Air Yards 2: Attack of QBR
When last we left the saga of Brave Philly Twitter vs. The Monstrous Football Stat Heads, Scott Kacsmar and Cian Fahey were using the Air Yards stat to proclaim that Carson Wentz was nothing more than a dumpster baby and that everyone was wrong to say he was good. As it turns out, fucking that chicken is not bad, but good for at least Kacsmar; Fahey blocked me on Twitter, so I really have no need to pursue what that guy has to say (HM NOVEL CONCEPT, CERTAIN WRESTLING TWITTER PERSONALITIES). But of course, it’s not surprising to see Kacsmar still beating the drum, partially because Wentz has regressed from a hot, three-game start, but also because he shares some of the same qualities as baseball statheads from the last decade, whose desire to be right above all else gave them the intrepid power to ignore when to take the L on par with the pigheaded traditionalists with whom they were at war.
But TH, you might say, shouldn’t Philly Twitter be the ones taking the L here? Wentz isn’t the second coming of Joe Montana, which may have been the vibe that the group of fans gave off. That being said, Philly Twitter, outside of a select few like the always sharp Hegelbon is known for overreacting because for the most part, we’re all fans, not supposed statheads like Kacsmar. And even so, Wentz isn’t necessarily playing bad even if the stats don’t show it. Sure, Dak Prescott is putting up numbers, which any good quarterback should be with the gifts surrounding him. He’s obviously an improvement over the Cowboys’ random QB soup from last year from after Tony Romo got the Batman/Bane treatment on two separate occasions (once on Thanksgiving, for crying out loud).
Wentz, for the lumps he’s taking, is showing signs of progress even without the numbers, which is to be expected when his best receiver is a tiny third down back who’s been in the NFL for over a decade now (and who also got hurt in the Eagles’ most recent game, a 26–15 loss to the Seattle Seahawks) and when his two best linemen are an ancient dude who keeps getting hurt and a dude currently suspended who’s one more PED violation from sitting out a whole year. Regardless, he’s still throwing some darts, both deep and intermediate. Whether his receivers catch them or not is another question. He’s learning to throw balls away rather than take avoidable, backbreaking sacks. But of course, none of that matters as much as Prescott throwing a fucking Gatorade cup away. Despite playing for the Cowboys, he’s a likable chap, but man if the media isn’t making me want to hate him for reasons he’s not responsible for. But I digress.
I hate playing the “what if” game with players and teams, but imagine if Wentz played behind the Cowboys’ line, which not only is good on its own but also gets away with a shitload of holding calls, and had Dez goddamn Bryant as his top receiver. Would Wentz’s stats catch up with the progress he’s made? Well, it is in this arena where Kacsmar is swooping in to do his best Lee Corso impersonation and say “NOT SO FAST, MY FRIEND.” Apparently, it’s the quarterback who makes the wide receivers look good:
Firstly, it’s pretty rich to cite Prescott as the reason why Cole Beasley, whose reputation as an annoying slot guy preceded this year with shit QBs like Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel and not the presence of Bryant, but that’s not the point of calling this out. Even richer than using this to slobber Prescott or even worse, blaming Wentz for putting balls between the numbers and guys like Matthews or Zach Ertz or Nelson Agholor inexplicably dropping them. It’s that Kacsmar loves using the air yard stat as a crutch to say that a quarterback is good or bad independent of anyone else, and now want to use receiver DVOA as evidence that football is indeed a team game.
Get. All. The. Way. The. Fuck. Outta. Here.
You can’t have things both ways, especially when you claim that your insight into football or anything is superior because FORMULAE and then turn around with this kind of intellectual dishonesty. But then again, why would you expect intellectual honesty from someone who believes… TOTAL QBR?!?!? (despite not knowing exactly what goes into it)
Total QBR. This stat was invented by ESPN in order to market Tim Tebow. Plain and simple. Tebow is a garbage quarterback who put up garbage numbers and has one throw to his name in the NFL that looked like more than dogshit. It happened to be a strike to Demariyus Thomas that won a playoff game, but a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in awhile. That Broncos team won in spite of Tebow, thanks to lockdown defense and a shitpile of luck. But ESPN needed a metric to make him look good.
So basically, Kacsmar has fully embraced his troll narrator voice by taking the ultimate troll stat and using it to bolster what is probably a deeply held confirmation bias before Draft Day. Wentz wasn’t as good a prospect as Jared Goff, or according to some, even fucking Vernon Adams, so anything good that he does is an illusion, even if one has to resort to bullshit interpretations of real stats like air yards or even moronic pseudo-stats used to prop up the ultimate example of a dude born on third thinking he got a triple.
And of course Kacsmar thought he was serving out crow when Wentz and the Eagles on the whole had their worst game of the year by far (a game they only lost by 11 points, not bad considering teams like, say, the Packers let up 40+ points and lost by an average of 20 points in consecutive weeks). Except for the fact that the Seahawks, despite having a worse record than the Cowboys, are probably the best team in the NFL. Playing AT Seattle is a tall task for a veteran quarterback on a good team, let alone a rookie with absolutely no weapons at his disposal. One would think that someone who leans hard on statistics might know something about sample sizes or mitigating or aggravating circumstances.
But Kacsmar proves time and time again that he’s just a wannabe pundit with bigger confirmation bias than the Sun. I don’t know why I, or even the rest of Philly Twitter, lets him get under our skins, but then again, no one ever said circling the wagons against stupidity, especially when that stupidity comes from a place of supposed authority, was a bad idea.