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Micah Parson’s comments on T.J. Watt shines light on “advanced analytics”

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve likely seen, heard, or read Dallas Cowboys pass rusher Micah Parsons’ comments on who he thinks are the best pass rushers in the NFL.

He doubled down, and even said he thought the NFL/Associated Press got it right with Myles Garrett being awarded the Defensive Player of the Year.

However, when Parsons was asked to rank the Top 5 pass rushers in the league, and he left T.J. Watt off the list, it raised eyebrows.

Who am I kidding…it didn’t just raise eyebrows, it ruffled feathers of the Pittsburgh Steelers global fan base. If you are one of those fans who haven’t seen the video yet, check it out below:

While it is ridiculous Parsons leaves Watt, who recorded 19 sacks in 2023, off his Top 5, it’s the reasoning behind his decision which is truly baffling.

Parsons uses analytics like “double team rate” and “pass rush win rate” to justify his list, and his own place on that list, rather than basic statistics. Somehow, Parsons never mentions sacks in his rant, which used to be the only statistic necessary when debating which pass rusher is the best in the league.

No matter how you slice it, we are talking about the elite of the elite in the NFL on the defensive side of the football. Parsons is a tremendous talent, and so are Garrett and Watt, but to somehow suggest these “advanced analytics” can help decipher the proverbial wheat from the chaff seems like a stretch.

Every player mentioned by Parsons in the video clip above are used drastically different. Garrett, who is larger and a freak of nature athlete, is moved inside more than both Watt and Parsons. You don’t need Pro Football Focus to tell you that, and that means Parsons and Watt are the better comparison than bringing Garrett into the conversation.

But this isn’t about even the comparison, it’s about the “analytics”. Sports like baseball are falling head-over-heals for new analytics, the NFL and football are following suit. Suddenly, the eye test isn’t enough. Neither are basic statistics like sacks, pass defenses, touchdowns, forced fumbles and even interceptions which used to be the standard to for measuring the impact defenders have on the game.

Statistics are great, but there is a reason why there are multiple books which have a title that reads something along the lines of “Lying with Statistics”. Keep creating these new metrics and you can always make a case for something, or someone, to be more impactful than they truly are in the game.

Let me make this clear, Parsons is entitled to his opinion, and even though I vehemently disagree doesn’t mean his opinion isn’t valid in his mind, and others. To me, this is about these type of analytics which have skewed how we view the game. How we view accolades and awards.

Now that I put it that way, does any of it matter? Probably not. If you ask Watt, Garrett, or Parsons they’d probably abandon the individual awards to be playing in the Super Bowl tomorrow.

Maybe it’s all just a pissing contest between players and fans anyway…

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