying of the top ten MLB hitters in AVG, only 2 made the playoffs. Arbitrary.

Of the WRs that were in the top 10 in TD catches, three of those are still in the playoffs and three more (four including Reggie Williams, tied for 9th place with three others) were in the playoffs a week ago. Remember, WRs get paid to catch TDs.

Oh and Frank forgot to mention that of those top ten in yardage Johnson (8), Marshall (7), White (6) and Holt (7) had less than 10 TD catches. Two others, Wayne and Fitzgerald, had exactly 10. Not exactly eye-popping seasons.

Everybody wants T.O. Everybody wants Ocho Cinco. Everybody wants game breakers who put up huge numbers.

Maybe because they increase the goodness of football teams?

But historically, teams without those guys have just as good a chance to get to the Super Bowl and win as do teams with average wideouts.

This goes beyond "misuse of statistics to write a story during a time when nothing is going on" and into the realm of falsity. Of the top 10 teams in receiving yards/game, five made the playoffs (two of them being New England and Green Bay, number one and two in rYPG and first round bye teams) and had a combined 102-58 record. Of the bottom 10 teams in receiving yards, two made the playoffs and had a combined 62-98 record.

Teams "without those guys" ("those guys" being good receivers) don't have a chance to make the Super Bowl because they have a much worse chance of making the playoffs.

Owens is 1-6 in his last seven playoff games, with games of 26, 35, 40, 49 and 73 yards along the way.

Something is fishy here. I count seven playoff games and only five results chosen by Frank. Oh wait, that's because one was 9/177/2 TDs in 2002 against the Giants and the other was 9/122/0 in '04 on a probably broken leg versus the Patriots in the freakin' Super Bowl.

Can you say cherry-picking?

Aside: attributing wins/losses to a single football player is the single DUMBEST thing anyone can do. Even QBs, who arguably affect the outcome of a game the most, should not be credited with wins. Taking into consideration offensive line play, defense, special teams and about a thousand other things that can happen over the course of a football game, saying "player X is 10-5 when such and such happens" is utterly moronic.

This year, Moss is the only big-time receiver left.

Not true, but continue.

Burress had just three 100-yard games this year and Driver two.

Burress was nuts this year, almost never practicing due to an injury and still putting up insane games. Those three 100 yard games: 20/404/5 TDs. He also had 86, 97, 93 and 84 yard games (all with TDs), which is like one catch away from 100.

Driver had a much worse season, with only 2 TD catches. But by barely getting 1000 yards (1048), he's a stud to Frank. Green Bay teammate Greg Jennings had a lowly 920 yards, eliminating him from stud status. Those 12 TDs he caught, forget 'em.

But while everybody is conceding the Patriots the Super Bowl, Moss' postseason record is hardly a stellar one. He's surpassed 75 yards in only three of nine career playoff games,

What a scrub. How did he even get in the NFL?

Those three:
2/121/2 (!)

Moss also had exactly 75 yards once and paired that with a TD. Oh and a game with 70 yards but only two stinkin' TDs. Moss has nine TDs in nine playoff games and 737 yards. That's pretty damn good.

is averaging 38 yards in his last four, and has a 5-4 career postseason record.

Again with the record. Let's fight fire with fire on this one. Those last four, the one's where Moss is averaging 38 yards per? His teams are 2-2 in those games. Including a 14 yard game last week where Jacksonville said, "there is no way we're letting Moss go 10/150/2 on our ass" and lost. Conclusion = zero correlation between amount of Moss yards and his teams victory chances.

But if you want to reach a Super Bowl, you can do it with Deion Branch or Hines Ward.

I would argue that Ward was/is a star receiver. He's been the best WR on the Steelers forever.

He has put up 67/896/8 in his 11 playoff games, but Frank has relegated him to "non-stud" status so he's out.

Branch has played in 11 playoff games and put up 49/725/3 in those. Pretty bad, worse than Moss and Ward for sure.

You can do it with
Qadry Ismail or Bobby Engram.

Engram's nine playoff games: 35/476/2
Ismail's nine playoff games: 18/287/0

Both were terrible and probably had nothing/very little to do with their teams making the Super Bowl. In fact, those teams made it in spite of their crappy WRs - especially in Baltimore's case. That was one of the best defensive teams ever too, by the way. But it was mostly Ismail's team.

You can do it with
David Givens or Bernard Berrian.

Givens' seven games: 35/324/7
Berrian's four games: 19/296/2

One did awesome, one terrible. Again, there is seriously ZERO correlation between having good/bad receivers and making it to the Super Bowl. The NFL playoffs are 3-4 games long during which a million crazy things can happen. Moss can go 8/125/2 and his team can lose. Berrian can go 0/0/0 and his team can win.

You can also "do it" with guys like Rice, Moss, Bruce/Holt and a ton of other awesome receivers with rings.

I may be going out on a limb here, but I think the overall strength of said teams may just have something to do with them making the Super Bowl.

Boring. But effective.

Just like your article. Oh wait, only half of that is true...

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