The data isn’t on the side of the run game. Forcing carries is a recipe for losing and doesn’t do much for the defense. First of two PFF Top 101 installments includes no Ravens. Quarterback play hasn’t changed all that much. West Coast teams are screwed by the schedule. Finally, which Ravens would make a good bachelor party team?
Watch a football game at any level and you’ll hear something like this; “[X team] needs to establish the ground game early. They need to take some pressure off their quarterback and control the clock/game.” Brandon Gdula of numberFire looked into this narrative. He found zero evidence to support that “establishing the running game” helps in any way.
In fact, they find that defending the pass is more important than defense as a whole. Of course, this doesn’t mean that teams should just start throwing on every down. But they should value players who help them in the passing game much more highly than those who help the running game.
Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus looks back at the performance of players in only 2015 to determine the top 101. I’ll save you from digging through the list that I did to tell you that there were exactly zero Ravens in this group. Looking back on last season, that shouldn’t surprise anyone. I’m having a hard time thinking of anyone besides Marshal Yanda who would belong in the top 50. Maybe Elvis Dumervil or C.J. Mosley? I would expect either of them to already be listed if they make the cut, though.
Hot Takedown, the FiveThirtyEight sports podcast breaks down Ron Jaworski’s claim that there is a dearth of quarterbacks in the NFL. They find that claim to be entirely false. The level of quarterback play varies throughout the league just as much as it ever has. Listen to them explain why at about the 19 minute mark.
NFL coaches like a physical style of play and a ground-and-pound, inefficient running game. It should surprise no one that they think it helps out every aspect of the team, particularly the defense. Joe Redemann of numberFire doesn’t see that play out in the actual numbers. His research did suggest, however, that time of possession helps out against a defense, but the correlation is so small that it’s negligible.
We often hear of how the trip to the East Coast for those teams near the Pacific can be tough. They struggle to adjust their sleep schedule, and they suffer because of it. This is a huge understatement. Brian Stonelake of Football Outsiders explains why circadian rhythm (your “body clock” for those who don’t remember your high school/college psychology classes), even when fully awake and well-rested, plays an even bigger role than your best non-quarterback. In his words, “Las Vegas measures the competitive disadvantage faced by morning body clock teams to be slightly greater than that associated with losing one of the most dominant offensive players in NFL history.”
Well, those were heavy-hitting links. Let’s go with a lighter one to wrap things up. Charm City Sports Network determined the four players they’d want to take to a bachelor party. He mentions Flacco first. I love Joe Flacco, but I doubt that he opens up all that much. We’re the bachelor in this scenario, though, so he’ll have to do what we want. Which means we can force-feed him liquor. I say let’s go for it! Just don’t hurt that leg, Joe.