Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Digging through the dirt...

Well, I was a bit bored as I was reading through another thread tonight, and somehow made it over to Pro Football and was lookiing through stats, when something very odd hit me. It happened when I saw the following stat lines:

G | Comp Att PCT YD Y/A TD INT | Att Yards TD |
12 | 173 303 57.1 2178 7.2 11 6 | 41 229 1 |
11 | 151 270 55.9 1957 7.2 13 7 | 28 87 2 |
15 | 221 412 53.6 2489 6.0 13 15 | 44 199 2 |
14 | 215 429 50.1 2294 5.3 12 16 | 7 4 0 |
16 | 309 554 55.8 2880 5.2 17 22 | 30 86 0 |
16 | 274 489 56.0 3047 6.2 19 12 | 48 175 0 |

In case you were wondering, those were the first 3 years stats for Charlie Batch and then Joey Harrington. A few things stuck out at me when I looked thorugh them. So I decided to try to do an objective comparison between the two QB's - one who was loved until he got a huge contract, and one who is considered an enigma and received a huge contract from his first day with the team. Here is my take...

1 - Charlie's stats seemed to get slightly worse each year - his completion percentage went down each year, his yards per play and INT to TD ratio plateaued then went down. Joey's have seemed to improve each year.

I'd give the edge stats-wise to Joey, but not by much. Overall the numbers favor Charlie, but the downward trend was not a very promising sign

2 - Charlie missed a lot of games - 10 in 3 years. Joey has missed 2 - the first and last games of his rookie year.

Joey wins in a runaway here. Charlie seemed to get hurt if you breathed on him wrong, while Joey has really only missed one start since he got the starting job.

3 - Charlie's leading receivers each year were:
Year1 - Moore 82/983, Morton 69/1028, Crowell 25/464
Year 2 - Crowell 81/1338, Morton 80/1129, Sloan 47/591
Year 3 - Morton 61/788, Moore 40/434, Crowell 34/430

Joey's were:
Year 1 - Hakim 37/541, Schroeder 36/595, Anderson 25/322
Year 2 - Hakim 49/449, Schroeder 36/397, Rogers 22/243
Year 3 - Williams 54/817, Hakim 31/533, Streets 28/260

HUGE edge to Charlie. His receivers were considerably better during his first three years in Detroit - although we start to see in year 3 of Batch that the receivers are about to go into the tailspin that we have endured for the last several years.

4 - Charlie's running backs
Y1 - Sanders 343/1491
Y2 - Hill 144/542
Y3 - Stewart 339/1184

Joey's RBs
Y1 - Stewart 231/1021
Y2 - Bryson 158/606
Y3 - Jones 241/1133

Edge to Charlie but not by anywhere near as much as I would have thought. Having Barry back there his rookie year takes a huge load off any QB. If we were to extend this to year 4, I expect Joey to come out ahead because KJ's in for a monster year...

So through 4 categories, we split the tally pretty much evenly. Joey gets the advantage with things directly related to the QB's production and Charlie gets the edge with his teammates production. So why was Charlie adored and Joey reviled? Here comes the tiebreaker category...

5 - Team Win-Loss Records
Charlie Y1 - 5-11
Y2 - 8-8
Y3 - 9-7

Joey Y1 - 3-13
Y2 - 5-11
Y3 - 6-10

Edge to Charlie. Charlie's teams won 8 more games through his first 3 seasons than Joey's teams did (22 vs 14), although both were below .500 (Charlie 22-26, Joey 14-34).

Irregardless of why each player's teams won the number of games they did, Charlie is perceived as a winner, and Joey a loser by much of the fan base here in Detroit. So why is this the perception? When I look at the stats, it appears that Joey has been improving and carrying a lot more of the load, while Charlie had teammates that carried the load for him. Individual stats wise, it doesn't really seem to add up.

I think the answer is simple and relates to two things I previously mentioned - Salary and Record. Charlie got a huge contract just before the start of his third season, and a lot of people scratched their heads, and suddenly Charlie was no longer the Golden Boy - they wanted production to match his salary. The Lions went 9-7 and not too many people grumbled as they were grumbling more about the Paul Edinger FG that knocked the Lions out of the playoffs. The following season, most people thought he got the shaft by the M&M boys and got run out of town. As such, he is remembered by most Lions fans in a positive light.

Joey on the other hand was the 3rd pick in the draft, and signed a HUGE contract that goes along with that draft position. Never mind the situation and coaching he came into - joining a team that went 2-14 the year before, being told by his Y1 coach to throw it away or check down instead of taking the sack, playing with different WR's in seemingly every game (the only WR to play in all 16 games in a single one of Joey's seasons was Bill Schroeder in Joey's Y2 - think about that), and receivers who consistently drop the ball. Joey's fat contract means that the fans expect results, irregardless of the situation the player was thrust into.

And results in Detroit are centered around one thing - Wins.

Even if Joey and the Lions win 12 games this year, there will still be people calling for his head. It will take a minimum of two 10+ win seasons before the boo-birds would begin to die down - which would not suprisingly be when Joey's career W-L record would start to get back near .500. I'm expecting it to happen as I think that finally Joey will have a team around him this season for the entire season - something he hasn't had since he's been here. If this happens, and Joey's stats plateau while the team wins games, Joey will still take some criticism, but it will definitely be much less. Winning cures all ailments - even the perception of how good a QB is.

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