MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2022
Statistical misdirection: Lamar Jackson is off to a good start this year. He's off to a good start both running and passing the ball, but also in terms of trying to earn too much money.
Yesterday, how good was his running? With one minute left in the game, Jackson had run the ball eight times for a total of 110 yards.
That was 13.8 yards per rushing attempt, a rather gaudy number.
One minute later, the whistle blew—and his numbers looked substantially different. As you can see, this is Jackson's official line for yesterday's rushing performance:
11 rushes, 107 yards
9.7 yards per rushing attempt
What had happened to Jackson's performance? Simple! With Baltimore comfortably in the lead, he "took a knee" at the end of the game, thereby running out the clock.
In fact, he took a knee on three consecutive plays—and under NFL statistical procedures, taking a knee is counted as a rushing attempt. The quarterback is charged with a rushing attempt, and he's charged with losing a yard, or sometimes with losing two.
Should "taking a knee" be counted as a rushing attempt? We would say that it pretty much shouldn't.
For starters, it obviously isn't a rushing attempt. It also isn't a rushing attempt when a quarterback gets sacked for a loss of yards—but sacks, and the yardage lost, are treated as a separate statistical category. It seems to us that "taking a knee" should be recorded separately too.
Did Jackson run for 13.8 yards per rushing attempt, or was it just 9.7? As you can see, the difference is large.
In this most fully informed of all possible worlds, what should the record books tell us?
For professional skeptics only: You can track the eleven rushes here. That includes the three "rushing attempts"-that-weren't right at the end of the contest.