TUSCALOOSA, Ala.—An old coach once told me that most people use statistics the way a drunk uses a lamp post: For support and not for illumination.

More simply put: Most of the time in sports and in life, you can take numbers and make them mean whatever you want them to mean.

But every now and then you run across a statistic that jumps off the page and with utter simplicity, explains so much.

I found this one in the book “Fourth and Goal Every Day,” by Phil Savage with Atlanta-based writer Ray Glier. Savage was a colleague with Nick Saban at the Cleveland Browns of Bill Belichick in the early 90s. He later became the Browns’ GM. Today he is the analyst on Alabama’s Crimson Tide radio network and the executive director of the Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.  The rest of this article is available to subscribers only – to become a subscriber click here.