Every time the NFL season starts to roll around, more talk seems to circulate regarding the best players in the league? But is there any truth to these top 10 lists? Who really is the best quarterback, or the number one running back? And is there any point in finding out?
Just how exactly do people try to ascertain who the best passers are in the league. Do we look at passing yards? Or the touchdown to interception ratio? How many winning games they have been part of?
More importantly, does anyone really disagree with these lists?
If I said my top three quarterbacks were Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Drew Brees, would anyone argue that strongly with me? The same goes for running backs. What about a top five of Arian Foster, Ray Rice, LeSean McCoy, Maurice Jones-Drew and Chris Johnson? Does anyone have a real problem with that?
I think one of the main problems with trying to work out the best football players (and a lot of other sports) is statistics.
It is the only way to really gauge how well a player has performed. I am not saying there is no use or truth to statistics. Those quarterbacks I mentioned all had great stats, and that is no coincidence, but it seems a little clinical to judge purely based on numbers on a piece of paper.
And that is why you often hear of people talk about how a player performs under pressure, or in important playoff games with 2 minutes left on the clock. But statistics are not as readily available for those categories.
It could be quite possible for a passer to throw a huge amount of touchdowns, but his team finishing with a 4-12 record, for example. Does that mean that those TD’s count for nothing? It’s not as if the QB is wholly responsible for the team winning or losing, right?
It’s quite simple. There are lots of factors that must be considered when trying to work out the NFL’s best players. It’s too easy to just look at a players statistics and claim them to be better than anyone else.
If we are going to stick with statistics as the best way to measure a player’s performance, other numbers need to come into the equation.
One stat that I am in favour of is something called ‘air yards’. This purely measures how many yards the quarterback through the ball in the air on each passing attempt. It discounts any yardage the receiver gains after catching the ball. This is important, because as it stands, if Brady throws the ball 2 yards to Wes Welker, and he runs for a further 88 yards, it goes down as a 90 yard throw by Brady. Now, that’s just not accurate, or fair, is it?
I realize that a lot of these lists are just for entertainment, and discussion. But I am sure that there are not that many people who strongly disagree with them, which leads me to question their importance in the first place.
Like I said, statistics have a place, and I think more meaningful stats need to come into play. So, as it stands right now, the best players in the NFL? Well, it depends on who you ask.