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Ravens website wrong about Torrey Smith

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If you believe Torrey's worst year was 2014 based on receiving yardage, then you must believe that 2013 was one of Flacco's best because of his passing yardage....and no one should believe the latter.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The mainstream media is turning me into Torrey Smith's unofficial agent.

According to baltimoreravens.com, Torrey Smith had "one of his worst years" as a pro. Given that he has just four years in the league, that's another way of saying "his worst year" without committing too strongly to the superlative.

Their logic?  Career lows in receptions and receiving yardage.

Well, by that logic, Joe Flacco's 2013 season was "one of his best".

After all, before 2014, Flacco had a career high in passing yardage with 3,912 in 2013. Except you would be laughed out of the room if you suggested that 2013 was a good year for him.

So why does Torrey Smith continue to be maligned this way for his 2014?  Just plain ignorance I'm afraid.

Targeting the lowest common denominator

Baltimoreravens.com has a job to do -- and that's to inform the lowest denominator of casual fans and promote the team within the strict limits of the NFL's public relations policies. I get it, analysis is not in their charter, and it isn't in the charter of the Ravens beat writers either.

It's a milquetoast approach that makes for a happy symbiosis to safely promote the NFL's and team's brand but good luck finding an original, well-defended opinion in that crowd.

It's a fairly harmless thing normally. The problem arises when they produce misinformation.  Misinformation that has a way of becoming accepted fact among the people by virtue of where it comes from.

Receiving Yardage a product of volume

By bothering to examine even the smallest bit of context, we can show that using Smith's receiving yardage as an indictment of having "one of his worst years" is suspect. No "advanced stat geekery" required.

For starters, Torrey only started in 14 games in 2014. He was a decoy against Cincy, with 0 catches and 2 targets, and didn't suit up at all for the Miami game.

So right off the bat, he effectively missed two games whereas he played and started in all 16 in 2012 and 2013. He also played 14 in 2011 as he was not active for weeks 1 and 2.

When we examine his targets, cumulative receiving yardage is even more suspect in a vacuum:

Torrey Smith Target Stats

Year

Targets

With DPI

2011

96

100

2012

110

115

2013

137

143

2014

92

103

The conclusions from this are obvious. He had 40 more chances to gain yardage in 2013. I wonder if missing two games, having a highly productive second receiver (Steve Smith, Sr.)  next to him to take targets, and a real run game in 2014 had something to do with that?

That took less than 5 minutes to find out. More targets = more opportunities = more yardage but not necessarily more value. Value is a separate and much more in-depth inquiry. Like, for instance, his preposterously league-best rate of generating DPI, which aren't counted in raw receiving yardage.

You don't have to agree that 2014 was as good as I have suggested, but hopefully we can agree that going from "cumulative receiving yardage" to "Torrey's worst year as a pro" is a painfully flawed leap to make if no other evidence is given.

Just like suggesting that Flacco's best year was 2013 based on his career-high passing yardage (at the time) would be equally crazy.

This by the way is why people often hate stats. Because they are too often misused with zero context  in order to make some judgment that is easily challenged or even disproved with deeper examination (or better stats!)

That type of examination is not really in the mainstream Ravens media's job description but maybe they could bother to do the most minimal amount of research before saying that Torrey Smith had "one of his worst years" as a pro in 2014?

Better yet, just read the articles here on Beatdown. They might learn something.

Follow me on Twitter @jerreegarcia