Sunday, 15 February 2015

Are Hamilton Fans Too Preoccupied With the Sack?

I can understand why Hamilton Tiger-Cats fans love a ferocious pass rush. That scintillating image of an opposing quarterback being taken to the turf is one all fans enjoy. Memories of Grover Covington and Joe Montford rushing off the edge and “getting home” with a sack are amongst the strongest for Tiger Town faithful. These iconic reflections also happen to coincide with the last two Grey Cup victories for the Black and Gold – in 1986 and 1999, respectively – thus cementing them in Steeltown lore.

Yet, is sacking the quarterback a necessity in the pursuit of hoisting Albert’s, the 4th Earl of Grey, shiny Cup? The simple answer is no, it is not!

As you can clearly see illustrated in the chart above, only once in the last 10 years has the team that led the league in quarterback sacks gone on to win the league’s championship.

In fact, sitting atop the quarterback takedown leaderboard has only resulted in one other Grey Cup participant. To put this in perspective, only 10 per cent of the time has leading the league in sacks resulted in the chance to contend for, and ultimately claim, the 106-year-old trophy.

A little further, the average ranking of Grey Cup victors in the area of quarterback sacks is 3.8. The average ranking for the losing team in the finale is fourth. For those teams that did lead the Purolator Tackle Hunger program, they had an average divisional finish of second.

By no means am I saying that exerting pressure on the opposing quarterback is not a good thing. Of course, hurrying the opposition’s signal caller and making him uncomfortable can only benefit a team’s success. And there are few aspects of the game that bring fans to their feet and pumping their fists quite like a sack!

But it is clear that it is not the only thing, or even remotely near the most important aspect, in the makeup of today’s championship teams.

So, perhaps Hamilton Tiger-Cat Fans need not be so preoccupied with quarterback sacks. It may be time to leave the memories of Montford and Covington in the past, when the game was played and structured differently.

Yet, the more obvious question is “What are the key and common ingredients to the championship teams of today?” We shall continue to look for that elusive answer as we further our dissection and look “Inside the Numbers!”

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