If you haven't discovered Advanced NFL Stats by now, you probably should. It's one of the most fascinating sites on the Web for football analysis and general think pieces. Their stats aren't perfect, of course. Football is a lot harder to analyze on a statistical level than other sports because there are very few, if any, isolated performances. Baseball has this field down to a science thanks to the sport's inherent simplicity. The pitcher throws the ball, the batter hits or doesn't hit it. It's one-on-one interaction. Easy to break down. Baseball defense is a bit more nuanced, but is still grounded in that simple one-on-one interaction. How did the fielder react to the ball in play, and what did he do with it?
Football is not so simple. There are 22 men on the field, all interacting with each other, all with their own agendas to accomplish. The DT didn't make the tackle, but did he accomplish his goal of sealing up the middle and letting the edge rushers do their jobs? The WR was credited with a dropped ball, but was it his fault, or the QB's for making a poor throw, or was it the O-Line's fault for allowing pressure to force the QB into a bad throw?
It's the most nuanced game on the planet, and looking for and spotting those nuances are part of what makes it the most beautiful game on the planet. It would be easy to not care about those, focus on the superficial, and parrot whatever the local talk radio host says and pass that off as your own opinion. But that's not my goal here at Field Gulls. I seek to rise above the whimpering masses, to encourage critical thinking, to challenge conventional wisdom.
So with that out of the way, let's look at some fun Seahawk-related stats from NFLAS:
--Matt Hasselbeck had a 0.17 WPA. For those unfamiliar with Fangraphs, WPA simply means "odds of the player improving his team's chances of winning." Matt had almost a marginal effect on his team winning. Don't put too much stock into this stat. It's fun to look at, but doesn't give much insight into talent evaluation.
--Brandon Stokley ranked second amongst WRs in Success Rate. Brian Burke defines SR as:
The proportion of plays in which a player was directly involved that would typically be considered successful. Specifically, SR is the percentage of plays resulting in positive Expected Points Added (EPA).
--Stokley was also 2nd in Catch Rate--the percentage of targeted throws a receiver caught. He's also in company with Collie, Nelson and Wes Welker. I'm sensing a trend here.
--John Carlson is at or near the bottom of nearly every Tight End category--WPA, SR, CR. We all know he was assigned to more blocking roles after Michael Robinson's injury, but this is still disheartening.
--Despite Raheem Brock's sacks, he was among the worst in the league in Tackle Factor. From Burke:
The ratio of a player’s proportion of his team’s tackles compared to what is expected at his position. For example, middle linebackers in a 4-3 typically make 11.9% of their team's tackles. A MLB who made 12.6% of his team's tackles would have a TF of 11.9/12.6 = 1.06. TF is adjusted for a full 16-game season.
Brock was 4th-worst in the league on TF. Interestingly, Dwight Freeney was the worst one. I wonder if his famed spin-attack contributed to some run-support miscues.
--The advanced stats did not like Brandon Mebane. He was among the worst DTs in WPA, and in the bottom of the pack in TF.
--All three of Pittsburgh's starting LBs are 1-2-3 on the WPA leaderboard.
--Aaron Curry has a 60.5% SR, placing him solidly in the middle of the pack, and the highest of Seattle's LBs.
I'll have a new Aaron Curry post up soon, I promise.