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October

Packing the Stats: Executed Play Total and the Magic Number

Packing the Stats - Green Bay Packers

Packing the Stats

I love a good podcast. Despite being a music teacher, I have started listening to music less and less on long drives and commutes to and from work. Instead, I turn my iPod to the latest episodes of Green & Gold Today, Packers Transplants, Cheesehead Radio, and The Aaron Rodgers Show. While these are all Packers-centric shows, there is one podcast that I listen to religiously for some NFL perspective from outside the Green Bay “community”: The B.S. Report with Bill Simmons.

For those who might not know, Bill Simmons is the editor-in-chief of Grantland.com, an ESPN-affiliated website covering sports and pop culture. His podcast, The B.S. Report, debuted in 2007 and has been one of ESPN’s most downloaded podcasts. He frequently welcomes a variety of guests, though my favorites include comedian “Cousin Sal” Iacono and Football Outsider’s Aaron Schatz.

I also enjoy the appearances by Michael Lombardi, who speaks with a lot of experience from the executive side of the NFL. He worked for five teams over a span of 20 years before settling into a role of TV analyst and sportswriter. Lombardi has made a couple of appearances on The B.S. Report so far this season, but one in particular keeps ringing in my ears as the Packers struggle to find their offensive “identity.”

The podcast aired on September 10th, the Monday after the Green Bay Packers’ opening season loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Obviously, the game was one of the biggest of the weekend, and it really set a tone for both franchises going forward. The frustrating part for Packers fans is that the things discussed by Lombardi and Simmons are still maddeningly pertinent going into the sixth week.

“If I’m a Packers fan,” commented Simmons, “my team had nine months to improve all the things we didn’t do in that playoff game, and yet we’re back to square one again. Is that fair?”

Michael Lombardi then replied with some interesting insight into his approach to analyzing games: “Yeah, and I think this. One of the things I do every Monday morning when I come in here is I always look at – this is a Bill Parcells thing – is you always look at rushes and completions. So you take the rushing totals, and you take the completed pass totals, and you add those two numbers together. . . and it helps you determine execution of your football team. So if you have, for example, 30 completed passes and 25 runs, that’s 55, and the number to win is anything over 51. So when you’re Green Bay, for example, and you can’t get any running game, it’s tough to complete 45 passes in a game against anybody. And it’s tough to drop back that many times.”