FanPost

Numbers Can't Lie: Judging Our Community Projections (Defense Edition)

Last week, in discussing the misguided expectations that some of us have for Ted Ginn, I looked at The Phinsider community projections that were done before this season began.

Generally, when taking the pulse of any team, the aggregated opinions of that team's fan base will almost assuredly tip the scales heavily in the optimistic direction.  It's natural for fans to think more highly of their team's players than reality might dictate.

Ginn's projections were a perfect example of this "homer-ism," if you will.  So I wanted to go back and look at the other community projections that were done before this season and judge their accuracy.

First up is Channing Crowder.  Here is how his projected numbers compare to his actual numbers:

Tkl

Sck

TFL

FF

INT

PD

Projected

100

2.5

7

2

1

5

Actual

113

0

3.5

1

0

       6

The most obvious discrepancy in the numbers is that the community thinks Crowder is more of a playmaker than he really is, which is difficult to say when you are projecting a mere 2.5 sacks and 1 interception, and when that player is expected to play on almost every defensive snap.

Well, Crowder did play on almost every defensive snap, and it should be crystal clear to everyone at this point that he is simply not a playmaker.  Expecting 2.5 sacks, 7 tackles for loss, and a pick (which he still has not gotten in four years) was another example of aiming too high.  I think some of this inflation has to do with a fan's fear of projecting a player to make absolutely no plays.  They reason, "He's due to get a pick this season," or some other nonsense.  No, if a player is not a playmaker, they don't magically luck into 2.5 sacks or 7 TFLs.

Still, in regards to tackles, forced fumbles and passes defensed, this projection was pretty accurate.

Next is Joey Porter:

 

Tkl

Sck

TFL

FF

INT

PD

Projected

77

8

10

3

2

6

Actual

47

17.5

3

4

0

     1

Wow.  Now that's what I call disconnect.

I think this disconnect is warranted, however.  To put it bluntly, Joey Porter became extremely one-dimensional this season, exponentially more so.  The advanced metrics for run defense haven't been printed yet, but it's obvious from watching the games and looking at these stats that Porter was a non-factor against the run this year.  His mere 47 tackles (aside from his rookie year, a career low) and 3 TFLs bear that out.  Whether teams were running away from him or directly at him (like the Ravens did heavily) he couldn't shed his blocker and make the stop.  In pass coverage, he was equally as silent.  This is the first season since 2003 that he failed to record an interception, and his pass defensed total is also a career low as a starter.

Luckily, he compensated for his complete disappearance against the run by absolutely exploding in the sack department.  But which area is more likely to be repeated in the future - his performance against the run or his pass-rushing?  That scares me a bit, and it reminds me of Jason Taylor's last year or two here, when he became a real liability against the run while still a force in pressuring the QB.

Moving onto the secondary, we have Yeremiah Bell:

Tkl

Sck

TFL

FF

INT

PD

Projected

77

1.5

3

2

3

12

Actual

120

1

1.5

3

0

10

Some good, some bad.  The community obviously didn't picture Bell being so active on defense in terms of making tackles, although as the safety that is usually dropping into the box against the run, it should have been more apparent that he'd come close to leading the team in tackles, if not doing so outright.  Perhaps some community members didn't think he'd last an entire 16 games again?  If so, it wouldn't have been an unreasonable thought.

As far as INTs go, this is similar to Crowder.  Bell has only one career pick.  Projecting three this year was probably aiming too high.  Bell is known as a playmaker, and rightfully so, but those impact plays do not include interceptions.

Finally, we have Will Allen:

 

Tkl

Sck

TFL

FF

INT

PD

Projected

63

1.5

2

1

2

18

Actual

50

1

0.5

1

3

15

There is a curious underestimation of Will Allen among Dolphins fans - sort of a reverse "homer-ism."  Either fans don't think that he is as good as he is (which is very good), or they don't understand what makes a good cornerback.

Generally, good cornerbacks will never see enough passes thrown their way to pile up 63 tackles.  Tackle statistics are a poor way of measuring a CBs' production.  Case in point: Nnamdi Asomugha, the best CB in the game, only had 40 tackles this year.  So the community's projection for tackles either means that they don't think very highly of Will Allen or they think he's pretty good but are misreading the correlation between CBs and tackles.

All in all, these defensive projections were a mixed bag.  Next week I'll tackle the offensive projections.

But looking back to before this season began, did your statistical expectations for any other defensive players differ or coincide with what they actually produced?

And as always, if you have any suggestions for topics you'd like me to look into for future columns, just let me know in the comments.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Phinsider's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of The Phinsider writers or editors.

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