Today, August 16, 2011, KC Joyner wrote the best post I’ve seen all year. Join me to bask in its glory, friends.

Insight. Perception. Intelligence. Brawn. Joyner.

ESPN’s “Football Scientist” KC Joyner put out a piece today entitled “NY Giants are NFC East favorites.”  I highly… HIGHLY respect KC Joyner, so I clicked, obviously.

There are arguments that can be made for the Giants.  The Giants were a good team last year, and even though they had a really bad offseason, they can be good again this year.  I expected to read that Eli Manning was likely to cut down on his interceptions, or that the Giants had an elite group of pass rushers, a good secondary, a nice 1-2 combo of running backs, a special teams unit that probably can’t get any worse than it was a year ago, etc etc.  I could certainly get on board with those arguments, and thought that’s where KC might be going with this.  But no no no, my friends.  This is KC Joyner.  He sees things that nobody else sees.  When KC Joyner goes KC Joyner, you listen.  This is the smartest piece I’ve read all year.

Let’s look at KC’s eight magical bullet points on why the Giants are going to win the division over the Eagles, and just for fun, I’ll do my best to provide a different point of view on each point, although it’s impossible on most:

1) Michael Vick wasn’t anywhere near as good as his 2010 numbers suggest

One of the reasons Philadelphia won the NFC East in 2010 is that Vick had a near-MVP campaign, but the fact is he benefited from more luck than maybe any other quarterback in the league.

He had only 19.4 percent of his potential interceptions turn into actual interceptions. That total was tied for the lowest interception luck factor rate in the league and indicates he was a huge beneficiary of fortunate bounces.

Player Team INT INT + Nrint Interception luck factor
Michael Vick Eagles 6 31 19.4%
Josh Freeman Buccaneers 6 31 19.4%
Ben Roethlisberger Steelers 5 22 22.7%
Tom Brady Patriots 4 16 25%
Kyle Orton Broncos 9 35 25.7%

The interception column shows how often each quarterback was picked off last year. The int + nrint column shows the total number of interceptions and near interceptions (passes that could have been picked off but were dropped, tipped away, etc.). The interception luck factor column shows the percentage of potential interception chances that actually turned into interceptions.

Jimmy’s take – Wow!  Michael Vick’s “Nrint rate” is a staggering 19.4%!!!  I hate to take an opposing view to Joyner, but I should note, however, that Vick’s “completions that weren’t caught rate” was also extremely high.  *Per my very proprietary own set of metrics:

Player Team Completions Completions that could have been caught if the ball didn’t hit the ground Comp+CTCHBCITBDHTG adjusted factor
Michael Vick Eagles 233 109 91.90%

That led the league.

*Disclaimer – I don’t actually show my work.  Please just take my numbers at face value.  Thanks.

2) Eli Manning wasn’t anywhere near as bad as his 2010 numbers suggest

Manning had 52.1 percent of his potential interceptions turn into interceptions, a total that was the fourth-highest in the league and was a prime reason Manning threw a league-high 25 interceptions. If Manning’s luck gets better (and it really couldn’t get much worse than last year) and Vick’s luck gets worse (and it couldn’t have been much better), it could mean as much as a 10-15 interception swing between these two in 2011.

Jimmy’s take – 52.1%, eh?  Pretty tough to argue with those numbers.  I know that disagreeing with Joyner is an effort in futility, but I’ll note that 87.2% of Eli’s passes had a wobble ratio of at least 3% rotational revolutions per every 10 yards of air distance.  In a study I did in 2007, it was determined that wobble ratios of 2.3% or higher lead to poor interception luck percentages. Therefore, a poor interception luck percentage is to be expected.  Unfortunately, my work was destroyed in a fire, so I can’t actually show it.  Sooooo… there’s that.

(Much, much more after the jump)…

Scholars have unsuccessfully tried to decode KC Joyner's CB color rating system for decades.

3) Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham are much better matchup-busters than DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin

A matchup-buster wide receiver is one who is capable of posting dominant numbers against quality cornerback coverage.

A study in the 2011 TFS Fantasy Football Draft Guide examined how wideouts around the league fared in this coverage scenario. The guide broke cornerbacks down into different rating levels, with a red rating being the best (allowing less than 7.0 YPA), and a yellow rating indicating the player was average (allowing 7.0-8.9 YPA).

Jackson and Maclin averaged 5.6 YPA on 66 passes against red- and yellow-rated cornerbacks last year. To put that into perspective, the league average in this category was 7.3 YPA, so these two weren’t even average when facing quality competition.

Now contrast that with Nicks and Manningham. Those two faced red- and yellow-rated cornerbacks on 96 passes last year and posted 9.6 YPA on those aerials.

The vast difference between these totals offers strong evidence that New York’s starting wideouts are much better matchup-busters than Philadelphia’s.

Jimmy’s take – While I agree with Joyner on his “red and yellow corners,” Maclin and Jackson averaged 12.4 YPA against turquoise and lavender corners, the true cream of the crop in my own proprietary CB metric system.  To see that actual data and what players are turquoise and lavender corners, please send a check for $179 to:

Blogging the Beast Half Baked Statistical Metrics, PO Box 12345, Rockaway, NJ 07866.  Please allow 8-12 weeks for delivery.

4) The Giants can largely absorb the loss of Boss/Smith with more passes to Nicks/Manningham

Let’s assume Manning will throw around 500 passes this year. Last year, Nicks saw 127 targets in only 13 games, so his target level could move up to the 150-range this year. Manningham saw 90 targets in 16 games, but only eight of those games were starts. If we move his target level up to 125, those two will account for 275 of Manning’s targets. Give the running backs 100 targets and the total moves to 375. That leaves only 125 targets for the tight end and No. 3 wide receiver. Even if the replacements for Boss and Smith are a yard or so worse in YPA, it means a loss of only 150 yards or so, which is a negligible amount.

Jimmy’s take – Brilliant!  Boss?  Smith?  Bah!  Just pass it to Manningham and Nicks more.  Problem solved!  I’m not even going to attempt a counter-point here.  That’s bullet-proof.

5) Jason Pierre-Paul and Marvin Austin could make the strong Giants pass rush even stronger

Pierre-Paul was very highly rated coming out of college and is starting to showcase those skills at the NFL level to the extent that ESPN.com NFC East blogger Dan Graziano said he “looks like a monster.” Austin displayed a wide variety of pass-rush skills at North Carolina and could add a lot of up-the-gut pass-rush pressure.

Jimmy’s take – Again, I really have nothing here.  The naysayers would say that Marvin Austin hasn’t played football since 2009, has missed time in camp, and his own DL coach is on record as saying “Technique-wise he’s a long way away,” but to those naysayers, I say “NAY to YOU, assholes!”  Austin will easily be an upgrade over that hack, Barry Cofield.  He just will… because he dispayed a wide variety of pass-rush skills at North Carolina.

Mike Saxon led the Cowboys dynasty of the early 90's.

6) Steve Weatherford could vastly improve the Giants punting

Matt Dodge’s punting last year was sometimes legendarily bad, something Eagles fans can appreciate most. It’s not a given that Weatherford will win the job, but even if his presence only serves to make Dodge get his punting act together, it would shore up a potentially huge weakness for the Giants.

Jimmy’s take – When I think NFC East Champs of yesteryear, I don’t think Aikman, McNabb, Simms, or Theismann.  I think Sean Landeta, Dirk Johnson, Matt Turk, and Mike Saxon.

7) Pat Flaherty will help New York weather the offensive line changes

Flaherty might be the best offensive line coach in the NFL, and his expertise is a main reason why the Giants ranked second in sacks allowed percentage last year despite playing three different centers, two different left guards and two different left tackles. If Flaherty’s history is any indicator, it won’t take long for this revamped group to gel.

Jimmy’s take – Flaherty is of course one of 15 offensive line coaches that might be the best in the NFL.  He’ll definitely fix the Giants OL.  No need to explain how or why.  He just will.

8) Kenny Phillips is healthy

Although losing Amukamara is certainly a hindrance, the Giants have good depth at the position with Corey Webster, Aaron Ross and Terrell Thomas. There is far less depth at safety, so getting the talented Phillips back to full strength should make up for the loss of Amukamara, and then some.

Jimmy’s take – Agreed again.  Kenny Phillips doesn’t play the same position as Prince Amukamara, but who cares?  He’ll make up for that loss.

I await your next act of brilliance, KC, errr… Dr. Joyner.

47 Comments

  1. Rob Kaos says:

    LOL @ Interception Luck Factor. Giants fans creating phantom stats to help themselves feel better.

    Expect 8-8.

  2. [...] few weeks ago, KC Joyner of ESPN wowed us with his possess exclusive set of metrics that admitted the Giants would win a division since they led a joining in “Comp+CTCHBCITBDHTG practiced factor.”  For those of we [...]

  3. DaProphet says:

    Okay, this is the ONLY funny blog I’ve read by ANYONE regarding the NFC East in ages. We all take our football way too seriously and when we do try and be funny, mos’ folks jus’ ain’t got the skills. You, sir, are an exception. You have a new fan.

  4. blains2000 says:

    What’s funny is ONE guy in the whole football universe doesn’t annoint the Eagles as run away winners of their division and you guys have a snit fit.

    1. I think there are arguments (good ones) to be made for the other NFC East teams, but at least come with some reasonable points, not this junk.

      1. blains2000 says:

        I agree his article was a little out there (#4 in particular) but I think there are a couple of reasonable points in there somehwere. He also missed some like while Boss’ 35 catches will be missed his 11 drops won’t.

        Like you said you could write something similar for each team pro and con. I was just kind of expecting a more serious point by point analysis. But whatever.

  5. Bob Frisby says:

    It’s tough being a Giant fan…been bleeding blue since 62…it’s tough man, tough.

  6. Mr.Electric10 says:

    Haha One of the funniest things I have read. You should have posted this on BGN as well. Great Post.

  7. Zach says:

    Rockaway New Jersey Ehhh?? As in Rockaway Mall. Im in sussex county and its litered with ignorant Giant fans. I read your post all the time, good stuff.

    1. Rockaway Mall indeed. Olive Garden, baby.

      1. Zach says:

        Ha, I have never been there up until the start of the summer…I’ve been there 8 times since lol.

  8. Brian says:

    Football outsiders wrote an article about dropped INTs in week 14 last year. I trust them more than KC Joyner.

    http://www.footballoutsiders.com/extra-points/2010/fo-mailbag-dropped-interceptions

  9. Steve D. says:

    The funny thing is even using his interception numbers, if Eli had 52.1% of his possible int+Nint passes intercepted, that means Eli had 48 int+Nint and Vick had 31. Even if Vick was lucky and Eli was unlucky, Vick was still much better than Eli.

    1. cwel87 says:

      See, you’re using logic there.

      Logic doesn’t work in the land of faeries, unicorns, and Joyner statistical analysis.

  10. Ballsy says:

    Good stuff Jimmy. When Joyner is talking out of his mouth, he has some interesting takes on football. The problem is when he starts talking out the other end …

  11. Davis says:

    I gave him a few choice comments of my own on there as lodown

    1. Oh my God, haha. Those are even worse.

      1. cwel87 says:

        I cannot. What?

        GBYPA? What the shit is measuring a stat labeled GBYPA? We’re actually going to cherry-pick the stats with small sample sizes and say ‘HE COULD BE GOOD…BUT IT WON’T REALLY MATTER IF HE ISN’T’ (Beckum) or the stats from 2008 and say ‘HE ONCE WAS KIND OF OKAY’ (Hixon).

        2008 isn’t even a year ago! 2008 isn’t even TWO years ago!

        Joyner is out of control. If he’s being compensated for his work in anything but bags of Cracker Jacks, I’ve completely lost all faith in the whore-mongering running joke that is E$PN.

        1. Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw: Awesome when a defender isn’t in the way.

          1. Davis says:

            first article…lets target 1 and 2 WR more so we don’t need to worry about our new unproven TE and crappy 3 WR….next article:

            “Another item of note is that New York may actually be in pretty good shape with Travis Beckum and Domenik Hixon as the starting TE/number three WR. ”

            Is this guy for real? These articles have to be a joke

      2. Mr.Electric10 says:

        My favorite part is how a WR that is coming off an injury and a TE that hasnt ever started can replace to ex pro-bowlers. KC is on fire.

  12. ubrab says:

    I loved your pieve Jimmy, had a lot of fun. However, I feel like trying to make a serious analysis of it.

    First of all, and that’s the most important point: The Giants, last time I checked, are playing against 2011 NFL teams, not 2010 ones. Not taking into consideration opponents when doing an analysis saying the Giants will be better than in 2010 would be fine by me. Saying they will win the division, without analysing or just taking into consideration what happened for other teams in the division (heard the Eagles had a busy FA, not sure) is plain stupid.

    1. / 2. Eli’s INTs.and Vick

    I agree with him that Eli’s INTs will go down, and Vick’s will go up. That’s just regression to the mean. But Eli has lost Boss, Smith AND has lost elements into the OL that was per KC 2nd best in the NFL last year, so the passing game could in fact be worse than last year, while the Eagles one has improved. (Still sure Eli’s INTs will go down)

    And Vick is entering the season as the starter, with more knowledge of the offense, with a better OL and receivers in their prime, so an argument could be made that he is in a better situation than last year, and thus will be better.

    3. Can’t really argue with those without any details on his stats. However, let me say that I rate Nicks higher than Desean or Maclin, but Manningham lower than both, so overall to me there’s no clear edge to any starting combo. However, if you go further than #1 and #2 WRs, which KC didn’t do (shocker !), I think I prefer Eagles’ situation.

    4. That is complete Bullshit. That would be like saying:

    “Greg Lewis had 40 target in 16 games, none started, we will make him a starter and he will be able to be targeted 140 times over 16 games”. Such a poor reasonning.

    Moreover, schematically, if you take away all the TE targets and focus on your #1 and #2 WRs, wouldn’t that has any kind of impact on your playcalling predictability ? If not, then why not targeting Nicks 350 times next season ? He would then negate the loss of Boss and Smith by himself !

    5. You made, half joking, a very solid point. And also “Greg Lewis caught everything his way last year, remember the Superbowl catch?, he will make a tremendous starter”

    6. Weatherford = True, but what kind of impact ?

    7. Good point, but will it really entirely negate those changes ?

    8. Valid point.

    1. cwel87 says:

      It’s remarkable to me how equal Nicks and Maclin have been statistically thus far in their respective careers.

      They’re both phenomenal players, and the Giants and Eagles are lucky to have them. But I’m not sure if either player has any sort of definitive edge on the other.

  13. Immynimmy says:

    Bravo Jimmy, well done.

  14. Eric says:

    I love the comedic take, Jimmy.

    Just to add a little seriousness here… I think KC tries to do his statistics in an unbias way, but obviously his conclusions are far out there based on those statistics. Just to comment on the interception rates, though; I think interception drop/catch rate can be attributed to arm strength. Eli’s noodle arm is intercepted more because his passes are much easier to catch. Vick’s rocket arm makes it much harder.

    So while that argument isn’t backed by any statistics, it passes the eye ball test. It’s not about luck, it’s about the ability of each QB. The outlier there is obviously Orton, but it makes sense for Big Ben, Freeman and even Brady.

    1. Come on says:

      Based on that theory…. that’s why Vick didn’t lead the NFL in completions….right? And Eli did…right?…Come on

      1. Rawr says:

        I think he may be on to something honestly. If you put more loft on it, theres more time for a defender to step in front and read it. Our receivers got use to Vick drilling them with the ball (except Celek and a few misses from Avant). I’ve heard other people point to arm strength as well.

  15. James says:

    This is the type of insight you get for being an ESPN insider?

  16. cvd says:

    U could do exactly what joyner did here for the giants and do it for almost every team in the NFL. I could make one like that for why the panthers will win the SB.

    this was hilarious jimmy

  17. giants fan says:

    I’m not going to say that the Giants should be considered the pre-season favorites in the nfc east, that honor goes to the Eagles, but if you want people to stop calling you a biased fan with a blog and to start calling you an objective journalist, you would do well to address the more salient points in this article.

    Maybe you want to try this one again. Here’s a jump off point from an objective journalist.

    http://espn.go.com/blog/nfceast/post/_/id/29646/should-giants-be-nfc-east-favorites

    1. Well, for one, I’m not a “journalist.” Never took a single journalism class in college, and I think I even got a C+ in “College Composition I,” the basic writing class that EVERYBODY had to take. Took College Comp II on a pass/fail basis, actually failed it once, and had to re-take it. So you’re barking up the wrong tree there – I couldn’t possibly care less if my journalistic integrity is called into question.

      Now that we have that out of the way, if you’d like to point out the “salient points” Joyner made, I’m all ears.

      As for Graziano’s reaction to Joyner’s piece, he HAS TO take it seriously. Graziano has an awesome job, but this is one instance where it kinda sucks to write for ESPN. Graziano and Joyner work for the same company, and Joyner even mentioned Graziano in the piece itself. That’s a really tough spot for Graziano. I’m willing to bet that’s an article Graziano didn’t want to touch with a 10-foot pole, but he kind of had to. And you know what he did? He picked the bullet points that were less stupid than the rest, and did a yeoman’s job of kinda/sorta agreeing with them, and then disagreed with the others. Then he took a shower, and hoped that a small number people read his post.

      I also write for Bleeding Green Nation. If Jason (the main writer at BGN) wrote an insanely stupid piece (which he wouldn’t… but if he did) and mentioned me in a positive light within the piece, I’d probably have to find whatever shred of a point I could compliment too.

      I’d bet that you won’t find a single media outlet (Giants blogs aside) that will see Joyner’s piece as anything that even remotely resembles a reasonable argument. None. Go look.

      1. giants fan says:

        That’s fair enough, it’s your blog dude. I’ll just take the stuff you write with a grain of salt from now on.

        1. giants fan says:

          I will admit the post was funny. :)

          1. Come on says:

            My friend, it was funny because it was the truth. The blog post pointed out how ridiculous Joyner’s “article” is. That’s why it’s funny. Joyner’s “article” was also embarrassing(which is another reason Jimmy’s post is funny).

            You think it’s funny because you are embarrassed for Joyner. You’d be lying if you said you didn’t “face palm” at least 5 times when you read Joyner’s “article”.

            I mean really? ..Come on

  18. Brian MacEinri says:

    Jimmy, ive been following your posts etc. at BGN and now here, always insightful and quick with a jab at the enemy, keep up the great work and best of luck with the blog!!

  19. Mikesta says:

    This is too great

  20. D3Keith says:

    “NY Giants are NFC East favorites” is click-whoring at it’s finest.

    Look, things might happen and the Giants might well win the division. But they cannot be called the favorites by any rational football observer. That’s just trying to get people to read your article, and it’s kind of working.

    If I may be totally honest, I’d never know who K.C. Joyner was if not for blog posts picking apart his work.

    1. PE says:

      Same. Funny how that works.

  21. Ty says:

    This article also leaves out another huge point. Vick is going into the season as starter and getting the 1st team reps. I mean being more comfortable in the offense couldn’t possibly help him at all. Or that anyone is better than what we had at RG last year. Or that now we have 3 elite CBs now. And a new DL scheme that will tear apart an OL without continuity. Yea none of that matters. Eagles are easily the deepest team in The division.

  22. ForTheLove says:

    Only constructive thing I can add to this:

    Titties.

    Good day.

    1. richrath says:

      And Beer.

      Gooder Day. :-)

    2. Tracer Bullet says:

      This man’s rhetorical skills are on par with Plato or Socrates or even a young Cicero. This argument is absolutely airtight.

  23. Randy says:

    You can not use math to predict anything in football. Football is won on the field.
    Also, 100% of what the Eagles accomplished last year was amazing. MJG offered great pass protection 2% of the time, Dimitri Patterson was awful in coverage 80% of the time and DRC and Nnamdi were on the Eagles 0% of the time. So if you add that up and consider all the other variables the Eagles have 99% chance of winning the East.

  24. cwel87 says:

    What about the magenta-colored corners, Jimmy?! WHAT ABOUT THEM?

    1. Haha, they suck. Not as bad as the fuchsia corners though, or as I like to call them, the Mike Jenkins category.

  25. PE says:

    “Comp+CTCHBCITBDHTG adjusted factor”

    I literally lol’d a couple times when reading that part. Good job, Jimmy.

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