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Just The Sports: Properly Placing Blame

Just The Sports

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Properly Placing Blame

How to properly place fault for an interception is something I have been contemplating for awhile. The fact that in 2006 we still place all responsibility for a thrown interception squarely on the throwing arm of a quarterback is both asinine and backwards-thinking. Ours is a society heavily reliant upon statistics to tell sports stories and we can do better than that. Think about future sports enthusiasts who will have nothing by our statistics to go by to gauge how good our present-day athletes are. What will they see when they look back at quarterbacks' interception totals? The answer is they will see some truths, some half-truths, and some complete lies.

For right now, since this is only a trial theory and I have not really worked it out completely, I propose doling out interception blame in a combination of full and half credits. An example of an interception that would be fully credited to the quarterback is when he throws a pass completely out of the reach of a wide receiver that ends up being picked off. Also, if the defender reads the pass and ends up jumping the route, this interception, too, should be considered the sole fault of the quarterback.

As for giving interceptions completely to wide receivers, there are two criteria I have come up with so far. The first is when a wide receiver has the ball ripped out of his hands by the defender who then gains possession of the pass for an interception. In that instance, the wide receiver should have caught the ball, but failed to do so, which is no fault of the quarterback who threw the ball where it needed to go. The second criterion is when a receiver either bobbles a catchable ball into an interception or tips a catchable pass into an interception. Blaming the quarterback for that sort of turnover is also foolish.

In terms of handing out half credits, my only idea is to give that out when a quarterback throws a pass just out of the reach of a wide receiver who then tips it into a defender's waiting hands. Perhaps also when it is clear by the post-play body language of the quarterback and the wide receiver that they had their routes mixed up and that is why the interception was thrown. However, occurrences like that are not always well-defined so I hesitate to make that a concrete criterion.

If done correctly, assigning proper blame for interceptions will not be nearly as subjective as the embarrassment that is giving out errors in baseball, and this is just a foundation that is ripe for improvement.

For any readers who want to suggest other scenarios for assigning interception blame, feel free to do so in the comments section.


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