Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Killin' Time- People I Hate: Trent Dilfer

Before I start this incendiary rant against my least favorite of the many jackasses that feature heavily on ESPN's football coverage as part of my new offseason time waster, I'm going to state that more than anyone else right now I loathe the bastards keeping this lockout going on. I still think something will work out in time to not only save the season, but training camp, since that's what really matters as OTAs and mini-camps are highly overrated, but for now, damn you all for keeping me from my beloved flurry of free agent and trade activity.

Anywho, onto installment #2 of People I Hate: Trent Dilfer.

If you don't contemplate horrifying acts of violence upon seeing that face, well, congrats. You are not a man.

There's a lot of reasons to hate Trent Dilfer. I mean A LOT of reasons. I had a hard time narrowing it down, but let's hope you're happy with the points I've chosen to highlight:

1. He was a godawful football player.
I know lots of great coaches were bad former players. I know some QB coaches weren't particularly good QBs when they played. That's all well and good, but there's something absolutely wrong with having Trent Dilfer and his 70.2 career passer rating out there in front of the world trying to say anything ever about any other quarterback's performance. Hell, that simple passer rating (which is an often skewed stat, anyway) doesn't really tell anywhere near the whole story of Trent's ineptitude. Let's look at his Advanced Statistics (as compiled by the always awesome Pro Football Reference.com), which assess a person vs. the league average.

Trent Dilfer's Career QB Rating+: 88 (100 is league average)
Trent Dilfer's Career YPA+: 94
Trent Dilfer's Adjusted YPA+ (adjusted YPA means bonus points for TDs, minus points for interceptions): 89
Trent Dilfer's Completion %+: 91
Trent Dilfer's TD %+: 91
Trent Dilfer's Int %+: 86

Yes, folks, in every single important statistic for a QB, Trent Dilfer isn't even within 5 points of an average QB. Hell, Cade McNown's QB Rate+ was 87, just one point behind Trent, and somehow Trent enjoyed a 13 year career.

2. The 2000 Ravens Created a Myth That Rankles Me to my Soul
The Ravens didn't invent the "caretaker" quarterback, but they certainly solidified it into an ironclad axiom. The basic storyline goes something like this: The Ravens had one of history's great defenses, but they were losing games because mean old Tony Banks was turning the ball over too goddamn much, so in comes Trent Dilfer, who "manages the game," avoids turnovers, lets the defense control the game, and the Ravens reel off a winning streak that culminates in a championship. Score one for the underrated QBs and every coach who'd rather see three yards and a cloud of dust than some glory boy quarterback slingin' the rock around like he's all that.

The truth? Trent Dilfer was lucky as shit, because he turned the ball over a hell of a lot more than Tony Banks.

Banks started 8 games for the Ravens in 2000. He threw 8 interceptions in those games. He also had 5 fumbles, but all five were recovered by the Ravens, so the he had just 8 turnovers in 8 games. The Ravens were 5-3 when he started. Don't get me wrong, he sucked at throwing the football, but he wasn't the turnover machine he's remembered as. His interception %+ that year was a 106, meaning he turned the ball over far less than a league average QB.

Trent Dilfer? He actually Was a turnover machine. Trent also started 8 games for the Ravens that year. He threw 11 interceptions that year and lost 2 fumbles, for a total of 13 turnovers in half a season's work. His interception %+ was 75, meaning that Trent Dilfer, poster boy for the caretaker quarterback, turned the ball over at a higher rate than almost every other quarterback in the NFL that year.

So what happened? Why did Trent go on to glory while Tony Banks became the goat? Statistically, there's barely a difference between them, except that Banks turned the ball over less. Banks went 5-3 while Dilfer went 7-1. The problem is that the Ravens offense was struggling, so Brian Billick lost patience and went with Dilfer. At that point the Ravens played...well, exactly the same as they did before and just managed to go back to winning the exact same way they had won five of their first six games. The fact of the matter is that a trained monkey truly could have won the Superbowl with a defense behind him that allowed 10 f*&king points per game. Tony Banks was one 2 game losing streak away from having an undeserved Superbowl title that would have inexplicably extended His career for another decade. Guh.

But, thanks to Trent's ability to somehow "look" like he wasn't turning the ball over a ton, I've had to argue with a bunch of mouthbreathers every time a quarterback like Jay Cutler leads a team with a stout defense into the playoffs. " Dey just need somebody like Dilfer to let dem run da ball and let da defense win." Fuck that. You just need somebody who can put up more points than the opposing team. The answer to that problem is NEVER somebody like Trent F*&king Dilfer. You want to know something Really funny? Rex Grossman in 2006 had an interception %+ that was eight points HIGHER than Trent Dilfer in 2000. That's right, the guy who was often held up as the polar opposite of Rex and the very reason why Rex should have been benched actually turned the ball over a much higher rate than even Rexy dreamed of. Myth. Fucking. Busted.


Finally...
#3. He is everything that is wrong with analysts today
I'm not going to center this rant just on Trent Dilfer's hatred of Jay Cutler. Sure, he's practically the figurehead for the whole movement, seeking to denigrate Jay whenever possible, but in general, Trent is just everything wrong with sports coverage. He's an extremely mediocre player who would be laughed out of the room if he had tried coaching, so he goes into the media, where he's welcomed with open arms because he doesn't actually have enough credibility as a player to make the non-former player talking heads feel intimidated. He repeats nothing but garbled cliches about "footwork" and "chemistry" and validates the ESPN storyline because he "was There." If he knows so much about "footwork" and "mechanics" that he can criticize guys like Jay Cutler and Peyton Manning, why the hell was his career interception % higher than either of those guys by a mile (4.1 % for Trent, 3.6% for Jay, 2.7% for Peyton)?

Now, that may seem like me shooting myself in the foot, since I'm a blogger who has never even played professional football and I take potshots at players all the time, but I'd argue that it's a much more egregious crime because Trent has been there, knows that he's spewing total horseshit, and is happy to do so. I mean watch this crap:


This is Trent, with the information in front of him that Jay Cutler WAS injured, arguing that Cutler should have thrown a gigantic hissy fit in order to get back in the game before being forced out...all for What, exactly? What the fuck does that do for the team? Here's an 'expert analyst' arguing that Jay Cutler should go into a bunch of theatrics because somehow that's better than doing the same behind the scenes and going to the bench with what is ultimately the same result. That's Trent Dilfer, folks. Whatever you do, just make sure you do it on camera. That's what a good football player does, I guess. Not that Trent would know, since he was never even close to being one.

Get fucked, Trent.