Is It a Blog?: Quick Hits #5

Originally posted on “Is It Sports?,” its our 2nd real mailbag, posted in the Is It a Blog conversation format

E-mail from Maria F, Cincinnati, OH:
This is my rant about the general category of interceptions. I think it is unfair to the quarterback for all interceptions to be so labeled as “their fault”. For example, most of Drew Brees’ interceptions were not direct “passes” to the defense. They were catchable balls that the receiver did not catch. Rather than the stats reflecting this on the receiver, it goes against the QB. Now I don’t know anything about baseball, but Jesse says there is some way to differentiate errors. Likewise, I think that football (the NFL especially) should institute some sort of differentiation. There should be two categories of interceptions – QB error and non-QB error. I am all for Brandon Kirsch getting the tick marks when he passes right to Northwestern, but not when some butterfingered receiver lets the ball slip through his fingers into a defender’s hands. What do you guys think?

Steve: I think Maria makes a pretty good point and I think it would definitely be an interesting stat to track
Steve: the one problem I have with it not counting against the QB is that he is still the one that throws the pass, and maybe if he had thrown it at a different speed or to a different location the reciever would have caught it
Ryan: The point about baseball, she means E-6 for an error for the shortstop, etc. makes me think that baseball isnt the only sport that assigns blame statistically, like soccer keeping track of own goals, or basketball keeping track of fouls
Ryan: The NFL does keep track of dropped passes though, so if a throw is counted as a drop, and it’s intercepted, I guess that would be a convenient way to adjust interception statistics
Steve: yeah that’s a good point
Steve: I think it definitely could be something that could be talked about on TV to defend a QB/bash a receiving crew
Steve: maybe they could even rate interceptions in some way based on the situation they happened in
Ryan: I think Matt Hasselbeck would have been helped a lot by that last year… I think on the same note, you could introduce an “accuracy” rating along with the completion percentage, combining drops and completions versus total passes
Steve: like a ball thrown right to a guy or one in the clutch could be more hurtful to the stats, but maybe a receiver tip or a hail mary at the end of a half wouldn’t be too bad
Ryan: yeah
Ryan: statisticians would love that
Steve: yeah the one thing that really surprises me about football is there aren’t more stats like that
Steve: baseball can have stats about the craziest stuff you’d ever imagine and they get talked about like they mean something, but in football you could have stats like this to better describe a team’s situation but they aren’t kept
Ryan: well, in baseball, there is a lot more cut and dry fact, where as, what is and is not a drop? what is and is not clutch? Football has a lot more gray area
Steve: yeah it does
Steve: and maybe the fact its much more of a team sport hurts the validity of any individual stat
Ryan: I think that’s what it all comes down to
Steve: like in baseball home runs are the hitter’s doing, but in football, rushing yards aren’t a RB’s doing completely because they need the line to accomplish anything
Ryan: exactly. I think, we can both agree that interceptions will probably remain categorized as they are because football, in general, is a very difficult sport to quantify with any validity
Steve: yeah
Steve: you can even factor in that teams pass more than others, so the offensive strategy can effect the totals too
Ryan: So, basically, we just pointed out that Dan Dierdorf may actually play an important role in today’s game
Steve: how is that?
Ryan: as a color commentator… you cant just rely on stats, you have to UNDERSTAND the game, the flow, the way things go, etc.
Steve: definitely
Steve: its not a stat geek sport, and that’s why football fans always win the bar fights over baseball fans