Extra Points
News and commentary from around the Web

Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

Phil Simms!

The stat guys are idiots. I mean it very strongly … Believe what your eye tells you. I have never looked at one QB ever on tape through all the years and then when it’s done, I have never even thought, ‘what were his numbers?’ I never have.

There are some variables, but it’s not anything like football. QBs have put up good numbers and I didn’t think they were good, but they were on great teams. Colt McCoy should have been the best player in the draft! He hit 78% of his passes in his junior year! He should have been the first player picked. Why aren’t Texas Tech kids drafted high? They are putting up unbelievable numbers. Kingsbury, whatever his name was … Graham Harrell.

Boomer Esiason!

All I can go by is what I see. I don’t worry about dropped interceptions. There are just as many dropped passes as dropped interceptions. Nobody seems to use that argument in favor of Mark. All I can tell you is that when you’re hitting big play after big play on the road in NE, road in Pitt, road in Indy when the game is on the line … that’s all I need to know. All of those guys who write about those stats have never been in that situation and can never truly understand the pressure that is associated with it. When the pressure rises, he calms down and he seems like he’s in control.

View Full Article

Comments

98 comments, Last at 19 Apr 2011, 3:22pm

1 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

Ah, man, this feels good. It's been a couple of months since I last read an "old guard attacks non-existent strawman" article.

5 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

What do you know? You've never been in that situation!

Troy Aikman's drive stats are obviously the best possible because he's been in that situation and he's a hall of famer.

Sheesh, why do I even bother coming to this site? I should get all of my info from the knowledgeable former players on ESPN and the NFL Network: their incoherent logic and fallacy-filled arguments are what real football is all about.

2 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

Wow. Their arguments are amazing.

btw, I would like Mark Sanchez discussion banned from the planet for two years. Every time I see his name somewhere, I stop reading.

4 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

Esiason is the biggest Sanchez homer on the planet, always raving about him on NYC radio, making excuses.

And the reason Simms hates stats guys is because by demeaning them, that's the only way he can argue/rationalize himself being a good QB. He heard that criticism all his career.

7 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

As a Giants fan who obviously will always have a place in my heart for Phil, I'm going to choose to ignore this, along with the entirety of Simms's post-Giants ouvre. Ditto for Parcells, LT, Dave Meggett, and Mark Ingram.

8 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

So the argument is:

Sanchez is underrated by stats because he has a good team and Colt Mccoy is overrated by stats because he has a good team?

Interesting.

9 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

I remember when Phil Simms, during a broadcast, said that fantasy football people were idiots because they had Deion Branch ranked around 30th amongst WRs. Simms absolutely knew that Branch was a top WR in the league because he won a Super Bowl MVP.

11 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

Simms is right that statistics are often, if not most-often mis-used. Is the whole point of this site not that comparing TD and Int and wins between QB's meaningless without much deeper analysis? That is why the whole DVOA thing came about, right?

72 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

Simply being exposed is not enough. There are plenty of people who are either too lazy, or simply don't have the brain chip to easily understand the meaning of stats and how they can be used. They'll often use the "stats are garbage" argument to protect their egos.

13 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

"All of those guys who write about those stats have never been in that situation and can never truly understand the pressure that is associated with it."

Phil, former First Team All-Pac-10 tackle Ben Muth is on line one. He does not sound amused.

46 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

I was wondering when somebody was going to fall into the same trap as Simms. He wouldn't need a background in statistics to understand and comment on them any more than you'd have needed to play in the NFL. Is his take rather absurd? Sure, but it has nothing to do with him not having a "background in the field."

55 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

"Strangely, Simms feels eminently qualified to discuss the relative merits of statistical arguments, despite the fact that he apparently has no background in the field at all."

yes, this is Phil's defining characteristic. I remember Phil on Inside the NFL blasting the Zeus Playingcalling system on the following basis:
-Bill Parcells made surpising, ballsy play-calls
-Zeus would never recommend Parcell-esque play-calls

You can guess the punchline. Phil had never bothered to look at what Zeus's recommended play-calls were and of course Zeus's play-calling was far more Parcell-seque than the typical NFL coach.

Sadly I fear this may be a sign that Phil is losing his mind. He also challenged Desmond Howard to fight a couple months ago. He seems to be raging at the world.

97 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

Strangely, Bill Barnwell feels eminiently qualified to discuss what it takes to be an NFL quarterback, despite the fact that he apparently has never been one.

...just for the record, my point here is NOT that Bill isn't qualified, because he most assuredly has a much deeper knowledge of football than I. My point is that all of us are armchair quarterbacking here, and I would wager that none of us have had near the level of success as an NFL quarterback that Simms has. If we invalidate his opinion on statistics based on him not having any experience in the field, than we discredit most of our own criticisms of his quarterbacking.

14 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

It'll be funny to see their articles when opponents stop dropping Sanchez passes. Suddenly, they will be writing articles such as:

"What Has Happened to Sanchez!"
"Is Sanchez Secretly Hurt?"
"Who Could Have Predicted Sanchez's Sudden Decline!"

I also love when ex players use the experience card for why other people should not question them. I would assume by this Logic that Boomer cannot talk negatively about any President or politicians since he doesn't understand the pressure they face each day

94 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

You know, in all the times I've seen it, I've never once thought of that line as anti-semitic. I'm not saying it couldn't be, but it's not like the movie implies anti-semitism at any other point (that I can think of anyway), or like that's a running theme or anything. To me it seems out of place - lacking in context - if that was the intent.

45 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

My preferred reductio ab adsurdum along these lines is suicide bombing, though I've been hesitant to tell some people "If you don't believe people without experience can comment on things, how can you condemn suicide bombing without ever trying it yourself? Why don't you go blow yourself up in a suicide bomb attack and come back and tell me whether suicide bombing is a good thing or not?"*

*In case it's not clear, I do not believe that only people who have experience doing a certain activity can comment on its performance or general advisability.

61 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

Seems to me that the implication of this is that we need at least one color guy per position, plus some ex-linesmen, doctors and what-have-you so that the guys calling the game are allowed to talk about down and distance, injuries and other things that players are not trained to deal with.

They're gonna need one big-arsed booth.

15 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

I love how Boomer decides to leave out the road game at Indy last year, where Sanchez did nothing in the second half. Or even the first half in Pittsburgh this year. Yes, he had a nice game in New England, and a nicer one in Indy, but if Cromartie doesn't run back a kick-off to the 40 teh Jets don't win that game, and Sanchez would have been a major reason why. Of course, if Santonio Holmes doesn't make an insane catch, the Jets might not win the Pats game either. I don't think anyone left the Pats game thinking "Man, Sanchez was the reason the Jets won that game."

16 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

One of the few positives I'm taking from the possibility of there not being an NFL season this fall is that I (presumably) will not have to listen to Phil Simms for a whole year.

21 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

I remember during the AFC Championship, Simms said that Ben Rothlesberger was having a great game even though he had thrown 2 picks and was averaging something like 5.5 yards per pass attempt. The Steelers were ahead by 14 or so points at the time.

After hearing that, I thought to myself if Big Ben was having such a truly great game, the Steelers would have had an even bigger lead and would have spent the 4th quarter in a Victory Lap mode instead of sweating it out like they did.

I sometimes felt the vitriol directed at Simms by people at this website was nit-picky and trivial. But after hearing Simms' comment, I finally came around and joined the Dark Side. All you Simms haters at Football Outsiders are right, he is a jackass.

25 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

I especially like the part where he discounts the stat guys and sings the praises of Colt McCoy...by way of trumpeting an impressive statistic.

33 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

You give him far more credit than I.

Nobody had Colt McCoy rated higher than Bradford or Clausen based on his completion percentage...It seems like Simms is saying that they should have. Or maybe I should pay more attention to Simms's words, but I don't want to.

OK, so upon a re-read, I agree with you. He seems to be sarcastic. However, he seems to be sarcastically dismissing claims that I don't remember anybody making this time last year. Other than perhaps Mike Leach, who thought Graham Harrell should be a first rounder? Outside of perhaps Colt McCoy, who thought Colt McCoy should have gone first overall? Who are these "stat guys"?

Kind of like those NFL commercials I hated so much from last year: Some teams will never win a Super Bowl...Halftime is never followed by an onside kick.... Really? Who said these things that are presented as common wisdom?

90 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

"Colt McCoy should have been the best player in the draft! He hit 78% of his passes in his junior year! He should have been the first player picked."

Yes, it was sarcasm. It was also the dumbest sarcastic comment I've ever seen.

What is Phil saying? That there's more to judging a QB than statistics. Specifically, he's saying that if you just went by statistics, i.e. completion %, you would have thought Colt McCoy should be a high pick.

That's an incredibly stupid example to use because Colt McCoy should have been a high pick. All the 're-drafts' suggested that Cleveland would have taken McCoy 7th overall if they knew he would be as good as he was.

30 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

I would be more receptive to this kind of criticism -- more willing to reevaluate how much stock I put in statistical evidence, and so on -- if each and every one of these arguments wasn't about some demonstratively less-than-great quarterback being pumped up as a Great, based on his W-L record.

70 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

The fact that Simms praises QBs with good W-Ls, by itself, doesn't indict him.

The horrifying thing is that the real metric for Simms-type people is precisely what the QB is not responsible for.

Try ranking QBs by [ST-DVOA - DEF-DVOA] over the course of their careers. In other words, try ranking them precisely by what happens when they aren't on the field.

Pretend for a moment that this is a remotely legitimate metric of QB "intangibles." Watch as the 2001-2004 edition of Tom Brady vaults to the top of the rankings, with Joe Flacco and Steve McNair and all the guys with "leadership." Watch as Matt Schaub and Trent Green and Carson Palmer fall to the bottom. It becomes a shockingly precise statistical measure of the "qualities" that Phil Simms thinks statistics fail to measure.

The cruel irony is that Phil Simms, unknowingly, is a slave to bad statistics.

96 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

All-time great, maybe not, but if they paid any attention whatsoever to the quality of his supporting talent on offense they would conclude that he was playing at a truly elite level from 2004 to 2006, and that his incomplete career arc was at any rate consistent with all time greatness. From 2001 to 2003 he was clearly not playing at an elite level or obviously on course to merit being regarded as an all time great, irrespective of whether he would have been seen as such by Phil Simms. It's just a peculiar quirk or history that Brady won two of his three championships before reaching anything resembling his peak as a player.

38 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

Corrected Headline "People who use Stats Incorrectly are Idiots" Simms "What happened to Matt Ryan? Did he lead the nation as a senior with interceptions? How’d that work out?[Ed. Ryan had 19 interceptions as a senior at Boston College, which was tied for 2nd in the country.]"
Yes that is a stat but it needs to be seen in the correct context, Ryan also had the second highest number of attempts. Phil Simms is a cretin.

39 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

I'd love to hear his take on Ryan Leaf, Akili Smith, Cade McNown, and all the other guys that could have been avoided if you'd looked at their numbers.

The "game on the line" thing annoys me. Do points you score (or fail to score) in the first quarter count less than the ones in the last few minutes?

50 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

Points in the first quarter count the same...but you're not playing then with everybody on the field knowing this is the game. Simms is a joke, but so is pretending that certain guys aren't more clutch than others. You didn't want Elway to be within a score in the final minutes...didn't want to see Michael Jordan with a chance to win the game.

52 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

I'm not sure I agree that your last statement is as much because Elway is "clutch" as it is because Elway is "good".

I think the reason why you don't want Elway, or Manning, or Brady, etc., within a score in the final minutes is that they're really good. In general, you don't want to play such QB's period, if you had a choice.

Also, some of the apparent "clutchness" is because coaches are too risk-adverse to use an optimal strategy anytime except near the end of the game. Sure, passing tends to be more successful than running in most cases...but CW says we have to "Establish the Run" early in the game, so we'll try to beat them with Joseph Addai instead of Wayne/Harrison/Manning. Sure, giving a QB like Elway or Manning four downs instead of 3 is absolutely deadly and strikes fear into the hearts of DC's, but we have to do the "correct" call and punt on 4th down. Sure it's better to go for it on 4th and 1 from the 20 when Elway is your QB and Davis is your RB...but unless the game is on the line, we're going to do the safe thing and kick the FG.

Until the game is on the line, coaches with excellent QB's will follow convention wisdom rather than put the ball in the hands of their best player. Once the game is on the line, they actually give it to their QB's, who then appear "clutch" by comparison. They're not clutch, they're just good, and playing in situations where their goodness can win close games.

Now, on the flip side, I will agree that, even if there is no such thing as a "clutch" player, there is such a thing as a choker...a player that in high pressure situations performs worse than he would in the first quarter. A certain Patriots kicker by the name of Sisson comes to mind...

59 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

"Clutch performance" is usually really "selective memory". Obviously Tiger Woods, even in his prime, didn't "always deliver when he needed", because if he had he would have won every single tournament he was ever in -- when in fact he has lost far more majors than he has won (about 3 to 1, in fact.) But he's so good, and so impressive to watch, that people forget all the times he didn't win, and create a false memory. People say "some guys are better in the clutch," but the truth is that the guys who are better in the clutch are the guys who are better, period.

81 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

Don't make the mistake of arguing that it's impossible for clutch to exist. You can't back that assertion up.

What you can say is that people who feel strongly about some guys being "clutch" are usually measuring that quality in a biased, retrodictive way that seems to have a lot more to do with whether they're on a team with good defense or not.

85 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

MP is dead on here with selective memory. Take 4th quarter come from behind victories. Elway was credited with 47 and was considered the alltime leader. Except the wins weren't all come from behind. So now the tag line is Game Winning Drives. I read an article last year detailing several QBs' efforts and Elway's total drops to the mid 30s. Farve was credited with 30-some GWDs, but the article pointed out that Favre FAILED to deliver a GWD 74 times. Elway's numbers likely are quite similar, a success rate of about 30 percent.

88 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

As someone else noted, you didn't want to face Elway or Jordan at any point in the game.

My point is that if a player (or team) plays well enough in the earlier part of the game, the game won't be on the line later. I remember a while back, Aaron did an article for ESPN ranking the best Super Bowl QB performances. Somehow he ended up with a Tom Brady game on top (I believe the one against the Panthers) ahead of games like Steve Young's. The reason was that Brady's production had come late in a close game, while Young's 49ers blew out the Chargers. This is manifestly stupid because the reason the 49ers-Chargers game was a blowout was because Young was playing so well.

Eli Manning (before he was actually any good) used to get praised for "comeback victories" in games that were only even close because of his earlier ineptitude. That's the sort of thing that I think Simms and company are doing with Sanchez.

40 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

I guess it's an even slower offseason than usual, but why are we even wasting time and effort publicizing comments like these? Why give Simms’ comments legs instead of just letting them evaporate into empty air?

He's wrong. We know that. We also know he's going to bury his head in the sand and no amout of logic is going to change his thought process. There's nothing being said here that hasn't already been said a million times before.

47 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

Every time I hear one of these cement heads ex players reveal their stupidity I'm reminded of a time as a young boy, when I was complaining about some very stupid plays made by a Viking QB (I think it was Tommy Kramer), I asked my Dad, "how could the Vikings let the guy play when he makes such stupid plays"

He replied - "Son, they don't pick em because they're smart."

60 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

Apparently Simms has spent too much of his retirement misidentifying personnel packages and making basic reasoning errors to fit in any misunderstanding of articles about spread offenses skewing college stats.

64 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

Year after year certain former draft busts are brought out and carved up like Thanksgiving turkeys...Ryan Leaf, for instance... and we can expect JaMarcus Russell's name to become an April staple. But Kliff Kingsbury? Really?

BTW, Kingsbury was a 6th round pick, a 6th round QB taken by...the NE Patriots. That's an interesting choice of selections to choose to ridicule.

68 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

He's not saying Kingsbury WAS a bad pick. He's saying that if everyone listened to "stats guys" Kingsbury would have been drafted very early, and WOULD HAVE BEEN a bad pick. In his head, "stats guys" would simply see lots of yards and touchdowns and say a guy is great; And then draft him in the first round.

87 Re: Phil Simms: "The Stat Guys Are Idiots"

Basically Boomer and Sims are saying the same thing, a quarterback/player is good if his team wins. Aren't wins and losses statistics? Looked at that way, Sims is correct.