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For more from Chase and Jason, check out their work at Football Perspective and The Big Lead.

Archive for the 'Checkdowns' Category

Checkdowns: Former Track Stars Turned Pro in Other Sports

Posted by Neil Paine on September 22, 2010

At the website TrackAndFieldNews.com, Heimo Elonen has compiled a neat list of pro football, basketball, and baseball players who were track and field stars before pursuing a career in a different sport. All in all, it's an interesting piece of research if you're a sports fan, and especially if you like football -- as you might expect, lots of NFL players turn up here, including a punter! (Brian Moorman ran the 400m hurdles at Pittsburg State and was actually a highly accomplished Division II track athlete.)

9 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns, Non-football, Trivia

Checkdowns: Congrats to Jason Lisk, The Big Lead’s New NFL Blogger

Posted by Neil Paine on September 10, 2010

Some terrific news from the blogosphere this week: PFR's very own Jason Lisk (JKL for longtime readers of the blog) is now The Big Lead's NFL blogger. Everyone here at Sports-Reference is very proud of Jason, and we're also excited because it means we get to read his stuff a lot more (he'll be producing around 20 posts a week for TBL). Congratulations, JKL, you earned this.

Also, no need to worry -- Jason's relationship with PFR isn't completely over because of his new job. He'll still be able to occasionally post things like the AFL series, HoF profiles, and other historical pieces here, as well as podcasts. Obviously the majority of his time and writing power will be devoted to TBL, as it should be, but it's reassuring to know that he'll be making cameo appearances at our humble blog from time to time.

Anyway, big props to Jason, and here's to great success in the future. We'll miss having you around here all the time, but we're also thrilled about your new opportunity. Go get 'em!

8 Comments | Posted in Announcements, Checkdowns, P-F-R News

Checkdowns: Wall Street Journal’s 2010 College Football Database

Posted by Neil Paine on September 7, 2010

Here's a link that should interest all of our college fans: David Biderman and Darren Everson of the Wall Street Journal have put together a cool search tool for this year's NCAA teams that lets you rank teams by experience, lineman height/weight, average recruiting ranking, returning starters, and a ton of other categories. Much like the tools here at PFR, this WSJ finder looks to be something you can get lost in for huge amounts of time, so have at it!

Comments Off | Posted in Checkdowns, College

Checkdowns: Sports-Reference Named to TIME’s 50 Best Websites

Posted by Neil Paine on August 25, 2010

OK, I've gotta toot our own vuvuzela for a second here: I just found out that the Sports-Reference family of sites has been named to TIME Magazine's list of the 50 Best Websites for 2010! It's a great honor for us, and a thrill to know that our users get so much enjoyment & utility out of the sites. Here's to being your favorite sports stats destination for many years to come...

6 Comments | Posted in Announcements, Checkdowns

YouTube Finds: Bill Walsh Quarterbacking Clinic

Posted by Neil Paine on August 18, 2010

Here's an NFL Films special with the late Bill Walsh, plus Joe Montana, Roger Craig, Jesse Sapolu, Brent Jones, and more:

1 Comment | Posted in Checkdowns, YouTube Finds

Checkdowns: Actual NFL/College Team Playbooks, Free in PDF Form

Posted by Neil Paine on August 17, 2010

Yesterday, I was reading Brian Burke's great Advanced NFL Stats blog, and I found a post on Bill Walsh's randomizing strategy (for blitzing, run-pass mix, etc.). The post is interesting, but the link contained therein is solid gold -- Brian directs us to Fast & Furious Football, a site devoted to football playbooks. Although it looks like a pay site at first glance, it actually has an amazing archive of free playbooks from NFL, college, and high school teams (including many recent squads like the 2003 Patriots). I never played football beyond middle school, but I absolutely love this kind of thing... it really gives ordinary fans like me an inside look at the terminology and complexity of the game.

5 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns

Checkdowns: History of Madden

Posted by Neil Paine on August 10, 2010

Happy "Madden Gras," everybody! (At least, that's what it said on the ridiculous paper football helmet my cashier was wearing when I picked up Madden 11 at midnight.) In honor of Madden Day, here's Patrick Hruby's not-so-brief history of John Madden's eponymous video game series, the greatest dynasty in cyber-sports over the past 21 years (and counting). Enjoy!

20 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns

Checkdowns: ESPN’s 50 Most Painful College Football Outcomes

Posted by Neil Paine on August 6, 2010

To whet your appetite for our upcoming S-R College Football site, here's ESPN's countdown of the 50 most painful losses in CFB history, starting with #50 -- last year's controversial Nebraska-Texas Big 12 title game. Where does your school appear in the list of infamy?

7 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns, College

Checkdowns: Football Outsiders Almanac 2010

Posted by Neil Paine on August 2, 2010

If you're reading the PFR Blog, chances are you already know all about our friends at Football Outsiders and the terrific analysis they bring to the game. However, if by some chance you don't know of them, or maybe you haven't heard about their outstanding annual book, they now have copies of the 2010 Football Outsiders Almanac available in hard copy and digital (.pdf) format from their online store (you can also order the printed version on Amazon). The book is jam-packed with their signature data (stuff you can't find anywhere else, including game-charting stats), plus their usual stat-geeky essays, 2010 projections, and a full-fledged college preview as well. Reading it is an essential part of our preparation for the 2010 season, but don't just take our word for it -- check it out for yourself!

Comments Off | Posted in Announcements, Checkdowns, Statgeekery

Checkdowns: ESPN’s Top Regular-Season Passing/Rushing/Receiving Performances

Posted by Neil Paine on July 16, 2010

Today, ESPN broke out their lists of the top 5 regular-season single-game Passing, Rushing, and Receiving performances in NFL history, based on production, game importance, strength of schedule, and other factors. The best in each category? Warren Moon vs. Kansas City, December 16, 1990; Walter Payton vs. Minnesota, November 20, 1977; and Jim Benton vs. Detroit, November 22, 1945 (box score unavailable, but he had 10 catches for 303 yards and a TD).

So what say you, PFR readers? What are your picks for the best regular-season performances ever?

37 Comments | Posted in Best/Worst Ever, Checkdowns

World Cup 2010 Checkdowns: Nike Commercial Curse?

Posted by Neil Paine on June 22, 2010

Like most people who reviewed Nike's 2010 World Cup "Write the Future" campaign, I really adore the full-length version of the TV spot:

Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, it's a fun, thrilling piece of visual and conceptual art. There's just one problem, though, according to Asher Klein at the NYT's Goal Blog:

3 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns, Voodoo and witchcraft, World Cup

Checkdowns: 2010 Average ages

Posted by Chase Stuart on May 7, 2010

Which team was the "youngest" in the NFL last year? There's only one real way to measure team age, and that's to calculate the AV-weighted age of each contributor on the team. I did that for the New York Times' Fifth Down blog. So check it out if you want to see the average AV-weighted ages for every team in the NFL last season; I also broke teams down into offense and defense. The Texans come out with the youngest defense in the league; the Pats have the oldest offense, and it might be even older in 2010.

2 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns

Checkdowns: Raiders Preparing to Cut Russell

Posted by Neil Paine on April 28, 2010

According to ESPN, the Oakland Raiders are on the verge of releasing QB JaMarcus Russell, the #1 overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, following a 3-year stint in which Russell was 7-18 as a starter and posted only 3.9 Adjusted Net Yards/Att., the worst mark in the league over that span. To commemorate Russell's epic fail, here's the most depressing video you'll see all day:

41 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns

Checkdowns: Blogging the Boys Draft Articles

Posted by Jason Lisk on April 22, 2010

One.Cool.Customer at the Dallas Cowboys focused website "Blogging the Boys" has been doing some fantastic work on the draft, in part using some of the Approximate Value information from this site. In "The NFL Draft by Numbers: Do the Cowboys Draft Well", you can find historical draft class data since 1980, with some cool charts that show the 1983, 1993 and 1996 draft classes as the best since 1980. In the most recent post, "The NFL Draft by Numbers: Do drafts build championships?, the focus is on examining how performance in the draft correlates to wins and losses over the last decade. Even if you are not a Dallas fan, I think it is some good work that you can appreciate.

1 Comment | Posted in Approximate Value, Checkdowns

Lots of good football articles out there

Posted by Chase Stuart on April 19, 2010

Just a quick roundup of today's articles brings a smile to my face -- it's mid-April, and there are a lot of good football articles out there.

Over at the New York Times fifth down blog....

Chris Brown, of smartfootball.com, wrote an excellent, thought-provoking piece on scouting; I agree with a lot of what Chris writes (would I find it excellent if I didn't?). He doubts the ability of most scouts, but he thinks the wisdom of crowds theory means that in the aggregate, scouting ends up working. That jives with my research on AV and the NFL draft and it reminded me of Doug's insane idea three years ago to quit scouting.

Also, my good friends Matt Waldman, Cecil Lammey and Sigmund Bloom of footballguys.com and draftguys.com wrote some great pre-draft articles on subjects ranging from how good is Jonathan Dwyer (if I trust any scout, it's Matt), Ryan Perrilloux's long road back and where will Tim Tebow and other enigmas get drafted.

2 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns

Checkdowns: Another SB MVP leaves town

Posted by Chase Stuart on April 12, 2010

Santonio Holmes earned MVP honors in Super Bowl XLIII with his game-winning, acrobatic touchdown catch with 35 seconds left in the game. But off the field issues inspired Pittsburgh's trade of Holmes to the New York Jets this morning. The price was a paltry 5th round pick in the upcoming 2010 NFL draft. On the other hand, Holmes becomes the fifth former SB MVP to switch teams in his mid-20s, and the other four are among the least accomplished Super Bowl MVPs: Dexter Jackson (in the right place at the right time for Rich Gannon's ducks); Deion Branch (Tom Brady's go-to man in the post-season, but never at any other time or place); Larry Brown (in the right place at the right time for Neil O'Donnell's ducks) and Desmond Howard (kickoff return touchdown provided the icing on the cake over the Pats)

For the Jets, this is the second time in six months that they've traded for a talented but troubled former Big 10 star receiver. The Braylon Edwards trade has been something of a mixed bag, although his production outweighed the small sum the Jets paid to acquire him. For New York, in trading for Holmes, their hoping the worst case scenario is deja vu -- a small sum paid for a talented player. The best case scenario? Another form of deja vu, resembling the last time a troubled Steelers wide receiver came to New York.

3 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns

Checkdowns: Median draft position vs. 2009 AV

Posted by Chase Stuart on April 8, 2010

Just a quick data dump here; I looked at the 2009 AV numbers (to hit the site soon, I promise) and noted how much AV all players at each position accumulated. I then sorted all of the players by draft position, and noted at what draft spot the median AV was hit. So, for example, roughly half of the AV by all QBs last season came by QBs drafted at #24 or earlier. That is to say, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Carson Palmer, Alex Smith, Matthew Stafford, Donovan McNabb, Matt Ryan, Vince Young, Philip Rivers, Mark Sanchez, Kerry Collins, Ben Roethlisberger, Jay Cutler, Josh Freeman, Joe Flacco, Brady Quinn and Aaron Rodgers produced about as much value as every other QB in the league last season. Below shows the draft pick # where half of that position's AV was accumulated during the 2009 season:

pos     pick
QB      24
ILB     40
CB      45
T       50
WR      54
RB      55
DE      57
TE      69
OLB     71
DT      77
S       84
G      108
C      173

If there's any surprise here, it's (at least to me) at inside linebacker. But with superstars like Patrick Willis, Jon Beason and Ray Lewis, along with DeMeco Ryans, Jonathan Vilma, A.J Hawk, James Farrior, Jerod Mayo, Takeo Spikes, D.J. Williams and Karlos Dansby, a large number of star inside linebackers were high picks. Only three ILB/MLBs selected outside of the top 40 had 10 points of AV last year or more -- the Bengals' Dhani Jones and the Jets pair of inside 'backers, Bart Scott and David Harris.

10 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns, NFL Draft

Checkdowns: Brady Quinn, Charlie Whitehurst and draft value

Posted by Chase Stuart on March 24, 2010

In the past two weeks, two QBs were traded in the NFL.

  • First, Brady Quinn was traded to the Broncos in exchange for Peyton Hillis, a 2011 sixth round pick and a conditional 2012 pick based on Quinn's playing time. Breaking it down into the pieces, we've got: a) not much (Hillis); b) the equivalent value of a 2010 seventh round pick (the 2011 pick) and the equivalent value of very late 2010 pick. I think it's probably generous to say the value of the package the Broncos are sending to Denver is an early to mid 2010 sixth round pick.
  • A few days later, the Seahawks acquired Charlie Whitehurst from the Chargers by moving down from the 40th pick in the second round to the 60th pick and by sending San Diego their third-round pick in the 2011 draft. On my draft value chart, Seattle moving from #40 to #60, along with giving up a 3rd rounder next year (valued as a mid-4th round pick this season), is roughly equivalent to trading the 77th pick.

So we can gather that Quinn was worth a 6th round pick and Whitehurst was worth a 3rd round pick. The obvious follow up question is, why? We don't know too much about either player, but here's what we know so far:

11 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns

Fifth Down Post: NFL Draft and Team AV

Posted by Chase Stuart on March 18, 2010

Pro-football-reference will be teaming up with the Fifth Down throughout the off-season, although not on a weekly basis like we did during the regular season. Here's a short article that looks at what percentage of each team's Approximate Value came from players it drafted.

I don't think you can draw too many conclusions from this; the Saints don't get "credit" for Pierre Thomas (UDFA) since he wasn't drafted. The Patriots don't get credit for acquiring two stud WRs by trading draft picks for them. And teams that are really bad may end up starting low round draft picks who aren't very good and wouldn't start on most teams, but get "credit" for drafting players who accumulate value. Still, I thought it was an interesting exercise (made all the more interesting by noting that Cleveland somehow ranked last on the list).

Here's the link: http://fifthdown.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/17/n-f-l-draft-which-teams-build-wisely/

4 Comments | Posted in Announcements, Approximate Value, Checkdowns

Checkdowns: Tomlinson to the Jets

Posted by Chase Stuart on March 15, 2010

LaDainian Tomlinson has had an incredibly successful pro career, all while playing for the San Diego Chargers. Now, in the twilight of his football life, he's moving on to a new team. Sound familiar? Tomlinson joins a long list of all-time greats who switched teams before fading into the sunset. The Jets have picked up aging Hall of Famers before (Brett Favre, Art Monk and Ronnie Lott, who came to NY after a couple of seasons with the Raiders), but they're by no means the king of acquiring former superstars in their thirties (that would be the 49ers).

Who were the best players to change teams? Which teams have picked up the most aging superstars? Which player hung with one team the longest but still didn't retire in that city? I looked at all players who acquired at least 100 points of AV with one team (I'm talking about the sum of his single season AV scores, not the 100-95-90 career AV score) before moving on to a new team. I only gave the new team credit if the player immediately joined that team, so the Jets don't get credit for Ronnie Lott and the Eagles don't get credit for Art Monk (who went there after playing for the Jets). The table below shows all players who meet the above description, along with each player's accumulated AV with his former team, his number of seasons with his former team, his age and the year when he first played for the new team, the AV he had for his new team in his first season, and his number of seasons with his new suitor. (Note: There are two columns for position; the first column is presented so you can sort by position in a more effective manner.)

8 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns, History

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