by Britt Schramm
“Statistics are no substitute for judgment” – Henry Clay, American Statesman
“He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lampposts-for support rather than for illumination.” – Andrew Lang, Scottish Poet and Collector of Folk/Fairy Tales
“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” – Mark Twain, American author (attributing original quote to Benjamin Disraeli)
If I can paraphrase badly the sentiment of the three wise men quoted above, statistics can be very misleading in the wrong hands. To that end, here’s an interesting comparison provided by NFL.com concerning the former and current starting QB for your AFC East Co-Leaders from Foxboro after seven games under their respective belts.
Hey, those numbers look pretty friggin comparable, I’d say. As you can see, Cassel is completing at a better percentage and for more passing yards than his predecessor; probably a result of having Moss and Welker (not a slight against the ’01 edition of Patten and Brown). Other numbers show that Matt probably still holds onto the ball way too long based not only on the fact that the number of sacks is twice as many as Brady’s but a sometime by-product of a collapsing pocket is increased rushing attempts, which is over twice of what Brady has.
To justify all of the work to get these individual stats, I think that it is necessary to delve a little deeper into these numbers to find out how statistically alike these two So Cal QBs are.
In comparable opponents (even if that is possible), Cassel was 2-2 (beating the Jets and Denver but losing to Miami and San Diego) while Brady was not real terrific going 1-3 with beating the Bolts by three points (although there should be an asterisk on the Jets game since he entered so late).
Brady saved his worse games for those losses putting up Passer Ratings of 62.9, 58.7, and 57.1 in each loss. Helping that cause was four pics and six sacks against only two TDs. Again, the seven years (and the first SB win) between this season and that one helps lessen the impact of those numbers.
Cassel also had sub-70 QB Ratings in his two losses with two INTs, eight sacks and only 1 TD. However, Cassel has something that Brady never had – a HOF player on the sidelines that everyone (especially the media) will naturally compare his game performance up against. And don’t forget about the ever-present fan expectation of winning every game. Think about that type of big-game pressure when you’re turning in your monthly TPS reports to Lumbergh.
Obviously, there are more tough games to be played in this season; especially in the next five weeks as the combined record of those opponents is .571. The major advantage to the Pats in these next five is that only one more game outside of this week’s game will be on the road. Really, if I told you back in August that the Pats would actually be 5-2 with a QB not named Brady, I’m not sure that I would be able to type anything from my straight jacket.
So, when someone mentions that Cassel is doing his best Brady imitation, you’ll know that it may sound highly blasphemous but in the proper context, it is not so profane.
Trick, No Treat for Colts Fans
What are the odds that the sole undefeated team would be out of the AFC South Division and that team would not be the one led by Archie’s middle child? And who would have bet that if not for a couple of choking dogs, those same Colts would only have one win this far into the season?
Peyton has dropped significantly since last season. In fact, at his current rate, this will be his worse season since his rookie season. His QB rating is sub 80, he has only thrown for one more TD than INT and his passing yards (padded by being behind for much of the games this season) will be his second lowest output.
And the running game is just woeful. The Colts are ranked LAST in the run with 73.4 yards per game. Of course, they haven’t had a full-strength Joseph Addai but I can think of at least one other team that has lost their first two RBs and is still running the ball decently. It’s true that the Colts view the running game as a way to distract opponents from their aerial assault but letting teams like the Lions and Arizona beat you on the ground is just pathetic.
On the defensive side of the ball, Dungy’s Cover 2 scheme is holding up nicely keeping teams at 178 yards per game which ranks 2nd in the NFL without the use of mighty mite safety Bob Sanders for most of the season. Although, really, he’s used more to stop the run, which Indy is still having major issues in preventing. So far, Indy is 26th in the league against the run (144.1 yards per game) which has led to a 33:19 time of possession for Indy’s opponents which is 28th in the NFL. Truly, I think that the wall that the Colts ran into this year has dropped on-top of them, both figuratively and literally.
So, what do the Pats need to do to beat one of their toughest rivals?
If you’re looking for a comparable game, peruse the Colts game against Jacksonville. The Jags held the ball for over 41 minutes, had two backs go for over 100 yards rushing while limiting the Colts ground game to only 19 rushing attempts and forcing Manning into throwing 2 pics. Here’s what my game plan would be:
On Offense, treat this game similar to the Denver game – use the run on the left and middle part of the field to setup short passes. Make the return of Bob Sanders a rough one. If Jordan is available, use the three-headed running attack and pound the ball in the Colts’ pie hole. Work the short pass on the outside and find the seams in the Cover 2 by using the slot receiver. Hog the ball and use the clock. Force the Colts to gamble on D and make them pay with the play action.
On Defense, do the unthinkable. Make Manning beat you by taking away the running game. Addai may be coming back but he will be spelled by Dominic Rhodes who has been averaging about 72 yards on 21 carries. By forcing the Colts to be a pass-first team, it places a ton of pressure on the struggling QB which will make him force some bad throws; hopefully, ones that will be picked off.
Next week brings the Buffalo Bills to the Razor. The Bills are enjoying an upswing the likes of they haven’t experienced since Guns N’ Roses was an actual real band instead of a solo act. Be here next week to see how the Pats should prepare for this AFC East clash.