Useless Stats

Submitted by SFBayAreaBlue on July 7th, 2009 at 1:41 PM

As Michigan fans get ready for year two of this new fangled offense, it strikes me that the old measures of success are no longer applicable.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.

Comments

jg2112

July 7th, 2009 at 2:00 PM ^

....to determine a team's success: wins and losses? Because honestly, if the team isn't winning, I could give half a toss what Darryl Stonum's "yards per thrown at" average is in 2009.

And, Odoms is a good receiver. In an historically awful offense where the QB couldn't even get him the ball most times to a position where he could make a play, he still caught almost 50 balls. And, for his fumbles which did suck, he returned a punt for a touchdown against Purdue which was beautiful. If Odoms catches 60-65 balls this year, I doubt you'll be so negative about it.

jg2112

July 7th, 2009 at 2:55 PM ^

....in two more years, once Rich Rod has his recruiting under control, true freshman Martavious Odoms will not be on the field. The first time you'd really see him playing will be either redshirt freshman Martavious Odoms, or sophomore Martavious Odoms, because of the depth built up at the position.

As an example, in fall 2010, Odoms, Stokes, Roundtree, Feagin, T. Robinson, Teric Jones and Gallon could all be slot receivers. Now, imagine if they were ALL gone and Drew Dileo came in and was starting three months later, led the team in receptions, and was also returning kicks and punts. The proposition is absurd to look at in year 3 of the Rich Rod Experience. So, looking back to year 1, I don't blame Odoms for putting forth a decent true freshman season.

jg2112

July 7th, 2009 at 3:28 PM ^

Last year was ridiculous (trent, matthews, cissoko, odoms). Noone could hold on to it. Hopefully adding four or five more options this year will improve the return game. Heck, just put T-Rob back there and specialize.

SFBayAreaBlue

July 7th, 2009 at 2:25 PM ^

about the QB play.

You can use this stat to evaluate WR's at the same position with the same QB's. You can use this stat in practice to demonstrate that one WR should start over another. You can use this stat to predict which receivers will more predictably perform for your fantasy league.

saveferris

July 7th, 2009 at 2:05 PM ^

For item A, aren't you really just asking for YAC and a calculation of "reception percentage", analogous to "completion percentage"? RP = Receptions / (Receptions + Drops), no?

In total, it almost sounds like you want to come up with a WR rating formula similar to the QB rating formula that no lay football fan understands outside of MIT. Fair to say?

SFBayAreaBlue

July 7th, 2009 at 2:22 PM ^

lack of understanding stop announcers from quoting it or from fans saying things like "Steve Young had the best career QB rating evah!!" Just cause something is hard to understand, doesn't mean it's useless. Do you know how your car works? Do you know how to use your car? The second one doesn't require the first.

bouje

July 7th, 2009 at 2:42 PM ^

Not that this KID wasn't a freshman or anything. going out in front of the most fans he's ever seen in his whole life trying to catch a punt. I mean let's just completely lambaste the kid.

I'm sorry but when I see how Odoms played last year as one bright spot in an otherwise dark abyss of an offense I have to say that you need to get a life and stop ridiculing and piling on freshman in their first year. Jesus christ (rant over)

SFBayAreaBlue

July 7th, 2009 at 4:56 PM ^

flame wars start when people take things too personally. I'm not lambasting a freshman, I'm deflating unearned hype. Everyone has a right to their own opinion, and if you feel the need to say 'get a life' to anyone who disagrees with yours, then maybe you need to 'get some perspective'. Otherwise you might find flames all over your posts.

The point of this diary was to propose stats that better reflect reality. And the reality was that this kid was a major contributor to a 3-9 season. I never said he was a bust, I never said he can't improve. I did say he wasn't the best receiver michigan has ever had, despite his record. Is this such a strong condemnation that I have overstepped your effeminite sensitivities leading to your suggestion that I get something you lack?

If you want to talk about bright spots on last year's offense, I would point you in the direction of an unconcussed McGuffie. But look out, should you disagree with me. I may have to insult you, based on your example.

West Texas Blue

July 7th, 2009 at 5:25 PM ^

Hahaha I love how you create all these fancy metrics, yet you don't apply it to Odoms to show how he compares to other WRs that played for Michigan (Braylon and Super Mario, in his example). My recommendation is that you post some stats and evidence to back up your claims before you accumulate so many negative points that you'll never get to do your follow up posts.

orillia

July 7th, 2009 at 2:45 PM ^

Catchability-not sure that is a word but- you have to remember the main target of Threet and Sheridan last year was Tacopants. Guys never seemed to be hit in stride and had to make some difficult catches. Granted every receiver will drop one or two they shouldn't.

bouje

July 7th, 2009 at 2:48 PM ^

he should at least say "if it touches him in the hands then it should be caught and that can caught" but how many that were thrown in his general direction did they have and how many were actually catchable.. I'm just going to throw it out there but not many for any of our receivers last year

Maize and Blue…

July 7th, 2009 at 3:17 PM ^

which accounted for a majority of Odoms catches depend on the outside WR blocking and is basically an extension of the running game. If you watched the games last year you know our WRs didn't block for a plugged nickel yet you decide to bash Odoms. Not to mention that the QBs rarely hit him in stride to maximize the play. On top of it Odoms was the only slot we had last year and was always on the field.
I'm a grown man not an 18 year old if you've got a problem come at me its not the kids fault! He was out there busting his a** for the Maize and Blue!

SFBayAreaBlue

July 7th, 2009 at 4:37 PM ^

Bashing Odoms so much as bringing him and some fanboys on here back to earth. I'm comparing him to steve breaston. And in that comparison, the gaudy reception numbers are a hoax. Watch those 2006 videos and you'll see breaston and manningham make the proverbial 'something out of nothing' to keep drives alive despite a lack of blocking. You didn't see that from odoms. I want a stat that can quantify that.

True, he didn't have balls hit him in stride very often. But when he did, he didn't really make plays. Yes, he's 'just a freshman'. Good. So he should get better, and these stats will improve. I'm saying that the 49 receptions are useless to count when many of them ended drives or went for such small gains compared to what was needed at the time.

Maize and Blue…

July 7th, 2009 at 7:11 PM ^

is Steve Breaston and Super Mario were surrounded by great talent that also happened to have experience. There was also the threat of the field being stretched which was nonexistent last year because QB play was a nightmare. Mannningham shouldn't even be in the conversation because he didn't play the slot.
Given your comment on receptions being useless because they ended drives, that would mean that a vast majority of Michigan's 3rd down plays last year were useless. The reality is the O was inexperienced and the QBs were not capble of running it. Teams could load up the box which in essence eliminates some of the effectiveness of bubble screens. Odoms had a very good year for a freshman who was constantly on the field in a fast paced offense. Hopefully, this year he will have some help and get some blows during the game. We know the QB's throws will be more accurate this year barring injuries so lets see how his career ends up as he still has three years to go.

SFBayAreaBlue

July 7th, 2009 at 8:25 PM ^

agree with what you said except that I didn't say the receptions of themselves were useless. Just the fawning over the accumulation of them. or at least that's what I meant to say, if it didn't come out clearly.

Does anyone here know the number of carries brandon minor had, off the top of their head? Or, maybe because it wasn't a record, how about lorenzo white? No one cares, because it is a stat that doesn't have much meaning. If an air force back has the most carries in the country, it doesn't mean much other than that he plays in a wishbone offense.

msoccer10

July 7th, 2009 at 4:47 PM ^

That's embarrassing. My predictions were way off too, but I didn't explicitly say what WILL NOT HAPPEN and then have that exact thing happen.

And as far as Odoms, he had a great year at receiver. I don't want him returning kicks this year, and I think he may not be our best slot receiver, but overall he was our best receiver last year and he deserves the credit.

ShockFX

July 7th, 2009 at 4:41 PM ^

Case in point, Marvelous Matavious Odoms. He, being the record holder of receptions, has yet to actually impress me.

Fucking freshman.

At least not on a consistent basis.

So, uh, wait what? Did you watch any games last year?

Yes, he had 49 receptions. But what did he do with them? He averaged 9 yards per reception. He scored 1 touchdown. I yawned.

You realize that a bubble screen is essentially a long hand off, so if you broke out bubble screen YPC, I'm still willing to bet it's greater than our average rush YPC. Also, that's 1 TD with Sheridan and Threet throwing to him. Just a thought.

Because what you're not seeing in those stats is the number of drops he had.

Because there is a different stat for this. It's called "Drops".

You're not seeing the number of times he gained 3 yards when we needed 4 on third down.

If he loved Michigan more he would have got 4 yards each time. However, if he averaged 9YPC, how often did he only get 3? Also, how often were we in 3rd and 4? I feel like the whole season was 3rd and 8+. Maybe you should rewrite this to say, How often did he only get 9 yards when we needed 10?

And you're not seeing his pathetic work on returns.

This?

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.

Seriously, fuck Martavious for having to do a lot of work to equal two of the best receivers ever at Michigan. Does he realize that Braylon and Mario were better football players in their final seasons at Michigan? Does he realize that BlueSeoul has made up stats that prove this? IS HE AWARE OF THIS?

SFBayAreaBlue

July 7th, 2009 at 5:21 PM ^

"You realize that a bubble screen is essentially a long hand off"
Yeah, that's why I'm saying that 49 receptions is not a big deal. do we glorify how many times the RB 'catches' the handoff? No, because it's a useless stat.

"Did you watch any games last year"
Every fucking one. Did you fucking watch any of them?

"I'm still willing to bet it's greater than our average rush YPC"
Then maybe you could do something useful like look it up, or rewatch all the games and track that stat. Please, it would be interesting. Go back, watch for every sideways pass and note the yards pre and post catch. Put them in a spreadsheet. Then come back. Or are you just a useless fuck who likes to swear?

"Because there is a different stat for this. It's called "Drops"." GREAT. So why isn't it listed on ESPN or SI, or any other major website? If we had a few combined major stats to replace the dozen or so individual ones, it would be more enlightening.

"If he loved Michigan more he would have got 4 yards each time. However, if he averaged 9YPC, how often did he only get 3? Also, how often were we in 3rd and 4? I feel like the whole season was 3rd and 8+. Maybe you should rewrite this to say, How often did he only get 9 yards when we needed 10?" Good questions, well except for the part about loving michigan. That's just you making a straw man so you can be a jackass. But the others are interesting points. Why don't you do something useful and look them up?

"This?" NO jackass, THIS: http://michigansportscenter.com/2008/11/purdue-beats-michigan-48-42-in-…

"Seriously, fuck Martavious" Wow, you're such a nice guy. can we be friends? No? then fuck off. I would hope in the cacophony of sunshine blowers that a little bit of reality will filter through. I would hope that merely owning a worthless record doesn't stunt this kid's progress. And I would hope people would learn to converse on the internet as if they were actually standing next to the person they were talking to.

chitownblue2

July 7th, 2009 at 8:42 PM ^

The issue, dude, is that you're railing against a group of people that don't exist. I don't think anyone thinks that Odoms was the best freshman receiver in Michigan football history. We KNOW he had fumble issues. We KNOW that he had so many catches because he ran the simplest routes. I think most of us wouldn't be surprised if he got supplanted by Gallon at some point during the year. We all get that.

But your post seems oddly nasty to a kid, that, overall played pretty decently, and certainly had numerous adverse externalities working against him (lack of downfield blocking, no reliable run game for half a season, poor QB play, general predictability of playcalling due to all of the above). I thought he was fine - making a post to bitch about him (which, again, it what it seems like you're doing) seems out of place.

Then, you act somewhat smarmy because you've read about or ocme up with these stats. Well - why don't you apply them to Odoms? If your argument is that conventional stats overstate his value, then why don't you tell us what your superior stats say about him, thus proving your stats superior, and your belief (Odoms isn't very good) valid?

SFBayAreaBlue

July 12th, 2009 at 6:07 AM ^

maybe it's 'oddly' nasty because it wasn't meant to be nasty. I didn't say I believe he isn't very good, that would be an overall judgement, when I was attacking an overinflated stat. Again, you make a valid point that I should come in firing with numbers and research completed. but like I said before, sometimes the thought comes first and the work later. (and maybe I'd get lucky and someone with more time on their hands would do the number crunching for me if I laid out the guidelines.)

So I'm glad you agree with most of my points, and if you inferred any personal attacks against the kid, that was not my intention. The title and main point of the post have nothing to do with any particular player, just the anecdotal arguments. But I'm not seeing any one flaming me to defend navarre.

It's like when letterman made a joke about A-rod knocking up bristol palin. A-rod wasn't bitching about the joke.

chitownblue2

July 12th, 2009 at 9:33 AM ^

I understand that. But, you need to realize that when a large number of the readers of your diary don't get your intended message, the issue, generally, is with how it's written - not how it's perceived.

Personally, I see that you never outright attack him, but I think that much of your effort to "punch it up" with jokes (the "I yawned" bit, for example) seems dismissive and often sort of mean-spirited. Again, that may not have been the intention, but I think that's what most of the negative reactions are stemming from.

Callahan

July 7th, 2009 at 10:50 PM ^

Your third stat -- the conversion one -- is nonsense. It treats a six yard gain on first down as if it's a bad play. Yes, third down conversions are important. So important that the key to continuously getting them is by setting up 3rd and short with plays like a six yard gain on first down.