When Ricky Williams retired last month, it was thought to be a massive blow to the Miami Dolphins. It was, but only emotionally. The team on the field might actually be better. In this article from Slate.com, Aaron explains why the star running back is the most overrated player in football and makes the case for running back by committee.
We're used to seeing strength of schedule listed as the average of last season's records for all 16 opponents. But does that mean anything if last year's opponents were just as good, or bad, as this year's? Anthony Brancato investigates.
Some officials call more penalties than others, as Peter King pointed out last April, but does it make a difference? Do teams score more in games where the officials call more penalties? Does the better team win or lose more often when judged by a flag-happy crew? The newest Football Outsider, Ryan Wilson, is on the case.
Deion Sanders was often criticized for his inability and/or reluctance to make tackles in run support. But like all great cover corners, he wasn't paid to help stop opposing running backs. His job was to keep the other team from throwing to his man, and to deflect or intercept the pass when they dared to challenge him. With this in mind, Michael G. Knight has devised a new statistic that tries to judge a cornerback on more than what he does after his receiver has caught a pass.
The general expectation this season is that the Michael Vick-led Atlanta Falcons will rebound from a terrible 2003. But what really caused the terrible season was the collapse of the Atlanta defense. Is it possible that this defensive decline was connected to Vick's injury, giving Falcon fans hope for 2004? Al asks the question and gets an answer that will surprise you. Actually, it probably won't.
DVOA and DPAR measure the best running backs in terms of value, but what about consistency? Some running backs are always putting their teams in the position to grab another first down, and others are "home run hitters" that mix highlight-reel runs with lots of 2-3 yard carries. Football Outsiders has a new stat that measures how often a running back has success. Originally called "Running Back Batting Average," it is now called "Running Back Success Rate."
One way to analyze how much talent each team added in the offseason is to see how many games were started last season by their projected starters for this season. The resulting numbers provide more support for that trendy Jacksonville pick along with hope for a Tampa rebound and a Washington playoff run. Michael David Smith has commentary.
It's the holy grail of football research: How do you separate the ability of a running back from the ability of his blockers? Michael David Smith has a simple first step, comparing the great running backs of the past to their backups. Find out the answers to such questions as "What is the best offensive line to have no members in Canton?" and "Who the heck is Barry Redden?" (No, he's not "the other Tick" -- that was Barry Hubris.)