The 1240 AM Westwood Radio recap of the Packers victory over the Falcons today had some time to kill and not enough content to fill it with. One radio personality talked about the figurative game ball to be awarded to the night’s MVP (or two). He would have given it to two young Packer offensive tackles–rookie Derek Sherrod and sophomore Marshall Newhouse–who were forced into action after injuries took both starters out of the game. He claimed they played well, that they were the forces making the Green Bay passing attack go. And most people would just accept that as a fact, since who watches the offensive linemen anyway?
In contrast to this “expert opinion,” the football game *I* watched had two inexperienced tackles in over their heads, missing assignments on blitzes, blowing blocks, and just getting beat in general. Half a dozen times, a Falcon rusher raced into the backfield completely untouched and unchallenged. No, Aaron Rodgers made the Packer passing attack successful despite the play of the two tackles. He saw the rush coming before it got to him and got rid of the ball quickly. He was flushed out of the pocket a baker’s dozen times, and when throwing on the run, his accuracy seemed to get even better than his accuracy throwing from the pocket!
FootballOutsiders.com has published research that suggests that passing and sack numbers are more dependent on the quarterback than most people realize (and less dependent on the line), while rushing numbers are more dependent on the quality of the offensive line’s blocking than most people realize (and less dependent on the skill of the running back).
I expect that the Westwood Radio personality saw that the Packers passing game was working and that Rodgers didn’t get hit much, so he assumed it must have been because of good blocking. At least he was thinking about the offensive line at all; that alone puts him well ahead of most TV announcers right there. But he still wasn’t actually watching the offensive line. And worse, he was passing off his guess about how football might work as if it was fact. How many listeners became stupider when they dutifully listened and filed this misinformation away in their brains as “fact?” The guys at Football Outsiders have saved us all the trouble by actually studying the numbers to find out what the truth is. Since most of us probably don’t question whatever nonsense radio or TV announcers say, you probably found the truth surprising.
Trust no one, especially not your own biased perception!
But I suppose holding radio or TV announcers to the clearly unattainably high standard of being “correct most of the time” is asking too much. The same personality then awarded the corporate-sponsored “playcall of the day” to Packers head coach Mike McCarthy for “calling passing plays and throwing the ball.” They gave the award to the winning coach literally for utilizing the concept of the forward pass, first legalized in 1906.
Asking that kind of mind to accurately judge the quality of NFL offensive line play is like asking a monkey to write Shakespeare, in one month, with one typewriter.