Sunday, August 30, 2009

Big Blizzard

My most recent Viking dream
I won't provide all the details, but basically, I was carried away to another plane of existence where time did not pass for me, but it passed for everybody else. So when I returned after an extended absence, life had moved forward for everybody I knew, and the world was a slightly different place. One of the first things I asked my wife was "Have the Vikings won a Super Bowl yet?" I expected the answer to be no. When she said yes, I started jumping around and hugging her: I was legitimately ecstatic to find out the Vikes had won the Super Bowl. I then asked who the Viking QB was for the Super Bowl winning team. The answer: Sage Rosenfels.

On the Amorality of Games (2)
I earlier argued that since a game is an amoral activity, a pro sports franchise like the Philadelphia Eagles should do pretty much whatever it can (within the rules of the league and game) to win games. In other words, morality is not a pro sports franchise’s concern.

However, I do not mean to say that fans cannot or should not let morality play a role in whom they root for. Some fans might take pleasure in rooting for somebody who shares their values. Some fans might take pleasure in rooting against players that don’t share their politics. That’s all fine. Because I also don’t think there are rules for whom fans are allowed to root for or against (and resent those who claim otherwise), and so you can root for players according to whatever standards you like. The perceived values, morals, politics, and lifestyles of players may make us as fans root for or against individual players.

So if you can’t bring yourself to root for Michael Vick because of his dogfighting activities, that’s fine. Enjoy rooting against him.

Wins and Quarterbacks
First, I find Norman Chad an entertaining, funny writer. Second, I hope Jay Cutler sucks: I'm already slightly terrified of seeing Aaron Rodgers in the division for another decade, and if Cutler is good too, it could be an unpleasant stretch of time for Viking fans.

But Chad uses an incredibly shaky argument to tell us he doesn't think Cutler is really that good:

"No, the Jay Cutler I know had a 17-20 record in three years with the Broncos and an 11-34 record in four years at Vanderbilt. [...] we're looking at a 28-54 record since 2001 and a fella who always talks a good game but always walks into the losers' locker room."

To exclusively cite Cutler's teams' records without providing any context tells us very little about Cutler. Let's pretend a QB has a 100% impact on his team's offensive successes and failures, that any blocking, catching, or running offensively is still credited to the QB. That still leaves defense and special teams, which the QB cannot impact at all. It is so obvious that I wonder I have to write it, but commentators like Chad sometimes write as if they don't know it: quarterbacks don't play defense.

The context? I don't know enough about college football, but I think playing at Vanderbilt, a non-powerhouse in a powerhouse conference, had a big role on Cutler's record. And I won't pretend I know enough about pro football, but I will claim I'm smart enough to look things up. The 2007 Broncos ranked 28th in points allowed and 19th in yards allowed. The 2008 Broncos were even worse defensively, ranking 30th in points allowed and 29th in yards allowed. In the last two years, Cutler played with terrible defenses. In 2007 only four NFL teams gave up more points than the Broncos; in 2008, only two teams allowed more points. The Broncos went 15-17 over those two years. Is it Cutler who deserves the blame for that mediocrity, or the terrible, awful defense? According to Chad, it's Cutler.

I am foolish enough to think that a quarterback's record as starter means something. But not in isolation from any context, and not in isolation from any individual statistics and assessment.

Viking Links
Supposedly Brett Favre's presence opens up the full playbook (Pioneer Press).

"Vikings say they're united behind Favre" (Pioneer Press). My view is that this stuff really doesn't matter much right now. It might in the future, if Favre struggles and/or the Vikings are losing. But right now, it doesn't.

Matt Bowen talks about how the NFL locker room works when a new guy comes in (National Football Post).

Peter King calls Percy Harvin "Impact player beginning opening day" (Sports Illustrated). My expectations are always low for rookie wide receivers, and so I've been pretty moderate in my hopes for Harvin. But a lot of people are talking him up as an immediate playmaker.

"Vikings Tyrell Johnson eager to prove he can replace Darren Sharper" (Pioneer Press). I hope he replaces the '05-'07 version of Sharper; I didn't think Sharper was very good at all in 2008. But neither, really, was Johnson.

As a blogger, I sometimes think out in my head what I'll write if certain sports situations occur (and in life I tend to plan out, in specific detail, what I would say if particular situations occur, but that's another issue entirely: I'm neurotic). At Defensive Indifference, Jason goes ahead and writes out his reactions to Favre's performance on Monday.

Other Football Links
Steven Jackson (Yahoo!). I'm very excited about Jackson as a fantasy player this year. Everything I ever see about Jackson increases that excitement, and nothing has yet decreased it.

Don Banks writes about the amazing success of the top three quarterbacks of the 2004 class (Sports Illustrated). But if the measurement is team success (that's Banks' primary focus), one thing should be kept in mind about the top three QBs of the 1983 class. Dan Marino, John Elway, and Jim Kelly spent their careers in the same conference, and from '84-'98, the three started in 10 Super Bowls. That's crazy. Only one of them could go to the Super Bowl each year, and one of them did two out of every three years.

Edgerrin James (Yahoo!, via PFT).

At Rotoworld, an interesting interview with Football Outsiders' Aaron Schatz (via Football Outsiders. Do I really need to give a hat tip to FO for a FO interview elsewhere? Probably not, but I'm neurotic).

At ESPN, Matthew Berry provides useful fantasy facts. I like Berry's fantasy football writing, and find this sort of column particularly interesting.


  1. Anonymous11:19 PM

    for what i saw against the broncos cutler had some good throws, but the broncos dont have a great defense

  2. Perhaps the "endowment effect" applies to your opinion of Steven Jackson?

  3. Anonymous9:00 AM

    I think for a second and third year QB to carry his team to a 7-9 and a 8-8 record is pretty strong. No run game. No defense. And learning how to play pro football? Nobody holds the Packers record against Aaron Rodgers and he had a lot more support on defense, special teams, and in the run game.
    An established, truly great quarterback should be able to lead a team with an average run game and weak defense to a plus record, unless they're in the toughest division in football. But Cutler has more than shown he can make the big plays that provide the difference between winning and losing.


  4. Hey, I was bored over the weekend :)

    Re: Cutler...I heard from quite a few sources when the trade went down about how he was 17-20 as a pro while Kyle Orton was 21-12. It made me throw up a bit.

    That said, I still think Cutler is a little overrated. He accumulated big numbers last year (if you can call 25 TDs "big") because he threw more passes than anyone besides Drew Brees, while also putting up 18 picks and having a so-so passer rating of 86.

  5. J-Rod: you have the cause-effect relationship backwards. I drafted Jackson in the HW league because I was high on him, not the other way around.

    Jason: there are a lot of other numbers on Cutler that signify a very good QB: 7.4 yards per attempt and 62.5% passing in his first three years is pretty good, and last year he led the league with a low sack percentage of 1.8%. I hope he's overrated.

  6. Passer rating (which ain't perfect, I know) takes his YPA and Comp% into account. I hope the sack numbers were due more to his O-line, though I believe he's got a quick release.