Tuesday, November 22, 2005

TMQ Feedback

only one issue with TMQ this week:

He's a Hundredth of a Second Faster Because He Lost Three Grams, Clint: Matt Jones of Arkansas, the Associated Press reported last winter, turned heads at the Combine by running the 40-yard dash in 4.41. There's no chance the measurement was accurate down to the hundredths of a second. But even if it was: who cares? Jerome Mathis, AP went on, recorded a 4.32, best wide-receiver speed at the Combine; Courtney Roby was second at 4.36 and Troy Williamson recorded a 4.38 for third best. These distinctions are meaningless! Even assuming perfect measurement, 4.32 is 0.9 percent faster than 4.36. Someone who can run a 4.32 would arrive at the 40-yard marker 13 inches ahead of someone running a 4.36.

The stock of USC's Mike Williams fell at the Combine because he ran the 40 in 4.59. Never mind that Jerry Rice ran a 4.6; it's how you perform in pads, not how you sprint in track shorts. A month after the Combine, when Williams ran a 4.58, the Los Angeles Times sports section devoted an entire story to the notion Williams was "moving up draft boards" owing to his improved time. But 4.58 is 0.2 percent faster than 4.59! Someone running a 4.58 would arrive at the 40-yard marker three inches ahead of someone who runs a 4.59. Meanwhile, ESPN predicted on draft day that Williams would slide owing to a "pedestrian" 40 time. Oh, so he walked!

Tenths of a second matter in judging athletic potential: a 4.4 receiver gets to the marker one yard before a 4.5 receiver. But tenths, in turn, are meaningless in scoreboard terms, since they fly by too fast for human beings to perceive in any meaningful way. Yet just as sportscasters increasingly natter about hundredths of seconds, increasingly even high-school scoreboard clocks show tenths of seconds, while announcers knowledgably speculate about how many tenths of seconds should be on the clock. Last winter in the NCAA men's basketball tournament, during the Wake Forest-West Virginia game, officials huddled at the end watching television replays, trying to decide whether to reset the clock to 1.6 seconds or 1.3 seconds.

he's said this on a number of occasions and i usually ignore it, but today he shot his own argument in the foot. "Someone who can run a 4.32 would arrive at the 40-yard marker 13 inches ahead of someone running a 4.36." thirteen inches over 40 yards *is* a meaningful difference if we are talking about 13 inches at game speed. that's the difference between not getting to a deep ball and getting to a deep ball. the reason that randy moss is a game (and defensive scheme) changing player is because he has that extra 13 inches. thirteen inches is the difference between a superbowl win and a superbowl loss. if kevin dyson had an extra 13 inches over 40 yards, would an extra prorated 2.5 inches have allowed him to break mike jones' tackle instead of being stopped an inch short of the goal? doesn't seem outside of the realm of possibility to me. imo, an extra 2.5 inches likely would have meant a broken tackle and a super bowl championship for the titans.

speed isn't everything in the nfl for a receiver -- reading defenses, route running, ball skills, hands, and getting off a jam are critical to success as well -- but it does separate the deep threats from the non-deep threats and that is definitely significant.


Blogger The Big Dog said...

"No offense, Jack, I find your plan sprinkled with horseshit" (Best of Times with Robin Williams)

I frigging hate "combine" shit. The only meaningful stat out of the combine, to me, is strength for defensive lineman. That, however, is not that important. All I care about is how you perform with pads on on Sunday at game speed. I think of Mike Mamula and how we passed on Sapp and how good he would have been if we had him in his prime.

I am a Billy Beane, Money Ball guy. If I could translate to football, I don't care about incremental speed for receivers. If you blow by someone and can out jump him, it doesn't mean shit if you can't catch the potato. Look at Billy McMullen, he may be able to beat you, but he drops the ball.

I care about 2 things for a player:
1. Can he get me results on game day?, and
2. Is he a leader in the locker room? You don't have to be a vocal leader, just a guy that others respect. And puts the team first.

I think the TO situation proved that my criteria are what you need to win.

I hate "the combine".

8:44 AM EST  
Blogger The Mean Guy said...

i agree with everything you said about performance being more important than the combine numbers. however, the numbers aren't insignificant. they are meaningful when taken in combination with on-field performance. where teams and people get in trouble is when they use combine numbers to overrule what they see on the field (as in the unproductive mamula vs the very productive sapp).

don't make the mistake of "throwing the baby out with the bathwater." just because many people use the combine numbers improperly doesn't mean they aren't useful measures of athletic ability. just as there are instances where people make mistakes by overvaluing combine results, there are instances where people make mistakes by ignoring combine results.

freddie mitchell was one of those. i really wanted the eagles to pick chris chambers that season instead of freddie because chambers was lightning fast and could jump out of the stadium. freddie was the more productive receiver in college, but chris turned out to be the much better receiver in the pros.

i agree very much with the moneyball philosophy for sports where a) they play enough games to generate a big enough sample size, b) where teams play the same game, and c) where most of the actions you perform on the field of play are measured and measureable. i don't think football is one of those sports. because team philosophies and game plans vary so much, many teams literally don't play the same game as others, and not every good thing you do on a football field is measureable.

i'm not saying that on-field productivity isn't a useful criterion for judging football players. it is and it certainly should be. i'm just saying that it's not as cut and dry as baseball. the combine is a useful measure that should be considered in addition to all other data about a player.

9:04 AM EST  
Blogger The Big Dog said...

okay I can buy that...Mamula was very good in college, too...just didn't translate....you probably are right with the apples v. oranges with the Moneyball analogy, too....I think Mamula scarred me, so this is realistically one situation which I am broad brushing too much.

I am just not a Mel Kiper, Jr.-ologist. I think it is important to realistically look at 3 things before potentially drafting a player
1. Game film
2. Critical combine numbers (varying by position)
3. A personal interview....you can't take a player with "bad make-up"

I probably got too incensed when I saw the first posting as, again, the Mamula issue scarred me.

This season has taught me to look for "Eagles". TO is not an Eagle, Don is. John Welbourn was not an Eagle, Jon Runyan is. Corey Simon is not an Eagle, Darwin Walker is. The Steelers have a very similar approach and probably are the front-runners with that philosophy and I pretty much agree with that. Now.

9:31 AM EST  

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