During last year's offseason (specifically around May 2013), Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis defended linebacker Rey Maualuga, from critical fans, by going after Pro Football Focus -- who traditionally give Maualuga horrible grades.
"Because they look at some dumb ass web site that doesn't have any idea of what football is. The same website that two years ago that rated Kelly Jennings the best tackling corner in the NFL. These people who aren't football they are trying to be critical. We'll be as critiquing of Rey as we need to be, we don’t need any help."
This year is no different. Pro Football Focus rates Maualuga as the second-worst linebacker on the roster (-7.1 overall) behind Emmanuel Lamur (-11.5). The bulk of Maualuga's horrible grades came (and still are coming) in pass coverage -- though Cincinnati phased him out when not dealing with injuries.
Vikings offensive tackle Matt Kalil joined Lewis in his criticism of Pro Football Focus this week.
"You can't listen to some people who don't know what they're talking about," the Vikings left tackle said via the Pioneer Press. "I'm not going against them because they hammer me, but, I mean, it's not a credible site. ... They don't know the blocking schemes, they don't know who's (at) fault" for a bad play.
Kalil is the third-worst offensive tackle, per PFF with the Falcons Jake Matthews and Panthers Byron Bell as worst and second-worst respectively.
There are credible complaints about PFF. Are they the de facto grading system? No. It's also best to counter the data with something that supports or disputes it -- but that's life. Are they transparent? No. Who are the actual analysts grading those games and what's their history? And if two analysts grade the same game separately, will they come with the same score? Are the analysts paid or volunteers? What's the acceptable margin for error?
To Kalil's point, if a quarterback throws an interception because the receiver ran the wrong route, does the quarterback get that knock? How does PFF know that the receiver wasn't completely at fault?
"Individual players are, of course, entitled to their opinion, but we are a little more credible than a group of fans guessing every Sunday," Monson wrote in an email.
I should hope so, when taking my money.
"We have sat down with coaches, front-office personnel and players and explained to them what we do. We have graded plays with them and they're on board with the system, the accuracy and what we do. ... Our recruitment and training is also a little more sophisticated than an analysis boot camp."
Admittedly, I'm a proponent of PFF but it has to be within reason. If you're concluding your entire opinion of a player based on one site, then you're limiting yourself. Unless that site is CJ, then you're cool.