Yum! Salisbury mistakes
Cold, Hard Football Facts for Aug 14, 2005
We feel bad for ESPN "pundit" and former NFL quarterback Sean Salisbury, who recently released his list of the league's top 10 offensive players.
We feel bad for him because, as far as we can tell, Salisbury was forced by ESPN management to create this list against his will and better judgment. After all, how do you explain it when a "pundit" sticks a pigskin pitchfork through his own reputation and then jumps up and down on its limp, bloody carcass, squeezing out every last oozing ounce of credibility? Clearly, he was under orders from a higher power to create a list that was strong on hype and controversy yet weak on credibility and Cold, Hard Football Facts.
Michael Vick, for example, landed at No. 7 on the list. Salisbury described the Atlanta quarterback as "the ultimate weapon in the NFL." That's funny. We looked at the Cold, Hard Football Facts and found that "the ultimate weapon" has all the firepower of a dime-store bottle rocket. In fact, in a four-year career, Vick has accounted for just 49 touchdowns. It's solid, yes, but hardly worthy of the hyperbolic praise "ultimate weapon" or a spot on the list of top 10 offensive players in the NFL.
Salisbury's credibility apparently tripped over upper management diktat and the years of ESPN-generated Vick hype we've been forced to endure since the quarterback came out of Virginia Tech in 2001. The hype, put most simply, is out of all proportion to Vick's actual performances on the field. Yes, Vick is one of the most thrilling players in football. But that excitement masks actual onfield production which can only aspire to be mediocre some day.
For example, 23 QBs tossed more touchdown passes than Vick (14) last year. Twenty-five quarterbacks passed for more yardage than Vick (2,313) – including Arizona's Josh McCown and Tennessee's Billy Volek, who started just eight games in 2004.
But wait a minute, Cold, Hard Football Facts dude, you're forgetting that Vick is one of the most feared ballcarriers in the NFL. Yes, he is. But even if we include his three TD runs (count 'em, 3), it turns out that 20 quarterbacks last year accounted for more trips to the end zone than Vick did both rushing and passing (17 total). Even aging warhorse Vinny Testaverde – now out of football – got the ball in the end zone more often than "the ultimate weapon" (17 TD passes, 1 TD run) in 2004.
If we look at receivers and running backs, we find that 22 players, including running backs Shaun Alexander and LaDanian Tomlinson, put the ball in the end zone more often last year than Salisbury's "ultimate weapon."
And what about total yardage? Vick must be near the top of the list. After all, as Salisbury pointed out, he's a threat "with his legs and his arm." Well, Vick passed for 2,313 yards and ran for 902 – that's a total of 3,215 yards of offense last year. Sixteen quarterbacks, including players like Joey Harrington, who's in danger of losing his job in Detroit, accounted for more yards of offense than Salisbury's "ultimate weapon."
To recount Vick's place in the NFL offensive hierarchy last year:
- 23 quarterbacks passed for more TDs
- 25 quarterbacks passed for more yardage
- 20 quarterbacks passed and ran for more TDs
- 22 offensive players put the ball in the end zone more often
- 16 quarterbacks accounted for more yards of offense
But we're not even sure Vick's inclusion on the list was the worst of Salisbury's mistakes. Of course, you know our default position: any list that that puts the Picasso of Choke Artists, Peyton Manning, ahead of transcendent postseason performer Tom Brady is automatically invalid. Brady is No. 10 on Salisbury's list. Manning is No. 1.
Apparently, Salisbury has chosen to follow the Pete Prisco path of pigskin analysis, walking into a stone wall of Cold, Hard Football Facts that refute his hypothesis and opting to simply ignore them. Salisbury's top offensive weapon in the NFL has posted a Craig Krenzel-esque 55.4 passer rating in five playoff losses. Apparently, Salisbury doesn't watch playoff football.
Salisbury was lavish in his praise of Brady, saying that no quarterback since Joe Montana "has more poise" and adding that "I don't think his championship run is done." In other words, Salisbury believes Brady will become just the third quarterback to win four Super Bowls, or perhaps the first to win five. Still, he doesn't merit the lofty ranking of the most overhyped player in sports or the most inconsistent postseason performer in NFL history.
Other than that, it was a nice job.
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