Turner aligns with Zimmer's critical take on outside film evaluations
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Mike Zimmer made headlines on Monday when he ended his opening statement with a caution to fans and media about Pro Football Focus, a growing film-grading and NFL sabermetrics site.
On Tuesday, offensive coordinator Norv Turner appeared to take the same issue, unprompted, with outside evaluators when asked to generally describe left tackle Matt Kalil's play this preseason.
"I think [Matt] has been really good," Turner said. "One of the things, um, when people try to evaluate our tape and not know what we're doing -- it doesn't make any sense."
Turner may have been referencing a recent PFF piece breaking down Kalil's outing against Kansas City's star edge rusher Tamba Hali, who got the better of Kalil on a few occasions in the Vikings' 30-12 exhibition win on Saturday.
The site tabbed Kalil's performance as "one of his worst games in pass protection in his career," based on their grading system.
Turner elaborated on Kalil's play from Saturday.
"When you're on the road, in a noise environment against that player he played against [Hali] the other night, that's a challenge," Turner said. "We didn't give [Kalil] any help on purpose. One of the plays where we got pressure was not a good play call; we didn't get a good combination route on so we ended up holding onto the ball too long."
Though beat writers or evaluation sites like PFF don't know each play call, there is an inherent value in having advanced stats, film breakdowns and comparisons at hand. To an extent, scouts and evaluators inside teams have to do similar evaluating when grading players that aren't on their own team.
It's not a NFL team's job to elaborate to fans and media what went right or wrong, so that curiosity void is going to naturally be filled with outside evaluations, such as our own 1500ESPN film reviews.
However, it is important to not draw conclusions solely from one source, but to use that information as a piece to the larger puzzle -- one that rarely gains full clarity in the six-day turnaround from game-to-game.
Not all NFL teams feel the way Zimmer and Turner do, as PFF reportedly has 13 teams [40% of 32 teams] contracting with them for their data. Former NFL receiver and current color commentator Cris Collinsworth also recently bought a stake in PFF, which started in 2006.
For Zimmer, it's about fans and media taking that information "with a grain of salt," as well as getting something off his chest as a long-time coach, but first-year head coach.
"The last thing I want to talk about before I let you guys go is this Pro Football Focus thing," he said. "I know everybody wants to get the scoop on this, but quite honestly there's not really anybody...I look at the grades and I can't tell you what a 0.7 is or anything like that, but I know that the people grading our games and our defenses and our offenses, they don't know if the tackle gets beat inside; if we weren't sliding out to the nickel or who our guys are supposed to cover. I guarantee they don't know who is in our blitz package and what they are supposed to do.
"We as coaches get paid a whole bunch of money to do the jobs that we do, evaluate the players that we evaluate and grade them how we grade them - and not based on someone else. That's off my chest, go ahead."