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Debunking Doctor Quin And The General

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Now, undoubtedly if you've turned in for any of John McClain's chats recently, you've discovered that he has a saying that he loves to parrot whenever someone questions the Texans secondary. Lets have him tell you:

If you think interceptions are the only big plays a CB makes, you haven't watched much football. Some CBs don't make interceptions because they don't get thrown at. Jackson will get thrown at a lot. bonehead started Glover Quin last year. He and Champ Bailey were the only corners who didn't allow a TD pass.

If I wasn't a stat dork, I could just pull out one of those "lies, damn lies, statistics" quotes here and be done with it. But as with most misapplications of statistics, this is used out of context and expressed as a singularity. In my experience, he people who hate stats love to just quote one stat at you and then call that the truth. But in statistics, and NFL statistics especially, there is almost always a level deeper that you have to dig, and that level involves admitting that the truth is on a blurred line because there are so many variables.

Sure, Glover Quin didn't allow a touchdown pass last year. Of course, Champ Bailey actually started 16 games, wheras Quin started just 12. In fact, if you want to limit the number of games or snaps that you need to qualify for a list, you could probably find many other players who didn't allow a touchdown. But hey, he started 12 games, and apparently that was McClain's baseline. Not actually starting every game, but just 12

John McClain: I just pointed out -- perhaps you can't read and need to get someone to read it to you -- that Quin and Bailey were the only CBs who played regularly and didn't allow a TD.. 

Oh, it's regularly. Well, what exactly is regularly? What is the baseline? Because I'm pretty sure that unless you cherrypick completely, I can find someone else to join that illustrious group of two.

Then you have the play of his teammates. Quin, like Bailey, was surrounded by some pretty terrible talent in the secondary for a lot of the year. Both of the "other" cornerbacks, Dunta Robinson and Andre Goodman, were atrocious last year. To use Pro Football Focus for a quick and dirty assessment since I don't want to comb over all the data, Robinson ranked 98th out of 107 corners with 270 or more snaps. Goodman came in 89th in that same assessment. Lets look at the safeties: Brian Dawkins and Renaldo Hill for Denver, and Bernard Pollard and free safety jumble for Houston. Both sides had one solid contributor by PFF: Dawkins and Pollard. Hill was 55th of 88 safeties: appreciably at replacement level but not very good. If you combine the qualifying Texans safety ratings, you wind up with -15.1, which would've rated near the very bottom of the league. Why does this matter? Well, why would anyone bother throwing at a credible defensive back when there are weak links to pick on? So, to muse on Quin not allowing a touchdown like he's accomplished some Bailey-esque feat of skill when it was just easier to beat one of his teammates is intellectually dishonest.

Finally, there's one more little matter: Quin played a lot of last season as the nickel cornerback. Including almost all of the two games with the Colts. That wasn't a mistake or him growing his way into the lineup; the Texans just thought he played better in the slot. Well, it might not surprise you if you follow football to know that the best way to beat a corner deep is to have him outside. As such, giving Quin credit for not allowing a touchdown is silly because the spot that he played from often made it harder for him to get beat deep. 

Look, there are a lot of reasons to be excited about Glover Quin's development. He played fairly well as a fourth round rookie, and he has great instincts breaking on the ball. In fact, if you want a stat that is promising for Quin (although also illuminating how much slot time he got) you can point to the fact that the longest catch he allowed, minus the yards after catch, was just 21 yards. Whether it was scheme or starting point, he was very hard to beat deep. 

But please, spare us the Champ Bailey comparison, General. It's about as telling an indicator of Quin's skill as what kind of food he eats before the game.

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