Thursday, August 25, 2005

Joey Harrington's Scientific Evaluation

So there is this ESPN Insider columnist - KC Joyner - that I've never heard of spouting off that he's done this 'scientific analysis' of Joey Harrington and David Carr. He calls himself the Football Scientist even. In his ratings, he rates Carr as nearly god-like and Joey as an NFL bottom feeder. Yet when I read the descriptions, he is incredibly inconsistent in his definitions, and he spouts some numbers that make absolutely no sense whatsoever. Being a scientist and engineer myself, I'm a bit mystified by the things this guy has written...

He rates Joey and David's play with some criteria he calls 'bad decisions', which is completely subjective. That's fine, but it's far from scientific. Personally, if I'm going to use statistics to back up a point, I like to make sure they are actually statistics, not something that's as interpretive as your personal review of a QB's decision making. Where I'm really surprised is how he claims that Carr made only 10 bad decisions all of last season. Heck, there were at least 6 plays Carr would like to have had back in the single game against the Lions. He threw 1 int, was sacked 5 times, and missed open receivers at least 4 more times. In my book, most of those count as Bad Decisions. An INT is always a bad decision in my book. Coverage sacks are always bad decisions as well.

Some people have this impression that by having a QB take sacks instead of throwing the ball away or dumping it off is a good thing, because he opens the possibility of hitting a big play. This is probably the dumbest criticism I have ever heard about Joey.

A sack is NEVER better than a dump off or a throw away.

On a sack, you lose yardage, you lose a down, and you exposed your QB to injury. Any one of those things is not good, all three are combined to kill drives and cause teams to lose games. Want proof? Simply look to the first preseason game - Joey is sacked on consecutive plays, we go from 2nd and 15 at the 20 - an easily makable field goal - to 4th and forever from the 36 yard line. Hanson would have had to try a 54 yard field goal from that spot. AND our starting QB got hit twice, risking injury twice. Regardless of your feelings about Joey, you don't want your QB to get hit. You want him to have a clean jersey at the end of the game.

Do you want your QB to stand in the pocket and take as much time as he needs to complete a pass? Absolutely. Do you want him to hold on, waiting for a receiver to come open and get crushed because he can't find anyone open? Not in a million years.

With all of that, I can't buy this guy's premise that Carr made only 10 bad decisions all of last season. Heck, Carr threw 14 INT's...

Next, and I've been preaching this one for a while, it's nearly impossible in any offense to play WR Roulette and expect positive results. When your starting receivers change on a weekly basis, the adjustments a QB has to make are tremendous. The Lions lined up the same top 3 WR's in consecutive weeks only 2 times last year. In every other single week, at least one of the top 3 WR's changed. 5 times, 2 of the 3 starting WR's were different from one week to the next. It's foolish to not take this into account when judging a QB, yet this genius poo-pooh's it as insignificant.

Do Roy Williams, Tai Streets, David Kircus and Reggie Swinton all run routes at the same speed, preciseness and position on the field? Absolutely not - yet that progression of receivers lined up at the Flanker position happened in games 9-12 last season. To think that a QB having to make those kind of adjustments to where he throws the ball on all those timing routes won't be affected by his receivers is foolish.

To look at it from another viewpoint - I saw something last year on ESPN on Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison. Apparently, they have a routine where after ever practice, and in pre-game warmups, they play pitch and catch for all 18 different routes that Harrison will run. This is in addition to their regular practice. They have been doing this ever since Harrison came into the league. Of course Manning and Harrison have the best chemistry of any QB-WR combo in the league - and it's in large part because they continually practice and repeat this little game. Manning doesn't even have to think about where Harrison will be on a route, he instinctively knows. He can concentrate on his other receivers and use Harrison as his 3rd option because he knows exactly where he'll be if the first two options aren't there, and it requires very little time to assess whether Marvin is open. He can throw to Marvin on a double hitch move before he even makes his cut because he knows exactly where Marvin will be.

Now contrast that to Joey lining up with a new flanker every week. The difference is astounding.

Was Joey great last year? Nope. Was he even good? Not really. Can you separate his stats from the players he had to work with? Not a chance.

One final thought - That writer commented that Carr had some below-average WR talent with Jabar Gaffney, Corey Bradford and Derek Armstrong. He failed to mention that Carr did have Andre Johnson all year - his #1 target. Joey had his #1 go down on the 3rd play of the season and his #2 was playing on one ankle after game 4. He only wishes his remaining targets were as talented as Bradford, Gaffney and Anderson...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Totally subjective, like he had his conclusions and wrote the science to prove them.

Nice blog, wife has wanted me to start one for years, won't happen :)