Disappointment at the 2012 Olympics (7/31/12)

The London 2012 Olympics have been defined by two things for Americans. Disappointing TV coverage by NBC (See “Our Grades for London 2012 Olympic TV coverage … so far” blog post) and disappointing results from the most well-known U.S. athletes at the games.

Google the word “disappointment” and the top results are some Wikipedia pages and some dictionary results. But, one only has to scroll to the seventh result to start getting news reports with headlines like “Disappointment for U.S. men’s gymnastics team,” “US Athletes Who Will Continue to Disappoint,” and “Jordyn Wieber’s Disappointment.”

I am truly an optimist, but have thought this a number of times already during these Olympics,

“I remember when the U.S. used to win Gold medals.”

So, is it all over for the U.S. dominance at the Olympic games? Will China overtake us on the medal count and truly take their place as the world’s number one super power on all fronts?

This is a pretty pessimistic view on the future, and like I said, I am an optimistic. So, let’s analyze why this is actually happening.

Our well known athletes are past their prime

So far, the only really well-known athletes that have competed in these games are in swimming events. Ryan Lochte, Michael Phelps, and Rebecca Soni have all been in multiple Olympics and have won multiple medals, but they are in their mid-to-late 20′s and swimming against teenagers and those in their prime who are not crumbling under pressure like our Men’s Gymnastics team (more on that later).

Soni got Silver in the 100m breast stroke to Ruta Meilutyté, the Lithuanian superstar who is just 15-years-old. Lochte lost the 200m freestyle to two 20-year-olds and a 22-year-old. All of our swimming super stars became super stars during the LZR suit era — the few years full body suits were allowed. During this era 93 world records were set. The suits were eventually banned, but were our veterans already too comfortable with the suits to go back to shaving their whole bodies?

Ryan Lochte came into these games cocky and ready to show the world he’s the new BMOC. He did so with a quick Gold medal in the 400 IM. He then faltered as the anchor of the 4x100m freestyle relay and came in fourth in the 200m freestyle. But, did Lochte actually choke or was he just over-hyped in these specific events?

20-year-old French swimmer Yannick Agnel swam a 46.74 as the anchor in the freestyle relay. The World Record in the 100m freestyle is 46.91 — which was set in 2009 during the LZR suit era. Agnel beat the World Record with his leg of the relay and he did so with a pair of spandex shorts and a BIC razor. Lochte didn’t choke, Agnel swam the fastest anyone has ever gone in 100-meters. Agnel is a freestyle specialist who swam out of his mind — almost two seconds faster than he had ever gone before — while Lochte and Phelps are all-around swimmers who still have their best events coming up.

Our younger athletes are untested

The U.S. Men’s Gymnastics Team were almost assured a medal and Women’s All-Around World Champion Jordyn Wieber didn’t even qualify for the event. They faltered, and they did so at the worst time imaginable — during the Olympics. When it all comes down to it, the Olympics are more mental than they are physical at times.

To win in Gymnastics, you have to be near perfect at all times. And when you falter, you have to be able to bring it to the next event. Wieber and the U.S. Men could not get their confidence back after a few deductions.

19-year-old Sam Mikulak summed it up with a quote in the L.A. Times article by saying, “The Olympics just magnifies everything so much more than I expected. It was a lot more pressure than I expected.”

Yep. It’s the Olympics. Did we not have anyone prepare our young athletes for the magnitude of the Olympics? Does the Millennial Generation just think that the U.S. has always dominated and there’s never been pressure? Did they think they would get a medal no matter what?

There has to be an unimaginable amount of pressure on teenagers who have been told they will win a Gold medal, something none of us can ever understand. But, how do our other young medalists overcome?

Our unknowns are succeeding

OK, maybe none of these athletes that will be mentioned are truly unknowns, but they did not come into these games with the hype associated with other athletes. Missy Franklin has taken these games by storm winning two medals already with more to surely come. 16-year-old Gabby Douglas seems to be getting no attention after Wieber failed to qualify, even though she is now the favorite. Matt Grevers and Nick Thoman went Gold/Silver in the 100m backstroke and the U.S. has actually won a few diving medals already.

We’ve won medals in shooting and archery, as well as one in judo. The Olympics have just started, and NBC must be scrambling to find some new athletes to over-hype because the ones they did going into the games are not doing so hot. But, the U.S. is no way out of the hunt for the most medals.

There is nothing to worry about when we still have the U.S. Basketball teams dominating as well as Women’s Soccer and Beach Volleyball. We are an optimistic nation, and we need to continue to show this optimism throughout the games.

Good things are about to happen for the U.S. We might be stumbling, but we aren’t out just yet.

Our grades for London 2012 Olympic TV coverage … so far (7/30/12)

Google NBC and you will quickly see hundreds of news reports about how NBC is screwing up the London 2012 Olympic TV coverage. OtherScreen’s Community Manager Mike D’Avria watched a lot of London 2012 Olympic coverage for the first two days — A LOT — and gives his assessment of the TV coverage being provided.

First off, I love the Olympics. They represent the absolute best in sports. Most athletes in the Olympics — other than the U.S. Men’s Basketball team and several U.S. swimmers named Lochte and Phelps — do not have endorsement deals and are not millionaires. These athletes have to be their best at every single moment to achieve a Gold medal. I am an Olympics apologist, and will give the TV coverage by NBC and their cable networks the benefit of the doubt. I will judge them as harsh as possible, but will still watch almost all of the 5,353 hours they will cover over 17 days no matter how bad they are.

NBC Network Grade: C-

Most of the criticism about the London 2012 Olympic TV coverage is reserved specifically for the NBC Network — not for the other cable channels they are providing. This is really the only place that people in the U.S. can watch the Olympics for free. It’s also the only place to watch the Olympics if you want to feel like it’s the 1992 Barcelona games.

Most people are criticizing NBC because they are showing tape-delayed events during their primetime coverage. I actually do not have a problem with this. What else are they supposed to do? At 8 pm Eastern Time, it’s 1 am in London. There are no events going on. NBC paid more than a billion dollars to broadcast these games. They want to hold off on their biggest events —Gymnastics, Swimming, Beach Volleyball — until they can get a bigger audience.

The best thing about tape-delay is that we don’t have to watch the boring parts. NBC quickly went through the 3m Synchronized Women’s Diving event in about 20-minutes and only showed the best teams. If it’s on NBC primetime, it will be either a wonderful performance or a terrible one.

The problem comes in when they refuse to show anything good during the day. U.S.A. Basketball and Women’s Soccer is on NBC Sports Network and only the swimming qualifiers are being shown in the daytime. Instead of showing Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps live in the 400m IM, they cut to an interview with American Idol host Ryan Seacrest and some 16-year-old girls.

But, the main problem I have with NBC’s London 2012 Olympic TV coverage is that it just seems bad and poorly organized. During gymnastics, on several occasions, they would show a performance in its entirety. Then, instead of showing a score for that performance, they cut to another interview or a commercial. Why aren’t you showing the score? This is primetime! Why spend two-minutes watching a Chinese gymnast on the balance beam if we don’t know what her score is?

Speaking of interviews, the “sideline” interviews are pretty much useless when the U.S. wins a medal and completely useless when we don’t.

“Tell us what you are feeling right now?”

Come on. How are these “journalists” working anywhere other than the red carpet of a Real Housewives of New Jersey premiere? How do they feel? If they won: great! If they lost: sad.

And the in-studio interviews are even worse.

After the U.S. Men won Silver in Archery, NBC had an in-studio interview with the three archers. The NBC interviewer — no idea who it was (not Bob Costas or Dan Patrick) — had a lapel microphone attached. The three archers shared one handheld microphone they passed back and forth awkwardly. They even mentioned it a few times during the interview because the archers kept forgetting that they weren’t mic’d.

How does NBC pay a billion dollars and not have more microphones? Did they not think they were going to interview more than one person at a time?

It’s understandable that NBC wants people to watch their coverage in primetime, but they should at least get their primetime coverage correct.

NBC Cable Channels Grade: A

If doing a crappy job on the free NBC network channel and an even worse job online — more on that later — is on purpose so people watch the NBC cable channels, it’s working. NBC Sports Network is showing some amazing events — mostly those where the U.S. has a chance of a medal — MSNBC is showing the more unusual events like Handball and Weightlifting, CNBC is Boxing all the time, and Bravo is showing Tennis. There is also a All Soccer and All Basketball channel.

NBC gets London 2012 Olympic TV coverage right on their cable networks. The events they are showing are live and the lesser-known athletes are getting top-billing on these channels.

And, since it’s not network TV, the personalities doing color commentating are experts in the sports they’re covering — not just NBC personalities giving trivial information they found on Twitter.

These announcers actually teach the viewers about these lesser-known sports and they know actual information about the competitors. Plus, there are almost no boring and useless interviews on the cable channels.

NBCOlympics.com Online Feed Grade: F

The only way to stream live events on NBCOlympics.com is if you pay for a cable or satellite package that has the MSNBC and CNBC channels in them. Typically, these packages cost at least $60-a-month. Many people are complaining about this. They “cut the cord,” but still want to watch TV. “Cutting the cord” doesn’t really mean what people think it does if they still want to watch cable TV. Live sports are what makes people keep their cord, and TV providers know this.

I don’t feel sorry for the thousands of people complaining that they aren’t able to stream the Olympic coverage for free. Why do people think they are entitled to free Olympic coverage of every event just because they pay $30-a-month for broadband Internet?

Just because the technology is made available does not mean it should be free.

End of that rant; start of new rant.

I do pay for a satellite package so I get to stream live events. Verdict: it’s pretty much crap.

On several occasions I have tuned in to watch a swimming event to see this order of events happen:

- Introductions of swimmers
- No explanation of what race it is
- Swimmers dive in
- Feed cuts out
- Feed comes back in
- Swimmers are no longer swimming and are celebrating/crying

What? Seeing the first 20-seconds of a race and not the end is the worst thing ever. And don’t blame this on my Internet. My Internet speed is awesome — I work for a Social TV app that demands it. This has happened at home and at the office.

Now, if you can get the feed to work, there is almost no explanation of what is going on because most of the events do not have announcers and plenty do not have graphics. It’s like someone set-up a camera, pressed on, and then walked away.

This sort of makes you feel like you are actually in London, but it’s really hard to watch during some of the events that need explanation. Like fencing. You get to hear the judge speak in French terms as both fencers lights go off. Both fencers celebrate, and then a few seconds later one of them gets a point. Huh?

Beach Volleyball is just a feed with the athletes playing the game while the stadium plays the hits of Chumbawamba — so basically just “Tubthumping” over and over again.

I will give the online stream some credit when they use the BBC announcers for the bigger events. They seem to know what they are doing, and it’s not just about Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte. They occasionally mention the swimmers in the other six lanes, unlike NBC.

Conclusion

Maybe this is just the first few days and things will get better. NBC might buy more microphones and they may realize that no one wants to see Ryan Seacrest. Their online bandwidth might improve and they might decide that they need some experts from the NBC cable channels to come over to the network coverage.

But, it just doesn’t matter what we think because NBC has already reported that their primetime ratings are better than they were four years ago in Beijing. So, maybe NBC and their parent company Kable Town knows what they are doing.

(Self promotion coming) Of course, the best way to watch these Olympics is with OtherScreen. It doesn’t matter if these games are live or tape-delayed. The people playing our Primetime events are having a blast. Instead of asking who wins Gold, we asked “Whose name is said more times during this event?” During the 400m IM it was Lochte (19) to Phelps (16). During Beach Volleyball we asked, “What happens first: The U.S. gets to 10 points or we see a VISA commercial?” We have hundreds of questions — including trivia — that are making these games a blast. Come join us. (End of self promotion)

Kobe Bryant was right. The 2012 Olympic Team would beat the 1992 Dream Team. (7/12/12)

Kobe Bryant started a firestorm when he said that the 2012 Olympic Team could beat the 1992 Dream Team. Most people disagreed vehemently with Mr. Bryant — including us. But, then we started to think about just how far athletes and the human body have come in the last 20 years.

First off, many of the Dream Team members were past their prime — with the notable exception of Michael Jordan. He was right in the middle of it. Larry Bird was 35-years-old and hadn’t won a championship in six seasons. Magic Johnson was 32-years-old and had already retired due to being HIV-positive. John Stockton, Clyde Drexler, and Patrick Ewing were each 30-years-old; and Chris Mullin, Charles Barkley, and Karl Malone were 29-years-old.

The average age of the Dream Team was 29-years-old, and that includes the 22-year-old Christian Laettner. (Rosters are below)

The 2012 Olympic Team averages 26-years-of-age. Only Kobe Bryant is over 30-years-old, and he might just be the best player on the team. That might not be the case since LeBron James and Kevin Durant are both on the team, and all three of these guys have the ability to get open looks — or drive to the basket in traffic if they don’t find one. Back in 1992, defense in the NBA was a whole lot better, but that doesn’t mean they would be able to guard today’s players. LeBron James is 250-pounds of muscle who can shoot fade-aways and is an amazing passer. Kevin Durant is perhaps the fastest 6’9″ person on the planet (Usain Bolt is only 6’5″) and might just be the best pure scorer in the history of basketball. Kevin Love has led the league in rebounds and has won the 3-point contest.

Which brings us to our second point. It’s not just about age, it’s about today’s athlete being bigger, stronger, and better than anyone was 20-years-ago. Blake Griffin throws down dunks in regular season games that would have won the 1992 Slam Dunk Contest. Seriously. Go watch a video of the 1992 dunk contest right now. The one where Cedric Ceballos “blindfolded” himself. We’ve embedded it right here to make it easy for you.

1992 Slam Dunk Contest

Now, take a look at what Blake Griffin did this past season.

Blake Griffin Dunks in 2011 Season

Notice that Blake Griffin was not only dunking while being defended, he was being defended by some of the world’s best players — players who will be playing against the U.S. team for their own respective Olympic teams. Which brings us to our third point.

These players have to play against the world’s best every single day during the NBA season. In 1992 there were only 21 international players on NBA rosters. Now, 20-percent of the NBA is made up of foreign-born players. The Dream Team didn’t play an all-around game in 1992. They got rebounds and ran a fast break on all the much slower teams. If they played the 2012 Olympic team, they wouldn’t be getting nearly the amount of rebounds because every player on the team can shoot — OK, maybe Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook needs to be taken out of that list as they are the biggest chuckers of the whole team.

The point is that the Dream Team had almost no strategy whatsoever to play against the teams they faced. We all found out that this was a terrible strategy when the 2004 team won Bronze. They thought they could just win on talent alone. The world got better at defending talent, and the NBA All-Star had to get better at finding the basket. The Dream Team wouldn’t be able to keep up with the size and speed of today’s athlete. Here are Gold Medal winning times/lengths/heights in 1992 and in 2008.

  • Men’s 100 meter: 1992 — 9.96 seconds; 2008 — 9.69 seconds
  • Men’s 1500 meter: 1992 — 3:40.12; 2008 — 3:33.11
  • Marathon: 1992 — 2:13:23; 2008 — 2:06:32
  • Swimming 100 meter freestyle: 1992 — 49.02; 2008 — 47.21
  • Swimming 4×100 meter relay: 1992 — 3:16.74; 2008 — 3:08.24

We could go on and on listing almost every event that 2008 athletes bested 1992 athletes. And sure, some of this is due to technology changing to help with suits, shoes, and training. Yes, we are a much more advanced society in 2012 than in 1992. So advanced that Magic Johnson is no longer HIV-positive.

And that’s the whole point of this. The Dream Team were filled with amazing NBA players who are almost all in the Hall of Fame. Today’s team has a number of players that will make the Hall of Fame, but it’s a much harder league to make an impact in today’s NBA than in 1992.

The 2012 team is younger, bigger, faster, and stronger. Blake Griffin and LeBron James are 250-pounds of solid muscle. Patrick Ewing and Charles Barkley were 240/250-pounds of burgers and fries.

Would it be a close game? Absolutely. We aren’t even saying that the 2012 Olympic team would definitely win — especially since many of the Dream Team members had the desire to win at all cost a lot more than today’s players — we are just saying that people shouldn’t necessarily think that Kobe Bryant is out of his mind.

 1992 Dream Team
Name Position Height Weight Age
Christian Laettner F 6-11 235 22
Scottie Pippen G/F 6-7 210 26
David Robinson C 7-1 235 27
Michael Jordan G 6-6 198 29
Chris Mullin F 6-7 215 29
Charles Barkley F 6-6 250 29
Karl Malone F 6-9 256 29
John Stockton G 6-1 175 30
Clyde Drexler G 6-7 222 30
Patrick Ewing C 7-1 240 30
Earvin Johnson G 6-9 220 32
Larry Bird F 6-9 220 35
2012 U.S. Olympic Team
Name Position Height Weight Age
James Harden G 6-5 220 22
Russell Westbrook G 6-3 187 23
Kevin Durant G 6-9 235 23
Blake Griffin F 6-10 251 23
Kevin Love F 6-10 260 23
Chris Paul G 6-0 183 27
Deron Williams G 6-3 209 27
LeBron James F 6-8 250 27
Andre Iguodala G 6-6 207 28
Carmelo Anthony F 6-8 230 28
Tyson Chandler C 7-1 240 29
Kobe Bryant G 6-6 205 33

Have steroids in baseball really affected statistics? (7/9/12)

Yes. Yes, they have. But that’s just part of the story.

The numbers, when compared with a timeline of important events in the “steroid era” of Major League Baseball, seem to show that the use of steroids have increased offensive production. Any baseball fan knows that the amazing 1998 home run season may have been tainted by steroids and other performance enhancing drugs. But, that season was no where near the peak of home runs produced in the last 20 years. That was just the beginning. How has steroids in baseball really affected the game?

Many have seen the statistics for home runs during these seasons, but what about other statistics like strike outs and walks? How do they compare from year-to-year?

Click each image to open larger or in full screen

A quick look at these charts and one could possibly come to the conclusion that the inflated stats are the direct result of steroid use. Let’s keep in mind that it was not just All-Stars like Mark McGwire and A-Rod who were using PEDs, guys who were barely on the team also added to the total home run tallies — possibly due to steroid use.

But, it gets a little bit more confusing when one looks at the statistics for strike outs and walks throughout the past 20 years. The early and mid-1990s were filled with seasons that had sub-30,000 strike out years. There hasn’t been one of those since 1997. Strike outs stayed steady throughout the “steroid era” of the early-2000s and then have increased year-after-year beginning in 2005. The past four seasons have seen the most strike outs of any season in the history of professional baseball — and 2012 looks like to also be a record year as there have already been 19,084 by the All-Star break.

Strike outs have certainly gone up since the “steroid era,” but oddly enough walks have not. In looking at the line graphs provided, it’s easy to see that both home runs and walks follow a similar trajectory. The height of base-on-balls were the 2000 season, the same year there was a record set on number of home runs hit. Home runs took a dip in 2005, and so did walks.

What does this mean? Do steroids both help hitters jack home runs AND helps their eye sight? Well, probably not. There is a much simpler answer to why home run stats and walks have followed a similar trajectory path while strike outs continue to go up. The size of the strike zone has changed.

According to a 2007 study done by two historians at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (Larger Strike Zone, Drug Testing Reduced Hitting Baseball Since 2000) changes to how umpires call strikes and balls has had a huge impact. The larger the strike zone, the lower the offensive production. The opposite is true as well. Small strike zone means hitters have the opportunity to wait on the perfect pitch, and when that pitch does not come, they take a walk.

This study, along with the QuesTec pitch-tracking system showed that the enforced strike zone between 2002 and 2006 was larger compared to 1996 – 2001. Then, in 2009 a new system called Zone Evaluation was implemented in all ballparks, which is based on much better technology. This system grades umpires on accuracy and is used to determine which umpires receive post season assignments. And, since 2009, strike outs have been at an all time high — and the strike zone has gotten enormous.

So, have steroids contributed to the inflation of offensive numbers in Major League Baseball? Yes, without a doubt. But, a change to the strike zone — which also coincides with important dates in the MLB timeline — have also played a huge part.

Anthony Davis will be an NBA bust (5/31/11)

OK, so maybe that was a little harsh. Anthony Davis might not be an NBA bust, but he won’t have nearly the impact that so many analysts, GMs, coaches, former players, scouts, media members, fans, and even non-fans think he will be.

Draft experts say he is the best player that will come into the NBA in years. He’s a lock at a number one pick for the New Orleans Hornets — or whatever they will be called next year, maybe the New Orleans Unibrows?

Before I get too far into this diagnosis, I must first admit two key details about myself. First, I live in Charlotte and was bummed when the Bobcats did not get the first pick. If they did, I probably would be writing a blog post about how Anthony Davis will be a Hall of Famer. Second, I graduated from Indiana University. The IU vs. UK games this year — in which I was at the Sweet 16 one — were two of the best basketball games I have ever seen. I laughed when Davis got into foul trouble and could not seem to manage Cody Zeller — a player that is a great in the NCAA, but won’t have too much of an impact in the pros.

And this brings me to my first point.

1) Anthony Davis is a great defender. The NBA doesn’t care about defense.

Anthony Davis averaged 10.4 rebounds per game and 4.7 blocks per game. Those are some pretty incredible numbers. But, he averaged this playing against college players — mostly players in the SEC, a league that is filled with second-tier athletes because all their good basketball players are now wide receivers and tight ends playing in football national championships year after year.

Davis might be able to rebound and block some shots in the NBA, but not enough to pull the Hornets from the bottom of the league into a serious championship contender. The Hall of Fame is filled with offensive players who found a way to get open shots. These players — Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Ray Allen, Carmelo Anthony, etc. — will have no problem with Anthony Davis guarding them. Do you actually think Anthony Davis is going to be able to stop Blake Griffin driving the lane? Davis wasn’t able to stop Cody Zeller, an actual stick figure when compared to guys like Griffin and Kevin Love. Sure, Zeller had pretty bad games against UK, but since Davis was focused on Zeller the little IU guys were draining 3-pointers all game long. This will happen in the NBA over and over again. And when they do drive, Davis will resort to fouling. Which brings me to number two.

2) Anthony Davis gets in quick foul trouble when playing against good opponents.

When Davis gets into early foul trouble, he no longer plays his game of basketball. Luckily for Kentucky and John Calipari, they were able to pull him from most of these games — he only played 20 to 30 minutes in 11 games due to early foul trouble. Tom Crean knew that Davis likes to slap wrists and he got his players to take it straight to him almost every time down the court. You think NBA players won’t do the same?

Anthony Davis was on the Dan Patrick Show this morning and told Dan that he was most looking forward to playing against Kobe Bryant. He said he would be “coming for Kobe.” Wow. Those are some huge cojones. Anyone want to bet that Kobe scores 40 points and Davis fouls out the first time the Lakers play the Hornets next season? It’s not like the Hornets have anyone else who can guard Kobe. Which brings me to point number three.

3) Anthony Davis was on one of the best NCAA teams in the history of college basketball.

Christian Laettner, Tyler Hansbrough, Juan Dixon, Mateen Cleaves, Steve Alford. These guys were all great college players on great college teams who all won championships. They all made the NBA, but never had that much of an impact (the jury is still out on Hansbrough). All these guys, including Anthony Davis, made their incredible teams even better. But, when they went to struggling teams and were matched up against NBA All-Stars, they were no longer the BMOC (Big Men On Campus). Can Anthony Davis take a team that had a .318 win percentage to the playoffs? Can Anthony Davis really make a team that averaged 89.6 points-per-game a dominating force in the West? He will surely up their rebounds and blocks as the Hornets only averaged 15.5 RPG and 4.8 BPG this past season. At least that is a given.

In conclusion, I might just be bitter because the Bobcats do not get a chance at Anthony Davis and will be stuck choosing Harrison Barnes, Andre Drummond, or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist — all great players, but not franchise-changing players.

And let’s be honest, no one can predict the future when it comes to the NBA Draft. It’s not like LeBron James, Yao Ming, Dwight Howard, or Derrick Rose — all great first picks — have won an NBA Championship. And that’s what this is really about.

Below are some stats for each game Anthony Davis played for Kentucky in the 2011-12 season.

Click chart to open in full screen

How the Top 10 picks from the 2011 NFL Draft did their rookie season (4/24/12)

Media outlets across the country are releasing their 2012 NFL Mock Drafts in preparation for Thursday night’s first round — a 3.5 hour event on ESPN that OtherScreen will be covering. This is a huge day for NFL fans, especially ones who root for a team that missed the playoffs or who ended the season in the bottom of the barrel.

But, how did the 2011 NFL Draft Class do in their rookie season? Below are the Top 10 picks with some of their stats for their first full NFL season.

1. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers — QB
Starts: 16
Passing TDS: 21
Rushing TDs: 14
Passing Yards: 4,051
Rushing Yards: 706
2011 Team Record: 6-10
Notes: Cam Newton set records for most passing yards in a season by a rookie; the first rookie to rush and pass for 10 TDs a piece; most total TDs by a rookie; the fastest player to ever throw for 1,000 yards; most rushing TDs in a season by a QB; was named AP Offensive Rookie of the Year and was named to the 2012 Pro Bowl.

2. Von Miller, Denver Broncos — LB
Starts: 15
Tackles: 51
Assists: 14
Sacks: 11.5
Fumbles Forced: 3
2011 Team Record: 8-8
Notes: The highest selected linebacker since 2000, when LaVar Arrington went #2 to Washington Redskins; forced a fumble on his first NFL play from scrimmage; was AFC Defensive Player of the Week; was selected to 2012 Pro Bowl; was named AP Defensive Rookie of the Year.

3. Marcell Dareus, Buffalo Bills — DE
Starts: 15
Tackles: 32
Assists: 11
Sacks: 5.5
2011 Team Record: 6-10
Notes: Registered the most sacks for a Buffalo Bill since Aaron Schobel in 2001.

4. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals — WR
Starts: 15
Receiving TDs: 7
Receptions: 65
Receiving Yards: 1,057
2011 Team Record: 9-7
Notes: Recorded four 100-yard receiving games; led all rookies in receptions and receiving yards; was second in TD receptions by a rookie behind Julio Jones; set franchise season reception yard record for a Bengals rookie; selected to 2012 Pro Bowl.

5. Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals — CB
Starts: 16
Tackles: 59
Assists: 5
Interceptions: 2
Punt Return Yards: 699
Punt Return TDs: 4
2011 Team Record: 8-8
Notes: First NFL play was an interception and return for a TD; tied the single season punt return TD record with four; was selected to 2012 Pro Bowl.

6. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons — WR
Starts: 13
Receiving TDs: 8
Receptions: 54
Receiving Yards: 959
2011 Team Record: 10-6
Notes: Atlanta traded five draft picks to the Cleveland Browns to move up spots and take Jones with the #6 pick; led all rookie WRs with 8 TD receptions; was second behind A.J. Green for number of receptions by a rookie.

7. Aldon Smith, San Francisco 49ers — DE
Starts: 0
Tackles: 31
Assists: 6
Sacks: 14
2011 Team Record: 13-3
Notes: Set the 49ers franchise record for most sacks in a single season by a rookie; was named Rookie of the Year by Pro Football Weekly; was .5 sacks shy of tying the rookie sack record held by Jevon Kearse even though he never started.

8. Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans — QB
Starts: 0
Passing TDS: 4
Rushing TDs: 1
Passing Yards: 542
Rushing Yards: 56
2011 Team Record: 9-7
Notes: Replaced injured QB Matt Hasselbeck on November 20 and threw for 2 TDs and 140 yards; will get a chance to be the starter for the 2012-13 season according to head coach Mike Munchak.

9. Tyron Smith, Dallas Cowboys — OT
Starts: 16
2011 Team Record: 8-8
Notes: Tyron Smith was first offensive lineman to be selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the first round since owner Jerry Jones bought the team in 1989.

10. Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars — QB
Starts: 14
Passing TDS: 12
Rushing TDs: 0
Passing Yards: 2,214
Rushing Yards: 98
2011 Team Record: 5-11
Notes: Jacksonville traded six spots with the Washington Redskins to pick Gabbert; was sacked 40 times, the third most of any QB during the 2011-12 season; fumbled 14 times, the most of any QB in the league; Football Outsiders stated Gabbert’s season was the “fifth worst season [they've] ever measured” in aggregate value.

Turnover Margin Statistics for every Super Bowl (2/5/12)

There’s a saying, “Defense wins championships.” This might be true, but a more accurate saying should be, “Lots of takeaways, and few turnovers, wins championships.”

Sure, it’s not nearly as succinct and motivating as “Defense wins championships,” but it is certainly accurate. This isn’t brain surgery here. In 45 Super Bowls, there have only been three teams that managed to win the game after turning the ball over more than taking it away (a negative turnover margin).

The Colts managed to win Super Bowl V in 1971 with a -3 turnover margin. They threw three interceptions and lost four fumbles, while the Cowboys managed to hold themselves to throwing three interceptions and one lost fumble. The final score was 16-13. In 1980, the Steelers won Super Bowl XIV with a -2 turnover margin beating the Rams 31-19, while in 2006 the Steelers once again won with a -1 turnover margin in Super Bowl XL beating the Seahawks 21-10.

And that’s the complete history of Super Bowl winning teams who had a negative turnover margin. Only 7% of winners have had a negative turnover margin, while 20% have had an even margin, and 73% have had a positive turnover margin.

There have been more Super Bowl Champions with a +3 turnover margin (11) than any other type of margin. And only two teams have managed to have a +5 or better margin — the Cowboys (+7) in Super Bowl XXVII against the Bills, and the Ravens (+5) in Super Bowl XXXV against the Giants.

Of course this goes without saying, but whoever takes the ball away more times tonight than gives it away will be the next Super Bowl Champion. At least that’s what history has proven 73% of the time.

Check out our charts below — which have slightly the same stats in three different types of graphs!

Click each chart to open larger version

Fighter statistics for UFC on FOX: Evans vs. Davis (1/27/12)

We are all about statistics here at OtherScreen and we are all about television. As the UFC preps for their second network show with Evans vs. Davis on Saturday night, OtherScreen is preparing for our first MMA event. If you’ve played before, you know how we operate. If you haven’t, check out our website to find out how we send companion content for your mobile device to make TV more fun. Either way, the following information will certainly get you up-to-speed on Saturday’s event and will help you plan your strategy on which props you might want to choose.

The UFC website, along with some other MMA sites like Sherdog, have great stats on all the fighters that will be participating on Saturday night — like wins, losses, number of strikes, number of takedowns, percentage of strikes to takedowns, etc. — but we’re more interested in the specific way fighters have won.

For instance: Phil Davis has struck his opponents a total of 196 times out of 389 attempts, but he has yet to record a KO or TKO in any of his UFC wins. 40% of his wins have come from submissions while the other 60% have come from the judges’ decision.

This information is vital if you want to win our OtherScreen event this Saturday as we will be asking the question: “How will this fight end?” on a number of occasions. Your three possible answers are “KO/TKO,” “By Submission or Tap Out,” or “By Judges’ Decision.” By comparing the history of these fighters, you’ll have an edge come fight time.

Here are some facts about the fighters along with some charts for an easier understanding of the data. (Note: All fight statistics are for fights in the UFC or WEC. No other MMA fights are included.)

  • Rashad Evans is 27-1-1 in total fights (14 wins have been in UFC), but has never submitted an opponent. He also has never tapped out as his only loss — to Lyoto Machida in 2009 — came from a KO/TKO in Round 2.
  • Phil Davis is 9-0 overall (5 of these have come in the1UFC) and has won all of his fights by either submission or by Unanimous Decision.
  • Chael Sonnen is 27-11-1 overall (only 7 have been in UFC/WEC) and has never scored a KO or TKO. Sonnen came the closest to beating Anderson Silva by going nearly five full rounds before being submitted by the Brazilian. Sonnen has tapped out six times in his UFC losses, but has never been knocked out.
  • Michael Bisping is 23-3-0 overall and might be the most all-around fighter for the night as he has beaten opponents in all three ways. 67% of his fights have ended with a KO/TKO by Bisping, while 27% have been a Decision, and 7% are by submission. His three losses have come by a Unanimous Decision, a Split Decision, and a second round KO from Dan Henderson.
  • Demian Maia is 15-3-0 and is pretty split with his wins between Decision and Submission. He too has three losses, which have come by two Unanimous Decisions, and a first round KO from Nate Maquardt.
  • Chris Weidman is 7-0 with three wins in the UFC. Two have come from Submissions and one was a Unanimous Decision.

Saturday Night should be a great event to watch, especially when using OtherScreen. There may be some surprises, but if you pay attention to the precedent a lot of these fighters have set in previous fights, you may just win our first UFC event.

Click charts for larger version

A statistical comparison of the remaining NFL teams (NFC and AFC Championship Weekend) (1/20/12)

The remaining teams in the NFL are not the league’s sexiest, or the league’s most interesting or dynamic stories. But, the four teams that remain (Baltimore, New England, New York, and San Francisco) will certainly give true football fans an exciting Sunday of grid-iron action.

Two teams, both coach by Harbaugh’s, are defense-first/grind-it-out teams while the other two teams are a little more offensively focused. The Patriots are ranked second in the league in offensive yardage — behind the Packers — and third in points scored. The Giants, on the other hand, are above average in most categories and are still in Super Bowl consideration after just beating the Packers. (Sidenote: Is Eli Manning the most David-like quarterback of all time after beating the Goliaths such as the undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl XLII and the defending champion Packers last week? If he wins Sunday, see our blog for more about this in the coming weeks.)

Of the four teams remaining (graphs below that outline this information), the Patriots are by far the biggest offensive threat. They’ve put up 513 points this year and lead the other teams in offensive yards and passing yards. But, they also lead in yards given up on the defensive side of the ball.

None of the remaining teams are too much of a threat to put up a lot of rushing yards as the teams are ranked 8th (49ers) in rushing yardage, 10th (Ravens), 20th (Patriots), and 32nd (Giants). But, just because these teams do not put up great vanity numbers on the ground, they all have scored a number of TDs by running the ball. The Patriots are 5th in the league with 18 TDs, the Giants are 6th with 17, the Ravens are 10th with 15, and the 49ers are 14th. Just because a team had a lot of yardage on the ground does not mean they get in the endzone — see the Broncos who were ranked 1st in yards (2,632) but ranked 19th in TDs scored on the ground (11).

The most telling statistic with this group is turnover margin. The Ravens and the 49ers are the highest ranked defensive teams, on paper, but the 49ers have dominated the league with their ability to take the ball away and not give it back. The 49ers have a +28 turnover margin, good for 1st in the league by 4. San Francisco has only given the ball up 10 times all season, but have taken it away 38 times. The Ravens, on the other hand have the worst turnover margin of the four remaining teams with a +2, good for 11th best in the NFL. The Patriots are also pretty selfish when it comes to turnovers as they are +17, good for 3rd in the league; while the Giants are +7, good for 7th best.

Look for turnover margin to be one of the most telling statistics this Sunday. The team that turns the ball over more will probably lose. That’s what big games are typically decided on. It’s not rocket science here.

Click Charts for Larger Version

Tom Brady in 2001 vs. Tim Tebow in 2011 (1/14/12)

Twelve years ago, Tom Brady was a nobody. Drafted in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft, he spent most of his rookie season as the fourth string quarterback for the New England Patriots. Apparently Bill Belichick saw something in Brady as most teams would never keep four quarterbacks on the roster. By the end of 2000, Brady was second string and began the 2001 season this way.

Starter Drew Bledsoe suffered a huge hit from New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis in game two of the 2001 season, which brought in Tom Brady. In his first three games he threw for zero touchdowns and had a total of 300 passing yards (46, 168, 86.) He eventually learned how to throw a football and started to win games. He ended the season 11 – 4. Oh, and he won a Super Bowl ring.

Brady was the underdog in every game in the 2001 season. He needed a fourth-quarter comeback against the Oakland Raiders in the first round of the playoffs and won in overtime. Sound familiar? Brady threw for 312 yards in that game. Tebow threw for 316 yards in his first playoff victory.

By all means, Brady was a much better statistical quarterback in 2001 than Tebow is today. They both have one thing in common though. They both win games.

Below are three charts put together by the OtherScreen team that compare game-by-game statistics of Tim Tebow in 2011 vs. Tom Brady in 2001 (completion percentages, passing yards, and touchdowns.) Brady leads in almost every category, but was not nearly as consistent when it came to scoring touchdowns. Both QBs had a total of 18 touchdowns during the regular season — even though Brady played in three more games than Tebow did. While Brady had some great 3+ touchdown games, he played in six games without throwing or running for a single TD. Tebow scored in every single game except for the last one of the season and had seven games with multiple touchdowns.

Comparing the statistics of these two quarterbacks in 2011 are completely a waste of time as Brady is currently one of the best to ever throw a football. He has learned a lot in the past ten years. Can he put that into action tonight and actually beat the Broncos to end Tebow’s miracle season?

 

Click charts to open in full screen