Fuzzy Math At One Buc Place

January 15th, 2009
A Bucs spokesman says the NFL stats policy is unfair to Barrett Ruud

A Bucs spokesman says the NFL stats policy is particularly unfair to Barrett Ruud

Ronde Barber had 100 tackles this season. It says so right on Barber’s Pro Bowl press release issued by the team and in the stats at Buccaneers.com. So it must be true, right?

Maybe not.

Tackles, while widely quoted as a player stat by the media, are considered an unofficial stat in the NFL. That means the NFL doesn’t care if the numbers recorded are accurate. And Roger Goodell is not concerned that these numbers are used by millions of fans, plus coaches and players, to cast an allegedly intellingent vote for the Pro Bowl.

League stats posted on NFL.com show Barber with 75 tackles (67 solo and 8 assists). But the Bucs Web site shows 100 tackles (70 solo and 30 assists). 

Similar discrepencies exist for every Bucs player Joe researched: Gaines Adams, Aqib Talib, Tanard Jackson, Barrett Ruud, Kevin Carter, Jovan Haye, Derrick Brooks and Phillip Buchanon.

All of them have significantly more solo and assisted tackles on the Bucs site versus on NFL.com.

How could this be? Especially in the category of solo tackles. There can only be so many tackles in one game. Right?

Joe asked Bucs spokesman Jeff Kamis to explain.

Kamis said the official line is that recording tackles during live action is very difficult and Bucs coaches review game films and provide new stats to the media relations department the day after a game. The Bucs then present those stats to the media and on the team Web site.

But NFL.com only uses the stats initially recorded at the game from the press box, Kamis said, and the league has no interest in recording revised, accurate stats from its teams.

“You look at Barrett Ruud who has 178 tackles, and NFL.com has him for 130 or so,” Kamis said. “It’s unfair to Ruud. The NFL.com stats are misleading.”

Kamis said the NFL is acutely aware of the inaccuracies.

“For whatever reason, they’ve determined tackles aren’t going to be an official stat,” Kamis said. “It’s been a point of discussion since I’ve been in the league, about nine years.”

The Bucs are one of only a few NFL teams that publish revised stats for its defensive players – offensive stats are all official. The other teams just defer to NFL.com.

The fact Bucs coaches track tackles concerns Joe. Given Joe’s many years covering sports on all levels, coaches are wont to sometimes wildly exaggerate statistics for the benefit of their own players and many coaches have no real desire to be remotely accurate.

Joe is very curious whether Bucs officials and player agents use NFL.com stats or the bloated in-house numbers when it comes time to determine a player’s contractual value. Kamis didn’t have an answer avaiable at press time for that.

Regardless, the NFL is ridiculous for not making a statistic as basic as tackles an official stat. Who would get hurt if they did?

In general, Joe is not a stat guy. But if the NFL is going to put them out there as facts, then they should at least make every effort to get them right.

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