Wednesday, January 27, 2010

So Close, Yet So Far

My heart is still broken over the Vikings loss to the Saints on Sunday. I remember feeling the same way 11 years ago. It's so crazy how much this season felt just like the 98 season. Both teams were so amazing that I thought that there wasn't any way they wouldn't make it to the Super Bowl. Both seasons the Super Bowl is held in Miami. Both years we lose the NFC Championship in overtime. It's almost haunting.

I remember how much fun the 1998 team was to watch. Randy Moss was incredible and their offense was just ridiculous. Nobody could keep up with them. They seemed unstoppable until they lost to the Falcons in the NFC Championship. After that season I never really felt as confident about a Vikings team until this year. They put themselves back in contention when they got Brett Favre. People were skeptical and questioned whether or not he could stay healthy. They called him an old man and nothing more than an interception machine. Favre had more than enough gas in the tank and had a career year. He threw 33 touchdown passes and just 7 interceptions in the regular season. He also led the Vikes to a 12-4 record and a division championship. Brett Favre was the perfect fit for the Vikings.

The game on Sunday broke my heart. Not just because the Vikings lost but because I know that Brett Favre may not be back next season. And if that's the case, I'd like to say thank you, Brett. You didn't get us our Super Bowl, but you sure gave us one hell of a season.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Revis Robbed of DPOY

Today, Charles Woodson was announced as the defensive player of the year. This is similar to Malone winning the MVP over Jordan in 1997, although on a lesser stage. I have watched a handful of packers and jets games this year, and although Woodson is probably the second best corner in football he can't hold a candle to Revis's talents. The voters couldn't have been more wrong. It's not even close.
The toughest play for a cornerback to stop is a quick slant and/or pump-n-go. I can't count on two hands how many times I saw Revis break BEFORE the receiver on a quick slant and pick it off or knock it down. So what does the QB to counter that? Pump-n-go of course. But that doesn 't work against him either, and the only explanation I have for that is Revis can either read the quarterback's mind, he has the receiver telling him the play, or he is just that good. A talent at the cornerback position the league has never before seen.

When the Jets played the Falcons this exact point was illustrated. On the first play of the game Roddy White (pro bowl receiver) ran a fade on Revis. Revis had better position than White and would have intercepted it if not for White dragging Revis to the ground for an offensive interference penalty. Next possession: White runs a quick slant on Revis, Revis breaks on it and drops an interception. So the pump-n-go is coming right? In the second half they run the pump-N-go. Revis, waiting for it, drops another interception. When receivers Revis is guarding are open it's only because he wants the quarterback to THINK they are open.
Combine his ridiculous shutdown skills with good open field tackling and you have the best cornerback and best defensive player in the league. Let's compare what STATS, INC calls the burn percentage from Revis to Woodson. How many times a receiver has caught the ball a defender was guarding compared to how many times it was thrown at that defender. Isn't a cornerback stopping throws to a receiver that corner is guarding the most important stat for that position?Although INT's are important they can also be skewed (tipped balls, horrible throws, receiver ran wrong route, etc) and are not as telling of a statistic. The top 6 for the burned percentage look like this:

Darrell Revis, Jets 37.0
Jabari Greer, Saints 37.9
Dwight Lowery, Jets 40.7
Drayton Florence, Bills 45.3
Leon Hall, Bengals 45.5
Lito Sheppard, Jets 45.6
Where does Woodson rank? A respectable 47.6 percent but not even in the top half dozen.
So comparing the two the numbers look like this:
REVIS: Thrown at 108 times, 40 receptions (37 Percent) for 439 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Woodson: Thrown at 84 times, 40 receptions (47.6 percent) for 560 yards and 6 touchdowns.
I know voting is done before the playoffs, but look what Larry Fitzgerald did to Woodson last week: 6 catches, 82 yards, 2 td's. Then look what Revis did to Ochocinco: 2 catches, 28 yards 0 td's. Point proved. In the regular season Revis consistently played against better receivers and quarterbacks than Woodson (if you don't believe me look at their schedules) and none of those receivers had good or even decent games against him. If Woodson is so valuable, how does Brett Favre (twice) and Roethlisberger throw all over the packers? And if it's because they threw away from him (not always), then is he really that valuable in the first place? Roethlisberger threw for 503 yards! Somehow I don't see that happening if Revis is playing instead of Woodson that game.

The only thing he hasn't done better than Woodson is interceptions. Woodson had 9 and Revis had 6. But Revis also dropped a ridiculous amount of INT's (I counted 6 in 3 games I saw). While catching an interception can be part of the position it isn't the most important part. You will hear arguments that Woodson is a better overall player because he had more forced fumbles, sacks, INT's, blah, blah, blah. All of it is just an excuse to vote for the guy with the most INT's while the most important part of the position and defense is not to let the other team score. The Jets did that better than any other team and Revis did that BY FAR better than Woodson making him the defensive player of the year. He took away the team's best receiver week in and week out, and while Woodson was also good he wasn't also deserving. Voters, please don't tell me you voted for Woodson because of a few more INT's and sacks.

Revis got robbed.