As Michigan fans get ready for year two of this new fangled offense, it strikes me that the old measures of success are no longer applicable.
In days of old when the ball was rarely in the air, just making receptions was a thing of beauty. But now with every other play being a swing pass or a slip screen, simply catching the ball is not enough.
Case in point, Marvelous Matavious Odoms. He, being the record holder of receptions, has yet to actually impress me. At least not on a consistent basis. Yes, he had 49 receptions. But what did he do with them? He averaged 9 yards per reception. He scored 1 touchdown. I yawned.
Because what you're not seeing in those stats is the number of drops he had. You're not seeing the number of times he gained 3 yards when we needed 4 on third down. And you're not seeing his pathetic work on returns.
Cumulative stats mean less and less these days. Back around the time I was born, teams played 10 games and maybe a bowl. Now some teams play 14 per year.
Texas Tech seems to set new passing records every year. But their quarterback went undrafted. For a while, John Navarre held most of the passing records at Michigan. John Navarre was probably the 5th or 6th best QB I've personally seen suit up for the maize and blue. (Brady, Griese, Harbaugh, Grbac, Collins, Henne, argue amongst yourselves)
The problem with these stats is that they only keep track of the good, without penalty of the bad. What would be much more telling are stats that include efficiencies.
"Aha, but what about the one hit wonders?!" I can hear you say. "What about the LB who catches 1 yard passes on the goal line for TD's? Should he be considered the best receiver?" No you fool. But he should be given props.
No. Stop thinking so one-dimensionally. This is a college full of engineers. So find one, buy him some beers, and get him to explain how one point does not a histogram make, my young padawan.
There is some consciousness of the need for better stats. Increasingly, commentators rely on things such as yards per carry or yards per attempt. These are better. It's two pieces of information combined into one. It's like Ernest Rutherford looking at the plum pudding model and saying, "Wait, we can do better!" But they're far from perfect.
This is why QB's have more complicated efficiency ratings. This is why Brian complains about redzone scoring efficiency. People know that flats stats are useless. (BTW redzone scoring efficiency should be points scored in the redzone per redzone trip. Yeah, it's not out of 100 %, but it's an easy number to understand. A team with a score of 3.5 is not as good as a team with a 6.8. Or if you don't have a kicker and go for two every time you could get a score of 8.0)
So let me be your Neil's Bohr and suggest some stats that can take us to a deeper understanding of a receiver's value in football. If you happen to work for ABC or ESPN, please send me proper compensation for when you utilize these in your graphics.
Some of these are not of my original creation. Like Newton with the Principia, I simply gather these ideas and put my own concise twist on them to go along with my own inventions.
a) Yards per thrown at. This has three pieces of information in it. I want to know how many times he catches it, but give him a penalty for drops, and find out what he does with it after catching it.
b) TD's per redzone thrown at. This tells you if the WR is a big target who can get open in close space or box out effectively.
c) Conversion Efficiency = (receiving yards minus (half the yards to go)) multiplied by the down number per thrown at. Gaining 12 yards on 4th and 10 is a 28, Gaining 6 yards on 1st down is a 1. 6 yards on 3rd and 5 is a 14. Gaining 3 yards on 3rd and 8 is a -3
d)Snag and Go = (Total receiving yards/(yards BEFORE the catch)) multiplied by (receptions per thrown at). This tells you if the kid is dependable, if he's got any shake and bake. The first ratio is high for a guy like Steve Breaston, but close to one for a guy like Jason Avant. But Avant would score higher on the second ratio, just not enough to overcome his lack of YAC.
So there it is, your new measures of receiver excellence. And if you think this is over the top, wait till you see what I've got in mind for QB's. Gametracker stats will have lots more colorful graphs.
And if I get bored enough this summer, I'll even prove that these stats work by going to mgovideo and getting numbers for Braylon, Mario, and Martavious, and show you just how much work the kid needs to do.