“He is a better linebacker than that guy. Just look at the difference in tackle totals.”
“This cornerback is clearly elite. I mean look at how many interceptions he’s had over the past couple of years.”
“He’s one of the five best receivers in the league. Just look at his yards over the past three seasons.”
“I want that guy in my locker room any day of the week. He just wins.”
These statements are ones that I have heard repeated time and time again when it comes to evaluating player skill and talent. I have heard it from the experts—and I use that term loosely—on ESPN and the NFL Network. I have read it posted by individuals on various football message boards around the Internet. I have most certainly heard these arguments used on Bleacher Report.
Clearly the premier way to judge players is through objectively viewing every game possible but there are a few problems with this approach.
Although the ability now exists to watch all 256 regular season games with an Internet connection and 20 to 40 dollars it is incredibly time consuming and egregious. Additionally, the average fan would arrive at the same conclusion that a simple statistic would get them instead of thoroughly breaking down the play.
For this reason most fans rely on base statistics and Sunday Night highlight reels to arrive at their conclusion on how well a player plays.
Now it is obvious that statistics are never the be-all and end-all in regards to critiquing play but they have been elaborated further over the years. These additions to statistics—known as metrics—have managed to shed light on stats and have become more commonplace. They’re becoming so present that even some casual fans are referencing them.
Professionals such as Football Outsiders and KC Joyner have all been at the forefront of metrics since 2004 and Stats LLC has been around since 1995. These three outsources are all recognized by the league and its teams as well as various professional media outlets. As these sources are present there is no logical reason to simply look at a single statistic and run away with it.
Statistics needs to be subject to introspection and the following statistics are the biggest culprits.