Bad math Lard

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! In the dead of summer, it can often be difficult to come up with interesting or unique football analysis.

It's hot out, there's little or no news, and training camp is still a week away.

But that should never excuse grand proclamations based upon weak or poorly interpreted statistical data.

Unfortunately, we're greeted by multiple offenses this morning, and to make matters worse, they come from analysts for whom we have great respect.

First up is the excellent Pat Kirwan, who is as knowledgeable as they come relative to evaluating players, schemes, strategy, and roster construction.

But Kirwan tends to get himself into trouble when he dips his toe into mathematical waters, and his column on workhouse running backs is no exception.

Kirwan says teams have gone away from a reliance upon a single back to carry the load, and his evidence is the decrease in the number of 300-carry runners from 2002 to 2012.

It's bad enough that he chooses a random milestone (300 carries? Why not 295, or 287?) as proof of a trend. And in closing, Kirwan adds up how many rushing touchdowns were scored by the ten leading running backs in each year, as if that's an indictment of how coaches use their top running backs near the goal line.

Here are the key league figures to focus on, if one wants to know what was different about the NFL in 2012 relative to 2002:

  2002 2012
Net Yards per Pass Attempt (NY/A) 5.88 6.25
Adjusted Net Yards per Pass (ANY/A) 5.3 5.9
Passing TDs 694 757
Rushing TDs 460 401
Pass % 56.7 57.7

Kirwan's biggest problem is that in discussing decreasing running back carries and touchdowns, he thinks a backs-by-committee approach is to blame.

As you can see, there's a much larger story, and it's nothing we didn't already know: passing games have become both more explosive and efficient.


From the official site, a Q&A with ST coordinator Jeff Rodgers, who says long snapper Aaron Brewer "probably played pretty decent" as a rookie.

Andrew Mason discusses Rodgers' group, correctly focusing on the struggles of one Matt Prater.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie's charity basketball series continues with a game tonight in Sarasota.

The Broncos are hosting an electronics recycling event at SAF@MH on Sunday, August 11.


Cowboys DT Josh Brent, who is facing a charge of intoxication manslaughter in the death of teammate Jerry Brown, has announced his retirement.

Elsewhere in teammate-on-teammate crime, Niners LB Ahmad Brooks will not face charges for his alleged assault on DT Lamar Divens.

St. Louis agreed to terms with LB Will Witherspoon; the NFL suspended Colts TE Weslye Saunders eight games for a PED violation; Miami added WR Kenny Stafford; Philadelphia's signing of Stony Brook OT Michael Bamiro included nearly $250K in guarantees.

NFL Films and HBO have signed a multiyear deal to continue their Hard Knocks documentaries.


In their leaguewide pre-camp columns, Clark Judge and Don Banks each wonder how the Broncos will rebound from their brutal playoff loss.

Brian McIntyre studies the on-field and caponomic prospects of the Cowboys; Neil Hornsby predicts the starting lineups for Tennessee and Washington.

Casey Wiegmann's 2008 campaign for Denver ranks third amongst the best performances by centers according to PFF's grades.

Over at OTC, a look at the Lions' best and worst contracts, and the looming contract-year campaign of Jags RB Maurice Jones-Drew.

PFT Commenter's celebration of White History Month continues with a tribute to the Manning Family.

Ludicrous Quarterback Analysis

While he admits to having been too young to have witnessed the insane level of heat given John Elway for his SB losses (imagine what that would have been like during the Internet age), Jason Fitzgerald's suggestion that Elway was "carried" to his two championships is enough to make one's eyes glaze over.

As for the general crux of the piece - that teams can't win titles with super-pricey QBs - there appears a serious issue with thinking the correlation of a small data sample suggests causation. First, QBs aren't getting big contracts because of SB titles; they're getting them because QBs are crucial, and whoever's up for a new deal tends to get the biggest one. Second, just because it's been a while since one of the highest-paid QBs has won a Super Bowl, doesn't prove, or even suggest, that the QB's big cap number is the cause.

On the topic of quarterbacks and Super Bowl wins, Ron Jaworski's placement of Joe Flacco ahead of Drew Brees pretty much serves to discredit the worth of his entire QB ranking exercise. Not that anyone was watching it to begin with...


Penn State is expected to cough up around $60M to settle the lawsuits filed against them regarding their deplorable shielding of Jerry Sandusky.

Robin Herman and Ashley Fox discuss the painfully slow acceptance and progress experienced by women in the locker room as reporters, and behind the microphone as analysts.

Doug is IAOFM’s resident newsman and spelling czar. Follow him on Twitter @IAOFM

The Lard