The Cumberland Throw

Numbers Do Lie – Centre of Attention

With the recent speculation around Michael Jennings’ demotion and ISP and his general play across Season 2018, I wanted to try and identify and understand the key drivers for his recent batch of poor form, and determine whether the road back to being a rep quality player is viable and attainable in the near future.

To achieve this, I decided that I would leverage eight key statistics through radar charts and normalised data (all data is scaled to be between 1 and 0 based on their rank in the population) to visualise how Jennings Snr ranks with the rest of the centre cohort. The purpose of this was to essentially create a flat line data that would highlight anything that has drastically changed between the two seasons and if a movement did occur, did it also occur for the other top line Centres. In addition, this was also done to highlight whether the issues that he is facing are related to him not wanting to put in the required work ethic or if it is related to something else entirely.

Before getting into the actual breakdown, it is worth noting that not all centres were included within this analysis. An emphasis was placed on quality club and representative players in both the 2017 and 2018 seasons, of which include, Greg Inglis, Dane Gagai, Latrell Mitchel, James Roberts, Will Chambers, Dylan Walker, Joey Leilua and Jarrod Croker. The purpose of which is that Jenko is a top tier athlete, as such, he should be compared to the other top tier players in his position.

As shown within the two radar charts, no real significant or material movement has occurred for Michael Jennings between the 2017 and 2018. In fact, he seems to be performing on par with his prior season as well as in line with the other top line centres.

C:\Users\dvaleri1\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Word\Season 2018.png

Michael has continued to lead the way for total errors for the centre position in 2018 (currently tied with Leilua in the centres selected for this analysis) and also continued (although it is improving) to be guilty of failing to identify opportunities for offloads. He has gone from being the worst in this department to now the 2nd or 3rd worst amongst the batch included for the 2018 analysis. Another minor movement is seen within run metres statistic, these have reduced on prior year but have essentially remained in line with the rest of the population.

The most notable movements relate to missed tackles, linebreaks, tries and try assists, of which all have seen reductions when comparing to the other top centres. In fact, other than missed tackles, you can’t really place the blame solely on him for these movements, as the Eels have been pretty woeful in this area all season (not that you need a reminder). On the other hand, Jenko’s improvement in being able to break tackles at least highlights the fact that he is still prepared to work.

The defensive errors have, on face value, caused fans and viewers of the game to justify a departure from the club or even question why we bought him in the first place. Yes there have been too many times this season where he has seemed disinterested when having to defend, and almost seems to lack the belief or hunger to do the 1 percenters (Mitch can attest to my almost aneurism during Round 10 vs Bulldogs), I don’t think that this is a very fair position to take. His numbers show he is not that far off from prior season performances, of which had most rating him as a champion player.

In short, any significant regression in Jenko as a player appears to be outside statistics. Whether instead it is a culmination of the poor team performances this season, or reflecting a lack of effort on Jenko’s part is probably the questions fans want answered, and only The Jet knows the answer to that question.

In my opinion, if their head is in the right place, quality players don’t stay down for long. As such, if Michael Jennings he keeps putting himself in the position to do things the way he has done in the past, in my opinion it won’t take long for him to get back to his best.

Let’s go Parra,

Dan

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Ben
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Ben

Thx Dan, certainly gives a bit more perspective though numbers don’t always tell you everything e.g. did the errors, missed tackles, penalties result in a try, shift game momentum , b2b sets in our red zone, force us to play 1 man down, stifle our attack? Perhaps we’re harsher on Jenko because of the calibre of player he was when we picked him up for a handsome fee, and we expect that performance every week? Is he worth it? I don’t think so, I’d say $300k is about his market value…but I’m not coach or Jenko – so it doesn’t… Read more »

sixties
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Another brilliant analysis Dan. And it truly shows both what Stats prove and what they don’t prove. I really rate the plots that you include – fantastic comparative device. My issue with Jennings relates to what the broader statistic doesn’t show. Similar to penalty counts – the significance of penalties lies not in the number, but the circumstance. Was the penalty momentum changing, was it on the first tackle or on the 5th tackle – ie one extra tackle or an extra set? Where and when did the penalty happen? Etc So for Jennings, he still leads the errors. How… Read more »

Trouser Eel
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Trouser Eel

I tried to defend Jenko a little longer than some others but had started to lose some faith in him. I’m no statistician but the charts, by my reading, look pretty significantly different to me. When people talk about elite athletes we often hear the phrase of “one percenters.” The charts seem to show a marked variation (far more than 1 percent – sometimes as much as 20 percent in try assists and offloads) from the averages in 5 of the metrics for 2018 whereas 2017 looked only to have 3. Try assists and offloads are key components of an… Read more »

Milo
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Milo

Trouser you have nailed it for me; the 1%ers are vital. This is where to me he has dropped the ball no pun intended. It’s the things like backing up after a ball is passes/ or if a tackle missed. Those points for me besides his woeful holding of a footy; which has been tracked back to his Penrith jun days.

Nathan
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Nathan

I’m not really into the stats because stats don’t show effort,what astounds me is the lack of effort he does show,I watched his performance against the knights and he sat out on the edge and didn’t look interested one bit,he is in the top 3 paid players in the squad so any criticism comes with the pay packet of expectation.I’m not too worried about his dropped balls and a few missed tackles I’m more concerned with the effort in defence in attack,I go back to the knights game where you could clearly see on the sideline that the forwards where… Read more »

Milo
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Milo

I also forgot to say that seeing the guys in a Wenty gurnsey last week did seem out of whack; seeing them play in parra gear would have been good……i hope the review looks into this too.