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Topic: "Skill Position" Bias

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"Skill Position" Bias
« on: August 02, 2017, 06:39:57 PM »
Just wanted to vent a bit.

I find that when you start talking about sports talk radio, most casual sports fans, and they start talking about how a team is going to look in any given year, the focus is always on the skill players. It's NEVER on the line.

Maybe this is less true on defense, but usually on defense the only linemen they care about are those pass rushers that get lots of sacks. They don't care about the big NT that can tie up two blockers so that the linebackers can tackle downhill.

I can't stand this. The game begins with the guys up front. If you don't have talent there, if they're not doing their job, nothing else matters.

In 2000, Purdue had lightning in a bottle with Drew Brees, one of the best QB's in the game at any level. At the skill positions, however, he was surrounded by a bunch of guys who basically didn't even get a mention at the next level. But who did he have in front of him? A line where 4 of the five starters played multiple years in the NFL, and have 8 super bowl rings between them. Including Matt Light, who went to three Pro Bowls because he was so good at protecting Tom Brady's blind side. But who gets the credit? The QB.

Look at the Wisconsin blueprint. Get a bunch of sausage-fed road-graders and let them grind defenses into dust. Now, the Badgers have had some really talented tailbacks during this time, but even the "meh" talents were easily 1,000 yard backs behind those offensive lines. Heck, if you never get touched until you're 4 yards past the LOS, all you need to do is fall forward and you're going to keep drives moving. But who gets the credit? The RB.

I understand. Most football watchers don't have the ability to really watch the lines and understand how important they are. It's tough to identify who the "stars" are when you have 5 players there instead of one QB or RB. And of course, those guys don't put up any statistics.

But those guys deserve more attention. You take a serviceable QB and RB and put them behind a great line, and you have a pretty good shot at having a good offense. Sure, maybe the QB is a "game manager", any manager will tell you that it's easy to manage guys who do their jobs well. You take a stellar QB and RB and you put them behind Purdue's OL over the last few years? They're toast. No time to throw and no holes to run through.

I wish some of these pundits and sportswriters would spend less time talking about the turnover at the skill position and tell us more about how a team's OL or DL is looking going into the season. Because that gives us more information about how the skill guys will perform than those skill guys' recruiting star rankings.


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Re: "Skill Position" Bias
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2017, 07:29:15 AM »
Completely agree, and sports radio is definitely where you can measure the pulse of a fanbase's football intelligence. Was listening to a Kentucky football call-in hour (KSR sports radio out of Lexington) the other day and all the callers talked about was QBing and Coaching. No mention of obvious questions on the lines.

On the other hand, a more knowledgeable show I listened in on was the Baltimore Ravens call-in. They have one day a week (No Flacco Thursdays) where the any caller who mentions the QB gets hung up on immediately. It opens good discussion across the rest of the roster, for example the depth at CB, the cohesiveness of the Line, etc.

The only national voice I've heard devote airtime to offensive lines is Colin Cowherd, and I believe it's because he's more in tune with NFL GMs than the players/coaches who usually get most of the passing focus. He's hosted GMs on his show who'll talk in depth about the differences between building lines via the draft vs free agency. It's much more enlightening than hearing the same old talk of Andy Dalton's interceptions or whether Kaepernick is now a career backup.


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Re: "Skill Position" Bias
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2017, 08:00:41 AM »
don't even get me going on this (coming from a former offensive Guard) 

Emmett Smith is one of the better running backs of all time... and he played behind one of the best all time offensive lines in Dallas.  Coincidence? 

Barry Sanders played behind a questionable line, and still racked up massive yards...

switch their geographical locations/teams and see how that works out.

The QB that plays behind the better line has presumably more time in a more secure pocket to pass... Aikman, again that Dallas team, comes to mind.  So does a slew of Alabama QB's of this decade.

anyway, it's a discussion that doesn't even have to be qualified. evidence of or straight up proof is in every game.


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