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Biggest NFL pet peeves: League would be better if these vanished

NFL Ref, Review, System, Replay
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The NFL would be so much better if these issues just disappeared

In this sport we love called football, there are many wondrous things. Superb athletic feats. Watching Patrick Mahomes throw the ball. Walk-off punt returns for touchdowns in Week 1. Sauce Gardner’s closing speed and freakishly long arms.

With that, though, come plenty of annoyances. Things you wish were better or that people stopped doing. Pet peeves. Here are the ones I hate the most.

Highlight-reel plays / great box score stats / Pro Bowls = great player

Dalvin Cook is the classic example of this category. Jets fans clamored to sign him and then were elated when Joe Douglas pulled the trigger.

The NFL is a lot more nuanced than box score numbers, highlight reels, and even Pro Bowls. Remember, Duane Brown made the Pro Bowl the year before he signed with the Jets. (At least look at All-Pros if you want to be even marginally fair.) Jordan Whitehead is the classic flashy player who makes big hits occasionally but is a miserable player overall.

Look, I get it. We at Jets X-Factor do this for a living, and most fans need something to rely on to judge a player. How do I know if safety Joe Schmo is good? Well, if he makes enough flashy plays, obviously he’s pretty good. If he made the Pro Bowl, that must count for something, right?

But then again, that’s why Jet X exists in the first place. We’re trying to go beyond the box score stats to tell you who’s good and who isn’t. If you’re a Jet X reader, hopefully you have a more thorough understanding of the game than watching Dalvin Cook’s highlight reels with your mouth open.

Pro Football Focus grades

In geometry class, my teacher used to tell the class, “You can’t judge a figure by what it looks like, but you can’t be blind, either.” That describes my relationship with Pro Football Focus grades. Citing PFF grades as definitive proof of how good a player is makes me nauseous. PFF had C.J. Uzomah graded higher than Breece Hall in Hall’s 177-yard rushing performance against the Broncos in Week 5 of the 2023 season.

I suppose PFF grades are a better mental shortcut than box score numbers. I’ll give them that. In some areas, such as run defense and run-blocking, they’re the only publicly available numbers, forcing analysts to use them despite understanding their shortcomings.

Still, a grading system run by college kids that claims to have analyzed every single NFL play in depth by the Monday morning after Sunday’s slate is automatically suspect. When you watch the film and compare the PFF grade, it becomes even more glaring. It’s also difficult to understand how a player will have poor numbers by PFF’s own stats but then end up with an excellent grade.

Not to pick on C.J. Mosley, but his 90.6 PFF coverage grade was the highest among linebackers in 2023 even though his yards per coverage snap and yards per target were below the positional average. On the flip side, John Simpson had strong pressure numbers according to PFF, NFL Next Gen Stats, and ESPN Analytics (along with impressive film), but his PFF pass-blocking grade was still poor.

When Jets beat writers tweet out PFF grades the day after the game, I generally check them only to laugh at some of the absurdities.

Overpaid quarterbacks

Trevor Lawrence’s $55 million APY boggles my mind. In three NFL seasons, Lawrence has had exactly one half of one season when he seemingly lived up to his potential. NFL teams must find a way to create a bigger middle ground for quarterback deals rather than allowing each average or slightly above-average passer to usurp the previous record for APY.

You would think Deshaun Watson’s deal would be a buyer-beware sign for the rest of the NFL. Or maybe Kyler Murray’s, at least. While no quarterback has gotten a fully guaranteed deal like Watson, teams continue to dole out huge money for players who haven’t proven to be anywhere close to the top echelon of NFL quarterbacking.

After Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, and maybe Justin Herbert and Lamar Jackson, there’s a wide swath of quarterbacks who could range from top-tier to mediocre in any given season. How you rank them will depend on their most recent season and their supporting cast. That’s not including Watson (who’s fallen out of this tier, in my opinion), Aaron Rodgers (his age and injury push him out of the elite tier, at least pending his 2024 performance), Russell Wilson (whose recent performances also don’t acquit him well), and Murray (injuries and miserable supporting cast).

How do you differentiate between these quarterbacks?

  • Dak Prescott
  • Jared Goff
  • Kirk Cousins
  • Jalen Hurts
  • Tua Tagovailoa
  • Brock Purdy
  • Trevor Lawrence
  • Jordan Love
  • Matthew Stafford
  • Derek Carr
  • Geno Smith

Ultimately, all of these players have played as top-10 quarterbacks or close to it at some point in recent seasons. You can argue about which players are more dependent on supporting cast vs. creating on their own, but the argument can take many different forms.

Any quarterback in the argument class should not be taking up 20% of the cap at any point in their contract. There should be more deals like Geno Smith’s and fewer like Lawrence’s. I know this won’t actually happen, but it drives me crazy to see teams overpay for these kinds of players.

Anti-analytics bias

While analytics has picked up steam in the NFL world, the old-school mentality still rules in many sectors. Robert Saleh is certainly a prime example of that. While film study is critical in football, using it together with analytics is the only way to get a complete picture. Furthermore, when statistics show that it’s better to go for it on fourth down, taking the conservative way out may save a coach’s face, but it can also cost him games.

Hating something because it questions conventional wisdom shows a rigidity of mindset and an unwillingness to change. The Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles have had substantial success over the last several decades, in part due to their willingness to embrace analytics.

I’m not saying that a team needs to go all-in on it, but at least using it as a part of decision-making is prudent.

Aaron Rodgers’ media treatment

It’s one thing to dislike Aaron Rodgers personally. But that’s not why media members loathe Rodgers; rather, it’s all because he lied to them about a personal decision. He became persona non grata around the NFL, and any opportunity to bash him is pounced upon like a predator circling its prey.

Honestly, it’s tiresome. There are NFL players who beat their wives, girlfriends, and children, but Rodgers is public enemy No. 1?

Get your priorities straight, media. And stop taking everything so personally.

Pass interference on underthrown balls

For a defensive back, these kinds of pass interference calls are extremely frustrating. Looking back for the ball too early slows down the defender and will likely lead to the receiver pulling away for a big gain. Until the catch point, the defender is naturally keeping pace with the receiver. What would have been sticky coverage suddenly turns into a penalty merely because the ball was underthrown and the defender was appropriately playing the receiver.

I get that it meets the criteria for pass interference, but it’s an example of making it impossible to play defense.

Mind you, it benefited the Jets in 2023 against the Giants in overtime when Zach Wilson’s woefully underthrown ball to Malik Taylor resulted in a DPI to set up the game-winning field goal. But it’s still not right.

The review process

Why do booth reviews or challenges take so long? Why can’t you just have a sky judge quickly correct the most egregious errors without resorting to a challenge? I could go on and on about this, but you know what I mean.

Jets fans, what are your NFL pet peeves?

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16 days ago

The archaic chain gang.
At least a half-dozen times a game the ball is misplaced, sometimes with strong consequences. How often have you seen a team reach the first down marker but be marked short, only to get stuffed on the next play and forced to punt?
That’s a lost possession. Happens constantly, especially to us with our woeful short game.
Chip it, laser it, move into the 21st century

17 days ago

Instant replay is the worst. It’s ruining all sports. The easy fix it to have several “review centers through the country. Six different “replay booths” when a play gets challenged they sent it two 2 booths, AND THEY DO NOT COMMUICATE with each other, if they agree… the call gets overturned, if they split, the call stands. Next play please.

17 days ago

Bang on.