Stats are for losers

Len Pasquarelli isn’t one of my favorite writers — although his move on and move out quote from the Penner and Mac show on WFNZ here in Charlotte a few years ago is a CLASSIC.

Len recently wrote a piece for ESPN.com reviewing the two-back tandems teams have been using in the NFL lately.

But of the 12 clubs that had two backs run for more than 500 yards each in 2009, only five went to the playoffs. The Carolina Panthers, just the fifth team in history with a pair of 1,000-yard backs and a club that statistically ranked No. 3 in rushing yards, finished only 8-8. Five of the seven playoff teams that did not have two backs who ran for 500 yards apiece had tailbacks who owned 58 percent or more of their teams’ carries (excluding rushes by non-running backs). Three of those teams had individual backs who ran for 1,200 yards or more.

What Pasquarelli failed to mention, as pointed out by one of our more astute forum posters, was that “8 of the top 10 passing ranked QBs in the league and 10 of the top 15 made the playoffs, regardless of their running back success.

Let’s review our moderator, Anybodyhome’s, argument:

NFL 2008: Panthers Beat Broncos 30-10

Here are the 12 teams with running back tandems over 500 yards the author didn’t list, so I had to go dig it out myself:

Arizona
Atlanta
Baltimore
Carolina
Cleveland
Dallas
Denver
Miami
New Orleans
NY Giants
NY Jets
Seattle

The playoff teams are bolded. Now, let’s look at the passing games of each of these teams:

Playoff teams and their passing game stats:
#10 Arizona (93.2)
#13 Baltimore (88.9)
#8 Dallas (97.6)
#1 New Orleans (109.6)
#28 NY Jets (63)
The average passer ratings of the 5 teams who made the playoffs: 90.46

Non-playoff teams and their passing game stats:
#11 NY Giants (93.1)
#14 Denver (86.8)
#20 Atlanta (80.9)
#22 Miami (75.2)
#23 Seattle (75.1)
#27 Cleveland (67.2)
#31 Carolina (59.4)

The average passer ratings of the 7 teams who did not make the playoffs: 76.8. Simply put, they had a couple running backs over 500 yards because they couldn’t throw the ball with any consistent success.

By the way, a total of 12 NFL teams go to the playoffs every season. You see the passer ratings and know the QBs of those teams with the pair of 500-yard rushers, but can you name the other 7 QBs who went to the playoffs and who don’t have a pair of 500-yard rushers? Here they are with their passer ratings ranking from the regular season:

Brett Favre #2
Phillip Rivers #3
Aaron Rodgers #4
Peyton Manning #6
Tom Brady #9
Donovan McNabb #12
Carson Palmer #16

So, while the author uses kind of a meaningless premise to prove a point. The bottom line, beyond his backwards approach to the stats, is- in order be successful enough in the regular season to make the playoffs, your team better have a QB with a passing game. 8 of the top 10 passing ranked QBs in the league and 10 of the top 15 made the playoffs, regardless of their running back success.