NFL: Happy New Year! - Three 2013 Observations

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The playoffs begin this weekend, but looking back at the regular season today - the start of a whole new year - seems fitting. Let's take a stroll down memory lane at a small slice of what I gathered from the NFL...

I observe. Therefore, either I am, or I need to get out more...

I don't look at statistics much, but many of you - who possess an active or latent accountant gene - live by them. The United States of America may be ranked close to last in mathematics, but not among NFL fans. The growth of theories, theorems, postulations, and obscure metrics has reached new heights. I guess since MIT and Cal Tech can't win football games, they decided to figure out why? Pro Football Focus -a site everyone should have on their dailey read list - leads the way with their metrics as they rate NFL players each week. Mainstream media has begun to bend away from traditional stats for sliced and diced numbers I really don't get?  Knowing heads begin to nod when a player gets a +5.5 rating, but scowl at a -2.3 like the players took a huge "dookie" on national television. I'm on to you PFF! Your fancy numbers jumbling is actually a revival of the 1970s Olympics judges' scoring. Somewhere, deep in the bowels of PFF, there's an East German judge from the old "Iron Curtail" days, which means he's probably from Pittsburgh. As "10-s" flash across his screen from other writers, he slaps up a -4.7, just to be nasty and make the ghost of Brezhnev smile...

What happened to the days where you counted how many times a player actually tackled someone, and not "hurried" or "pressured" a quarterback? Then there's how other positions are somehow rated,  to show the best and worst players each week. Sites like PFF must have a cave filled with NFL gnomes, watching every game in slow motion as they clutch a stop watch in one hand, and "Pepperoni Hot Pocket" in the other?

The magic number to be an "Elite" quarterback is: 60

Go take a peek at the list of top 2013 quarterbacks at NFL.com, and see if you can glean the one stat line the best have in common. My keen eyes fixed squarely on the "Pct" column. Quarterbacks who posted a 60% completion rate or better, are easily at the top of their peers list. The overall quality of an NFL quarterback drops immediately below this line. It tells me one thing that's immutable: When a quarterback throws a pass, the chance of it being completed has to be marginally better than a coin flip. I wonder why more NFL coaches aren't scene on the sidelines looking at their two hands, palms up as they go up and down in a balance guessing game? They hear their guys in the booth calling for a pass, but with Geno Smith the one throwing, and a completion percentage of 55.8%, it's little better than a guess if it's the right call.

An interesting line for Rams' fans to take a peek at, is down around numbers 35 and 36. Here, you'll see Sam Bradford (#35) and Kellen Clemens (#36). Bradford hasn't even played in a game since week #7, but his 60.7% completion rate still has him among the league's elite quarterbacks. When I added the passing yardage of the two players - 3,418 - I think, without a shadow of a doubt, Bradford would have easily surpassed the 4,000 yard passing total in 2013.

Pronoun Trouble: NFL referees should be drug tested before and after every game...

Game officials work hard. They run up and down the football field each game, and try to watch 22 guys who try to get away with holds, slugs, slaps, and trips on every play. They have to protect quarterbacks, and watch receivers and defensive backs molest each other as they sprint down the field. Coaches hate them. Players hate them, and fans often want to burn them in effigy. Their immense power is expressed by a little yellow flag, that when thrown, can stop a nationally televised game in its tracks for several minutes at a time. I often wonder if the referees throw flags because they're tired? It seems like they run more miles than a marathoner each week, and if you've noticed, many of the officials aren't what I'd call "young"? Huffing and puffing, they throw and flag, then huddle up with the other official to sort things out.

Head referee: "Why'd you throw your flag?"

Winded, and breathing hard line judge: "I got kicked in the balls on that last play, damnit! Pace off 10 yards - SLOWLY - while I try not to throw up the nachos I ate before the game!"

Head referee: "10 yards for what, and on which player?"

Line judge, who is now fighting the urge to rub his crotch on national television: "I don't give a rat's ass who you call it on... Call it on the visiting team? That way, we won't get mugged in the parking lot when we leave..."

Head Referee: "Hmm? I think this play need a review? Follow me over to the bar... I mean the booth..." He winks at his colleague. When they arrive at the shrouded booth, no one can see the chilled bottle of Jagermeister under the hood. They take turns donning a head set, then ducking into the booth. Finally, after 15 minutes of back and forth reviewing, they wobble a bit and agree. When they announce the offender and penalty, they get the number wrong, and point the wrong way...

I want to see what referees are REALLY watching in the replay booth. I bet it's a Road Runner or Bugs Bunny cartoon? One day, after 5 or 6 shots of whatever booze they have hidden under the hooded booth, a referee is going to tell a national TV audience: "It's Wabbit Season!"


The very best to everyone in 2014!

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