Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Mr. Polian What About the Cover-2 Corner?

By John Turney
Concerning the upcoming Hall of Fame choice between Brian Dawkins or John Lynch Polian told the Talk of Fame Network

“That’s tough,” Hall-of-Fame GM Bill Polian said on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast. “I know too much. This is a dangerous place to be. I know what the safety position means to the (Tony) Dungy defense.

“There are three players in the Dungy defense that are the lynchpins of the whole the defense. First, is the 3-technique. That was Warren Sapp. Second is the will linebacker. That was (Derrick) Brooks. Third is the safety. That’s John Lynch. I don’t think I need to say anymore. Those are the three that made it one of the great defenses in the history of football for the time they played together.”

The Three-technique, the Will backer, and the strong safety? For the Dungy Tampa-2? We always thought the safeties were twin safeties, lined up just outside the hash marks and usually took 1/2 the field in the deepest zones. The Mike backer, or it could be the Will had the "hole" in the zone which allowed the safeties to cheat a bit outside because the backer who had the hole would prevent the Cover-2 defense from being split.

But what about the corners? The rerouting the run support, all the things they needed to do to help that Tampa-2 scheme work. If Polian got his wish and Lynch goes into the Hall of Fame ahead of Dawkins what comments will be for Ronde Barber? And of course, you have to have that edge rusher, no? That opens the door for Simeon Rice.

And don't forget the Mike, who often (usually) has that hole in the zone, just short of the deep 1/2 zones. Hardy Nickerson was that guy. Nickerson, in his Buc years was a five-time Pro Bowler. So really, is it six key players, not three?

The point is it seems like a slippery slope if the hierarchy of the positions in a specific scheme is even a consideration in a Hall of Fame presentation. As superiorly smart as Bill Polian is, this is a bit of a stretch.

Shouldn't the consideration, if one is picking between safeties, be which one was better on the field regardless of scheme?

Here are the stat charts of six key players:
Brooks was a four-time Consensus All-Pro and a six-time First-team All-Pro and was a Second-team All-Pro three times on top of that.
Hardy Nickerson was with the Buccaneers for seven years and was a five-time Pro Bowler and a two-time All-Pro in his Buc years.
 Sapp, like Brooks, was a first-ballot Hall of Fame selection and he was a four-time Consensus All-Pro plus two more seasons as a Second-team All-Pro. In 2001 and 2002 there was not lots of great statistical seasons and therefore not much competition for the All-Pro teams. Sapp made it both years despite averaging less than seven sacks in those two seasons. And it cannot be argued that he was the guy not expected to get those big plays. Playing the three-technique gave Sapp all the advantages of making sacks and stuffs and when he was the Defensive Player of the Year it was due to his big plays/sack total.
 Lynch was a three-time All-Pro and a nine-time Pro Bowler. He had 26 interceptions and 13 sacks.
Barber was a three-time All-Pro and had 28 sacks as a corner, which is an amazing number. Equally amazing is his 63 run/pass stuff total. A run/pass stuff is a tackle for a loss on a run or pass play, that does not include sacks. Warren Sapp had 63.5 run/pass stuffs as a defensive tackle

Rice feels he was a key part of the Tampa Bay defense as the blind side rusher and he had big-time sack totals from 2001-05, totaling 67.5 in those five seasons and he feels that is enoug for the Hall of Fame.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Rodney—It wasn't THAT Extreme

By John Turney
According to Michael Hurley's Twitter Account  Former Patriot Safety made this statemnt at a media availability today, "Rodney Harrison was like, "Do you remember in the Super Bowl against the Eagles, we started like six linebackers and one defensive tackle?""

Hurley then posted the starting lineup from that Super Bowl and it did show this:
Yes, there are five linebackers, but the question is what position did they play?  It was 4-3 defense, Rosevelt Colvin and Willie McGinest were hybrid LBer/DE types, and they played DE in nickel a lot. The only difference here is they were 4-3 DEs in base, which McGinest did quite a bit in his career anyway.

Here is a screenshot of the first play, which is representative of the scheme the Patriots used early in that game:
Credit: NFL Rewind
Come on Rodney, it was likely a surprise because Patriots were a 3-4 team, but it was not a fancy scheme, with five linebackers and two was a 4-3.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher By The Numbers

By John Turney
The following is a chart comparing the "numbers" of Hall of Fame candidates Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher. By "numbers" we mean a measure of longevity and durability (years and games and games missed), their relative quality (All-Pros and Pro Bowls) along with Player of the Year awards, All-Decades and also NFL Championships. Additionally, we've added in some statistics.

We have also added in all the other Hall of Fame linebackers to see where Lewis and Urlacher fall in terms of these selected categories.

(Click to enlarge)

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Not All Second and Third Place Finishes Are The Same

By John Turney
For the record, I don't have a horse in the race for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2018. There are a couple of players who I think are no-brainers, but that's just my opinion and it's worth no more than anyone else's opinion. Additionally, there is one player who I would rather not see get thrown into the Senior pool, a.k.a. "the Swamp".

I do think it is time for Terrell Owens to get into the Hall of Fame. Going in now, with the Class of 2018, puts him on par with Marvin Harrison who got in on his third try and whose career is fairly similar, even though their playing styles were not. However, if things do go the way I think they should it won't bother me because I just give opinions and do some research. I have no skin in the game—it won't be anything to get ugly over.

That said, I do wish those who are making the case for Owens and/or Moss would realize that there are some who look at the numbers of players in great detail. And it seems like the mantra of "he was second to Jerry Rice" in this or "third to Jerry Rice" in that is all we can read online in articles about these receivers. There is more to it in my view.

First, these writers and/or video/television commentators ought to know better. They have access to lots of information and the most basic of statistics, receptions, yards receiving and touchdowns are very easily found and the vast majority of the even the most basic fans know them yet they are repeated over and over. That is done to buttress the same argument we've heard for a few years, i.e. "the numbers alone say Owens or Moss (fill in the blank) should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer."

Says who?

Since when does being second or third in a major statistical category guarantee first-ballot quality? Second is not first. Third is not first. We'd need to look a little closer, no?

Looking closer would be a simple qualitative analysis of those second and/or third place finishes. I guess because 2 comes after 1 they think it makes it sound like a close race but sometimes it is not. This is the "second and third" (if you will) the argument is always presented. And the numbers are almost always presented as though it was close, like a photo finish in a horse race.

Perhaps like this:

Well, in my view, it's not. It's not Secretariat and Sham at the 1973 Kentucky Derby. It's like Secretariat and Sham and the field at the Belmont Stakes in 1973—it's more like this:
Rice's 197 touchdowns compared the 156 and 153 of Moss and Owens is more like this than the previous shot.

Here is what I mean:
Jerry Rice's totals in longevity, honors, statistics, and championships are on the top line. Owens and Moss are on the second and fourth lines. The third and fifth lines are percentages of what their totals are compared to Rice.

They played about 2/3 to 3/4 of the time Rice did. They were All-Pro less than hall the times of Rice, and that includes Pro Bowls. Neither Owens nor Moss was ever an Offensive Player of the Year of MVP, Rice was.

Statistically, they were about 2/3 to 4/5 of what Rice did, finishing a distant 2nd and 3rd in TDs and even less in yards and catches. To be fair, they had comparable yards per catch averages. 

Further, they led the NFL and were in the top 10 in the NFL in receiving categories far less than Rice and finally, Rice has 3 Super Bowl Rings. 

Everyone agrees Rice is the gold (G.O.A.T.?) standard. It just seems to me if they are going to use Rice's stats as a standard they should explain that while true (the "second and third" arguments) an intelligent and thorough examination shows that there is quite a distance between them and as such raised this question:  Are Moss and Owens Really Worthy of First-Ballot Hall of Fame Status?

Reasonable people can disagree, but by the same token, reasonable people shouldn't continue to shout out stats everyone knows and has already taken into consideration and come up with some more compelling evidence than just the "second and third" argument.

Finally, I reiterate, it would be great for Owens to get in this year. Most think he is a Hall of Famer and I certainly agree, I just felt there was a strong case that he and Moss are not slam-dunk first-ballot Hall of Famers.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

We're the 49ers Song (1984)

By Chris Willis, NFL Films

A year before the Chicago Bears sang their hit single “Super Bowl Shuffle” the San Francisco 49ers released a song that captivated the Bay Area.

In October of 1984, the 49ers were riding high as the best team in the NFL. They were 6-0 and had just destroyed the New York Giants 31-10 on Monday Night Football in the Big Apple. The media had started to talk about an undefeated season. But 49ers Head Coach Bill Walsh didn’t want any distraction going forward. He wanted his squad focused on the next game- a home contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

But during Steelers week maybe there was a minor one. On their day off Pro Bowl defensive back Ronnie Lott and wide receiver Renaldo Nehemiah invited twelve other 49ers players to a recording studio operated by Narada Michael Walden, a well-known music producer in San Francisco, to record a team song. “He was a friend of mine. One day Ronnie and myself had gone to his studio. We were singing background on one of Phyllis Hyman’s song. He came up with the idea of, ‘Hey, how about we make this song?’” recalled Nehemiah. “Of course we all got into it and said’ fine.”

“Nobody had any idea what the heck we were doing. We just went out to have fun. It was Tuesday night and everybody said hey we’re going to meet over here and do it,” said Mike Wilson, wide receiver. “I think somebody said, ‘Hey man, we’re going be doing this record, if you want to be a part of it, come on.’ And that’s kind of the way it went. (I’m) a rookie, I’m trying to hang out with the guys, so I said, ‘Ok, I’m there, John Frank’s there too,” said Guy McIntyre, guard. “Ronnie had the relationship with Narada Michael Walden, he had been producer of the year, he was pretty hot back in those days. So through that relationship, he came up with the tune and got a group of us together and the rest is history!” said a smiling Keena Turner, linebacker.

Calling themselves The 49’er Squadron the diverse group of teammates consisted of:

Dwight Clark
Roger Craig
John Frank
Dwight Hicks
Tom Holmoe
Ronnie Lott
Guy McIntyre
Blanchard Montgomery
Renaldo Nehemiah
Bill Ring
Keena Turner
Carlton Williamson
Mike Wilson
Eric Wright
The song was titled “We’re The 49ers.” It was a few minutes in length and featured a few lines of lyrics. “We’re the 49ers! We will rock you till we win the fight, because We’re the 49ers! We’re dynamite. We’re dynamite!”

“They blend it, mixed it. So I can’t distinguish my voice from anybody’s else on there. But Keena probably would say he was the best,” said Guy McIntyre laughing. “Well, I was the best. I still like the song. It’s a classic. It’s one I think will stand the test of time,” said a joking Keena Turner. Some teammates might disagree. “Keena was the worst singer. I was the best. Ronnie couldn’t carry a note either so I had to carry those guys. I had to sing louder so I could drown them. I think we even turned Keena’s mic off. He didn’t know that,” said an equally laughing Carlton Williamson. “None of us was the greatest of talents. It was all Michael Walden. But we teased. We like to tease some of the guys, ‘yea man, your mic was turned off.’”

“It was a little theme song for you to hear in the stadium warming up, and (then) it was like, ok, you hear it on the radio. For the record, none of us made a cent from it, but it was fun. Those are the memories and the camaraderie that you have with your teammates that you can look back and say wow it was more than just first and ten and catching the ball, it was about friendships,” said Mike Wilson, wide receiver.
Some teammates caught the fever of the “We’re the 49ers” tune. “I thought it was catchy. They did a great job on the song,” said Dwaine Board, defensive end. Produced and written by well-known music producer Narada Michael Walden the song was distributed by Megaton Records. Playing bass on the song was Randy Jackson who recently has made American Idol the most popular show on television. Released as a 45-single Niners fans could buy the record with most of the 49ers players on the cover.

Locally, bay area fans fell in love with the song. “It was cool, you know the city embraced it and rallied around it and all of a sudden you started hearing it all the time,” said Mike Wilson. “I was happy that I was asked to be a part of it. I still have the record,” said Carlton Williamson. Today the song gets over-looked because there wasn’t a video shot for it. Unlike the more famous “Super Bowl Shuffle” done by the Chicago Bears in 1985- despite the fact, the 49ers recorded their song a year earlier. “You kind of laugh (at it).  We were just having a good time, and of course, it turned out to be pretty cool after you did it and it was very popular. Then, of course, the Chicago Bears did it. Then everybody was doing it,” said Mike Wilson.

Walsh wasn’t happy about the players being preoccupied off-the-field. Mainly because it came the same week as a loss. “(Walsh) Never wanted us to do things outside of football because he thought it would be distracting. He wanted you to kind of fly below the radar. Never put anything up on the opposing team’s locker room,” said Bill Ring, running back. “O.K., we just lost one game. It’s not the end of the world. But to Bill he made it seem like the end of the world!” said Guy McIntyre, guard.

The song did become a distraction for the 49ers as they lost for the first time in 1984, suffering a 20-17 defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers. After that los, Bill Walsh didn’t have any more distractions, as the 49ers won twelve consecutive games, including beating the Miami Dolphins 38-16 in Super Bowl XIX.

Here is the song via YouTube.
Fair use claim, intended for education and criticism

Thursday, January 18, 2018


By T. J. Troup

Years ago was I honored to work with Mr. Allen Barra when he wrote for the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). He would write the articles and I would supply whatever insightful stats or data I could. This short story is an update.

Few know that since the AFL-NFC merger, there have been 94 conference championship games. In those games the team that has scored the first touchdown has won 78% of the time!
Let us begin with the AFC and the clash between Jacksonville and New England. The last seven years the team that scored the first touchdown has won (and fifteen of the past seventeen), so if the Jaguars want to dethrone the Patriots they better get in the end zone first.

The AFC overall record is 37-10.
Every year from 1970 through 1989 in the NFC the team that scored the first touchdown won! The lone exception though they still won is the stalwart Los Angeles Ram defense of 1979 who shut-out Tampa Bay 9-0 (all field goals).

The NFC record is 36-10. Since all four teams have excellent defenses this stat comes into play even more.

In closing, I am shifting gears again to Peter King's MMQB column, and the errors that I have corrected for him in the past. Since I never hear back from them thought that when I read the error in his column this week I would wait and so if someone else corrected him? No one has so far.
The error you ask? He mentions the long and distinguished career of one of my favorite players/coaches; Dick LeBeau. He states that he intercepted as a cornerback in his rookie season of '59. WRONG. The Lions claimed LeBeau off the waiver wire from Cleveland to replace retired safety Jack Christiansen—even wearing his jersey number of #24. LeBeau was a reserve safety who played mostly on special teams that season in six games, and did NOT intercept a pass that year. C'mon Peter hire a fact checker.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Ray Lewis & Brian Urlacher and the Hall of Fame

By John Turney
In two week the Hall of Fame selection committee will meet and vote on the Class of 2018. Both Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher have a chance to have the extra cachet of being first-ballot Hall of Famers.

So, how do they stack up? Below is a chart showing the parts of their careers that can be measured. Clearly, some things cannot, they are the "intangibles" that are needed to be a Hall of Famer, things such as toughness, work ethic, leadership, etc.

But other things can be measured, games, All-Pro selections, Pro Bowls, interceptions, defensive touchdowns and things like that are among them.
Here is the chart—(Click to enlarge)
Lewis seems to have quite an edge.If you compare his stat line with the bottom two lines he is ahead in most categories. The bottom two lines are the averages of all Hall of Famers and the average of the linebackers who have been first-ballot HOFers.

Urlacher, on the other hand, is almost exactly, by the numbers, the average for an NFL HOF linebacker. He comes up a little short in terms of All-Pros and other awards for a first-ballot contender. If he did get in this year it would be any kind of surprise and it would be that he's not very close to the previous numbers.

In our view, he'd be a better first-ballot selection than Jason Taylor, who got in last year on his first try. Only four previous defensive ends were first-ballot players—Reggie White, Bruce Smith, Gino Marchetti and Deacon Jones. Somehow Taylor's name does not have the gravitas of the other four. However, that ship has sailed.

Here are the statistics of both players as well.

Again, statistics are just one part of a Hall of Fame candidates "resume" if you will. The honors and awards in the first chart are another part. The "intangibles" are yet another thing that is often considered. Certainly, the "hardware" or Super Bowl/Championship rings is another factor.

Another factor is the "what they said" statements about a player or "testimonials".  These testimonials can be from opponents, teammates, coaches, general managers, etc.

Of course, these can be problematic in terms of bias. If Player A is from  "Sante Fe" and the coach of Sante Fe said "this guy is a HOFer" perhaps it is taken at somewhat of a discount. In this case, the voters have to discern the value of the "expert witness".

In some ways, it is very similar to a court of law. Vermont law has jury instructions that read as follows:
Now, I have said that you must consider all of the evidence.  This does not mean, however, that you must accept all of the evidence as true or accurate.  You are the sole judges of the credibility or “believability” of each witness, and the weight to be given to any testimony.  In weighing the testimony of a witness you should consider
·           relationship to the Plaintiff or to the Defendant;
·           interest, if any, in the outcome of the case,
·           manner of testifying;
·           opportunity to observe or acquire knowledge concerning the facts about which the witness                   testified;
·           candor, fairness and intelligence; and
·           the extent to which testimony has been supported or contradicted by other credible evidence. 
You may, in short, accept or reject the testimony of any witness in whole or in part. 

F.      Credibility of Witnesses
You must consider all of the evidence.  This does not mean that you must believe all of the evidence. It is up to you, and only you, to decide whether the testimony of a witness was reliable, as well as how much weight to give the testimony.
The following factors may help you to evaluate the testimony of witnesses:
•           did the witness have an interest in the outcome of the case?
•           how did the witness behave while testifying?
•           did the witness seem candid?
•           did the witness seem to have a bias?
•           does the other believable evidence in the case fits with the witness’s testimony, or is it                           inconsistent with it?
•           how well could the witness see or hear the facts about which he or she testified?
•           did the witness seem to have an accurate memory?
You may believe as much or as little of each witness’s testimony as you think appropriate. Keep in mind that people sometimes forget things, and sometimes they make honest mistakes.  You must decide whether an omission or a mistake is innocent or minor, or whether it is something more serious that affects the rest of their testimony.

G.      Expert Witnesses

Some witnesses testify as experts. This means that they have special knowledge, training, or experience that qualifies them to give an opinion on a certain matter. You should evaluate the opinion of an expert witness the same way you would consider any other testimony. Then, you should evaluate whether the opinion is based on the facts proved at trial and supported by their knowledge, training, or experience.

Click to enlarge:

Lewis tops the list of players on the 2018 Final 15 list and his 13 Pro Bowls really stand out. But in terms of All-Pros Steve Hutchinson, Terrell Owens and Brian Dawkins and Alan Faneca are right there with Urlacher. However, Joe Jacoby and Everson Walls are in their last yer of eligibility and there is likely sentiment to keep them from going into the Senior pool, often called the "swamp" by Hall of Fame voters.

Calais Campbell, PFWA Defensive Player of the Year—Will He Be Consensus?

By John Turney
Since 1992 there have only been three seasons in which the Associated Press (AP) Defensive Player of the year did not also win the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) award of the same name.

In those three seasons, 1993, 2010, and 2013 the AP voting was close only in 2010 when Polamalu beat Clay Matthews by two votes. 

Today the PFWA announced that Calais Campbell is the 2017 Defensive Player of the Year. Next month we will find out of he is a consensus pick since that is when the AP announces it's awards. Odds are that he will be since they winners are so often the same, but then again 2017 could be like 1993, 2010 and 2013 when the awards were split.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Side-by-Side Comparison of AP and PFWA All-Pro Teams

By John Turney
Today the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) released their annual All-NFL teams along with their All-NFC and All-AFC teams (the only organization to still select All-Conference teams). In the 1970s the Associated Press (AP), United Press International (UPI), Pro Football Weekly (PFW) and The Sporting News (TSN) all chose All-AFC and All-NFC teams. 

Last year the AP changed their format by eliminating one of their two inside linebacker positions, deleted their fullback position, added an offensive "flex" position, changed the defensive ends to "edge" player that can now include rushing linebackers and changed the defensive tackles to "interior" and added a fifth defensive back and a special teams player and added a return spot so there was one kick and one punt returner. They also broke guards into left- and right as well.

So how do the PFWA (the only All-Pro team to ever be considered "official" by the NFL) and the AP differ? Here are the selections for 2017 for both—
The only difference between the offenses is the AP selector voted for Andrew Norwell over Zack Martin at one of the guard positions.  Le'Veon Bell took the "flex" spot for the AP and the second running back slot for PFWA.

On the defensive side of the ball, the PFWA voters preferred Fletcher Cox over Cameron Heyward. Heyward is a defensive end in the Steelers 3-4 base defense and a defensive tackle in nickel/dime defenses. Both he and Calais Campbell are "sink" ends. Campbell does it from a 4-3 defense but it's the same idea, and end in base defense and then "sink" to an inside technique in likely passing situations.

Additionally, the PFWA chose one middle linebacker and two outside linebackers (who were both rush backers) while the AP poll asks for three linebackers and this year two "Mikes" were chosen and one rush backer who really was an "edge" player.

The position that is getting overlooked is outside linebacker who can play the run, cover, blitz, the "all-around linebacker". This year that would include Telvin Smith, for example. Smith had 101 tackles 3 interceptions and scored two defensive touchdowns (and got another one yesterday in the Jaguar-Steeler game)

The special teams are the same. So, which is better? Depends if you prefer two middle linebackers (Bobby Wagner and Luke Kuechly) or one. Depends if you want a 5th defensive back or not and if you want a defensive end who sinks to tackle to be "Interior" or if you'd prefer Cox who was a true defensive tackle.

And here is Pro Football Focus and our own All-Pro teams for comparison (click to enlarge)

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Stats You Need to Know - 2017 Penalties

By Nick Webster
The Seahawks offensive line is broken, We know it, you know it and Pete Carrol knows it.  How do we know it, Russell Wilson is constantly being hit, constantly being sacked and constantly scrambling for his life.  All this and yet a review of Penalties this past year shows that all this happened despite the ‘Hawks starting right tackle Germain Ifedi leading the league in Penalties.  A review of Ifedi’s season shows that he was flagged 20 times, 16 of which were accepted directly costing his team 120 yards but costing his team 189 yards in total (penalty yards plus yards nullified by his Penalties).  

How does this compare within the league? See below:
In fact, the second most flags in the league this past year were thrown against another Seahawk, Michael Bennett. Do you suppose leading the league in penalties could be the difference between the 9-7 Seahawks making the playoffs and missing them? Tied with Bennett with 15 total flags thrown is Garett Bolles the Broncos rookie left tackle from Utah and he is followed by another pass rusher on his same team, Von Miller. The highest QB on the list is Phillip Rivers who drew nine Delay of Game penalties – the Chargers really need to start getting those plays in more quickly!
The list of declined penalties reads like a list of defenders who play on the edge. Declined penalties, by their nature, tend to over-index to defenders who commit a foul on a play where the offense is still able to arrive at a positive outcome. The top offensive players on the list Taylor Lewan and Matt Kalil are typical offenders on plays where the offense still manages a negative outcome – Lewan had a habit of committing penalties on Incomplete third-down passes, for example:
One look at yards penalized and you see Cornerbacks jump up the list, no real surprise here, you throw in Pass Interference penalties of 30, 34, 35 and 38 yards against Dre Kirkpatrick and the yards stack up quickly. P.J. Williams of the Saints racked up 48 Yards on a single PI Penalty against the Rams’ Sammy Watkins in Week 12.  Of course, Ifedi shows up as the top offensive player, hard not to when 16 times you cost your team yardage.
Another interesting angle is ‘Nullified Yardage’ how many gains were negated by Penalty?  Here again, chunk plays make a big difference. League Leader Donovan Smith managed to nullify 116 yards worth of plays, but wouldn’t have even been in the Top 10 were it not for a Week 7 holding Penalty which negated a 53-yard Jameis Winston completion to DeSean Jackson. DeSean should lobby for that one back, tallying his lowest yards-per-catch total of his career at just 13.4 this season, that single reception alone would have popped the number up by a yard.
How meaningful were Penalties, the two charts below show how frequently Penalties lead directly to a first down or to a drive being ended.  The first down n table is heavily populated by cornerback’s committing pass interference and the stalled drive table is heavily populated by offensive players, typically offensive tackles and quarterbacks; our friend German Ifedi shows up again.

In total, the number of yards that a Penalty costs you is the sum of the penalized yardage and the yardage lost to the play that was negated. Your 2017 leader in Total Net Penalty Yards—German Ifedi, you are not surprised at this point are you?

Below the list of every player costing his team over 100 Yards in 2017 simply due to Penalties. This is our first opportunity to highlight a Patriot, well-coached teams simply don’t hurt themselves often.  But a Rob Gronkowski offensive pass interference penalty negated what would have otherwise been a 40-yard gain on a 2nd and 17 play against Atlanta, instead, the Pats were in a 2nd and 27 hole they could not dig themselves out of.
Lots of interesting nuggets and kernels in the 2017 Penalty stats, what’s your favorite?  As interesting as all this is, nobody can top the infamous Brandon Browner 2015 season, 24 flags thrown, 21 Penalties accepted for 207 yards and 19 first downs for Rob Ryan’s feeble Saint defense, two seasons later, Brandon is gone, Rob is gone, and the Saints are in the Playoffs.

Is Jerry Rice Still the G.O.A.T? He Thinks So.

By John Turney
Yesterday, there was a dust-up on Twitter in which Jerry Rice proclaimed his place in history (for some reason) and get some pushback from fans of Randy Moss and Terrell Owens.
Much of the mocking Rice endured was the likely misspelling of "haters" as "hatters", which is fair, but silly since Twitter has no edit button and all of us make spelling errors, me more than most.
As of this posting Rice's Tweet has over 600 responses and over 1,000 retweets and a decent number were the aforementioned Moss fan pushback and the Rice fans rebutting those Tweets. I don't know why Rice got into the ordeal in the first place (don't punch down, Jerry) but it occurred and of course, I couldn't leave it alone so I added some perspective with a couple of Tweets.

The first was this chart (click to enlarge):

It compares careers of Rice versus Owens and Moss in the categories of longevity, All-Pros, other honors, statistics, and championships. Only in yards per catch are Owens and Moss close.

The next was a more in-depth look at AP MVP votes and AP Offensive Player of the Year votes.
Antonio Brown, I suspect will surpass Moss in February when the AP Awards are announced but it really isn't close. Year-in and year-out Rice had support in this award, which is a hard thing to do.

The same is true of the AP MVP. In 1987 Rice was the runner-up in the MVP voting and he was the PFWA and NEA MVP, making him the consensus MVP of 1987, not John Elway.

Over the years there have been 127 or so votes cast for wide receivers, though some were called split ends and flankers in the 1950s and 1960s. And, with the two leagues in the 1960s the numbers skew somewhat but over 45% of all votes ever cast for a WR in the AP MVP poll went to Rice.
These things really just offer a glimpse of the impact of Rice's career. Everyone has their own "eye test" and we could see Moss was more physically talented than Rice in terms of height, speed, leaping ability. But that same eye test showed what Moss claimed was a fact, that is "I play when I want to play". Sports Illustrated's Michael Silver said recently, "Moss took seasons off" when doing a compare-and-contrast about Moss and Terrell Owens vis-à-vis the Hall of Fame. 

Even Shannon Sharpe, who is highly critical of the Hall of Fame voting committee, said, when pressed, that of those two Owens was better, but that both should be in the Hall of Fame.

How the Hall of Fame vote goes in February will be interesting. There are lots of qualified players and only five slots. Someone will get left out this year but by our research over 90% of those who make the Final 15 eventually get it the Hall of Fame. So, the question becomes who has to wait.

Moss could go either way, he is not a lock. What prevents him from being a lock is the question of:  "Is he close enough to Jerry Rice's accomplishments to warrant first-ballot consideration?" That is a subjective question and each voter will decide for themselves. 

In terms of numbers, it would seem not. About 3/4 the longevity, about 2/5 of the honors, about 3/5 of the statistics, and in terms of MVPs and Player of the Year awards and Super Bowl rings is zero percent.  Moss's highlight reel, though is comparable. And it comes to that, are wide receivers to be judged on their best plays or the entirety of their careers? 

Though Rice's highlight reel is not lacking in any way, if it is played side-by-side to Moss, it may make you wonder which player you'd rather take. But when blocking, running (Rice had 10 rushing touchdowns in his career), route-running and consistent effort are all factored in most player personnel would say Rice wins, hands down.

My only concern in this matter is if both Owens (seems like his time) and Moss get in it will, like always, exclude a lineman or a defensive back who always seem to get screwed when the glory positions take up all the oxygen in the room. So, it makes sense to hope that Owens gets in this year, Moss next year. That way, both are in, neither is "snubbed" more than other great receivers like Marvin Harrison and Jerry Rice is still the standard of the post-1978 rule change receivers. 

If a wide receiver wants to be a first-ballot guy do what Antonio Brown is doing—racking up statistics AND Player of the Year votes. I don't think voters would ever be so unreasonable as to say a player has to measure up to Rice in every way, that would be impossible. But making All-Pro more than four or five times is not impossible. Both Moss and Owens had the talent to do that but threw away too many seasons. Making more than six Pro Bowls is possible (Owens and Moss made six each).

Whatever the outcome of the Hall of Fame vote next month it is my view that this is a truism:  Jerry Rice is the G.O.A.T and it's really not even close enough for a discussion unless we are talking about different eras, historical perspective, and Don Hutson.