Friday, December 17, 2010

ProFootballTalk Makes Me Defend Miles Austin

How much do I not care for Miles Austin?  He's a Dallas Cowboy--and for a fan of the Washington Drunken Savages, that's Strike 1, 2 and 3 right there.  He's a late bloomer who burst on the scene, fucking up secondaries like it was second nature last year (though let me note that the Drunken Savages did as well as anyone did against him, holding him to 11 catches and under 150 yards in two games).  He's also one of those smiley, positive "I can't believe I get paid millions and millions of dollars to play this game.", which I know a lot of people find endearing, but I can't stand it (particularly, again, when they have that big stupid star on their helmet).  So it fills me with anger and rancor and maybe just a pinch of poopy-pants to have to defend the man against a very brief, but very wrong post on PFT.

In the post, "Jerry Jones Has No Regrets with Miles Austin Contract", PFT writer Michael David Smith writes, "there’s no denying that Austin, who signed a six-year, $54 million contract in September, has declined: In 2009, Austin had 81 catches for 1,320 yards and 11 touchdowns. With three games to go this season Austin has 58 catches for 826 yards and five touchdowns....[Austin] was paid in response to his 2009 Pro Bowl season. Now he’s not playing at a Pro Bowl level."

Umm, is anyone else noticing some really crazy lack of context here?  The Dallas Cowboy franchise went down the shitter this year, and Miles Austin isn't even in the Top 10 of reasons why.  

To start with, it seems pretty unfair to compare numbers from a complete season to an incomplete season.  Let's be very clear--I don't think Austin is going to make up the 500 yard and 6 TD difference he has to to match last year's numbers.  But with three games to play, and a decent QB under center, it wouldn't be all that hard to imagine Miles Austin catching an average of seven passes a game for the next 3 games, which would give him 79 catches for the season, statistically a dead heat with last year's 81.  

Of course, as much as the press (and Cowboy management) has pretended that 38-year-old Jon Kitna is a top-flight QB, he isn't--hasn't been since his glory year (2003) in Cincinnati,  Funny that Michael David Smith, whilst discussing Austin's decline, doesn't mention the most obvious factor--Jon Kitna.

Consider, if you will--The Cowboys had a bye week in Week 4, and Romo went down in Week 7 after seven pass attempts.  So, we have a sample size of 5 games of Full Romo Action to work with.  In those 5 weeks, Austin had 33 receptions, 486 yards, and 2 TD's.  Extrapolate that at out, and you get full-season stats of 105 receptions, over 1550 yards, and 6 TD's.  Of course, TD's are often the luck of the draw.  Did you hit the pylon, or did you step out on the 1 inch line, etc?  So, we can see, statistically, that Miles Austin was doing pretty damn well until Tony Romo went down, and he was replaced with a 38 year old journeyman QB who hasn't thrown the deep ball in at least five years.

I am by no means comparing the two men in terms of skill at the WR spot--I have no doubt that Larry Fitzgerald is more talented, but I'm going to make my point this way--"Hey, last year, Larry Fitzgerald had 97 catches, almost 1100 yards and 13 TD's!  This year, he's only got 69 catches, 860 yards, and 5 TD's.  What's wrong with Larry?"  See?  That's stupid.  It seems obvious on its face that for a receiver to catch passes, he has to have a QB who throws at him.  Duh.  Snuh.

I'm not suggesting that Jerry Jones was smart to sign a 26 year old to a big 6 year deal (though we all know that NFL contracts don't ever really last their entire length, right?), but let's be honest about why and how Austin's numbers have declined.  An imploding team, with a coach who got fired mid-season, an old second QB who doesn't throw deep, and the emergence of other threats (Dez Bryant, anyone?) that have possibly, just possibly impacted Austin's numbers.  But you know, if you want context and analysis, don't go to the website dedicated to the NFL and staffed by professional writers.  Jesus Wept.

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