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Not a Dime’s Worth of Difference!

[ 126 ] October 2, 2015 |


Barack Obama:

We know that other countries, in response to one mass shooting, have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass shootings. Friends of ours, allies of ours — Great Britain, Australia, countries like ours. So we know there are ways to prevent it.

And, of course, what’s also routine is that somebody, somewhere will comment and say, Obama politicized this issue. Well, this is something we should politicize. It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic. I would ask news organizations — because I won’t put these facts forward — have news organizations tally up the number of Americans who’ve been killed through terrorist attacks over the last decade and the number of Americans who’ve been killed by gun violence, and post those side-by-side on your news reports. This won’t be information coming from me; it will be coming from you. We spend over a trillion dollars, and pass countless laws, and devote entire agencies to preventing terrorist attacks on our soil, and rightfully so. And yet, we have a Congress that explicitly blocks us from even collecting data on how we could potentially reduce gun deaths. How can that be?

This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction. When Americans are killed in mine disasters, we work to make mines safer. When Americans are killed in floods and hurricanes, we make communities safer. When roads are unsafe, we fix them to reduce auto fatalities. We have seatbelt laws because we know it saves lives. So the notion that gun violence is somehow different, that our freedom and our Constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon, when there are law-abiding gun owners all across the country who could hunt and protect their families and do everything they do under such regulations doesn’t make sense.

Jeb! Bush:

“I think we need to reconnect ourselves with everybody else. It’s very sad to see. But I resist the notion, and I had this challenge as governor—look, stuff happens.”

In conclusion, don’t vote, it just encourages the bastards.


The American Way of Death

[ 147 ] October 1, 2015 |


I’m not sure I can say anything about the latest mass killing referenced by Paul below that I haven’t said before. So instead I will take the blogger’s prerogative to reiterate:

When Bullshit Was King: The 2005 NFL Draft, Insiders and Outsiders

[ 90 ] October 1, 2015 |


Paul recently mentioned the kind of extraordinary numbers Aaron Rodgers is putting up; even adjusted for era, and in substantive as well as freak show accomplishments, he’s one of the very greatest NFL players ever. It always amazes me that the Packers were able to get him with the 24th pick in the 2005 Draft. Rodgers was not a diamond in the rough. I mean, whenever someone turns into Aaron Rodgers you’re somewhat lucky, but QBs with his level of NCAA performance at his age are much more likely to become good NFL QBs than not. A QB prospect like this should go in the top 2 or 3 picks of the draft barring extraordinary circumstances.

What’s even better is that 3 running backs were selected with the first 5 picks of the draft. Could the idiots who would blow a top 5 pick on a running back — a silly decision in contemporary football even if Aaron Rodgers isn’t on the board — at least identify really good ones ex ante? Well, the picks were Ronnie Brown, Cedric Benson and Cadillac Williams, so no. Did those teams at least have solid starters at QB? Nope: they had Gus Ferrotte, Kyle Orton/Rex Grossman, and Chris Simms/Brian Griesie.  The Packers did have a Hall of Fame QB rather than a terrible one, but they jumped on Rodgers anyway because Thompson knows what he’s doing.

Bill James’s classic early essay about insiders and outsiders is, alas, not available online. But whenever someone is on the losing side of a sports argument — “trading Nick Foles and the equivalent of the 39th pick for the right to pay Sam Bradford $13 million was perfectly reasonable,” say — you can always retreat to the “the insider knows more than you do” argument. Chip Kelly stayed up all night analyzing that dogshit stock Sam Bradford game film. Who are you to criticize his actions?

But, as James said, the fact that insiders know much more about many aspects of the sport doesn’t make them more reliable analysts of everything. His example was Fred Lynn, who insisted that he would hit better in Anaheim than he had in Boston and was paid like it by the Angels, although he reliably had an OPS 300 or 400 points better at Fenway. Sometimes an intense knowledge of the details prevents you from seeing the big picture. Sometimes outsiders can see things insiders who know a lot more about many things cannot. In 2015, running backs are for the most part correctly valued by NFL teams, and the exceptions tend to be outright joke organizations like the Mike Holmgren-led Browns. But the massive overvaluing of running backs in the 2005 draft is an example of something on which outsiders were ahead of many insiders. Going back to the 1980s, any remotely sophisticated analysis of the question would show that the quality of a team’s pass offense and defense was far more important to its success than the quality of its running game and running defense; proto-sabermertics showed this conclusively.  This has been repeatedly confirmed as analysis has become more sophisticated, the marginal quality of a team’s passing game has if anything increased in importance. But a lot of insiders clung to GROUND AND POUND sentimentality for a long time. It was a prejudice — the SMASHMOUTH running game is REAL AUTHENTIC FOOTBALL and the forward pass WHY NOT PUT PLAYERS IN A DRESS — that could be supported by a statistical illusion (for strategic reasons, good teams tend to run more often, so if you use the measures of bulk yardage that were generally printed in newspapers and featured on broadcasts rather than measures of efficiency, it looks like good teams reliably run more effectively than bad ones even though they don’t.) In addition, a lot of coaches cut their teeth in the NCAA, in which there’s a much greater spread between good running games and bad ones and the attrition of individual running backs is less of a problem.

Nick Saban’s justification for taking Brown reflects a lot of this:

In four games against LSU when Saban coached there, Brown carried just 35 times for 184 yards and two touchdowns. Still, Saban liked what he saw — especially a short fourth-quarter run in a close game.

“It’s not one of the plays that are on the highlights, but he ran over about nine guys,” Saban said. “It was only about a 7-yard gain, but I had to say to myself, ‘Man, what a competitor.'”

Looking at the record as a whole, Brown didn’t even play particularly well against elite competition, but THERE WAS THIS ONE PLAY THAT ONE TIME AND HE DID THIS AND WOW. In terms of personnel evaluation, there’s no magic to game film. Sometimes it reveals things that aren’t in the statistics; many times, you lose sight of the forest for the trees. Perhaps Chip Kelly’s study of Sam Bradford game film was part of a dispassionate analysis. Much more likely is that he got tired of seeing Nick Foles’s flawed game up close, focused on Bradford as an alternative, saw what he wanted to see in the film, and then decided he had to get Bradford whether or not the cost was reasonable.  This last step is the real key, the flaw that often distinguishes bad organizations from good ones. It was completely reasonable for the Bills to evaluate Sammy Watkins as the best wideout available in the 2014 draft. It was not reasonable to think that the difference between Watkins and Mike Evans or Odell Beckham Jr. was worth an additional first round pick. There’s a reason good organizations are lot more likely to trade down than up.  I’m sure Ryan Grigson spent a lot of time analyzing that dogshit stock Trent Richardson game film,  and you can always find isolated footage showing that despite all evidence Richardson is a beast, and before you know if a first round pick you could have used to fill one of your team’s many holes is out the window in exchange for less than nothing because you have to have the player. In fairness, Saban (who wasn’t formally in charge of personnel but seems to have been the dominant decision-maker) did want to trade down — he is a Belichick disciple, after all.  But when the right offer didn’t come, he made a huge blunder that sent his NFL career on the path to oblivion.  The reason to do systematic analysis, as James said, is to avoid paying the price for believing things that aren’t true.

Sometimes insiders do know things that even sophisticated analysts don’t, and in cases where the evidence is ambiguous and someone has a good track record deference is warranted.  But a lot of times more systematic analysis is right. To reiterate, by any statistical measure Sam Bradford is a below-average QB, and the more sophisticated and context-sensitive the measure the worse he looks.  (This isn’t surprising — as an ultra-conservative thrower playing on generally bad teams, Bradford was well-situated to piling up safe yards in garbage time against soft coverages that make his numbers look superficially more efficient but don’t constitute any actual value to his teams.) This data was something Kelly should have paid more attention to.  Between the relative lack of importance of the marginal quality of a team’s running game and the relative fungibility, short shelf life and unreliability of running backs, under modern conditions it’s virtually never a good idea to invest a premium draft pick in the position, but it took an agonizingly long time for teams to figure this out.   A lot of GMs sacrificed their jobs to old-timey nonsense about the surpassing importance of the running game.

A final point of interest.  Saban’s time with Miami is generally remembered as just a bust.  But he did take a 4-12 team and improve it to 9-7, with Ferrotte at quarterback.  The improvement wasn’t quite as great as it looks in the record — “only” 80 points — but it was real (and, by the same token, his second and last Miami team was better than its 6-10 record suggests.)  His ability as a coach didn’t completely abandon him — but when you do stuff like “take Ronnie Brown with the second overall pick” all the motivational ability in the world will only get you so far, and of course when you show you don’t know what you’re doing it undermines your ability to lead the team. (Matt Williams ordering good hitters to bunt with 3-1 counts is much more damaging in making him look like a buffoon than for the direct effects of the suboptimal strategy itself.)

To be clear, all kidding and co-blogger trolling aside, I’m not saying that Kelly is doomed to a short and unexpectedly brutish career as an NFL head coach.  He has already won 10 games twice with retread quarterbacks, and the division being what it is could even return to the playoffs with his emaciated talent base this year.  I’m sure even Saban would acknowledge that Kelly is a better tactical coach (as opposed to recruiter/talent developer.)  But if he’s going to succeed in the long term, he’s going to need someone else to collaborate in picking players.  Tactical innovation just can’t overcome talent mismatches in the NFL like it can in the NCAA.   And you just can’t win in the NFL in 2015 with huge investments in running backs.

The “Authenticity” Tautology

[ 244 ] October 1, 2015 |


Authenticity is inherently meaningless as a criterion of value. Departures from tradition that improve something are no vice; upholding unworthy traditions is no virtue. Often, the concept is at least harmless despite being useless. But when it comes to political punditry, it’s actively pernicious:

Is Hillary Rodham Clinton not presenting her true self to voters? As with candidates like Mitt Romney and Al Gore, claims that she is inauthentic have fueled endless cycles of negative coverage of her campaign.

In reality, all politicians are strategic about the image and behaviors they present to voters. Some just hide the artifice better than others.

The refrain that Mrs. Clinton is calculating and inauthentic has recurred throughout her political career. During this campaign cycle, reporters and columnists have already questioned who the “Real Hillary” is, said that she “wrestles with the authenticity issue,” and described just being herself on the campaign trail as “a tricky proposition.” The Daily Beast’s Mike Barnicle reflected the conventional wisdom in writing that the “nagging question” that “won’t go away” is “Who is she? Really, who is she?”

The “authenticity” game is one candidates can never win once they’re in the trap, and who cares anyway?

The Great Circle Jerk of Life

[ 72 ] September 30, 2015 |


A long-standing sycophant of Niall Ferguson and Henry Kissinger was commissioned by the NYT Book Review to review Niall Ferguson’s hagiography of Henry Kissinger. (By the way, is there anything more pathetic than being a sycophant of Niall Ferguson?) The results may not surprise you:

This Sunday, the New York Times Book Review will publish a review of the first volume of Niall Ferguson’s authorized biography of Henry Kissinger, Kissinger: The Idealist. The reviewer is Andrew Roberts.

Roberts brings an unusual level of familiarity to the subject: It was Roberts whom Kissinger first asked, before turning to Ferguson, to write his authorized biography. In other words, the New York Times is having Kissinger’s preferred authorized biographer review Kissinger’s authorized biography.


So how is the review itself? Contrary to the bet that an opinionated yet informed expert might turn in an exciting piece, Roberts’s essay is ponderous, and, if possible, even more hagiographic than the authorized biography itself.

“Kissinger’s official biographer,” writes the man Kissinger first asked to be his official biographer, “certainly gives the reader enough evidence to conclude that Henry Kissinger is one of the greatest Americans in the history of the republic, someone who has been repulsively traduced over several decades and who deserved to have a defense of this comprehensiveness published years ago.”

Henry Kissinger: greatest American of the last century, or greatest American ever? I’m sure Yahya Khan would agree it’s the latter.

Fake But Inaccurate

[ 122 ] September 30, 2015 |


Ross Douthat asserts that Carly Fiorina was confused rather than dishonest:

Now it’s very clear what scene she’s referencing: It’s a section of this Center for Medical Progress film, the relevant portion of which you can find right here (warning: tough-to-watch content), that weaves together interviews, graphic footage, and excerpts from the CMP’s sting videos of Planned Parenthood officials to tell an anti-PP story. The specific clip in question features a former technician for Stem Express, Planned Parenthood’s (erstwhile) partner in fetal-tissue procurement, describing her work at a Planned Parenthood clinic; this interview is intercut with video footage of a fetus twitching while it expires in a metal bowl, which is not from the abortion/procurement being described, but taken from a different undercover video at an unidentified clinic.

This is…problematic:

So far, the video Fiorina described has not been made public. This latest video most definitely is not it.

The video, titled “Carly Fiorina was right” (warning: extremely graphic), was provided by the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform. They are the group that provided an image of a fetus, moving slightly, that is used by the Center for Medical Progress in one of their videos. This new video shows the context: The fetus is pulled from a woman and placed in a bowl. At no point does anyone say, “We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.” There is no sound. There is no indication that we are inside a Planned Parenthood–affiliated clinic.

The only new information this video adds is the revelation that the fetus came out of a woman’s body. If that surprises you, then you have no right to weigh in on debates over women’s health care.

Jen Gunter:

It is easy to see how someone who has no obstetrical training might think this could be something other than a previable premature delivery. Cunningham’s statements clearly show he is no medical expert and isn’t in the position to explain it. However, I am.

Here are all the issues with the video from start to finish:

  1. It is illegally and clandestinely shot. I feel very badly for the poor woman in question and wonder why Fiorina and our elected officials are not as outraged as I am about her violation and exploitation. I had second thoughts about watching it myself given the lack of consent from the woman, however, I felt if I could end the conversation about it faster by weighing in. Time magazine or Slate have links.
  2. The prep of the patient. The physician (I’m assuming) pours surgical prep/cleaner on the woman’s perineum. We don’t do that anymore for spontaneous deliveries or for abortions that involve induction of labor. This tells me this video is at least 15 years old or from another country.
  3. The delivery. It is a spontaneous delivery as the operator waits for the fetus to be expelled. This is what we do with a previable premature delivery. If this were shot mid way through a 2nd trimester abortion (meaning the Laminaria in the cervix, which are osmotic sticks that help the cervix dilate, had just been removed) it is highly unlikely the operator would have waited for a spontaneous expulsion.
  4. The cord is clamped on the fetal side. If this were an abortion it would just be cut. Really. No one ever does this with an abortion as it serves no purpose.
  5. Waiting for the placenta. The clamp is left on the placental end and at the end of the video the placenta still hasn’t delivered. If this were an abortion the placenta would be removed with suction immediately, no one would wait 11 minutes. Ever. Every abortion clinic has a suction machine.
  6. There is no proof this video is in a Planned Parenthood clinic never mind in the United States. This could easily be an operating room.

So, in summary, Fiorina’s description of video evidence of Planned Parenthood is fundamentally unexceptionable even though the footage 1)didn’t come from the videos Fiorina was discussing, 2)there’s no evidence that the footage comes from a Planned Parenthood, and 3)there’s very good evidence that it doesn’t involve abortion at all. Well, I’m convinced!

The Popularity Of Planned Parenthood

[ 90 ] September 29, 2015 |


A very important point:

But here’s another way in which the Republican mission to destroy one of the country’s largest providers of women’s health care is divorced from reality: It appears completely blind to evidence that Americans — the same Americans on whom the Republican party relies as voters — really, really love Planned Parenthood.

Americans love Planned Parenthood so much that in an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released yesterday, 61 percent of people polled said that they opposed cutting funds to the organization. But more notably, Planned Parenthood again emerged as the entity with the highest favorability ratings in the poll, with 47 percent of respondents saying they feel positively about it, more than felt good about either political party or any of the presidential candidates.

And public officials who support PP are generally more popular than those that don’t, too.

After you’re done with this post, see Ann Friedman on the importance of Planned Parenthood.

Randomly Destroying Lives

[ 56 ] September 29, 2015 |

A must-read, if deeply depressing, longform from Katie Baker.

Our Little Italy has a Bucca De Beppo and an Olive Garden!

[ 309 ] September 28, 2015 |

I fondly recall my most recent visit to bustling Manhattan town, in which I visited an upscale restaurant called “Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Company” in the city’s so-called Creole district.

As anyone who’s spent time there knows, New Yorkers can be as provincial as anyone, and the New York Times reflects this not infrequently, particularly in the Styles section. (Cf. also “yoga studios, artisanal cocktails, and women with visible tattoos, whose worldwide availability was limited to Brooklyn until six months ago, have now made it all the way to Westchester County!“)

Our Conclusion, As Always: Both Sides Do It

[ 122 ] September 28, 2015 |


It’s like David Broder never left:

Obama arguably deserves as much or more blame for that failure as Boehner. The President has also struggled to stand up to the far left. “Fairly or not, Obama and Boehner, as much captives as leaders of their respective parties, will be indelibly identified with the dysfunction of their times,” The Post’s White House bureau chief, Juliet Eilperin, explains in her own look at the relationship between the two men. Like PK, she focused on the failed grand bargain of 2011 as a turning point the duo never recovered from. “But it was Obama, the one who felt stranded at the altar in the past, who decided to move on. At the start of 2014, the president decided to pursue a strategy that emphasized executive action … The moves came with political costs — and a lawsuit, filed by Boehner, challenging Obama’s authority.” The only time they really cooperated this year was on trade promotion authority.

If I understand correctly, what being on “the far left” means in this instance is “opposing massively unpopular Social Security cuts.” And Obama was supposed to “stand up” to the “far left” by continuing to make offers to Republicans he knew they would refuse. This is one of those times where to state an argument is to refute it.

In case you think I’m being uncharitable, earlier there was this:

President Obama, already a lame duck, is less likely than before to get big ticket items out of Congress. McCarthy will not be nearly as worried about his legacy at this stage of his career as Obama is in the twilight of his presidency. This will make it harder for him to take risks or go out of his comfort zone. As a result, there will almost certainly be no meaningful movement on issues like tax reform next year or any kind of grand bargain that would raise revenue.

If you think there was any chance that the House would pass a “grand bargain” involving tax increases with John Boehner — or anyone else — in the speaker’s chair, you really have no business being paid to write about politics.

Two Sides of Carly Fiorina

[ 24 ] September 28, 2015 |


There’s the liar:

Indeed, even Fiorina’s super-PAC’s effort to manipulate the grossly manipulated and misleading Center for Medical Progress videos—videos that have been conclusively debunked—with its own YouTube version of the Fiorina claims surprised me. The video uses spliced footage from the Grantham Collection, an unsourced image of a stillborn, and a CMP image of a Pennsylvania woman’s stillborn baby, used without her permission.

Actually, the very meta nature of the enterprise stunned me—trying to doctor doctored videotapes and still failing to produce an image that corresponds to Fiorina’s narrative. It’s truthiness elevated to almost cosmic levels.

Nobody—not even Fiorina’s staunchest defenders—can say that these videos that clearly don’t exist are real. Even one of the most brazen defenders of the imaginary videos, Jonah Goldberg, opens with this concession to the petty, mewling fact-checkers: “[T]hey have a point. The exact scene, exactly as Fiorina describes it, is not on the videos.” (The article could felicitously end there, but Goldberg goes on to defend the statement under the theory that since “[m]ost Americans are morally appalled by late-term abortions,” Fiorina might as well supply them with pretend images to go with their preconceptions.)

Not even the most robust defenders of Fiorina’s defense can say much more than that some of the images grafted onto the sound bite might not be completely false. And yet there is still no word from Fiorina, her campaign, or her super-PAC to indicate that she misspoke, or misremembered, or confused some other video with a video about Planned Parenthood. There seems to be no place in the middle for Fiorina to just put out a statement saying, “Hey, I misspoke. Sorry.”

This is an extraordinary moment in the annals of political deception. No walk-back, no clarification, just a persistent insistence that a video that doesn’t exist and can’t even be manufactured in the underground labs of political deception is really out there but, like the Emperor’s new clothes, only the virtuous can see it. In Fiorina’s world and the world posited by Goldberg, if people want to believe the big lie about the kicking fetus and the brain harvesting badly enough, who are we to tell them it couldn’t have happened?

And the incompetent:

Here are the facts: In the five years that Fiorina was at Hewlett-Packard, the company lost over half its value. It’s true that many tech companies had trouble during this period of the Internet bubble collapse, some falling in value as much as 27 percent; but HP under Fiorina fell 55 percent. During those years, stocks in companies like Apple and Dell rose. Google went public, and Facebook was launched. The S&P 500 yardstick on major U.S. firms showed only a 7 percent drop. Plenty good was happening in U.S. industry and in technology.

It was Fiorina’s failed leadership that brought her company down. After an unsuccessful attempt to catch up to IBM’s growth in IT services by buying PricewaterhouseCooper’s consulting business (PwC, ironically, ended up going to IBM instead), she abruptly abandoned the strategic goal of expanding IT services and consulting and moved into heavy metal. At a time that devices had become a low margin commodity business, Fiorina bought for $25 billion the dying Compaq computer company, which was composed of other failed businesses. Unsurprisingly, the Compaq deal never generated the profits Fiorina hoped for, and HP’s stock price fell by half. The only stock pop under Fiorina’s reign was the 7 percent jump the moment she was fired following a unanimous board vote. After the firing, HP shuttered or sold virtually all Fiorina had bought.

During the debate, Fiorina countered that she wasn’t a failure because she doubled revenues. That’s an empty measurement. What good is doubling revenue by acquiring a huge company if you’re not making any profit from it? The goals of business are to raise profits, increase employment and add value. During Fiorina’s tenure, thanks to the Compaq deal, profits fell, employees were laid off and value plummeted. Fiorina was paid over $100 million for this accomplishment.

A fitting Republican idol, in other words.

He’s Our Closer! And Other Follies

[ 135 ] September 27, 2015 |

When I took the occasion of the Mets clinching the NL East to make fun of Jon Papelbon, I wouldn’t say I anticipated this:

It’s not news that Papelbon is a gold-plated asshole. What’s amazing is that Matt Williams — while taking Harper out — left Papelbon in the game. It’s a meaningless game, your pitcher literally chokes your best player for no particular reason, and…your response is to do nothing. Williams is in over his head on every level, of course, but I insist that this is a reflection of his biggest problem. The systematic underachievement of the Nationals isn’t just some big coincidence. It is appropriate, though, that Williams used the same robotic “he’s our closer” response that he uses to justify his unwillingness to use his best relievers in high-leverage situations. (The fact that today he was using Papelbon in a tie game just makes it more awesome.) He’s a beauty; I hope the Nats keep him forever.

To move up the coaching chain a little, there’s not really any justification for a separate Chip Kelly post this week. On the one hand, they stopped the bleeding; on the other hand, since the secondary was facing (Ryan Fitzpatrick – 2 of his 3 viable weapons), his most expensive running back was unable to play and his expensive QB was highly ineffective (QBR: 25.7), critics of his offseason work have no reason to back off. Since there’s been some good stuff written about it this week, though, I do want to (re)address one narrow issue. I’ve seen very few people defending the Murray signing at this late date, but a lot of people do seem to be insisting that trading a 2nd round pick for the privilege of being the idiot who issues Sam Bradford’s hefty paychecks this year was a good move. The argument, roughly, is that while Bradford is already 27, has a huge litany of injuries, and has been well below-average on those occasions when he takes the field, he has a big arm capable of taking big shots down the field and offering upside that guys like Foles and Sanchez don’t.

The thing is that this characterization of Bradford’s abilities is straightforwardly false. Far from being a big-armed gunslinger, he’s always been Captain Checkdown:

The explanation favored by the Eagles, and not without reason, is that everything wrong with the offense at the moment is linked to an inability to run the football. Whether the problem is a talent deficit on the offensive line, or a fundamental failure to execute, or that opposing defenses have decoded Chip Kelly’s system, the end result is the same. If opponents don’t worry about the run, they can pay more attention to the pass, and specifically to preventing deep passes.

“I don’t think it has anything to do with taking a shot down the field. What we have to do is be able to run the ball vs. a six-man box,” Kelly said Thursday. “[If you do], now you’ve got to get a safety down in the front. Now you have an opportunity to make him pay for getting an extra guy down there. But we haven’t in either game we played, whether it be Dallas or Atlanta, seen an extra defender in the box because we didn’t run the ball well enough to get that extra defender in the box. So there was no opportunity to throw the ball down the field.”

That’s fine and logical, but there have been passes completed in the history of the NFL against teams playing two high safeties. It’s not like threading a needle wearing boxing gloves. Completing a pass in that circumstance might be more difficult, but the great quarterbacks in the league don’t get paid because they can make the easy throws. The difficult ones are what separate them from the pack.

For whatever reason, Bradford has seemed to prefer rating risk above reward during his career. Among all active NFL quarterbacks – a list that includes 30 with enough lifetime attempts (1,500) to qualify – Bradford is ranked 30th for both yards per attempt (6.3) and yards per completion (10.7) over his entire career. Those numbers not only put him miles from guys at the top of the lists such as Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady but also behind lesser lights such as Rex Grossman, Chad Henne, and Matt Cassel.

BTW, I love the first two sentences of the third quoted paragraph. One favorite technique of apologists for Darrell Bevell’s Super Bowl-losing atrocity is to observe that the Patriots had their BIG BODIES on the field. Typically, apparently, Lynch’s successful runs in short-yardage situations have come against dime packages, because no NFL defensive coordinator has ever considered putting in his best run defenders in on short yardage situations before. Moving right along, when the trade was made Barnwell had more sophisticated data:

Foles was incredible throwing deep that season, doing so effectively and on a frequent basis. Bradford didn’t throw deep at all, and when he did, he posted a dismal QBR. In his career, 9.9 percent of his passes have traveled 20 yards or more in the air, which ranks 24th out of 29 qualifying passers over that time frame. His QBR on those throws was also 24th out of 29. And his average pass has traveled just 7.5 yards in the air; only Alex Smith has managed to be worse.

Rams fans complained after the article that it somehow wasn’t Bradford’s fault — that, through all the offensive coordinators and draft picks and free-agent dollars spent on receivers and linemen, it was everybody else and not their quarterback. But last year, we got a full season of the Rams offense without Bradford. And what do you know? They suddenly somehow found a way to throw downfield! The combination of Austin Davis and Shaun Hill, hardly superstar quarterbacks, threw passes 20 yards or more on 13.4 percent of their passes, the eighth-highest rate in the league. Their QBR on those passes was 93.6, which was 12th among NFL teams. Either Kenny Britt is the greatest downfield weapon the league has ever seen, or Bradford is not a good downfield passer. You pick.

Bradford does not have anything remotely resembling a good long passing game. The data on this point is unambiguous. So the argument is that 1)it made sense to trade a second round pick for a below-average QB because he would fit very well into Chip Kelly’s system although 2)said QB runs like an cement block and doesn’t throw a good deep ball. If your QB allegedly needs a great running game to make downfield plays this means he sucks, and in the NFL an effective running game isn’t actually going to help the QB much anyway. There was no reason to think this would work at the time and there’s even less reason to think it will work now.

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