I first noticed it a few years ago. A quarterback drops back, and telegraphs his throw. He wings it to the receiver in the flat, only to see the DB step in front of the pass, ready to waltz his interception into the end zone. The DB is already planning his end zone celebration and negotiating his next contract in his head. There is only one problem – the ball goes through his hands and bounces off the turf. The quarterback gets another chance, and drives his team down the field for a score.
Since I first noticed this, it seems like every week there is a game where the football hits a defensive back in the hands, and is dropped. I believe I saw it two or three times by Lion defenders in the game this last weekend, and I know that after two of the drops the Vikings went on to score.
It must drive a defensive coordinator nuts. I mean, we all know that “defensive backs are the guys who didn’t have the hands to play receiver”, but seriously, these guys are professional athletes. Shouldn’t they be able to catch the ball? And wouldn’t we, as fans, like to know which team has the best “hands” defensive? I have no objective data (because there is no stat!), but it seems to me that some teams are better at catching interceptions that others. I know it would be a judgment call by the scorer between a “pass defended” and a dropped interception, but it sure seems like having a stat like DI (dropped interceptions) would have some value in evaluating a player.
Other needed stats in the NFL:
The Unforced Gift to Him (UGH): This is the statistic that tracks when you give the ball back to an opponent because you had a penalty on a play where you would have received the ball back. An example would be a roughing the kicker penalty, where the punt that you just received is cancelled and your opponent instead gets a first down and the ball back. Also any penalty on your opponent’s fourth down play, which results in them getting a first down after you had stopped them. It is also the sound you make when your team does it.
The Ball Not In Play stat (BNIP): A Detroit Lion specialty, this would combine all pre- and post- whistle penalties into one measurable stat, to differentiate between “mistakes” (penalties during the course of play) and “selfish dumb penalties” (in Jim Schwartz’s words) which occur before or after the whistle.
Sacks Uncounted per Half (the SUH): this stat tracks all sacks that were called back because you brushed the quarterbacks head or hit him near the knees.