After yesterday’s release of the 243-page Wells Report regarding Tom Brady’s balls, Twitter’s begun passing around the tinfoil-hat statistical analysis that was circulated earlier this year “proving” that the Patriots have turned delated balls into impossible luck with regard to fumbles. This isn’t exactly the case.
In January, Michael Lopez and Greg Matthews wrote a rebuttal to the Sharp analysis, pointing out some basic errors in methodology and data gathering that made the original charts seem comically out of line. With some cleaner methodology, they produced the two charts you see below. New England still has the fewest fumbles per carry, and the third-fewest fumbles per reception, but within the confines of a typical NFL team. Is this still suggestive given the surrounding situation, with cheatin’-ass Tom Brady’s balls at the center of the dumbest scandal in memory? Sure. But the causality can go either way. Maybe the balls were a huge help in avoiding fumbles, or maybe the Patriots are psychotic about ball safety, in the way that Baltimore seems to be, and the institutional commitment extends from coaching to ball pumps. Anyway, there’s enough here to go Hrmmmmm, but nowhere near enough to call it anything close to statistical proof.
Lopez’s and Matthews’s charts are below; their original article is, uh, belower.