Tom Verducci — a baseball guy — has a football-related column up over at Sports Illustrated today in which he throws in some baseball spice to the NFL soup:
Baseball fans get the importance of context on performance — especially where the game is being played — going all the way back to the debate over what would have happened if Ted Williams were a Yankee taking aim at the rightfield short porch in the Bronx and Joe DiMaggio were a Red Sox swatting away at the Green Monster.
Football, however, treats teams and quarterbacks with almost no regard for context. Sure, unlike baseball, the dimensions of the playing field are uniform, but football is a very different game depending on where it is played because of the elements.
Verducci then proceeds to explain how Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are somewhat overrated due to the fact that they play in domes, and how Aaron Rodgers is underrated because he plays outside in the cold all the time. He goes on to note that Ben Roethlisberger indoor/outdoor splits aren’t as pronounced, thus Rodgers has the advantage in the Super Bowl. Which is fine as far as it goes.
But with the caveat that I read absolutely zero NFL analysis and don’t really plan to, I have to ask: is it really the case that no one analyzes this stuff already? I know there are football websites and blogs who have followed in the footsteps of baseball sabermetrcians. This stuff has to have been covered a decade ago, right? It seems fairly basic even to a non-analytical, non-football guy like me.
Am I wrong about that? Is it like Verducci says and football “treats teams and quarterbacks with almost no regard for context?” Or is that just teams and mainstream media who haven’t embraced advanced analysis like baseball teams and media have? Or is Verducci just wrong about it all and both teams and media covering the game have factored this stuff in years ago?
The NFL is a mutli-billion business and guys are on the firing line way more on a football team then any baseball manager or coach is. I have to think, then, that folks in the NFL are well aware of this kind of thing.