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THE ROAD AHEAD

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After the bye, we go to New York to face off against the Jets, who are a tough team but beatable. It should be a tough, low-scoring, defensive game.

At quarterback, the Jets have Mark Sanchez, who is a very exciting player but who also appears to run hot and cold and is prone, as any young quarterback is, to making mistakes.

The Cowboys, I think, are overrated. They always are overrated. Plus, we’ve got them at home.

Then we travel to Lambeau to play Green Bay. As Monday night’s game demonstrated, both the Packers and the Bears are for real.

It’s gonna be a tough division fight this year, folks.

I PLAY WHEN I’M HEALTHY
In response to his dominating game, Bryant McKinnie told the Strib‘s Mark Craig: “I did my job. When I’m healthy, I do my job,” referring to last year when Julius Peppers (who is now with the Bears, so McKinnie will have to face him twice) made a fool out of him.

Some people do their job when they’re not healthy.

McKinnie should turn to his right and ask Steve Hutchinson about that.

18
The number of penalties the Green Bay Packers committed last night, erasing a touchdown and two turnovers. The Packers were the league’s most-penalized team last year.

STATISTICS
There are some statistics that are not tracked which I would dearly love it if they were.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to go all baseball blogger on you. Gawd, just shoot me if I ever get that mind-numbingly dull. Nevertheless, The addition of some key stats would illuminate the game more than make your eyes glaze over.

Maybe some services like the ESPN Stats & Information that Kevin Seifert finds an excuse to trot out keeps this kind of data but we mere mortals are reduced to wishlists. Here’s mine:

The only publicly-available statistics that are kept for offensive linemen are Games Played and Games Started. That, my friends, is simply unacceptable. These are the stats that need to be tracked:

  • False Starts – Tracking the number of false start penalties a lineman incurs gives you an idea of his mental game. Does he have trouble focusing? Todd Steussie would do horribly on this.
  • Holding – Tracking holding penalties can indicate a lineman is being physically overwhelmed.
  • Whiffs – Blocks not made can give you an indication of the soundness of a lineman’s technique. Or a fullback. Tahi?
  • Hits – The number of times a lineman’s man hits the quarterback.
  • Sacks – The number of sacks given up as a result of a lineman’s failure.
  • Interceptions – As we saw on Sunday, a lineman’s failure (Loadholt) can cause interceptions when their quarterback is hit delivering the ball. Credit for the interception should be put where it properly belongs, with the lineman.
  • Fumbles – As we saw against Miami, a lineman’s failure (Loadholt) can cause a fumble when the player they are responsible for knocks the ball out of their quarterback’s hands.
  • Points Scored Off Turnovers – This would have to be directly-attributable, such as the fumble that was recovered in the end zone by Miami. In that case, Loadholt would be credited with seven points.Another example would be a fumble at the end of a half where the opposing team kicks a field goal on the immediately ensuing play. That is, there were no intervening circumstances that might have prevented the points from being scored.If a fumble is recovered on an opponent’s twenty yard line and that opponent’s ensuing series culminates in a touchdown, that touchdown would NOT be credited to the offending lineman because the score wasn’t directly attributed to the fumble.
  • Yards After Block – All of the above are negative statistics, of course. We know that lineman do plenty of positive things. The question is how to measure them. Like Points Scored Off Turnovers, this stat would have to be directly attributable, so a lineman could only be credited with Yards After Block if his block was solely responsible for the extra yards gained as a result of the block.

HOW TO GRADE A FOOTBALL GAME
Speaking of stats, Senior Editor over at 1500ESPN.com, Tom Pelissero, does a great statistical dissection of Vikings games using, I presume, the aforementioned fancy schmancy ESPN Stats & Information service.  An example from this week’s piece: “Of Favre’s 23 completions in 34 attempts (67.6%), only four (17.4%) traveled more than 10 yards in the air.”

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