John L., Seattle: On the MNF opener, Mike Tirico claimed that Champ Bailey only gave up four receptions all last year on balls thrown to him. If that's true, he should have been the unanimous MVP. Do you know where Tirico came up with that stat, and what does FO have to say about it?
I have no idea where Tirico came up with this stat, but it is completely ridiculous. Four completions over the entire season? According to our game charting numbers, he gave up more than four completions in just one game -- to the same wide receiver!
In PFP 2007, you'll see Bailey listed with 86 passes. Some of those are double coverages, etc. He actually had 83 passes where he was listed in the DEFENDER1 column. Oddly, not one of those 83 passes had another defender listed in the DEFENDER2 column.
On 40 of those passes, Bailey allowed a complete pass. That's FOUR-ZERO, as in, ten times four. I understand that it is hard to chart defensive coverage with standard television camera angles, and surely we're giving Bailey responsibility on some plays where the Broncos were actually in zone coverage and some safety was responsible -- but could those really represent 36 of 40 complete passes? No, of course not.
Remember that a complete pass is not necessarily a failure by Bailey. In Week 11, for example, Philip Rivers threw to Antonio Gates with Bailey in coverage and the play actually lost a yard. Marvin Harrison had a catch for zero yards on third-and-5. Bailey's 62 percent Success Rate was fifth in the NFL.
However, the man is not perfect. He's not even 95 percent perfect, which is what his Success Rate would be if he really allowed only four completions all year. The zero-yard Harrison catch was one of five from Week 8 where we have Bailey marked as the defender in coverage. Three of the other four catches earned first downs. On one of these catches, the charter wrote "Quick slant breaks Bailey's ankles. Hey, he's not perfect." Trust me when I tell you this guy was one of our most reliable charters. Actually, trust me when I tell you it was me.
What else is marked as a completion with Bailey in coverage? We have a 63-yard pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Hines Ward which went five yards through the air with 58 yards after catch -- the charter marked down that the Broncos missed four tackles on the play, and one was by Bailey. We have a 35-yard pass from Alex Smith to Arnaz Battle, a 27-yarder from Matt Hasselbeck to Darrell Jackson, a 26-yarder from Steve McNair to Derrick Mason, and a 26-yarder from Trent Green to Samie Parker. Four completions total? We have five completions here over 25 yards.
Seriously, where on earth did Tirico get this number? I don't blame Tirico, I blame the research staff at MNF.
You want a number that shows how good Bailey is? I've got one for you. Zero. Champ Bailey may have given up 40 completions according to our game charters, but not a single one of them was a touchdown.