Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wednesday Blizzard: Jim Souhan lacks insight again

Jim Souhan is a columnist that exhibits no desire to bring insight, context, or understanding to sports. Brad Childress talks about keeping Adrian Peterson as the #2 RB (in a system that's clearly utilizing the #1 and #2 a lot), and maintains a modest, even keel approach to his young star to the press (something Bill Parcells did all the time, remember). Souhan responds by comparing Adrian Peterson to shitty and unused backup RBs from years ago in order to try show how stupid Brad Childress is.

But that's irrelevant. See this pro-football-reference.com post on RB usage trends. If Souhan were actually interested in analysis, he might check out pro-football-reference.com posts on RB overuse and injuries here and here, and RB deterioration here, here, and here.

And this should show why blogs can be and often are superior to columnists. The writers at pro-football-reference.com are interested in finding relevant historical context and comparisions, and are interested in looking closely at numbers, in order to bring understanding to football. Souhan just wants to make jokes and make fun of the coach, so he makes silly and irrelevant comparisions to unused backup RBs from the past, ignoring the current trend and the Vikings' strategy of utilizing two effective RBs.

Addendum: Souhan includes this sarcastic passage: "You can't win in the NFL without a great backup running back. Remember those great Cowboys teams, led by Troy Hambrick? Remember the Steel Curtain dynasty, led by Reggie Harrison?"

Harrison was a little used backup RB on two of the Steelers' Super Bowl teams. But if Souhan weren't deliberately trying to mock Childress, he might note that the Steelers often utilized backup RB Rocky Bleier, and that starting RB Franco Harris' career high for carries in a season was a rather low 310 (Harris only twice averaged 20 carries per game), so it's a pretty poor example.

Souhan also has a particularly unfair (and uninsightful) trope he uses three times. He writes that when Childress looks at Adrian Peterson, he "see[s] the next Allen Rice," that he "sees Alfred Anderson," or that he "see[s] Ted Brown." If he were being honest, he could say that Childress sees Peterson as Reggie Bush, Maurice Jones-Drew, Joseph Addai, Ronnie Brown, or Laurence Maroney--other talented rookie RBs that split carries with a veteran for various reasons. Now it's very possible (and I suspect likely) that Peterson is better than any of those RBs. But to say Brad Childress looks at Peterson and "sees" a lousy backup RB that didn't really play much is just stupid. Peterson is getting carries, and the more apt comparisons would be to the other young RBs that were kept fresh and effective by splitting carries. When Brad Childress calls Peterson the number two, he doesn't "see" one of those ineffective backups. He's using a two-back system, like a lot of other coaches use a two-back system. He's not going to wear down one RB by forcing 30 carries a game on him early in the season. It's reasonable strategy. Yes, Peterson should be #1 and Taylor should be #2, but they're both going to get a lot of carries. The thing is, Souhan knows this: he just wants to make stupid jokes and criticize Childress.

Other links
But perhaps we should give Souhan credit for trying to make up jokes. Here are the first two sentences of Tom Powers' recent commentary: "Sixty-five points scored in the Vikings-Bears game! In other noteworthy events on Sunday, the moon turned blue, the cows came home and the devil was spotted throwing snowballs in his own backyard."

According to the Star Tribune, Chuck Foreman is happy seeing Adrian Peterson break his records.

You may have noticed Anthony Herrera on the field for the Vikings Sunday. The Star Tribune talks about his role as starter. In a related story, the Pioneer Press features the Vikings' offensive line performance against Chicago.

This week's Cold, Hard Football Facts' Big Play Index takes special note of the Vikings, who lead the league in big plays and big play differential. Seriously. Take a look: they have more big plays than any other team (despite already having their bye), and they have the best differential over the opponents. The other teams near the top are all good, but the Vikes are under .500. We'll see if this projects to improvement.

Footballguys compares Adrian Peterson to other rookie RBs.

Outsports comments on Brandon Lloyd's implication that Troy Aikman is gay.

10 comments:

  1. It's probably about the twentieth most wrong thing with Souhan's article, but he also obviously did no research whatsoever in finding his examples. Besides the Harrison/Bleier inconsistency you cited, Troy Hambrick joined the Cowboys in 2000 and didn't get significant time until 2001. That was well after the Cowboys' dynasty and well into their period of consistent suckitude.

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  2. Anonymous12:39 PM

    Souhan has had it in for Childress from Day 1. I firmly believe that it's a person grudge of some kind (maybe because he was buddies with Tice? maybe Childress ran him off or something? or maybe its just because Tice gave him easy stories to write and Childress is about exciting an interview as lichen). But it's been going on for a long time now.

    Souhan hates Childress. He will never give him credit for anything. Anything that goes right for the Vikings is either luck or the players stepping up. Anything that goes wrong is Childress' fault. There's a stunning bias there that the StarTrib should find embarrassing.

    He's a terrible writer to boot. Cliche-ridden and hackneyed, his columns are littered with dated pop culture references and poor research.

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  3. Anonymous1:16 PM

    Yes, Souhan stinks, and the people who are calling for Peterson to have much more than 20 rushing attempts per a game are either being very short-sighted, or don't understand the game. Childress, a second year coach with a losing record, is to be congratulated for displaying some guts, because a lot of coaches in his situation would be trying to get Peterson 400 rushes this season, in order to save the coach's job, future be damned.

    I'm not a huge Childress backer, but the man does not lack for conviction in circumstances where a lot of coaches would take an easier path. Sometimes, like Lovie Smith sticking with Rex Grossman for as many games as Smith did, such conviction can be an impediment to improvement, but without such conviction I don't think a NFL head coach can have a long career.

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  4. Anonymous1:18 PM

    Souhan was right on - Chilli is a dumb ass...You need to have your BEST PLAYER on the field as much as possible... Chilli is such a putz he can't even change the #1 & 2 RB's around... Chilli is a rigid, non-adaptable twit....

    Go ahead and spoo forth your "have to rest APAD" stuff... but a work horse needs to be a work horse not a pasture pony..

    Childress is a dumb ass..

    Listen to the Neb Cornhusker coach (Bill Callagahan) he and Chilli spit out the same scripted political sounding BS and some of you continue to take the bait... get a football clue..

    FIRE CHILDRESS NOW !!!!!

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  5. Anonymous1:21 PM

    Chilli sticking with his worthless KAO is better than Lovie sticking too long with Grossman?? wow!! Think Not.. Chilli has no balls... unless he gets them from Philadelphia...

    FIRE CHILDRESS NOW !!!!!

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  6. Anonymous1:26 PM

    Also, the disparity between the Vikings' record and their number of big plays is also consistent with Football Outsiders' estimated wins for the Vikings right now at 3.2. This team easily, with just a faint breath of better luck, could be 4-1.

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  7. Anonymous1:32 PM

    FCN! guy, let be break this gently to you. You don't understand the first thing about the game one must assume you spend many hours watching. I know this must be frustrating for you. Maybe you can watch the games with Jim Souhan.

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  8. Anonymous1:37 PM

    We could be 4-1 with a coach that has a clue....

    FIRE CHILDRESS NOW !!!!!

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