Keep It Going, Nick

This ESPN Insider article from Football Outsiders' Scott Kacsmar has nice things to say about Nick Foles, especially noting that even by advanced metrics, his interception-defying skills have been legendary. Plus, add this to that bounce in your step ahead of Saturday's playoff game:

Some simple math can quantify how balanced the Eagles [offense is]. I calculated averages for yards per pass (including sacks) and yards per run and compared them to the league averages, then added the two averages together.

The 2013 Eagles are a balance-adjusted 2.20 yards per play above average, which ranks 18th out of 1,285 teams since 1970. Of the 17 teams ranked ahead of Philadelphia, 12 won at least one playoff game (3-3 in the Super Bowl).

Gotta like those odds.

Stevie Johnson's Contract Could Guide DeSean

Stevie Johnson TD Celebration

News broke this morning that would-be free agent wide receiver Stevie Johnson signed a new contract with the Buffalo Bills. Johnson is an interesting test case for a possible new contract for DeSean Jackson because the two players are of similar age and ability.

ESPN reported the figures of the deal:

The Bills didn’t disclose terms of the agreement, but a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that Johnson received a five-year, $36.25 million deal that includes $19.5 million guaranteed and over $24 million in the contract’s first three years.

That sounds like it would be a great deal for the Eagles. At the very least, it’s a step down from last offseason’s market-setting deal that Santonio Holmes received from the Jets. The Holmes contract was also for five years, but reached $45 million with $24 million guaranteed.

So how close are Jackson and Johnson? Let’s briefly compare them.

Both players are 25 years old. They both have four years of NFL experience and reach free agency as the top receiving threat on their respective teams. DeSean is more of a speedster, at only 5’10”, 170 lbs, while Stevie is a more prototypical 6’2”, 210 lbs. Their numbers over the last two seasons are similar, although they have different strengths:

DeSean Jackson Stevie Johnson WR Stats 2010-2011

We already know all about Jackson’s big play ability, and Johnson can’t measure up in yards per reception. But Johnson matched in total yardage because he catches significantly more passes per game. He’s also a bigger threat in the redzone, with seven more touchdowns.

DeSean does have a better full resume than Johnson, since the Bills wideout didn’t become a starter until 2010. Thus, despite his deficiency in some categories, I would expect Jackson could beat this contract, if only by a little bit. Still, it’s a great marker by which both the Eagles and Drew Rosenhaus will have to adjust. Hopefully this deal will help bring the two sides closer together.

Photo from Getty.

Journalism is Dead, Long Live Reactionism

One of the biggest problems with journalism today is that it’s transporting a worldview associated with filling up the limited space of a printed page into a new media world where that page is limitless. This is true on the Internet, obviously, where opinion and analysis columns have become blogs and news reporting has moved to the Twittersphere. The shift is also apparent on television, where an increasing number of 24-hour cable news stations echo the same vast emptiness of air time demanding to be filled.

When the column inches of a newspaper or magazine ran out, there was no more need for additional writing or reporting. Journalists had to limit themselves to only the most important stories and only the ones to which they had something to say. Now that requirement is abolished.

Anything can be published, which has led to: everything should be published. As a rabid sports (or anything else) fan, this is actually a positive development. I’ve never heard anyone complain that there’s too much coverage of a topic they care about. For example, in this corner of the web there is an insatiable appetite for specific NFL and Eagles news. Local beat writers can publish a story about the fourth-string tight end and people will want to read it. They can tweet the mundane minutiae of training camp to a rapt audience of followers.

Again, this is good. Or it would be, if journalists could find enough real, solid reporting and analysis to fill the unlimited potential. But all it takes is a few minutes of ESPN coverage to clue you in to the fact that there’s a much easier way to fill those minutes: reaction, endless reaction.

Valuable reporting still exists, both at the largest and smallest levels. But the majority of “content” put out on the web and on TV is simple, uniformed reaction to those few original pieces.

When Bill Barnwell at Grantland throws some statistics out that question DeSean Jackson’s true value, the reactions came swiftly from every corner of the web. 140 characters here, a few sentences and some pull-out quotes there, giving half a shake of agreement or anger. Last night, Deadspin decided to react to a Michael Vick interview in GQ before the article even came out. Soon we had instant reactions to that first, ethically dubious reaction, with more certainly on the way. The state of reactionism is so bad that writers now complain when information about a player’s possibly life-threatening health concerns isn’t leaked to them ahead of schedule. There’s no appropriate response other than deference, respect, and relief, yet being first in line to make your voice heard matters?

Ultimately, journalists and publishers have to realize that they can never actually fill the vast server space they now have at their disposal. It’s impossible. So instead of trying to do so by focusing on endless, mindless reactions and retweets, it’s time to change up the pattern.

You don’t have to be first on anything by a few second or minutes. You don’t have to respond to every bit of news with repetitive drivel. More is better, but more crap isn’t worth the pixels it’s printed on.

Photo from Getty.