5 most overrated stats in football

Posted: December 27, 2011 by arayegee in NFL

Yesterday night, the nation watched as Drew Brees threw for 307 yards to break the  single season passing yards record. It was a great moment for football and for Brees, who is widely respected around the league and on the short list of ‘good guys’ in the NFL. Breaking a record that stood for 27 years is incredible, especially against a division rival who you could very well see in the postseason, but I was left with a bad taste in my mouth nonetheless.

Marino broke this record in an era where receivers were legally mauled downfield. That is no overstatement. The game was not designed for the passing game to flourish as it is today, and defenders could actually tackle the offensive player without fear of a fine or suspension.  For the past three to five years, I’ve taken most huge quarterback performances with a particularly large grain of salt. If you throw 40-45 times in a game, I’d expect you to get 300+ yards. If your team is always playing from behind, you’ll obviously be passing more. Couple that with new rules that cripple the defense, and voila, you have yourself a recipe for (expected) QB success. In Brees’ defense, he can’t control the game he’s playing in, he can only make the best of it. His record-breaking performance did make me think of other NFL statistics that are highly regarded, but largely overrated.


1. Sacks – An NFL sack is like an NBA steal: just because you get a lot of them does not mean you’re playing well. The NFL single season sack record was broken on the most egregious of  garbage sacks, for one.  Peep the subtle smile Brett Favre cracked at the end of video as he slid his buddy into the record books.

Defenders who tally up sacks on sacks on sacks are seen as great, but dont let the numbers fool you.  Its more about when you get the sack than how many you really get. A guy who has 12 sacks through 15 games sounds like a stud until you realize he got 8 of those in two games. That’s not a Pro Bowler, thats a broken clock baller (definition: someone who’s not  good, but like a broken clock, is right at least twice a day.) With much of the league going to a pass first offense, there are more opportunities to get sacks. Being able to sack a QB is just a component of what makes a good OLB/DE. Also, a player deemed a ‘pass-rush specialist’ is usually NFL code for a one-trick pony, so beware of the sack number.

2. Defensive yards allowed – New England and Green Bay are at the bottom of the list in this category in 2011.  Yet they give up less points than over half the defenses in the NFL.  The NY Jets are ranked 7th in the league in yards allowed, yet give up more points than 21 other teams. That’s all that needs to be said.

Im not even sure why this stat is even a gauge of defensive prowess. Teams with high-powered offenses are comfortable in giving up yards through the air, because they know that’s a battle their can offense can win. And the last time I checked, I’ve never seen a 412.1 -328.5 final score. Defenses are made to defend the end zone first.

YAC yards. The toughest yards to accrue in football. As you can see.

3. YAC – This one just irks my soul. This is the ManCave ‘Nobody Cares, B’ stat of all time. You mean to tell me we are measuring wide receivers on how many yards they gain after they catch the ball? Chris Rock said in a stand up that (ninjas) love to get credit for something that theyre supposed to do, and here is a blatant example of this happening in the sports world. You catch the ball, you turn and score. Thats rules one and two in the Receiver 101 handbook. You cant compare YAC to a running back’s yards after first contact, because its not met with the same level of opposition. The stat book doesnt show if this YAC was gained on a screen or not. Nor does it take into account that alot of this YAC yardage comes when a ball is fired with Legolas-like accuracy to an in-stride receiver. Why wouldnt you just keep running?

4. December W-L record -Its hard for me to make a case about the overrated nature of a stat that quantifies wins and losses, but too much goes into this month for no other reason but it’s the month before the playoffs. By the second week of December, most of the playoff teams are playing for seeding and not entry. Its the mediocre teams who are clawing for a wild card spot that lay so much importance on a spotless December.

How about looking at a team’s January record?

5.  Rushing yards – Football old timers would hang me for saying this, but yards per rush, not overall rushing yards, are the determining factor to an effective ground game. Any schmo can dial up a running play 35 times, but if you’re gaining 2.9 yards a carry, you just wasted 35 plays of our football watching experience.  The running game was designed for three reasons only. To control the clock, to feed a dominating runner, and to mask a pitiful quarterback. If you aren’t earning at least 4 yards a carry, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. I watched those seasons Jamal Lewis, Jamal Anderson, Eddie George, and most recently Larry Johnson as they were mercilessly fed the rock over 300+ times to have Pro Bowl seasons. You run the ball that much, you are guaranteed big numbers. Luckily, the modernized fan can see the difference between a good runner and a battering ram.

Congrats again to Drew Brees, but lets it into perspective. Marino’s record could be broken again next year. Hell, if Tom Brady goes ham in his final home game, it could be broken again next week.


  1. LBC says:

    I think we should take all stats within context, because if we fall into trap of considering every stat skewed. We really don’t have anything to make sound arguments on. Example I cannot stand folk is same some random thing such as “Dalton should be MVP instead of Cam”. Ummmm did you stat wise as a rookie Cam in Passing Yards is top ten and we all know how many Touchdowns this kid has. I just say before relying on a stat too much know the context of how the stat or record was achieved. Congrats to Brees either way that is a lot of passing yards lol. Ain’t that like from here to Cali?

    During NFL games ESPN and sports broadcasting networks are the main culprits for providing us with the most useless stats ever. For example, you will hear something like Romo is 12-1 in the month of November outdoors, after attending an 8 AM church service, taking two showers and putting his shoulder pads on before he laces up his cleats! ummmm BTTK with stats like those lol

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