Saturday, December 27, 2008

Competitive Balance

While I carp about the Yankees spending too much money, Dan Drezner makes the appropriate points. It's a rather curious phenomenon that baseball remains the most competitive sport, despite having the weakest salary cap rules and the largest revenue disparities. In other sports news, I take back all the bad things I said about the Giants, who have given the Falcons a glimmer of hope that they will win the NFC South (though I cannot figure out how the tiebreakers make this happen). Now, it's an unlikely scenario, but just having the chance has felt nice.

Thread topic: The experiences of Atlanta and Tennessee this year have put an end to the "mobile quarterback" era; Defend or refute.

14 comments:

Neil Sinhababu said...

If I were going to explain why baseball was the most competitive sport, I'd go with

-Long season, so lucky streaks don't swing the final standings too much.

-Large number of players on a team, some of whom are pitchers and can't play every day, so you can't just dominate with three superstars as in basketball.

Neil Sinhababu said...

By the way, that's the second post on which you link the wrong thing. We can't let standards keep falling around here.

Glenn Fayard said...

The experiences of Atlanta and Tennessee will end the era of the mobile quarterback until another good crop of mobile quarterbacks are drafted. I don't think happy feet always translate into personality disorders.

John Rove said...

Maybe the long season leads to the star players getting bored or burned out where the new guys are still excited to play everyday.

Nicholas Beaudrot said...

I wasn't referring to the personality disorders so much as the on-field results. The Titans have home field throughout and the Falcons went from awful to a playoff team.

Actually, I think the Falcons' performance is further evidence that college coaches can't make the transition, for a wide variety of reasons.

drip said...

If Jeff Fisher can't make it work, I don't think it can work, at least for now. I'm old enough to remember Fran Tarkenton, who got close, but never got it done. Elway was a great scrambler but didn't win a super bowl until age slowed him down. The quarterbacks who won multiple championships, Starr, Unitas, Bradshaw, Montana, Young, Aiken, Brady, I'm sure I'm leaving out someone, were not mobile guys, though they could avoid sacks. I love watching Vick and Young, but I don't see them winning with scrambling (assuming away their off field obstacles.) So, I.m pretty firmly doubtful, much as I like to watch them.

Nicholas Beaudrot said...

Well Fisher is like Mr' "I like defense and running the football". Also the Titans were not exactly chopped liver last year; they're just better this year. Young, it should be noted, ran a little less and completed way more passes his sophomore year (he was always clearly going to be better than Vick).

Also I am an idiot and forgot that last year the Falcons didn't have Vick. Prior to 2007 the Falcons had gone 7-9, 8-8, and 11-5. So the real story here is that Matt Ryan is substantially better than "no quarterback in a college coach's offense", which no surprise. Ryan as a rookie is probably a decent bit better than Vick in his sixth year in terms of overall offensive production, once you factor in how often Vick was sacked. Vick showed no evidence that he could ever improve his completion percentage. Young did; he probably would have been/will be successful somewhere. Russell, who knows, the Raiders are a total basket case right now.

I'm not sure I like the Elway comparison; his early teams were extremely good too, the main difference seems not to be his scrambling but Terrell Davis, and not having the 49ers dynasty in his way.

drip said...

I guess that's why I like Fisher. Of course I root for the Ravens, so what else could I say? You're right about Terrell Davis and Elway. I was trying to come up with a champion scrambler and Elway was as close as I could get, not that I'd necessarily know. I don't think it's much more than you win when you run well, not when your quarterback is that runner, at least so far.

Neil Sinhababu said...

drip, does your comment at 4:44 say that Steve Young wasn't a mobile quarterback?

drip said...

Yes, I was saying that he was not a scrambler when he won, though I could easily be wrong. He was good early on with bad teams, had the USFL thing right? Then some injuries? Then won a bunch of games with the 49ers? I am nearing the limits of both my memory and football knowledge here. I'm too lazy to look . . . . was Steve Young the proof that mobile quarterbacks can win by running? Maybe Steve Young is the big brother that Vince Young never had, but I don't think Vince grew up in Greenwich.

Neil Sinhababu said...

Here are the numbers -- in his three first team all-pro seasons, he ran 18 to 34 yards per game, which is definitely on the mobile side of the mobile / immobile distinction.

Nicholas Beaudrot said...

There's also the curious case of Daunte Culpepper, who was successful offensively while scrambling (the Vikings of that era had just terrible defenses and sometimes not much running game), but who seems to be totally useless at a fairly young age for a QB at exactly the time his rushing yards/game dropped. I guess that knee injury was pretty bad...

drip said...

So where are we? I predict a team with a careful quarterback will win the Superbowl. He will run for fewer than 5 yards per game doing it.

Rothlesberger is the one possible exception, though Flacco caught a 40-something yard pass. I wish the NFL would open up, but its still a run first, stop them with defense league.

Baseball isn't that far away.

Sam said...

1. Steve Young is probably the most successful "scrambler" this side of Fran Tarkenton. YouTube the thing he did against Minnesota some time.

2. The holes in Mike Vick and Vince Young's respective games had nothing to do with whether or not they could run. Rather, it was that running was ALL they could do effectively, essentially turning their offenses into wing options (which eventually gets destroyed at the NFL level.) If either of those guys could have (stayed out of prison or the psych couch and) mastered an effective passing game they too could have followed Young and Tarkenton (and Elway) into the HOF.

3. Ryan and Collins are winning because they throw accurate passes and avoid interceptions. Vick/Young through hard and far without knowing where it was going to go. There's a reason Roddy White suddenly became a Pro Bowler after Vick's departure. Vick couldn't throw accurately except to the tight end.

4. Baseball has more competitive balance because even crappy teams can find a shut down starter and win every third or fourth day.