He's who warned, uh, the British that they weren't gonna be takin away our arms, uh, by ringing those bells.

Quackery, Buggery, Ridiculousness (QBR): BSPN's Crack Team Comes Through Again

 

           People use stats to argue all kinds of things.  Stats can be misleading, but if you have a basic understanding of what you are looking at, they generally aren't.  BSPN has compiled statistical data from various sources including Footballoutsiders.com, AdvancedNFLstats.com and their own Crack Research Team to develop something known as QBR.  Quarterback Rating.  A revolution in the study of a tosser’s true value. 


           Applying statistical analysis can work in sports.  The Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane used the analysis of a Harvard statistician named Paul DePodesta to help the A’s far surpass every other Major League Baseball organization and compete with less than half the salary allocation.  Their analysis made perfect sense.  They looked at how runs were “truly” created (through less glamorous and less highly paid stats like on-base percentage) and sought players who were proficient in those categories.  The BSPN people, on the other hand, have thrown an interception on their QBR rating.  It was a pick six, in fact.  They not only missed the boat, they stood on the dock waving as the boat went past and they slipped and fell and were chopped into tiny bits of chum by the propellers.

           If we had to bet on the make-up of Team QBR (before we looked it up), we would have guessed they were a bunch of MIT eggheads.  They had perfect SAT scores in the math portion and still to this day, 20 years after they last learned it, know the Periodic Table.  Everyone has known some of these people and while they can graph linear equations all day long, they are generally clueless when it comes to everything else like tying their shoes, critical thinking and having a conversation with another human unless it relates to Dungeons and Dragons or The Big Bang Theory.  I like those people, I really do, but I don’t want them providing me with information that requires a brain.  Remember it was a scientist who said that a curveball didn't really curve, it was an optical illusion.

           Dean Oliver is the person who takes credit for developing QBR. He was hired by BSPN to “build an analytics group.”  If you didn’t know better you’d be impressed that he graduated with honors from Cal Tech and has a Phd. in statistical applications from UNC.  Before working for BSPN he was hired by the Denver Nuggets to help with statistical analysis for the scouting department.  

           According to BSPN's QBR system, the top three quarterbacks through two games were: 1.  Matt Ryan; 2. Robert Griffin, III; and 3. ANDREW LUCK!  Cam Newton, who was significantly better than Andrew Luck in every statistical category, was ranked 12th in QBR.   Newton's touchdown to interception ratio was better, he was near the top of the NFL in completion percentage (69.8, Luck was 23rd at 56.6), Newton lead the NFL by a wide margin in yards per attempt (10.5, Luck was 23rd at 7.01) and Newton's passer rating was 100 (7th) while Luck's 75 was near the bottom (26th).  Newton of course has more than twice as many rushing yards too.  There was no passing category where Luck even remotely approached Newton.  None.  Not a single category was even close. In fact, Luck wasn’t in the top 20 in any meaningful category.  (Sorry, we fudged a little on that last statement. We must concede that Luck was in the top 10 in two categories:  Interceptions and sacks.)  Yet according to BSPN's Crack Team, Luck has been the third best quarterback and Newton 12th. 

           Remember back in middle school when you would get one of those algebra problems about widgets.  If you have 10 people who can make 5 widgets per hour, create a formula to determine how many widgets can be made in a certain time?  After you come up with your formula, you plug in a number, say 3 hours.  If the result comes back at -.5, you know your formula's wrong unless you have a degree from Cal Tech and a Masters in stats from UNC and have been hired as an analyst by BSPN, then you don't bother to check it or can't comprehend the basic fact that if Andrew Luck appears third, your formula doesn't work.  At all.  BSPN's QBR formula includes as one of its six categories something called "clutch weighted expected points added on penalties" also known as, "Whatever I want, gosh!”

           The craziness is not limited to BSPN however.  CBS trotted out an article this week from a guy named Josh Katzowitz.  We googled him and found out that he was JK the Clown who, according to his business card, did “All types of clown gigs!” before becoming a CBS blogger.  The article was a comparison of RGIII and Luck after two weeks in the NFL.  RGIII of course has had the greatest first two weeks for a rookie quarterback in NFL history, besting the former place holder Cam Newton.  His passer rating of 111 dwarfs Manning's first two game’s rating of 55, Luck's rating of 75 and even Newton's former record rating of 91.  Yet Katzowitz has determined, by using categories including, "How many sacks impressively avoided on first series of game", that Luck has been better than RGIII so far. It must be the "impressively" part that put Luck over the top. 

            We have created our own category for evaluating evaluations.  It’s called, “How many truly important categories were impressively avoided by eggheads who before they go to bed each night still say, ‘Nanoo, Nanoo. This is Mork signing out until next week’”?  We don't know whether Katzowitz and the BSPN Crack Team are simply raving racists or incredibly stupid humans, but they can only be one or both of those.  There can be no other explanation.  Either way, they are very well compensated. 

            BSPN describes QBR as follows: "What underlies QBR is an understanding of how football works and a lot of detailed situational data."  We believe that the hoards of BSPN personnel really collected "lots" of data; however, the "understanding" part is highly dubious.  QBR is really just quackery, buggery and ridiculousness hoisted into the internetsphere by a Crack Team of eggheads.  Crackheads.