This was originally written heading into the Jets-Patriots game last week. With the World Series, our hangover from celebrating the humiliating demise of the Yankees, and our standard midweek bouts of drinkin' and whorin', we didn't get to answer many e-mails from angry Jets fans. But let this belated response be a warning to everyone: do not argue with us unless you offer some facts in your defense. You will be ruthlessly pummeled, like Jets fan Bryan below.
Jets fans were angered last week when we exposed their overinflated sense of self worth for what it is: the nervous chatter of self-doubt. Several Jets fan took a leaky water pistol of opinion into battle against the M1A1 Abrams tank of truth called the Cold, Hard Football Facts. Here is the disastrous outcome for one poor soul. Cold, Hard Football Facts comments appear, as always, [in brackets].
Sent on: 10.22.04
Visitor name: Bryan
"Your first two arguments against the Jets are the most illogical I have ever seen. First of all, our defense is much improved."
[Maybe the newspapers and pundits tell you that the Jets defense is "much improved" this season. Maybe you've swallowed this distasteful bit of misinformation from an old beer bottle like a slimy used plug of chew. The Cold, Hard Football Facts exist simply to wipe this foul taste of ignorance from your mouth. We proved last week ("Jets fans come undone") that this belief is just not true. There's plenty more proof to follow here.]
"The linebackers are quicker and more athletic and we are stopping the run a lot more."
[The Jets run defense allowed 4.3 yards per carry through the first five games of the 2003 season. This year, they allow 4.1 yards per carry. That 0.2 yards per carry improvement is hardly a reason to blow the bandwagon whistle. (After the New England game, the Jets defense now allows 4.2 yards per carry.) One reason New York's run defense may look better is because teams are having much more success passing against them this year. The Jets surrendered 218.8 yards passing per game through the first five games this year, a significant decline over the 168.2 passing yards per game they allowed last year through five games.]
"It's silly to compare two defenses based on how many points they have allowed."
[Points may be "silly" on the twilight zone that you inhabit. But in the real world, points are used to determine winners and losers in each sporting event. For example, if Team A scores 21 points and Team B scores 14 points, Team A is declared the victor. The Cold, Hard Football Facts typically use points allowed to measure defensive effectiveness and will continue to do so until they start awarding victories to the teams that rack up the most yards in a game. With that said, the Jets give up more points through five games this year (17.8 per game) than they did through five games last year (16.0), and have played weaker competition. Last year's first five opponents included the playoff-bound Cowboys, eventual Super Bowl champion Patriots, and a Dolphins team that would go 10-6. Four of this year's first five opponents have losing records, and all four claim one of the worst offenses in football. New York's other opponent this year, San Diego, is just 3-3.
[But if you insist, let's look at yards allowed which, inexplicably, is the measure the NFL uses to rate total defense. Oh, look what we found! Some Cold, Hard Football Facts: The Jets allow 318.8 yards per game this year. Last year, they allowed 318.0 per game through the first five games. Again, the Jets defense was better (though barely) last year against tougher competition.]
"What if the offense has great field position as a result of a good special teams play or bad turnover? What if they racked up a few touchdowns in garbage time? Did you guys ever think of that?"
[The Cold, Hard Football Facts don't deal in variables like field position and turnovers. These variables effect each and every team in each and every game. The Patriots, for example, gave up several big plays on special teams against Buffalo, including one kick returned for a touchdown. At the end of the day, though, the true story can be culled from the inalterable reality of raw numbers found in the Cold, Hard Football Facts. As for your elicitation of "garbage time" points, we laugh at your starry-eyed look at the Jets season so far.
[To put it most simply, the Jets have not played a single minute of garbage time this season. They've yet to win a game by more than a touchdown and conversion, and have yet to be in a position where they could be so cavalier as to allow "garbage time" points. Even if they were in "garbage time" they should still have enough dignity to attempt to stop the opposition. For example, the Patriots were leading by 14 points with nine seconds to play last week when the Seahawks found themselves with a first-and-goal at the New England 2 yard line. The Patriots stopped the Seahawks on three straight pass plays, only to get whistled for a defensive penalty with no time left. The Seahawks were given one more attempt to score from the 1. A final rushing attempt was stuffed by New England defensive backs Ty Law and Rodney Harrison – big-name stars still on the field in what you would probably call "garbage time." We guess, based on your analysis, that the Jets would have simply allowed the Seahawks to score.]
"Even if you want to use the silly points allowed argument, you purposely ignore how much the (Jets) defense has improved since allowing all those points the first two weeks. In their third game versus the Dolphins, they allowed 9 points. In their fourth game versus the Bills, they allowed 14. And versus the 49ers, they allowed 14. Were they against poor offenses? Sure, but if you're using this stupid points argument, you have to point this out also."
[Yes, the Jets defense has improved since the first two games of the year, but we would not hang your hat on any of their defensive performances this season. The Dolphins scored 9 against the Jets, but average just 9.2 points per game. The Bills scored 14 on the Jets, but average just 14.2 per game. The 49ers scored 14 on the Jets, but average just 17.5 per game. In case you were wondering, the Jets surrendered 24 to Cincinnati in the first game of the year, but the Bengals average just 16.6 points per game. The Jets surrendered 28 points to San Diego, but the Chargers average 26.7 points per game. So yes, New York's defense has improved but has yet to post an impressive performance when you consider how their opponents have fared against the rest of the league. The Patriots, meanwhile, have handed every opponent they've played this year their worst loss of the season.
[By the way, your repeated insistence that points are "silly" and "stupid" makes us question your understanding of sports in general and football in particular, as well as the general state of your intelligence. Maybe you should follow figure skating or gymnastics, where winners are those judged to be most pretty. Sounds more your speed.]
"Now, the Chad Pennington argument. Pennington has less touchdowns then Tom Brady because he has played less and had had fewer opportunities to get touchdowns because we actually have had an effective running back named Curtis Martin to get them. The Patriots didn't get a good running back until this season. This is why judging quarterbacks by the amount of touchdowns they have is silly. What if you have a good running back who you like to depend on to get you in? You guys don't consider these factors."
[As we stated, Pennington is a "fine young quarterback" who has put up some nifty numbers. We even said quite clearly that he hasn't played a whole lot. We didn't compare touchdown passes between the two quarterbacks. We simply said that it's hard to take seriously comparisons between these two players when Pennington has barely been on the field throughout his five-year career, as evidenced by the low number of touchdowns he's passed for in his career. But if you still want to mix it up with us in this argument at a later day, we're all game. Suffice it to say that Pennington is a part-time player who's put up some pretty impressive numbers when he's played. Brady is a two-time Super Bowl MVP who has put up better numbers at this point in his career than many of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play the game.
[Your running back argument, however, is nonsensical: Pennington has had a better running game? Sure, but how does this demean Brady? If anything, it's another reason to marvel at New England's remarkable success in the Brady era. The Patriots have won two Super Bowls in three years with, as you point out, a poor running game. In fact, last year, the Patriots averaged just 3.4 yards per rushing attempt. The only Super Bowl-winning team to fare worse was the 1970 Baltimore Colts, who averaged 3.3 yards per carry. Teams have geared up to shut down Brady throughout his entire career because he's been the only offensive weapon in New England's arsenal. Yet he comes through with one clutch performance after another.
[Pennington has no excuse. He's played his entire career with a future Hall of Fame running back in Curtis Martin. Yet in the one year when he played almost an entire season (2002), Pennington engineered just 22.4 points per game. The Patriots offense, without a decent running game until this season, has averaged more points per game three times during the four seasons of the Brady era].
"And the playoff argument is AWFUL. Guess how many touchdowns Tom Brady threw in the playoffs the first year the Pats won the Super Bowl? ONE. It was obviously their defense that won them the trophy."
[Yes, you're right. He threw for only one touchdown that year in the playoffs. But he also ran for one touchdown against Oakland, while completing 32 of 52 passes for 312 yards that night in a blinding blizzard. It was one of the great clutch performances in playoff history. Of course, Brady was at his best late in the game, completing all but two passes in the fourth quarter and overtime, while leading three must-have scoring drives over the same period. Did we mention the blizzard? In Super Bowl XXXVI, meanwhile, he led the only walk-off scoring drive in Super Bowl history. In total, in his first three playoff games as a first-year starter, Brady led three last-second, game-tying or game-winning scoring drives, a streak unmatched in the history of postseason football. Keep in mind that Brady had started just 14 games in his career heading into that postseason. Sure, he didn't throw one touchdown after another, but he came through time and again when it counted most. Pennington, meanwhile, was won just one playoff game. Of course, it came against the world's greatest choke artist, Peyton Manning.]
"Let me tell you something; if Chad Pennington had Tom Brady's defense, he'd win Super Bowls too."
[Ah, the old argument of the Peyton Manning buttswabs. "If only he had the New England defense." When Brady won his first Super Bowl, after his aforementioned heroic postseason performances, the Patriots had a defense ranked just 17th in the NFL by your measure (yards allowed) and 6th by points allowed. In either case, it was hardly an overwhelming defense. In fact, the 2001 Patriots won despite a piss-poor running game, and one of the worst regular-season defenses by any team ever to win a Super Bowl. Last year, the Patriots had the No. 1-ranked scoring defense and were, by all accounts, the best defense in football. But using your standard of yards allowed, the Patriots ranked seventh in the NFL last season. In fact, 2003 was the only year in Brady's career in which the Patriots had a top-five scoring defense or a defense ranked in the TOP HALF of the league in yards allowed. New England's defense has been very good during Brady's career. But it's a myth to believe that it's been overwhelming. Brady has had a pivotal role by making clutch plays, not turning the ball over, and by stepping up when his team needed him most: Note New England's defensive debacle in Super Bowl XXXVIII, when the Patriots gave up three fourth-quarter touchdowns, but still won thanks to Brady's record-setting (32 completions) MVP performance.]
It's not Chad's fault that in his two seasons as a starter (one which was injury shortened, pretty much ruining their season, which shows how valuable this guy is to the team) they had a poor defense. You guys think you're so f*cking smart because you use these terrible statistics and terrible arguments and think that 'proves' you are right. Well, it doesn't. This is the worst football site I have ever seen.
[Agreed. We suck. But at least we support our sucky arguments with a mountain of facts. We believe you offered just one fact in your entire tirade. Sorry, man, but you're out of your league here. Go back to figure skating. We think Michelle Kwan is on TV Sunday afternoon.]