When evaluating NFL prospects, number crunching happens. It just does. Potential NFLers make and lose money - based on their performance in college - before ever playing professionally. Former Giants QB and current CBS sportscaster Phil Simms has a problem with that. He had this to say yesterday:
[Blaine Gabbert's 44 percent completion percentage on 3rd down] means nothing. I could not care less. My face gets red thinking about that stat. WHO CARES! Well get him out of there on 3rd down! Keep him in on 1st and 2nd down! You’re not drafting his college coach or his college team. You’re drafting Blaine Gabbert. These numbers … why do I need numbers? I’m going to let my eyes tell me the truth.
The stat guys are idiots. I mean it very strongly … Believe what your eye tells you. I have never looked at one QB ever on tape through all the years and then when it’s done, I have never even thought, ‘what were his numbers?’ I never have. It has never even crossed my mind.
Really don't understand statphobia. And definitely don't understand this obsession with "trusting your eyes." Remember Trent Dilfer's illogical and erratic Falcons-bashing last year? If you don't coach professionally (or at least at the high school level), then more often than not, believing what your eyes tell you 100 percent of the time is ill-advised.
Don't get me wrong, game film and what you can discern with your naked eye are irreplaceable. But tangibles - statistical or otherwise - ground us in reality. They have a role to play. GMs won't (or shouldn't) draft Prospect X because he has a motor and racked up 9 sacks as a senior. Because if Prospect X plays in a mediocre conference and faced very little NFL worthy competition, all while sucking against the run, then you need to look elsewhere, unless you like wasting money. Same analysis applies in free agency.
I think statphobics generally believe stat geeks are trying to change the game in some respect. Not the case. It's about looking at the game from a different angle, maybe even understanding it better. To be fair, it is shaky ground. Chester Taylor had the worst DVOA (-31.2 percent) among RBs with at least 100 carries last year. Put him on the best team in the league and there's no reason he can't be Super Bowl MVP. It could happen. But his 2010 DVOA tells us he wasn't very efficient last year, meaning it is unlikely to actually happen. Is that why a GM won't sign him? Probably not. Any decent GM could deduce that he's no longer an elite RB anyway. For us observers though, the ones who don't coach or manage NFL personnel professionally, it exposes that which might otherwise go unnoticed.
End of rant.