Monday, June 14, 2010

Picking on, well, picks.

-- Before we begin today's talk about interceptions, I've just stumbled across the news that Vince Young has allegedly been involved in an incident in Dallas, with Young apparently being considered as the primary suspect in an assault at a "gentlemen's club". Funny, because I thought Vince Young had told the press his clubbing days were over so he could focus on his career and his family? Idiot. -- So, Interceptions. Basically I'm going to go out on a limb here. This year we've seen plenty of picks and heard lots about great defensive plays by the backs. But I'm a little skeptical. See, the one thing I've noticed as a fairly common theme running through a lot of interceptions is just bad ball placement. That's not to say that all interceptions are luck. Some do involve genuinely great plays. In the case of bad ball placement you still have to give credit to the defender for keeping position with the receiver. But I just wonder if this isn't symptomatic of the way we view football in general. A guy gets 9 picks in one year and we're bowing at his feet instead of looking at the circumstances and actually asking ourselves what he did on that play. This reminds me of last year, dissecting so many of NFL Networks 'anatomy of a play' segments, where the resulting touchdowns were often thanks to nothing more spectacular than a blown assignment or a missed tackle. Despite the fancy coating, it was the defense failing to do something that made it happen, not the offense pulling some magic play out of the bag. "But Chris, where's the evidence?" I'm glad you ask (clever you, never take an argument at face value). If the wonders of modern technology and my ability to manipulate it come together in perfect harmony, I should be able to show you a clip of Darrelle Revis picking off a pass by Carson Palmer to Chad Ochocinco (who can now officially file a complaint against my blog for harassment over the last few days). What I want you to look at on the replay is the placement of the ball behind the receiver... right into the hands of Mr. Revis. If the ball is thrown a little deeper downfield, then Revis doesn't touch it. And as for the "it was supposed to be a back shoulder throw" comment by the, erm, commentator, I think I remember reading somewhere that you don't throw to the back shoulder WHEN A DEFENSIVE BACK IS STANDING RIGHT THERE!! Have a look: ... fail. Ok, you'll have to look at the link yourself: This is typical of the kind of stuff I'm talking about. At the end of the year I think we are all guilty of making the mistake of looking at a guys numbers and just purely saying "oh, didn't that guy do well" etc, without really thinking about what they've done. To prove a point, I'm going to provide you with the link to the Darrelle Revis 2009 highlights. I want you to keep an eye out for his interceptions and remember that he grabbed six in 2009. What you quickly notice is that really only two of those picks are, in my opinion, legitimately down to the individual talents of Revis (the two being the picks against New England and Oakland). Now again, I'm not saying Revis is a bad corner. I think he had something like 31 passes defended to his name last year. But the reality is that 4 of those 6 were, to me, just the result of poor throws. That's not Revis's fault, but I think we do have to look a little harder at how we assess players, especially defenders. Oddly enough, Revis might actually be a good example. Maybe passes defended - something Revis excelled at - would prove to be a superior measure of the quality of a defensive back. Maybe interceptions are something we should treat with a little more skepticism in terms of singling out who the best corners and safeties are. But then, maybe I'm just going mad in the off season. Anyway, I've found some fun interceptions for you to watch. The first is Troy Polamalu (probably my favourite player in the league right now) making a great grab off a slightly under thrown ball. As for the second, all I can say is "BIG MAN WITH FOOTBALL!!" Here they are:

I'd also like to point you once again in the direction of, where Coach Hoover continues his great analysis of one of my pet hates; fumbles

Have a great day everyone.

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