Friends, family and significant others often remark how little attention I pay to the NFL for someone who claims to love it. "You spend too much time focusing on those you care about," they say, "you really should be more selfish and channel that energy into following football, which, as you noted in the first sentence of this post, you love."
As you can see, I have wonderful and understanding people in my life.
But no. I cannot heed their wise advice and their remarkable ability to reference this post before it was even written. That's just not me. I cannot commit more of my precious spare time to football when there's so much life to be lived.
But, hypothetically, if I were to spend more time on football, here are a few handy links* that, if you cared to do such a thing, you could waste an entire lifetime perusing. And hopefully they will make you a better and more intelligent observer of the game in the process (unlike me).
First, hiding in plain site, comes the Bengals video section of NFL.com. Hated Brian Billick as the coach of the Ravens? Me too. But he, and his fellow "expert analysts" actually do a surprisingly non-idiotic breakdown of tactics and strategy each week.
Some examples? Begin with my favorite video, showing how Zimmer dials up QB pressure without forfeiting coverage. More on the D and the Steelers win here. Also, here's some good stuff on how Brat's power rushing package works. Hey, every Brat has its day right?
Now if only we could pass. Even once. Sigh.
Anyway, there are dozens of videos there. Archived by season and by team. It's a great resource. Check it out if you haven't already.
(I would embed the videos if I could but they do not seem to allow that yet)
Second, a few sites are out there now that dedicate themselves entirely to charting every single play of every single game and trying to assign values for that play at the team level, the unit level, and the player level. The idea is to actually figure out who is good and why.
Shockingly, this means going beyond the usual stats that would have you believe all 4 yard gains are created equal. So prepare to have your mind blow about how you think about NFL stats! If your mind shut down starting in 1996, that is.
You often see us reference Football Outsiders. They are the gold standard, as it were. It would behoove you to check them out frequently. I enjoy their weekly "Audibles at the Line", "Walkthrough" and "Cover 3" articles as well as their DVOA updates. But they have tons more stuff than just that.
However, Comrade Competitiveness also clued me into a couple other noteworthy sites. Armchair Analysis and Pro Football Focus. Armchair amounts to a massive stat dump and claims its specialty relates more to oddsmakers and gamblers than fans. But what is the difference between those groups anyway? Here's this week's stat dump for Chargers v Bengals.
Pro Football Focus operates similarly to Football Outsiders but without any of their commentary. If you trust their grading system (and it has its flaws since its difficult to acquire good video of secondary play due to how the NFL shoots games), though, its clarity and simplicity makes it a good source. For example, here's how they rank each player on the Bengals team, here's how they rank the QBs in the NFL and here's how they rank DTs. Easy, right?
Well, I hope this came in handy for those of you who, like me, probably spend too little following football. Feel free to add to the list in the comments.
*that you likely already know about, making this entire post pointless,
and confirming yet again my main skill is telling you something you
already knew, which is not even a skill