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I judge you by how you play basketball

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

It sucks, but it is true. When I play basketball, I watch how you play and I judge what kind of person you are. Unfortunate but true, because I relate how I play basketball to how I live my life.

I don’t care about dunks. A dunk is fun, but it is, generally speaking, a pure gift of genetics. It is the athletic equivalent of being born with a silver spoon in your mouth.

A great assist is so much more. To make an incredible pass that allows someone else to score requires you to empathize with what your teammates are doing. It requires you to completely understand what is happening in the game, both for your teammates and your opponents. It requires preparation and thoughtfulness. And it is an act of kindness, a mitzvah. You not only made a great play for yourself and your team, you made a great play for the other player. A great passer makes other players play better. A great scorer does not make his team better, he just scores.

Anyone can be a great passer. But when you watch that video, you think, “I could not make that pass.” That is because you have not worked on your game enough. These are the greatest players in history. You have to spend time in the lab. You have to work on your game to be great. If you work, you can make that pass. If you don’t, you can’t. You can always get better at passing if you are willing to put in the time.

Don’t tell me about your 30 point game. Tell me about your triple double. You got 15 points and made 10 great passes and got 10 rebounds? Man, you were working. You got 30 points? Sounds like you shot a lot. I don’t need shooters, I need great players. If we have great players, the points will come. If we have a bunch of guys that love their own game, this is going to suck. Team-first is the only way to play and the only way to live and work.

In life and in basketball, you need to look to make a great pass.

(Keep watching that video, they slow roll you and save the top 10 passes for very late in the video.)

What is an elite quarterback?

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

tumblr_kuy6a1knoo1qz8lvoo1_500Here in the greater Baltimore/DC area, after the big Super Bowl victory, everyone is debating whether Joe Flacco is an elite quarterback. The argument goes something like this:

Joe Flacco is 9-5 in the playoffs. Tom Brady is 9-11 in the playoffs. Peyton Manning has never won 9 playoff games. Neither has Drew Brees.

Joe has won a Super Bowl, he has won a Super Bowl MVP award.

Ipso Facto: Joe Flacco > Tom Brady > Peyton Manning > Drew Brees > all

Joe Flacco is elite and he is a free agent. He should be paid $20m per year.

The counter argument tends to revolve around how he has never thrown 30 touchdowns in a season. Or how he has never thrown for more than 4,000 yards. His advocates say this is because of the offense. His detractors say the offense is geared to hide his shortcomings.

I believe these arguments stare down the wrong problem. This is much like being in business. The best programmers think different. The best CEOs think different. The yardstick is relevant, but there is other stuff also.

The reason that people do not talk about Joe in the same way that they talk about those guys is not 100% a function of winning or touchdowns. It is intangible. It is Jerry Maguire action:

What Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees have is that they are the unquestioned leaders of their teams. When they switch teams (like Peyton and Drew did), they instantly, INSTANTLY, became the unquestioned leader of their new team. They set the standard, they drive the organization, and they are the tone of the business. You get in line. When they tell everyone to run into a brick wall, people run. BAM.

Joe has never had that role. Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are the leaders of the Ravens. They are real deal elite leaders. If they went somewhere else, they would be the leader there. Joe is not. It seems likely, that with the retirement of Ray Lewis, Joe will have the chance to step into that role. Ben Roethlisberger had the same challenge. The Steelers did not become his team until Jerome Bettis retired. His first few years were filled with many, many wins but not gaudy stats. Even today his stats are not insane, but most people agree that he is a Top 10 quarterback in the league.

Joe Flacco can make that next step as well. His ability to do that will define whether he takes the next step in becoming an elite quarterback.

What Total Disaster Looks Like or The Philadelphia Eagles

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

I thought someone should write an article saying that Andy Reid should not be fired and I thought that someone should be me. I am not saying that he won’t be fired (he will), but I do think most of this mess is not Andy Reid’s fault. Let’s talk about it:

Everyone universally agrees that Andy Reid is the best coach the Eagles have ever had. This is true in spite of the fact that he may be one of the worst game day coaches in the league. For these two things to be true, Andy Reid must be one of the best “during the week” coaches in the league. And I do believe that is true.

Andy’s strengths are worth enumerating:

  • He is a remarkable developer of QB talent. Donovan McNabb is a middling talent (more on that in a moment) that looked like a superstar to third parties (thank you Dan Snyder!). He made other teams think that players like Bubby Brister, AJ Feeley and Kevin Kolb were not just legitimate starting QBs in the NFL, but guys who should get PAID. He made Michael Vick play in a system. There are probably only 4 or 5 other coaches in the league capable of doing that. This is a fundamental “working with guys during the week” talent that should not be discounted and is not easily replaced.
  • Any Eagles fan will tell you that Donovan had a mechanical issue that caused him to go for weeks throwing the ball into the dirt 5 yards in front of the receiver every play. Yet he went to 6 Pro Bowls because Andy Reid put him (along with all those other guys) in a system where he could be successful.
  • Speaking of which, Andy was a man ahead of his time in recognizing the transition of the game from a balanced offense to one that threw all the time. Of course, he then proceeded to fail to take advantage of great running backs, but there you go.
  • Andy actually gave in and acknowledged that he is a terrible, terrible play caller and turned play calling duty over to his offensive coordinator. That takes a strong man. That is called turning a weakness into a strength.
  • I think the even keel is good. Never too high, never too low. For a coach to have a long tenure, that is difficult.
  • Great manager of personalities (with the exception of TO): Few coaches could bench their starter every 6 or 7 weeks for a few games (A necessity to let Donovan McNabb work out his mechanical flaws) and still keep the team and keep his QB mentally intact.

Now let’s look for a moment at the things that have gone wrong this season:

  • The offense is terrible. But the answer is not remotely to fire the offensive coordinator. It is not his fault. The real fault lies with injury, the lurking menace to every NFL team. Think about this: 2 years ago the Eagles had 5 offensive players go to the Pro Bowl as starters or first alternates:
    • Michael Vick – injured most of this season
    • DeSean Jackson – injured most of this season
    • LeSean McCoy – knocked into next week two weeks ago
    • Todd Herremans – injured most of this season
    • Jason Peters – injured for the entire season

Jason Kelce, starting center and OL signal caller is out as well. Think about that. A team that 2 years ago had 5 pro bowlers on offense, last night played with less than half of their “starters” and none of their “good players”. If I told you a team could lose the 6 best players on their offense and still score 30 points, you would find that utterly amazing. It is amazing they score any points at all.

A team cannot be very good without 3 offensive linemen, a pro bowl quarterback, a pro bowl WR, and a pro bowl RB. Take Gronkowski, Welker, Brady, and three offensive linemen off the Patriots and see how good they are. Take Schaub, Johnson, Foster, and half the offensive line off the Texans and see how they play.

  • The defense is terrible. But let’s be frank, the defense has been terrible since Jimmy Johnson died. Johnson was a brilliant defensive mind who always got the most out of his talent. Defense relies hugely on scheme and having a great schemer is critical. Imagine Pittsburgh without Dick LeBeau. Andy Reid has tried desperately to replace Johnson and has failed. I must admit, I liked the idea of bringing in Washburn and trying Wide 9. We needed an innovator and Andy Reid was going to let Washburn bring that innovation to the defense channeling it through his administrator Castillo. It turns out lots of defensive line schemes work when you have Albert Haynesworth and he is motivated. Washburn is not the guy. Asomugha had lost a step. Brutal defensive breakdowns. I credit Andy for trying to fix the airplane in mid-flight rather than just playing out the string, it is a shame that it was already crashing.

Now let’s talk about the bigger picture:

  • The Quarterback position has gone terribly wrong: I don’t blame Andy for this, he played the hand he was dealt. Think about it: Vick was the backup to McNabb and Kolb. He traded McNabb when McNabb had no gas left in the tank (right decision), thinking Kolb would take over (wrong decision) and planning to have Vick back him up because Vick was not good enough (mechanical problems). He quickly realized Kolb would not cut it and gave Vick a chance and Vick succeeded beyond his wildest expectations. Now maybe I am projecting because I was never really a Vick believer, but I assume Andy was not either yet said, “What am I going to do, the guy is playing like an MVP, I can’t take him out.” You get to the end of the season and you can’t trade your MVP-caliber QB. Particularly given that you have no alternative. If you traded him and started Kolb, you are an idiot and you are fired, so Reid does the only thing he can do: Sign Vick to some big dollars and then have Vick disappoint him again and again. The only thing that would have made all this better is drafting someone besides Kolb. Sadly, the 2007 draft was one of the worst QB drafts ever. Kolb was actually the best QB in the draft. Alternatives include: JaMarcus Russel, Drew Stanton, Troy Smith, and Brady Quinn. So Reid recognized that it was time to draft the future, picked the best QB available, he just turned out to stink.
  • Needed to find that new defensive coordinator. It is hard. It is as hard as finding a coach better than Andy Reid will be. There is an element of magical luck to the equation and he never struck gold.
  • Namdi Asomugha: It turns out that was a reach for a corner that had lost a step. But Jimmy Johnson had always believed in having great corners so you could blitz and feel good. Think about the corners they had: Troy Vincent, Bobby Taylor, Lito Shephard, Asante Samuel: That is a lot of pro bowls. Lock down corners simplify the defense and you want as many as you can get. Almost no one thought this was a bad pick up. No one had thrown a ball at Asomugha in years. Tough break for Andy, hard to hold him responsible.

Does this sound like a coach that deserves to be fired? What is amazing is it seems like he has not lost his team despite an 8 game losing streak and an unrecognizable offensive line-up week to week. They come out and fight hard every week in spite of this awfulness.

Great job, Andy. It is hard to imagine the next Eagles coach could do better in similar circumstances. But I will predict this: With a health offensive line (particularly Jason Peters, a top 5 NFL lineman last year) and a healthy LeSean McCoy, I bet that the next guy could win more games pretty easily – he just has to pick a better defensive coordinator.

Eagles Game 1 Review

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

Reviewed the game tape of the Eagles game. Couple of observations:

1) Vick made terrible decisions, but that was not all: I hate the mechanics. 2 years ago it seemed like Reid had beaten the sidearm out of him. Now he only shows good mechanics when he is throwing deep.

2) Eagles O-line played terrible. Bad decisions and picks are inevitable with such poor protection. Jason Kelce and King Dunlap played terrible. Team really missed Jason Peters. Big, big problem.

3) Joe Thomas is a man. He stone-walled Trent Cole.

4) LeSean McCoy looked like the best RB in football. Typical Andy Reid terrible play-calling that he did not put it in his hands more. Eagles sprint draw may be best play in football today. Bummer that they could not run behind the left side of Mathis and Peters.

5) Demeco Ryans played great. The rest of the Eagles linebackers played terrible in coverage.

You need two #1 receivers

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

It’s been a while since we had an irrelevant post, but here we go:

In today’s modern NFL offenses, for a team to really tear it up, you need two #1 receivers.

It used to be that you had a #1 and you had a #2. But then, you rarely had more than two receivers on the field at any one time. Now, with potentially 5 receivers lining up, you need more receiver talent to make a team super awesome. If you look at the trend in the NFL, it is very much towards acquiring a critical mass of receiving talent. Cases in point:

  • Jets have Braylon Edwards and go get Santonio Holmes
  • Patriots had Wes Welker and Randy Moss
  • Eagles have DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin
  • Falcons have Roddy White and draft Julio Jones
  • Ravens have Anquan Boldin and go get Lee Evans (then Buffalo’s #1)
  • Cowboys have Miles Austin and Roy Williams and go draft Dez Bryant
  • Steelers have Hines Ward and Mike Wallace
A lot of teams are stockpiling receiving talent because the spread offenses that everyone is running requires a lot of options and as defenses increasingly go 3-4 and stockpile nickel and dime backs, it is not enough to think that you will have an open guy when they swing coverage to your #1 receiver – you need guys that have to be bracketed on both sides to open up the middle of the field.


Football Strategy and The Things You Don’t See

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

I have blogged a little in the past about football. Here is some more.

I think about football a lot:

  1. Great business idea: A DVD sold on late night infomercials that teach random men to read defenses. I think people want to geek out more when they watch football. The prevalence of “man-caves” speaks to how men want to focus and concentrate when they watch football. Reading defenses and offenses better plays right into this interest. If you know a famous ex-football player (preferably a Hall of Fame Quarterback), please contact me.
  2. I have proposed a Baltimore Ignite presentation several times on reading defenses in Madden and running the spread offense.

Let me pay tribute to Tuesday Morning Quarterback. Many of my theories regarding football are formed as I learn from the pied piper of actually thinking about what is happening, Gregg Easterbrook. Best football weekly update you will read.

Anyway, a couple of formative concepts that I want to pass along:

  1. Great assistant coaches are worth their weight in gold. Kansas City was terrible last year. The only significant thing they changed this year was that the head coach (on the chopping block last year, coach of the year candidate this year) fired his offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator and brought in Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel. Who are those guys? The guys that were the offensive and defensive coordinators for the Patriots during their first few Super Bowl runs with Tom Brady. Instantly, the offense and defense are more disciplined and better prepared and winning games left and right.
  2. Josh McDaniels just got canned for being a terrible head coach. The guy that hires him as an offensive coordinator will do well. Prior to being head coach for the Bronco’s, he was the Offensive Coordinator for the Patriots during their 16-0 regular season and I loved his play-calling and schemes. He will bring success to a lucky team that snags him quickly.
  3. The most important thing you can do as a head coach is get your Coordinator’s right and solve your QB problem. More coaches get fired for not being able to solve the QB problem than any other reason.
  4. People do not go for it on 4th down nearly enough. This is something that Easterbrook goes after all the time. Let me quote:
  5. Carolina, at 2-12 the league’s worst team, reached the Steelers’ 32 on its first possession — and punted. Who cares if it was fourth-and-5? Who cares if it was fourth-and-32? A 2-12 team punts from the opposition’s 32? The Panthers might as well have run up the white flag right there and left to get blueberry-almond martinis. The punt boomed into the end zone for a net of 12 yards in field position, and I don’t even need to tell you who won the game.

    Basically, if it is 4th and less than 3 and you are past your 40 yard line, I think if you can’t kick a field goal you have to go for it. Show faith in your offense. Show faith in your defense. If you don’t think you can get 2 yards when you need it, do you think you can beat this team?

    Also, if you know on 3rd down that you are going for it on 4th, that opens up your playbook. You are in four down territory all the time.

  6. More hurry up football. Defenses hate this. They love rotating people. Spread the field and snap the ball quickly.
  7. You need to run two trick plays per game. Ken Whisenhunt was great at this when he coached the Steelers. You need to try two trick plays every game. Even if the other team knows you are going to run two trick plays in the game, it is incredibly mentally taxing on the defense when you do it. Flea flickers, reverses, reverse passes, fake field goals, designed roll-outs and bootlegs, option plays, weird direct snaps, all that stuff. I like reverse passes a lot, because I think if you are going to run a trick play, it has to be a shot. Flea flickers rarely seem to work, but the reverse pass seems to be consistently effective – I think that is because the defense on that side feels the need to come up to stop the run, allowing people to get behind them. Flea flickers pull up the safety, but cornerbacks on the edge of the play will typically simply stay with the receivers, making it a hard play to work.
  8. You need to throw deep and throw on first downs. Unimaginative offenses run the ball on first down consistently. This is incredibly predictable. You need to get the defense out of situations they are used to and into situations that you are used to. Similarly, you need to push the safeties back and that means show them that you are unafraid to throw over the top.

NFL Division Rivalries 101

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

A quick post for all the dad’s and/or husbands in need of help out there.

My kids wanted to better understand division rivalries in the NFL, but they can’t read (3/4 years old). So I built a handy, dandy graphical chart that you can share with your children.

A Handy Dandy NFL Division Rivalries Chart

It is hosted on github, so feel free to fork it and make this chart more useful. My kids have studied this chart every day for weeks. Within days your kids can also know their divisional rivals.


Fantasy Football Opinions and Online Marketing

Monday, September 6th, 2010

This post is going to be crazy because I am going to deep dive on fantasy football draft strategy and, in tribute to my loyal fan base, which is no doubt sick of this new football thread, include a reference or two to online marketing. It is going to be sick!

Let’s get started.  Most people doing fantasy drafts simply make a list of who they think the best players in the league are and bang, bang, bang, draft.

Let’s call that “Old school media planning strategy”.  Or let’s call it “People who evaluate campaigns based on CTR“. Or “people who don’t love math”.  Or “people who suck!”  Or “me”, most years.

Anyway, here is what I think you are supposed to do.  First, recognize that there is data and there are algorithms.  Algorithms take data and tell you what you should do, hopefully.  If you feel as though what the algorithm is telling you to do is wrong, the problem could be that the algorithm is bad or the problem could be that the data is bad.  Figuring this out is absolutely critical.

There are three algorithms in fantasy football draft strategy, one of which is simple and perfect, one being the most interesting algorithmic challenge, and one being shear poker madness.  Here is the model I use when I think about optimizing the fantasy football draft process:

The algorithm that works right every time is the middle algorithm: Given an accurate prediction of future player performance and an understanding of the scoring rules for your fantasy league, you can predict with absolute accuracy the scoring of other players.  Simple.  The problem is everywhere else.  Let us walk through the process sequentially.

The first thing we want to do is generate a prediction of how each player will perform in an upcoming year.  The best indicator we have of this is past performance, however much like your favorite mutual funds, past performance is no guarantee of future success.  Everyone who is remotely familiar or unfamiliar with sports recognizes this, so there is a degree of guesswork and other “psuedo-algorithms” injected into this process.  One could take average performance over the last several years, the age of the player, and an algorithm that compares past performance over time to performance of other players at the position at a similar age to model performance in the upcoming year, plus you are really high on this rookie running back.  But the point is that you want to model what you think they will do on the field next year.  Not “where I think they should be in my fantasy rankings”.  If you think Player X should be above Player Y in your rankings, you clearly think that Player X will have better statistical production than Player Y.  If not, you are doing yourself a grave disservice.  My point is that you don’t simply bump someone up in your fantasy rankings.  What you do is model how their actual production will actually be different then run it through the algorithm to generate your fantasy rankings.  Change their predicted production, not their ranking.  Post algorithm “manipulation” indicates a flaw in an early step in the process that should be addressed at its root.  So we take a bunch of data and generate a prediction of how each player will perform in the upcoming year.  Then we apply league scoring rules to determine how many points each player will score that year.

A lot of fantasy football players would stop there.  If you had a list that showed with absolute certainty how many points each player would score, you might think you would be in pretty good shape for your fantasy draft, but you can go further. A really excellent model then arbitrages the players, positions and league. What you would like to do is generate a model that arbitrages the value of players against each other. Let me give you a simple but preposterous example: You are in a 5 team league.  You know with absolute certainty the point production of a variety of players and you are in a league that only allows you to start 2 players each week: A QB and a RB.  You have the first pick in the draft and the highest scoring player in the league this year will be a QB. Simple, you pick the QB, right?  Wrong.  By analyzing the relative strength of each position, you realize that the top 10 QBs all score with 10 points of each other, yet the #1 RB scores 50 points more than the #2 RB.  Knowing this, you realize that the relative value of the #1 RB is much higher than the relative value of any other RB in the draft (or league).  Selecting this RB will ensure your fantasy victory this year because having the #9 QB (The last pick of the second round, worst case scenario) is not significantly different than the #1 QB.  The arbitrage opportunity is typically more subtle (After the top 3 QBs, the next 6 QBs are basically the same), but identifying the relative value of players is critical to successful drafts.  Recognizing where the “cliffs” are is key.

You may need to amp this model up by modeling production in the last weeks of the season (when fantasy playoffs are likely) and considering the impact (resting players, WRs vs. Darrell Revis, etc.) and factor in the draft tendencies of other players (True story: I drafted Tony Romo in the third round last year just to trade him to a guy that loved Tony Romo – the result: I got a Top 20 player for a Top 30 player.).  This is the poker part of the equation.  Knowing your cards and the cards on the table are one thing, reading other players counts for a lot – The #1 defense is worth a lot more than the #2 defense, but how long can you afford to wait to grab that defense?

This same logic is critical in online advertising.  Recognizing the effective cost of media is huge, but identifying the best opportunities to exploit media value is how you take it to the next level.

Football Strategy Dissected

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Every couple of months I veer wildly off-topic to indulge my personal interests (nee the “Basketball category” on this blog.

I want to break down a few of my personal theories on football and how they relate to some more commonly held football beliefs.

Let’s start with this tenet: The goal of the defense is to put mental pressure on the offense.  If the defense puts the offense, and particularly the quarterback, out of sorts, they probably win.  The quarterback that is hating life the most is probably going to lose.

For the purpose of this discussion, I want to focus on the passing game.  If the defense is too weak to stop the run, the quarterback never throws, is never out of sorts, and they win.  Stopping the run is assumed.  People that can’t stop the run lose every time.

So anyway, mental pressure usually comes from pressure rushing the quarterback.  Pressure arrives in one of two ways:

  • A great defensive line
  • Blitzing

A great example of “great defensive line” was the NY Giants the year they defeated the previously unbeaten Patriots in the Superbowl.  Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, and Michael Strahan were all absolute superstars that could not be blocked one-on-one, they would rush 4 guys, and to double team all three of those guys and block effectively would have taken 7 blockers ((3*2)+1), more than the Patriots kept in with their spread offense, and the result was that Tom Brady was discombobulated the entire game as he constantly felt the heat.

This is why Right End is the highest paid player on most defensive teams.  If the defensive line can generate this kind of pressure without a blitz, it makes everyone’s life easier.  That guy, creating that pressure, is worth his weight in gold.  Conversely, this is why everyone talks about the Left Tackle and how much Left Tackle’s make.  If a Left Tackle keeps a QB from being scared that someone he can’t see is about to hit him, then a QB doesn’t feel pressure.  A great LT is the single biggest thing a team can do to help a QB feel secure.

Finally, relative to other things that I will discuss in a moment, great defensive linemen help stop the run.  Which, as we discussed, is a preliminary criteria to play the game.

Most people don’t have enough talent on the defensive line to be able to harass the quarterback with just a few men rushing.  The result is that many people blitz to create pressure.  Defenses that blitz to create pressure rely on another key player (and this is my area of unique contribution to football schools of thought finally make their appearance): The Cornerback.

Cornerbacks are the defensive backs whose primary area of responsibility is covering wide receivers.  In a defense predicated on the blitz, the ability to single cover wide receivers, even the best wide receivers, gives a defense unparalleled flexibility in where they bring the heat and how much heat they bring.  If you look at the most successful blitzing defenses, you will find teams that value good cover corners:  The Philadelphia hey-day under Jimmy Johnson features a slew of Pro Bowl corners: Troy Vincent, Bobby Taylor, Lito Sheppard, Sheldon Brown, Asante Samuel.  They were never without two superstar corners.  With those corners, they could blitz from all over the field, including bringing Brian Dawkins, the free safety, down into the box for blitzing and run support.

The Jets defense last year keyed off of Revis Island.  Rex Ryan simply never had to game plan for changing coverage to account for great receivers.  He put them on the island and then felt free to go back to blitzing the QB with all the other players.

Without great cornerbacks, a defense needs to drop safeties back to protect over the top.  Once you drop safeties back, you are more vulnerable to the run.  Furthermore, now the flats and middle of the field are less defended, so you need your linebackers to keep an eye out for the tight end and running backs.  You have fewer players to man up with the safeties supporting the corners.  Now you can only blitz one or two guys or risk leaving people wide open in the middle of the field.

Pressure comes from great corners!  Take that to the bank.

Universal Theory of Wide Receivers Are Jerks

Friday, September 11th, 2009

terrell-owens_featureOne theory I share with people frequently is my universal theory of wide receivers are jerks.  Let me talk football for just a second and share this with you.

Maybe you have noticed, but #1 wide receivers in the NFL are basically a bunch of jerks:

  • Randy Moss
  • Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson
  • Terrell Owens
  • Brandon Marshall
  • Plaxico Burress
  • Braylon Edwards
  • Steve Smith

The list goes on.  Why are they such a bunch of jerks?  I will tell you know, there is basically no way to avoid it.  My theory works something like this:

  • Pro-Bowl caliber #1 Wide Receivers are frequently the best athlete on the team.  They are in amazing shape.  Strong to fight off cornerbacks, blazing fast, usually tall, great leaping ability, amazing hand-eye coordination.
  • The typical NFL team hands the ball to a running back 20+ times per game.
  • The typical NFL team throws the ball around 35 times a game.
  • During those 35 throws, the opposing team frequently focuses on defending the Pro-Bowl caliber #1 Wide Receiver, resulting in a relatively even distribution of throws: So maybe 10 throws per game go to the Wide Receiver in question.
  • Of those throws, maybe 7 or 8 are catch-able, resulting in 6 or 7 receptions.  The same typically holds true for the #2 Wide Receiver and TE, who each have 4 to 7 catches in the game.

The result is that a #1 Wide Receiver looks around after the game and says, “Wait a sec, I am better than that Running Back and he got the ball 25 times tonight.  I got it 6 times!  I am way better than that other receiver and I only got the ball one more time than he did.  That is crazy.  I need to get the ball more.  A lot more!

Bottom-line, he will never get the ball as much as he deserves.  It simply isn’t possible to get it in a receivers hands 18+ times per game, even if he deserves it.  The result is that the team and the receiver are actually, at some level, legitimately being short-changed.  Unfortunately, there is little that can be done about it in a modern NFL offense.

Typically, a pro-bowl all-world wide receiver like the people mentioned above have felt like this for years: 4 years of college, several years of the pro’s before becoming all-world when they still felt better than their team peer group.  So they have been getting fewer touches than they deserve for YEARS.  So they eventually act out.

Inevitably, your awesome #1 Wide Receiver will probably become a jerk.