Bryan Broaddus destroys Pro Football Focus on the radio; has no idea what they do, or that he actually agrees with them.

Pro Football Focus watches every offensive, defensive, and special teams player on every snap throughout the entire season, and grades each player on every single play.  Many people love their work, many people are very critical of it.  I, for one, fall into both categories.  Personally, I don’t fully trust Pro Football Focus’ grading system on a number of levels.  For example, in 2010, when the Eagles played the Lions, DeSean Jackson was targeted 7 times.  He made 4 catches for 135 yards (33.8 YPC) with 36 YAC and a TD.  Do that every week for 12 years and people are going to say you’re better than Jerry Rice. PFF’s rating for DeSean in that game… -0.1.  Huh?

However, their snap count data is invaluable.  Whenever I write about a player on this blog, there’s a 99% chance I’ve taken a quick peek at how many snaps that guy gets.  It’s so valuable to me in fact, that last year I paid $90 for that information on a year subscription (I believe they’ve since lowered that cost).

With that preface in place, I was alerted to a radio spot with Bryan Broaddus of 103.3 FM in Dallas, who went into a full-on aggressive attack on Pro Football Focus and their evaluation of newly acquired Cowboys OG Nate Livings.

Radio guy sidekick: So Nate Livings on a 5 year $19 million deal.  He’s rated the 56th best offensive guard in football according to (derisively) that reputable website out there…

Broaddus: Would that be Pro Football Focus?

Radio guy sidekick: Yes. You heard of this cat? They actually rate offensive linemen (incredulous).

Broaddus: Interesting.

Radio guy sidekick: 56th best in football.

Broaddus: Would that be considered a good rating?

Radio guy sidekick: I don’t think so.

Broaddus: No.

Broaddus (continuing): It’s a difficult rating because they don’t actually watch film.

Radio guy sidekick: I see.

Broaddus: Yeah.

Radio guy sidekick: Do they read books?

Broaddus: TV scouting maybe? Maybe they watch TV games.

Radio guy sidekick: With the sound up or down, because that’s important.

Broaddus: You wanna go down because you don’t want to be influenced. But around here we actually try to sit down and watch games.

OK, so right off the bat, in the setup to what he’s about to speak on for the next 10 minutes, Broaddus has already identified himself as having no clue whatsoever what he’s talking about.  Squabble over PFF’s methodology or scouting pedigree if you’d like, but to make the accusation that they’re not watching film is 100% wrong.

Broaddus continues, noting the games he watched Livings play:

Broaddus: I watched Nate Living play against Calais Campbell (Cardinals), and I watched him against the Ravens the first time they played them last year, I watched him against the Houston Texans in the playoffs.

Radio guy sidekick: All teams that feature good pass rushers.

Broaddus: And Week 2 they played the San Francisco 49ers, saw a little Justin Smith there, so again this guy, I feel like there have been some people that have come out and given this guy a bad rap, an if it’s Pro Football Focus, I know the organization, I respect some of the things they do, but I think they’ve got this guy wrong.  And again, I’m not saying he’s Larry Allen, but there’s things about him.  If you go back and watch the Arizona game against Calais Campbell, who was franchised an is an outstanding young defensive end, you would sign him off that game alone, the way (Livings) played against Campbell.  And I was expecting the worst.

First of all, no, you don’t know PFF’s organization as we already established, Broaddus.  And to repeat again that you do is a flat-out lie.

But that’s not important.  What I’m curious about is what PFF’s grade was for Livings in the Arizona game.  Survey says… +1.1.  Very good grade.  So Broaddus and PFF agree.

More Broaddus:

Broaddus: Now, he had a game, I talked to a scout about this, and I’ll go back and look at this game, against Jacksonville with Tyson Alualu, had a struggling game.  You know, it was not good.

OK, so a scout that Broaddus trusts said he was bad in the Jacksonville game.  PFF’s rating for Livings in that one… -9.0, a terrible score.  So again, it looks like Broaddus (or at least a guy Broaddus respects) is 2-for-2 in agreement with PFF.

The other 3 games Broaddus noted, where he liked what he saw out of Livings: First matchup against the Ravens, Week 3 against the Niners, and the playoff game against the Texans.  PFF’s ratings in each of those 3 games: +1.8 (Ravens), +0.1 (Niners), and -2.9 (Texans).

So of the 5 games mentioned, Broaddus agrees with 4 of them.  As far as the one dissenting game (the Texans), Bob Sturm happened to review 4 games as well, with the Texan playoff game included, and his picture of Livings was much less rosy:

He is 6’4, 310 pounds, and has primarily been a left guard for the Bengals. He has been a starter and has kept himself pretty healthy so the idea of getting a big body that you can count on is worth something. But, beyond that, I am a bit puzzled at what made the Cowboys rush out and put 5 years and a fair amount of cash on this guy at the start of free agency. He has many characteristics of a guard that you might want to replace. He is on the ground a lot, meaning he is losing battles and losing his balance. This is a problem Leonard Davis had because he would often be plugging holes for his own runner by falling in the path. On pulling plays, he does win a reasonable amount, but it is far from a regular event. He is often stood up at the point of attack which is uncommon for a pulling guard who is getting a running start to the collision. Sometimes, he is being stood up by a linebacker with which he severely holds a weight advantage.

Livings plays high, and in football at the line of scrimmage, that is not something that is a plus. Low man wins, and he is often not very low. In pass protection his feet do not look quick enough to deal with stunts, as Jeremy Mincey destroyed him on an inside stunt in Week 5. As most guards, he is as good in pass protection as can be expected as long as he doesn’t get exposed in space. If the gaps widen out, he is in trouble, and Antonio Smith of Houston was able to make that happen in the playoffs. With the run, he can be decent, but there are plays where the man across from him shoots a gap to either side of Livings and the guard has no chance and either holds or gets beat badly.

In general, he is just not that impressive. I am hoping the Cowboys know something that we don’t, but on the surface, yes, he is younger and yes, he is healthier. But, he is not better than Montrae Holland from what I could tell, and I am a bit puzzled at the signing. Time will tell, but I would keep my bar low on this signing.

I respect Broaddus’ scouting acumen, but he really comes off as a know-nothing know-it-all with a bitchy tone.  Full audio here:

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    i don’t know what they have access to, but if they don’t have coaches film they can’t accurately break down the play of anyone, except the offensive and defensive lineman. those are the only players you can see whether they do their job on every snap. i always assumed that they did have coaches film, because otherwise they would be a total joke to put out rankings.

    even with coaches film, it’s pretty hard to be 100% accurate on knowing who did their job or not. for example, you see a blown coverage and it will look like a cb got smoked. then the announcers will point out that it appears like the db was expecting safety help. well was the safety supposed to help or not? unless you know the play call, you don’t know if the safety did his job or if the cb needed help. this is only 1 variable, and there are so many others which can make scouting very difficult to create into a science.

    there seems to be some bias against desean jackson on that site. the grade you pointed out certainly makes no sense, and i remember they graded him as like the 81st wr in 2009 which was completely insane. they also ranked jason avant higher than jackson which is just ridiculous.

    it’s an ok site, and i can tell the guys there put a lot of work into it, but i seriously doubt their grading system, and their rankings.

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  156. Luke. says:

    Good article Jimmy.

    I’ve enjoyed the work of both Broaddus and PFF. They’re both interesting and useful in their own ways. But Broaddus acted like an idiot here. PFF puts out a mountain of great work covering the entire league.

  157. ct17 says:

    Bengals fans have hated Livings for years. On SB Nation sites they were the first ones to want DeCastro in the Top 20.

    Panthers fans have made similar derisive comments about the Bernadeau deal.

    1. chris says:

      so the cowboys should base their FA acquisitions based on how the fans react to a certain player

      livings has only been a starter for a couple of years . i’ve heard at least 3 scouts state that for what the cowboys have planned for him that he will probably do well at and the same can be said for bernadeau

      players can flourish under different coaching staffs and different schemes . it is possible

      i like respect broaddus for his football and in particular his scouting information but i don’t care for his holier than thou attitude

      the scouting methods of PFF and regular NFL scouts is completely different .. PFF is grading the player based on the actual outcome of the game and NFL scouts generally grade based on technique

      both do a good job with evaluating a player and i use both to make up my mind regarding a player

  158. AustonianAggie says:

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  161. One.cool.customer says:

    Occasionally, you write something that I wish I had written.

    This is one of those times.

    I stopped listening to the audio at the 0.20 second mark when he started going on about PFF not watching games. Ridiculous.

    1. Ha, you would have written it, but I just saw it first.

  162. Anonymous Fan says:

    I’ve seen/heard Broaddus refer to PFF before. When he uses the word “film” I think he just means the all 22 film used by coaches. He doesn’t think that the PFF graders use Ouija boards to determine the grades, but that they don’t have access to the angles that the coaches’ film provides. I don’t know any of this with certainty, but it seems like a reasonable guess for a sharp guy.

    As an aside: The biggest thing that bothers me about PFF – which I enjoy perusing – is their grades for defensive backs. I don’t know how one can grade the performance of players that you don’t see most of the time. Unless they have an extensive knowledge of defensive coverages, or access to coaches film or something else to elucidate the plays, I don’t know how you could feel comfortable grading those players.

    1. He may very well be referring to the coaches’ tapes, but his exact quote was “They don’t actually watch film.”

      To the average listener, it comes across as though PFF is using, as you say, Ouija boards. It’s a totally unfair and misleading comment.

      1. DCeaglesfan says:

        I don’t think he was deliberately trying to mislead – I think he was trying to be a d#$k by sneeringly implying that PFF guys are not insiders like he is, with access to the all 22.

        Great take down though. I enjoy reading point-by-point take downs of bad arguments.

        1. Ha thanks.

          You might be right that he may not have done it deliberately. I can see that. And if indeed that was his argument (that he has access to the “All-22″ and PFF doesn’t), what is he saying exactly? That PFF should just shut down operations and go away? The arrogance is off the charts.

  163. nadam says:

    Gee, whaddaya know, a Cowboys radio talk show host doesn’t know what the eff he’s talking about, but he lovessssssss the moves the Cowboys made. This happens in every city, but it’s just funny that he was blatantly lying.

    Somewhere Cullen Jenkins is smiling.

    1. Anonymous Fan says:

      Bryan Broaddus is a former scout with the Cowboys under Campo/Parcells, Eagles under Rhodes, and with the Packers while Ron Wolf was there. That doesn’t make his opinion infallible, and I think he’s very wrong sometimes, but he’s not just some hack on sports talk radio. He also looks at coaches’ tape of the Cowboys every week and offers critical assessment of their play. He criticizes anyone – from Alan Ball to DeMarcus Ware. He’s not a fanboy.

      1. nadam says:

        I wasn’t implying that he doesn’t know football at all, I was just implying that he didn’t know what the eff he was talking about when bashing PFF.

    2. bula says:

      it doesn’t usually happen in philly. usually 610 radio knows nothign but blasts about everything the eagles do

  164. RogerPodacter says:

    just those games don’t seem so bad for him. what else was the reason that PFF gave him a bad grade? maybe broaddus just needs to watch a few more games to see the bad that comes with the good?

  165. nadam says:

    THEY ACTUALLY RATE OFFENSIVE LINEMAN??!?!? Who does that??? What a bunch of LOSERS!

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