Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

31 Jan 2008

ESPN Numbers Crunching: Super Bowl XLII

Here we go with the last ESPN stat notebook of the year. I had to cut at least half of the material I compiled, so believe me, there's plenty left for the FO Super Bowl preview tomorrow. Consider this a nice little preview of the preview.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 31 Jan 2008

6 comments, Last at 03 Feb 2008, 7:27pm by Matt Saracen - QB1 - Dillon Panthers


by Jordy (not verified) :: Thu, 01/31/2008 - 5:59pm

Gregg Easterbrook noted in his latest TMQ that New England has not been called for offensive holding this postseason, but the same goes for Dallas, Green Bay, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Washington.

His section called "Zebras Decriminalize Holding" cited the league-wide decline of offensive holding calls. He also stated that NE had recorded one of the finest O-line seasons ever. Seems a little defensive to tit-for-tat it as a slight on the Patriots, by listing a bunch of teams who played only 1 playoff game.

If you were in debating mood, I'd rather have heard the counterpoint to "[The Patriots] got away with several blatant holds against San Diego in the AFC Championship Game."

by azibuck (not verified) :: Thu, 01/31/2008 - 6:13pm

Second! Come on, #1, you're just being incendiary. What they got away with was illegal contact and DPI. You know what would be a good column on FO? A story on how the NE DBs are trained to look back for the ball while "incidentally" contacting a WR that's beaten them. It's a helluva technique they have. And I'm a Patriots fan.

by Ben (not verified) :: Thu, 01/31/2008 - 6:14pm

Wasn't it a holding call on Pittsburgh that cost them the first two point conversion attempt?

by RickD (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 3:38pm

re: #2

You don't sound like a Pats fan, FWIW. I have noticed any difference between the Pats "getting away with PI" and any other team. Indeed, I've seen more ticky-tack PI called against the Pats than against any other team.

The bit about "how Patriots DBs are trained to look at the ball while 'incidentally' contact the WR who has beaten them" - well, I find this hard to parse. For starters, are you alleging that the DBs are "trained" to commit penalties that they can get away with? That doesn't sound the kind of argument a Pats fan would make. But I still don't get the gist of the argument - if the WR has beaten the DB, how can the DB create "incidental contact" by looking backwards?
Surely if the WR has "beaten" the DB, he is further downfield, and a DB looking back towards the QB would hardly get more momentum towards a WR who has beaten him (the DB). Right?

by RickD (not verified) :: Fri, 02/01/2008 - 3:41pm

re: #4
Insert a 'not' before 'noticed' to make this parse better.

(FWIW, the claim that I've seen more ticky-tack PI called against the Pats than any other team is hardly statistically meaningful, since the vast majority of games I watch include the Patriots.)

by Matt Saracen - QB1 - Dillon Panthers (not verified) :: Sun, 02/03/2008 - 7:27pm

Couldn't help but comment on RickD's stuff even though I'm a couple of days behind.

Firstly, you are stereotyping azibuck and other comments by whether they sound like true Patriots fans??? Azibuck sounds like a FOOTBALL fan who happens to cheer for the Patriots.

Secondly, I think the technique he mentions could be quite easily coached or drummed into players. Rick, your comments relating to the DB already being beaten aren't relevant. If he is properly beaten, he can't commit PI and would KNOW that he can't and would be trying to hotfoot it after his receiver. The azibuck technique would be perfect on underthrown passes where as a DB you know that the WR is going to stop - all you have to do is keep running at him, but turn your head at the right time. Hopefully, you are going to run into him/bump him around the time the WR is readjusting to the ball and you are innocently looking back at the QB. You don't have to run backwards like an idiot, just turn your head more than 90 degrees so the judge thinks you are probably looking at the QB. IMO this could easily be done intentionally and I think that DBs should/could do this on all underthrown balls.