Writing is hard work. After writing here for well over a year and watching real journalists at work, I respect anyone who puts their name on anything intended for public view. Journalism is a tough field that yields very little reward, and often times the only recognition you ever get is a stranger saying you are wrong or are bad at what you do.
However, you know what they say: the best offense is a good defense. In other words, know your s#$t. Don’t write about something you aren’t familiar with, don’t show weakness, and back up your opinions with actual evidence. The best thing you can do as a writer is understand your subject as completely as possible, as it’s the only way to truly minimize your mistakes.
It’s actually sad to read this Jason Whitlock column because it simply does not pass that test. His “truths” are lazy, devoid of fact, and to be honest, unprofessionally stupid.
Kevin at Bfloblog pointed this out and said he didn’t mind the Bills flying under the radar. I completely agree, but there is something so maddening about Whitlock’s logic that I can’t just leave it a that.
Here’s what Jason has to say about the NFL:
10. I have no (expletive)ing idea which teams are legitimate. No clue.
I’m embarrassed. I’m paid to make sense of the NFL. This deep into the season, I should have a firm grasp on two or three favorites to win it all. I don’t.
The 5-1 Buffalo Bills? No way. Their leading rusher averages 3.5 yards per carry. Their quarterback has thrown five touchdowns. I don’t know anyone on their defense. The Bills have a lovely schedule. They’ll get exposed in the postseason.
Most of those arguments are mere opinion, but you can say that in an a priori sense Jason does make a few good points. This argument alone is not the problem. This is:
8. Here’s my sleeper team: Da Bears.
Kyle Orton has won me over. He’s a pocket-passing version of Jake Delhomme although Orton is more accurate. I never envisioned Orton developing into a solid NFL starter. I thought his arm was too weak and he was too inaccurate under pressure.
I was wrong. The kid is completing 62 percent of his passes, which is a 10 percent improvement over his career numbers. Chicago posted 48 points against a Minnesota defense that can’t be run on.
If the Bears make the playoffs, they can beat any team they face.
My first stop was at quarterback. Kyle Orton has had a pretty good year so far, but just how much better has he been for the Bears over, say, Trent Edwards? Here’s the breakdown:
Edwards: 106/152, 69.7% completion rate, 1209 yards, 5TD, 2 INT in (realistically) 5 games +three plays.
Orton: 143/230, 62.2% completion rate, 1669 yards, 10TD, 4INT in 7 games.
Is this really the Kyle Orton that has won you over? Aside from the obvious touchdown discrepancy his numbers are very, very close to Edwards. Do those extra five touchdowns in two extra games really make that much of a difference? Is the touchdown stat that indicative of a quarterback’s performance and ability to be a “solid NFL starter?”
Stepping away from Whitlock’s major Orton argument we can look to the small sample size of the offensive performance against Minnesota. Dropping 48 points on a good defense is impressive, but couldn’t we take as much from that one game as the Bills allowing 14 points against the Chargers? San Diego was averaging the most points per game and that no name Bills defense shut them down. Where was the praise for that?
Oh, and the high powered Orton-led Bears offense are seeing very similar struggles in the run game. While the Bills’ running back averages 3.5 yards per carry, Jason may find it shocking to discover that Matt Fotre averages the exact same figure. The more we dive into this, the more these two teams seem to be the same. How is it that he comes to two completely different conclusions about two similar teams?
Is it the different balance of power in their respective conferences? Is it the embarrassing late game collapses from Chicago that will bring them together and put a better performance together down the stretch? Is it because Bears players hawk Old Spice and have familiar names at safety? Is it the neckbeard?
No, it’s because Jason Whitlock was too lazy to check his facts. Sure his lead is one big joke about how much everyone wants to know what he thinks about the season thus far. Fine, whatever. But at least take a few minutes to look over some numbers and see if what you are saying actually makes sense. Hell, have your editor look at some things and point out that you are completely botching this column.
How can someone getting paid to write about the NFL openly admit he has no idea what’s going on in the NFL? If that’s really the case shouldn’t you, oh I don’t know, TRY HARDER? Watch game tape. Compare numbers. Ask someone who appears to actually give a f#$k because you sure seem pretty indifferent. This isn’t “embarrassment” we are talking about here, Jason, this is a complete inability to do your job. This is journalistic failure in the highest regard.
Is it really possible your main argument against a 5-1 team is that the running back doesn’t gain enough, the quarterback doesn’t throw enough touchdowns, and you are unaware of who plays defense for them? The first two are understandable on their own, but obviously fall short when compared to his assessment of the Bears. However, isn’t that third point entirely your own fault?
Shouldn’t he grab a f#$king depth chart and take another look at the defense? Maybe look over the last few draft classes and see where these kids came from. I know not many Bills players have come from his beloved Ball State, but Marv has done pretty good for himself selecting from elsewhere if you ask me.
This may seem like a completely homer argument, but that is far from the case. It just pisses me off that professional journalists are allowed to write utter garbage like this and get a paycheck for it. Have you no pride in your work? Is ignorance really a good angle on anything when you are paid to form an insightful opinion?
It’s embarrassing. He has more to say about Ball State getting snubbed in the BSC poll than which 5-1 team he thinks is a legitimate contender. (The answer: not sure but probably none of them) How does a column that says absolutely nothing about anything get published? Can I get paid to spout off based on loose generalizations and little actual analysis? Please?
I like Jason Whitlock and respect him as a writer. That’s why I expect better from him. If all that separates “exposed in the postseason” and “can beat any team they face” is five touchdowns and strength of schedule, well, I have no idea what I’m talking about. Which is good, I guess, because I sure as hell don’t get paid to know nothing.