Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Shockey's Overrated? No He's Not, KC Joyner

I bet hanging out with that chick is overrated. She's a fucking bucksnort.

This is an open letter to KC Joyner and will meander from the direct questions to Joyner to third person inquiries directed at Joyner (a unique writing style, I know). KC, I welcome your retort and apologize for the language:

I am no fan of the New York Giants nor am I a big fan of Jeremy Shockey (I actually hate him), so as I begin writing this I can't help but think of the line from Top Gun when Stinger has Goose and Mav in his office and is about to tell them they're going to Miramar and says: "I gotta do something here, I still can't believe it." While Stinger couldn't believe he had to send Goose and Mav to Top Gun, similarly I can't believe I gotta defend Jeremy Shockey. Unfortunately after KC Joyner's out of the blue shot at Shockey, I feel compelled to speak out.

ESPN.com's KC Joyner has apparently been asked to create a list of the most overrated and underrated players in the NFL. He started with Tight Ends and presumably because Randy McMichael, Chris Cooley and Desmond Clark weren't big enough names for him, he called out Jeremy Shockey:
Jeremy Shockey
Shockey was a Pro Bowl alternate last year, but the metrics indicate he didn't deserve the selection. Shockey ranked 23rd in yards per attempt among qualifying tight ends last year (5.6). He ranked last in medium pass YPA and 18th in short pass YPA.

Shockey is perceived to be an excellent downfield threat when lining up as a wide receiver, but that is also a mirage. He had a 4.7 YPA on passes thrown to him when he was flexed out, a total that placed him next to last in that category.

In a nutshell, Shockey's YPA figures place him more in the company of Randal Williams and Alex Smith, not Jason Witten and Alge Crumpler (the other two NFC Pro Bowl tight ends in 2006).
A couple things that strike me about this. First, KC describes his method of comparison as this: "The criteria I used was contrasting the player's 2006 metrics with his perceived performance level." Ohhhhh sure, we just measure the metrics against the PPL, or Perceived performance level. But Joyner doesn't give us the metrics for the entire league and funny, the PPL doesn't show up in KC Joyner's glossary and Joyner chooses not to define it throughout the rest of his post. So that means a player's perceived performance level could mean anything. Does it mean that we expect Shockey to catch 80 balls a year because he's a star in the league and his name is recognizable because he's in a big market and is flashy? Or does it mean his actual projected performance level based on previous years. If that's the case, you could argue Shockey outperformed his previous Pro Bowl years of 02-03, 03-04 & 05-06. I mean he had more receptions than all but one of his previous years and tied for the most touchdowns he's had in one season in his career. If you were going to project Jeremy Shockey for 06-07, 66 catches and 7 TDs would be about where you'd probably expect him to be. So my question is then: WHAT THE FUCK DOES "PERCEIVED PERFORMANCE LEVEL MEAN?" If it can mean anything you want it to, then that's fine. KC Joyner is leading my stat for perceived fictitious stat manufacturing.

Even if we are to disregard the mysterious PPL, the other stats Joyner chooses to use are completely meaningless in the context of his post. Joyner says that "Shockey is perceived to be an excellent downfield threat when lining up as a wide receiver, but that is ... a mirage." Shockey is not "an excellent downfield threat" when he's lined up outside. He's a matchup problem. When Shockey lines up wide or in the slot he's not out there to beat a corner, safety or linebacker down the field on a fucking "go route" (especially after he tweaked his ankle. In fact, all his low yardage numbers are likely due to his ankle injury, but I'll explain that later.), he's there so he won't get double teamed or as easily chucked like he would if he were to lineup in front of a D-End or linebacker. It's a mismatch issue, not a speed issue. If they lineup a corner against him, he'll post them up. If they put a linebacker on him, he'll try and out-quick him and create space on the sideline or down the seam. And if they have to bring a safety over to man him up, well then Plaxico will likely have more space on his deep routes because they'll only have one guy over the top to deal with him. So to say that Shockey is fails as a perceived "deep threat" is absurd.

Second (you could argue that this is actually "third" or "fourth," but I'm goin with "second"), what kind of stats are you using? If Shockey is overrated, shouldn't he be underproducing in stats that people expected him to produce, like TDs or receptions? Well, for TEs, he had the third most TDs (and as many TDs as Chad Johnson), the fifth most receptions amongst TEs (2 more than the aforementioned Witten) and only Gates and Gonzales caught more passes for first downs and Shockey easily had the highest POCTRIFDRINFLG of any of the TES with more than 60 catches (POCTRIFDRINFLG = percentage of catches that resulted in first downs in NFL games. Two can play the "made up stat" game, KC). Aren't those the stats we expect year in and year out for Shockey? No one goes into the year thinking Shockey is going to have a big year because he should be able to get his YPA over 7.5 in the slot position. And if no one expects that or uses YPA to "rate" a player going into a season, then there's no way it can be used to prove a player is overrated. Lastly, with regards to YPA, what the fuck does YPA by itself prove? Does it prove that Shockey is overrated, that Shockey is underused or that Eli Manning fucking blows (HINT: It's the last one). If you ever watch a game (and I've read that you do), you must realize that Eli Manning is one of the worst QBs in the NFL and is at least half if not 3/4 of any issue that Shockey may have in terms of production.

Third, it is really lame to pick a year in which Shockey was injured and use those stats to prove he's overrated and then not discuss how these stats differ from his previous years. If his YPA was low this past year but his career YPA is high every other year (and again I have no idea because you do not provide the reader with any of the information), then he's not overrated, it's likely he just suffered an injury and wasn't as explosive as previous years. But judging by the fact that his Yards Per Reception were also down by about 3 yards over his previous career average, I'm going to go with a down year due to injury. It seems you're just picking on a weaker kid. And why? BECAUSE HE COULDN'T RUN VERY FAST (in 2006).

Fourth, when you give us these "metrics," it would be nice if you could give us the metrics for all TEs in 2006. The reason being that while I believe you that Shockey's 4.7 YPA--in the all-important category of TE YPA when flexed out stat--was good enough for second to last in the NFL, I have no idea whether the tenth best flexed out YPA was 4.9 or 9.9. And that matters because, well you can probably figure out why. Because it is such an obscure and meaningless stat, it only matters if Shockey is abnormally worse than everyone else, like off the charts (and even then it doesn't matter to anyone but you).

Fifth, you may need Shockey in your post to make it more interesting, but you need to do better than YPA and flexed out YPA if you want to make the point your headline suggest that you are making. If you're going to use those stats, explain to me why they matter. I consider myself a pretty bright guy, but I can't for the life of me figure out why Shockey's low YPA makes a shit of difference in terms of how he is "rated" when he rates so high in so many other TE stats during a year in which he was not even close to 100%. If you want me to believe that prior to 2006 the stat nerds thought Shockey's YPA was going to be over 9 this year and he disappointed, well then that's great and I buy it. The headline of your post could then have been "Shockey's YPA In 2006 Was Lower Than Some Other TEs And Yet He Made The Pro Bowl Because He Had Many Touchdowns And Also Because A Player's YPA Is Not Determinative Of Anything." Next time let that be your your point and no one will read it because no one cares.

Lastly, where exactly is Shockey rated in a more general sense of ranking TEs? He's probably a top 5 TE in terms of offensive production. He's less athletic then some less productive guys like Ben Watson and Kellen Winslow, but he is a smarter player than either of them. I would say that Jeremy Shockey is a Pro Bowl caliber player who will never be the best TE in the league and is a bit injury prone. And because he is rated like that, so far, he's never disappointed.

Other than that I really liked what you wrote. Congrats, idiot.

Warmest Regards,
LD

1 comment:

Anthony said...

You should write for ESPN.