Steve McLendon
Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

Nania’s All-22 demonstrates how New York Jets defensive tackle Steve McLendon has dominated games without lighting up the box scores.

Ever since his arrival from Pittsburgh in 2016, Steve McLendon has been the most underrated player on the New York Jets.

Why? Well, the answer is simple. Outdated and oversimplistic box score stats have been selling him short. Over his four seasons with the Jets, McLendon has averaged 36.0 tackles and 1.9 sacks per season, throwing in totals of one pass defended, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery along the way.

A quick glance at those numbers (if they even warrant your attention at all) would lead you to believe McLendon is just another guy.


Believe me. He’s not.

Football is a game defined by events that are completely overlooked by the ancient statistics we are still relying upon for some odd reason. There is one ball, and the stats only give credit to the small number of players (usually 2-4) who interact with it on a given play. The other 18-20 players on the field who did not interact with the ball? Box scores will tell us they had nothing to do with the play.

In reality, all 22 players on the field are generally affecting the game at a similar level on a play-to-play basis (save for the quarterback, of course). On the average play, there is a great chance that the players who had the most direct impact on the outcome received no statistical credit at all.

Offensive linemen are the most obvious victims of the football world’s outdated statistical system, but make no mistake about it – every single position on the field sees both positive and negative contributions go untracked on an extremely consistent basis.

This is especially true on the defensive side of the ball. You can hardly learn a thing about a defensive player by looking at their box score stats.


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