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

Archive for the 'History' Category

History Was Made in Last Sunday’s 49ers-Bengals Game

Posted by Neil Paine on September 28, 2011

On Monday, John Adair tweeted this about Sunday's San Francisco-Cincinnati game:

The 13-8 final score of the 49ers-Bengals game, according to Pro-Football-Reference, has never happened before in NFL history #49ers

How did he find that? Using the Game Scores PI tool, he was able to look for all games that ever had a 13-8 score:

Rk Week Day Date Winner/tie Loser/tie PtsW PtsL YdsW TOW YdsL TOL
1 3 Sun September 25, 2011 boxscore W San Francisco 49ers @ Cincinnati Bengals 13 8 226 1 228 3
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/28/2011.

Pretty neat, right?

Here's another one for you -- last week's Saints-Texans game was only the 2nd in NFL history with a 40-33 score:

Rk Week Day Date Winner/tie Loser/tie PtsW PtsL YdsW TOW YdsL TOL
1 3 Sun September 24, 1989 boxscore W New York Jets @ Miami Dolphins 40 33 411 2 524 2
2 3 Sun September 25, 2011 boxscore W New Orleans Saints Houston Texans 40 33 454 2 473 1
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/28/2011.

So think of this feature the next time you see a score that just looks strange, and you too might uncover an historic final score first.

14 Comments | Posted in History, PI Finds, Site Features

Larry Fitzgerald: Can he break Jerry Rice’s receptions record?

Posted by Chase Stuart on August 23, 2011

In my opinion, Jerry Rice is the greatest football player ever. His records are so incredibly, absurdly, ridiculously unbelievable that you can't throw enough adjectives and adverbs his way. But with Larry Fitzgerald signing his enormous-but-justifiable megadeal with the Arizona Cardinals this past weekend, I wondered if he could one day challenge Rice's records. After all, Fitzgerald entered the league at a very young age and has been almost dominant since then. He turns 28-years-old a week from today.

Rice was the most dominant receiver through age 34 in league history. He ranks 1st in touchdowns, receiving yards and receiving yards per game through that age. Last year, Tony Gonzalez passed him in receptions through age 34, 1069 to 1050, dropping Rice into second place in that category. Of course, that's because Gonzalez entered the league at 21 while Rice didn't start playing until age 23. Rice was in his 12th season at age 34, and he laps the field in even more embarrassing fashion in receptions, receiving yards, touchdowns and yards per game through twelve seasons.

At age 35, Rice tore his ACL in week one, causing him to miss nearly the entire season. In dramatic fashion, Rice came back for MNF in week 16 and scored a touchdown, helping him become the only player to catch a touchdown in 20 seasons.

28 Comments | Posted in History, Player articles

Estimating ESPN’s QBR for Historical Seasons

Posted by Neil Paine on August 7, 2011

ESPN came out with a new quarterback rating ("Total QBR") on Friday, and if you haven't read Chase or Jason's takes, do so immediately. The early consensus seems to be this:

Pros:

  • It can't help but be better than the NFL's official passer rating
  • Based in large part on the strong analytical framework found in The Hidden Game of Football and the work of Aaron Schatz, Brian Burke, etc.
  • Takes into account all of a QB's actions (sacks, rushing carries, etc.)
  • Doesn't penalize QBs for dropped passes
  • Tries to parse credit between QB and receiver by breaking down Air Yards vs. YAC

Cons:

  • No adjustment for strength of schedule
  • A 'black box' -- we don't know the specifics about how it works
  • WPA-style clutch adjustments might be retrodictive, but aren't predictive
  • Splitting of credit between teammates appears to rely on subjective assessments

As soon as ESPN released the first batch of ratings from the 2008-10 seasons, I ran some correlations between existing stats and QBR:

                    r         R^2
    voa         0.9295      0.8639
    dvoa        0.9200      0.8464
    anypa_idx   0.8988      0.8079
    anypa       0.8960      0.8029
    rate_idx    0.8766      0.7684
    rate        0.8745      0.7647
    uAYA*       0.8647      0.7478
    aypa_idx    0.8478      0.7188
    nypa_idx    0.8445      0.7132
    aypa        0.8411      0.7075
    cmppct      0.7690      0.5913
    cmp_idx     0.7680      0.5898
    ypa_idx     0.7384      0.5453
    ypa         0.7340      0.5388
    tdpct_idx   0.7173      0.5146
    ypg         0.7146      0.5107
    tdpct       0.7027      0.4937
    intpct_idx  0.6013      0.3616
    intpct     -0.5989      0.3586
    skrate     -0.5546      0.3076
    skrate_idx  0.5516      0.3042
    (* = 2010 data only)

Basically, 86% of the variation in QBR is explained by Football Outsiders' VOA metric, and 81% is explained by our Adjusted Net YPA stat. Oddly enough, even though QBR factors in rushing plays, Ultimate Adjusted YPA correlates worse with QBR than Adjusted Net YPA -- in essence, uAYA tracks more closely with QBR if you remove its rushing components.

You can also explain 85% of the variation in QBR using the following formula composed of nothing but our Advanced Passing Indices:

QBR ~ -60.5 + 1.2 * Cmp%_Idx - 2.1 * YPA_Idx + 0.5 * TD%_Idx - 3.5 * Rate_Idx + 4 * AY/A_Idx + 0.9 * NY/A_Idx

This produces the following list of the best estimated post-merger "QBR" seasons (min 225 att):

Rk Player Year Age Tm G Cmp Att Yds TD Int Sk SkYds Cmp%+ Y/A+ TD%+ Rate+ AY/A+ NY/A+ predQBR
1 Dan Marino 1984 23 MIA 16 362 564 5084 48 17 13 120 127 140 148 141 141 153 95.8
2 Peyton Manning 2004 28 IND 16 336 497 4557 49 10 13 101 127 141 168 151 149 147 95.8
3 Kurt Warner 2000 29 STL 11 235 347 3429 21 18 20 115 138 158 125 128 136 158 90.0
4 Joe Montana 1984 28 SFO 16 279 432 3630 28 10 22 138 128 127 125 134 133 135 87.6
5 Dan Fouts 1982 31 SDG 9 204 330 2883 17 11 12 94 119 133 111 124 130 143 87.1
6 John Brodie 1970 35 SFO 14 223 378 2941 24 10 8 67 123 118 119 129 126 133 84.6
7 Steve Young 1991 30 SFO 11 180 279 2517 17 8 13 79 127 145 126 135 140 145 83.4
8 Mark Rypien 1991 29 WAS 16 249 421 3564 28 11 7 59 108 133 132 130 135 142 82.8
9 R. Cunningham 1998 35 MIN 15 259 425 3704 34 10 20 132 117 135 141 134 136 140 82.6
10 Ken Stabler 1976 31 OAK 12 194 291 2737 27 17 19 203 142 145 148 140 137 143 82.2
11 Steve Young 1992 31 SFO 16 268 402 3465 25 7 29 152 129 134 130 142 142 132 82.2
12 Steve Young 1994 33 SFO 16 324 461 3969 35 10 31 163 138 139 147 147 143 136 82.1
13 C. Pennington 2002 26 NYJ 15 275 399 3120 22 6 22 135 135 125 123 138 134 127 81.9
14 Joe Montana 1989 33 SFO 13 271 386 3521 26 8 33 198 152 145 132 149 145 138 81.8
15 Tom Brady 2007 30 NWE 16 398 578 4806 50 8 21 128 129 130 153 148 142 132 81.7
16 Erik Kramer 1995 31 CHI 16 315 522 3838 29 10 15 95 108 115 121 122 124 124 81.5
17 Brian Griese 2000 25 DEN 10 216 336 2688 19 4 17 139 125 123 121 135 134 125 81.3
18 Drew Brees 2009 30 NOR 15 363 514 4388 34 11 20 135 133 129 131 132 129 132 81.0
19 Dan Fouts 1983 32 SDG 10 215 340 2975 20 15 14 107 121 132 118 121 124 142 81.0
20 Dan Marino 1983 22 MIA 11 173 296 2210 20 6 10 80 106 107 127 125 123 120 80.6
Rk Player Year Age Tm G Cmp Att Yds TD Int Sk SkYds Cmp%+ Y/A+ TD%+ Rate+ AY/A+ NY/A+ predQBR
21 Bert Jones 1976 25 BAL 14 207 343 3104 24 9 29 284 124 139 127 139 143 134 80.4
22 Dan Fouts 1981 30 SDG 16 360 609 4802 33 17 19 134 111 118 115 125 126 131 79.9
23 Kurt Warner 1999 28 STL 16 325 499 4353 41 13 29 201 130 132 143 136 133 132 79.5
24 Brett Favre 1995 26 GNB 16 359 570 4413 38 13 33 217 117 125 135 130 131 124 79.3
25 Dan Marino 1986 25 MIA 16 378 623 4746 44 23 17 119 121 114 132 124 118 129 79.2
26 Jeff Garcia 2000 30 SFO 16 355 561 4278 31 10 24 155 121 116 119 127 125 122 79.0
27 V. Testaverde 1998 35 NYJ 14 259 421 3256 29 7 19 140 120 117 129 129 126 123 79.0
28 Bernie Kosar 1987 24 CLE 12 241 389 3033 22 9 22 129 123 117 116 127 125 123 78.8
29 Troy Aikman 1995 29 DAL 16 280 432 3304 16 7 14 89 123 122 97 122 124 130 78.4
30 Peyton Manning 2006 30 IND 16 362 557 4397 31 9 14 86 116 121 118 126 127 127 78.1
31 Joe Theismann 1983 34 WAS 16 276 459 3714 29 11 34 242 111 119 123 126 128 122 78.1
32 Norm Snead 1972 33 NYG 14 196 325 2307 17 12 8 66 126 107 109 121 115 120 77.7
33 Peyton Manning 2000 24 IND 16 357 571 4413 33 15 20 131 118 118 122 123 122 125 77.6
34 Peyton Manning 2005 29 IND 16 305 453 3747 28 10 17 81 125 124 124 129 127 129 77.6
35 Kurt Warner 2001 30 STL 16 375 546 4830 36 22 38 233 133 140 136 132 132 137 77.5
36 Steve DeBerg 1990 36 KAN 16 258 444 3444 23 4 22 191 106 117 114 128 132 119 77.5
37 Ken Anderson 1981 32 CIN 16 300 479 3754 29 10 25 140 123 117 123 137 132 125 77.4
38 Scott Mitchell 1995 27 DET 16 346 583 4338 32 12 31 145 105 117 120 120 124 121 77.3
39 Trent Green 2002 32 KAN 16 287 470 3690 26 13 26 141 107 126 123 120 126 128 77.3
40 Peyton Manning 2009 33 IND 16 393 571 4500 33 16 10 74 127 117 120 120 116 126 77.1

Finally, here are the predicted 2010 QBR leaders alongside the actual QBR leaders (min 225 att):

Player Year Age Tm G Att predQBR Rk Action Plays Actual QBR Rk
Tom Brady 2010 33 NWE 16 492 75.7 1 607 76.0 1
Aaron Rodgers 2010 27 GNB 15 475 71.5 2 627 67.9 4
Philip Rivers 2010 29 SDG 16 541 68.2 3 667 63.2 9
Peyton Manning 2010 34 IND 16 679 66.3 4 779 69.5 2
Josh Freeman 2010 22 TAM 16 474 64.0 5 626 63.5 8
Drew Brees 2010 31 NOR 16 658 62.3 6 760 65.9 6
Michael Vick 2010 30 PHI 12 372 61.9 7 547 66.6 5
Matt Schaub 2010 29 HOU 16 574 61.8 8 678 57.8 12
Ben Roethlisberger 2010 28 PIT 12 389 59.9 9 500 59.8 10
Matt Ryan 2010 25 ATL 16 571 59.8 10 709 68.6 3
Eli Manning 2010 29 NYG 16 539 58.1 11 654 64.3 7
Jon Kitna 2010 38 DAL 10 318 57.7 12 409 46.1 20
Matt Cassel 2010 28 KAN 15 450 57.6 13 566 51.2 15
Joe Flacco 2010 25 BAL 16 489 56.0 14 647 58.1 11
Shaun Hill 2010 30 DET 11 416 55.0 15 499 44.8 21
Kyle Orton 2010 28 DEN 13 498 53.5 16 612 46.6 19
Carson Palmer 2010 31 CIN 16 586 51.1 17 720 46.7 18
Ryan Fitzpatrick 2010 28 BUF 13 441 50.4 18 551 48.7 16
David Garrard 2010 32 JAX 14 366 50.3 19 510 57.3 13
Kerry Collins 2010 38 TEN 9 278 49.6 20 342 56.0 14
Alex Smith 2010 26 SFO 11 342 47.7 21 426 40.0 28
Mark Sanchez 2010 24 NYJ 16 507 45.2 22 619 47.4 17
Jason Campbell 2010 29 OAK 13 329 44.9 23 479 43.8 22
Matt Hasselbeck 2010 35 SEA 14 444 44.8 24 547 42.4 24
Chad Henne 2010 25 MIA 15 490 44.7 25 604 41.4 25
Sam Bradford 2010 23 STL 16 590 43.9 26 732 41.0 26
Jay Cutler 2010 27 CHI 15 432 41.9 27 596 42.6 23
Donovan McNabb 2010 34 WAS 13 472 40.9 28 596 41.0 26
Brett Favre 2010 41 MIN 13 358 39.4 29 459 25.8 30
Derek Anderson 2010 27 ARI 12 327 34.3 30 387 35.9 29
Jimmy Clausen 2010 23 CAR 13 299 19.2 31 397 11.7 31

27 Comments | Posted in History, Quarterbacks, Statgeekery

YouTube Finds: Watch Drew Bledsoe Throw a Record 70 Passes vs. Minnesota

Posted by Neil Paine on April 28, 2011

On November 13, 1994, New England's Drew Bledsoe set an NFL record with 70 pass attempts in a single game:

Passing
Rk Player Age Date Tm Opp Result Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate Y/A AY/A
1 Drew Bledsoe 22-272 1994-11-13 NWE MIN W 26-20 45 70 64.3% 426 3 0 95.3 6.09 6.94
2 Vinny Testaverde 37-041 2000-12-24 NYJ @ BAL L 20-34 36 69 52.2% 481 2 3 66.2 6.97 5.59
3 Jon Kitna 29-100 2001-12-30 CIN PIT W 26-23 35 68 51.5% 411 2 1 73.8 6.04 5.97
4 Brian Griese 33-187 2008-09-21 TAM @ CHI W 27-24 38 67 56.7% 407 2 3 66.0 6.07 4.66
5 Chris Miller 24-137 1989-12-24 ATL DET L 24-31 37 66 56.1% 334 2 1 73.7 5.06 4.98
6 Steve Young* 34-087 1996-01-06 SFO GNB L 17-27 32 65 49.2% 328 0 2 51.3 5.05 3.66
7 Rich Gannon 36-269 2002-09-15 OAK @ PIT W 30-17 43 64 67.2% 403 1 2 76.5 6.30 5.20
8 Bernie Kosar 23-039 1987-01-03 CLE NYJ W 23-20 33 64 51.6% 489 1 2 69.1 7.64 6.55
9 Dan Marino* 34-106 1995-12-30 MIA @ BUF L 22-37 33 64 51.6% 422 2 3 63.4 6.59 5.11
10 Rich Gannon 25-304 1991-10-20 MIN @ NWE L 23-26 35 63 55.6% 317 1 0 74.6 5.03 5.35
11 Elvis Grbac 31-041 2001-09-23 BAL @ CIN L 10-21 33 63 52.4% 326 1 3 52.7 5.17 3.35
12 Vinny Testaverde 35-023 1998-12-06 NYJ SEA W 32-31 42 63 66.7% 418 2 1 89.3 6.63 6.56
13 Chris Weinke 29-152 2001-12-30 CAR ARI L 7-30 36 63 57.1% 223 1 1 63.1 3.54 3.14
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/28/2011.

And for some reason, somebody uploaded a video of all 70 attempts at YouTube:

6 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns, History, Quarterbacks, Totally Useless, YouTube Finds

Super Bowl XXV: Correcting the Narrative

Posted by Chase Stuart on March 28, 2011

Super Bowl XXV. Giants-Bills. Wide Right. 20-19. Bill Parcells. The Gameplan to End All Gameplans™. Our brains have been indoctrinated for years with the message that Parcells concocted the perfect gameplan to defeat the high-flying Bills. By "controlling the clock," "shortening the game" and by implementing a "ball-control offense", the Giants pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history. When the franchise faced an even taller task 17 years later, New Yorkalready had the blueprint on which to build:

Giants coach Tom Coughlin doesn't have to look far to concoct a game plan for toppling an offensive powerhouse in the Super Bowl. His mentor did it 17 years ago.

When the Giants arrived in Tampa for Super Bowl XXV in 1991, the AFC champion Bills had just scored 95 points while humbling the Raiders and Dolphins in the playoffs.

New York coach Bill Parcells shortened the game by milking the clock and relying on Ottis Anderson, who ran for 102 yards en route to MVP honors in a 20-19 triumph.

The Bills, led by Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly and Hall of Fame back Thurman Thomas, had possession for less than 20 minutes as Buffalo suffered the first of four consecutive Super Bowl defeats.

And for one of the few times in Super Bowl annals, the more talented team walked out a loser.

Such narrative has been as connected to the game as "Wide Right" since the moment the final gun sounded. Here's what the New York Times published after the game:

30 Comments | Posted in Coaches, History

Mailbag: Super Bowl QBs With the Fewest Career Home Playoff Games

Posted by Neil Paine on February 21, 2011

PFR reader Bill asked a great question yesterday:

"I can't find evidence of this, but is Aaron Rodgers the only quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl without ever having a playoff game in his home stadium? Other wild card teams have won Super Bowls, but the quarterback will have had at least one playoff game at home during his career prior to winning a super bowl."

Question answered -- here are the fewest previous playoff home games (games where he recorded any stats at all, not just starts) by a Super Bowl-winning QB:

Quarterback Year Team Prev Hm G
Len Dawson 1969 KAN 0
Aaron Rodgers 2010 GNB 0
Joe Namath 1968 NYJ 1
Bob Griese 1972 MIA 1
Jim Plunkett 1980 OAK 1
Jeff Hostetler 1990 NYG 1
Troy Aikman 1992 DAL 1
Tom Brady 2001 NWE 1
Eli Manning 2007 NYG 1

Rodgers became the second Super Bowl winning quarterback ever to enter the game with zero career playoff home starts, and zero career games where he actually recorded any stats, following Dawson (whose only career playoff home game was also his last playoff game).

Of course, alert reader Tom Steen pointed out in the comments that Rodgers did technically play in Green Bay's 2007 home game vs. Seattle, recording no stats but taking the field at one point. So if you're a stickler, the answer is still Dawson.

7 Comments | Posted in History, Quarterbacks

The Greatest Drive in NFL History

Posted by Scott Kacsmar on February 9, 2011

Eighty-seven yards away from the end zone. 119 seconds on the clock. One timeout remaining. Down by six. The Super Bowl is on the line. This is the stuff football fans dream of watching, and players dream of performing on the biggest stage. This is the stuff legends are made of.

This is what the Steelers had staring them down at the end of Super Bowl XLV against the Packers. If they were successful, there would be only one way of describing it. The Steelers may not have known it when they took the field, but they were looking at the greatest drive in NFL history.

What is currently the greatest drive in NFL history? There are many great moments that stand out in NFL lore, but this is not a question that has had a definitive answer to it. I will go back now and review the candidates.

34 Comments | Posted in Best/Worst Ever, History, Quarterbacks

2011 Hall of Fame Polls: Curtis Martin

Posted by Chase Stuart on February 4, 2011

I won't pretend to be objective here: Curtis Martin is my favorite player of all-time. To maintain credibility as a football writer, one must be objective. Still, I feel comfortable avoiding such responsibility this time as long as I announce it. I've sponsored his P-F-R page since we rolled out the sponsorship option several years ago, and have no plans of ending my sponsorship. The quote I use to sponsor him was uttered by Martin late in the 2005 season, when he finally had to shut it down for good:

But early last week, the pain prompted a visit to the coach's office.

''Herm said: 'Curtis, just for us to be having this conversation, it must be a very bad situation. There is no way you'd be sitting in Herman Edwards's office if this wasn't drastic,' '' Martin said Sunday afternoon. ''It was. Yesterday, I felt like there was probably no way we're going to be able to do it. We got up this morning and said no.

''If the Raiders had said, 'Curtis, we're not going to tackle you' and gave me the ball on the 1-yard line and let me run 99 yards, I don't even think I'd have been able to get it.''

In each off-season, Martin submits himself to savage workouts, to prepare his body for the inevitable punishment. Martin once played through a season with two severely sprained ankles. He played through another even though a ligament was tearing away from the bone in his buttocks. He played two consecutive seasons with torn knee ligaments that did not slow him.

31 Comments | Posted in Best/Worst Ever, Great Historical Players, History, HOF, Player articles

2011 Hall of Fame Polls: Chris Hanburger

Posted by Jason Lisk on February 4, 2011

Chris Hanburger was born at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, just months before the start of United States' involvement in World War II, and when he graduated from high school, he served a stint in the Army as well. After the Army, Hanburger went to play for the University of North Carolina, and was twice selected as the all-ACC center. Hanburger's age (24 when he entered professional football) and the fact that he was more accomplished on the offensive side of the ball help explain why he lasted until the 18th and final round of the 1965 draft.

He was quite a find, though, as he moved into the starting lineup at linebacker late in his rookie year, and would remain a staple of the Redskins lineup for well over a decade. Hanburger may not have been the most explosive athlete at the position, but he was a heady and instinctive player who is often attributed with being a quarterback on the defensive side of the field. His knowledge and game smarts was a natural for George Allen, who had a strong preference for veterans, and Hanburger was a key member of the "Over the Hill Gang" that led the Redskins to their first Super Bowl appearance following the 1972 season.

18 Comments | Posted in Great Historical Players, History, HOF, Player articles

2011 Hall of Fame Polls: Les Richter

Posted by Neil Paine on February 3, 2011

Moving on with our 2011 Hall of Fame finalist polls, here's Les Richter, a linebacker from the 1950s/60s who was nominated as a senior candidate in this year's class. The rundown on Richter's career:

What do you think? Is Les Richter worthy of HoF induction?

9 Comments | Posted in Best/Worst Ever, Great Historical Players, History, HOF

2011 Hall of Fame Polls: Deion Sanders

Posted by Neil Paine on February 3, 2011

I've been looking forward to this Hall of Fame finalist poll... Let's run down the fact list for Mr. Deion Sanders:

NumYrs Players whose career was of similar quality and shape
3 Bill Simpson, Joe Scudero, Shawn Springs, Ken Konz, Milt Davis, Herb Rich, Jerry Gray, Billy Stacy, DeAngelo Hall, Leon Hall
4 Jerry Gray, Bobby Dillon, Darren Woodson, Jim Marsalis, Ray Rhodes, Roger Wehrli*, Everson Walls, Mark A. Carrier, Abe Woodson, Darrell Green*
5 Darren Woodson, Jerry Gray, Charles Woodson, Everson Walls, George Saimes, Abe Woodson, Bobby Dillon, Frank Minnifield, Troy Polamalu, Lindon Crow
6 Kenny Easley, Darren Woodson, Charles Woodson, Bobby Dillon, Mike Haynes*, George Saimes, Eric Allen, Everson Walls, Abe Woodson, Frank Minnifield
7 Kenny Easley, Nolan Cromwell, Charles Woodson, Joey Browner, Roger Wehrli*, Merton Hanks, Asante Samuel, Bobby Dillon, George Saimes, Willie Brown*
8 Erich Barnes, Mike Haynes*, Eric Allen, Cornell Green, Roger Wehrli*, Aeneas Williams, Lem Barney*, Chris McAlister, Joey Browner, Mel Blount*
9 Roger Wehrli*, Mike Haynes*, Eric Allen, Lem Barney*, Aeneas Williams, Mel Blount*, Darrell Green*, Ed Reed, Erich Barnes, Cornell Green
10 Mike Haynes*, Paul Krause*, Lem Barney*, Mel Blount*, Champ Bailey, Mel Renfro*, Ronnie Lott*, Willie Wood*, Roger Wehrli*, Herb Adderley*
11 Mike Haynes*, Paul Krause*, Willie Brown*, Champ Bailey, Mel Renfro*, Lem Barney*, Willie Wood*, Ronnie Lott*, Aeneas Williams, Mel Blount*
12 Mike Haynes*, Mel Blount*, Willie Brown*, Paul Krause*, Ronde Barber, Night Train Lane*, Champ Bailey, Mel Renfro*, Willie Wood*, Lem Barney*
13 Mike Haynes*, Willie Brown*, Champ Bailey, Ronde Barber, Night Train Lane*, Mel Blount*, Willie Wood*, Lem Barney*, Aeneas Williams, Mel Renfro*
14 Mike Haynes*, Willie Brown*, Champ Bailey, Ronde Barber, Willie Wood*, Night Train Lane*, Lem Barney*, Mel Blount*, Mel Renfro*, Aeneas Williams
Career Mike Haynes*, Champ Bailey, Lem Barney*, Willie Wood*, Ronde Barber, Yale Lary*, Night Train Lane*, Willie Brown*, Mel Blount*, Mel Renfro*
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/3/2011.

So, does Canton make room for Prime Time?

15 Comments | Posted in Best/Worst Ever, Great Historical Players, History, HOF

Quarterbacks: Career Playoff Drive Stats

Posted by Scott Kacsmar on February 3, 2011

Robert Duvall once said "I love the smell of napalm in the morning" in Apocalypse Now. I have never smelled napalm before, but there is something I enjoy. I love the smell of freshly produced spreadsheets on quarterbacks that will provide the data to expose myths and spit in the face of conventional wisdoms. I want to know why certain teams succeed and others fail, especially in the postseason. Well after my latest research efforts, I feel much more knowledgeable about certain quarterbacks and why their playoff record is what it is.

Just in time for a big quarterback match-up in Super Bowl XLV between Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers, I compiled playoff drive stats for two dozen quarterbacks that have played in the last thirty years. It was my goal to get every quarterback with at least 8 playoff starts since 1980, and I almost succeeded. Only Phil Simms, Joe Theismann, Jim Plunkett and Danny White were left out due to lack of complete career data. I also included a few active quarterbacks with 4-7 playoff starts to their credit. I used official NFL gamebooks to get this data. While many of these gamebooks offer drive summaries, I actually went through the play-by-play for each drive (over 3400 of them) to get a better understanding of how the game progressed and for more accurate statistics.

Here is a table of stats that you may be familiar with for the quarterbacks involved:

Player GP W L Att. Comp. Pct. Yards YPA TDs INTs Rating
Aaron Rodgers 4 3 1 135 94 69.63 1212 8.98 10 3 112.9
Kurt Warner 13 9 4 462 307 66.45 3952 8.55 31 14 102.8
Drew Brees 7 4 3 285 189 66.32 2052 7.20 15 2 102.0
Joe Montana 23 16 7 734 460 62.67 5772 7.86 45 21 95.6
Peyton Manning 19 9 10 718 453 63.09 5389 7.51 29 19 88.4
Troy Aikman 16 11 5 502 320 63.75 3849 7.67 23 17 88.3
Brett Favre 24 13 11 791 481 60.81 5855 7.40 44 30 86.3
Steve Young 20 12 8 471 292 62.00 3326 7.06 20 13 85.8
Tom Brady 18 14 4 637 395 62.01 4108 6.45 28 15 85.5
Ben Roethlisberger 12 10 2 329 201 61.09 2598 7.90 17 14 85.4
Warren Moon 10 3 7 403 259 64.27 2870 7.12 17 14 84.9
Jake Delhomme 8 5 3 226 130 57.52 1847 8.17 12 10 83.3
Matt Hasselbeck 10 5 5 360 211 58.61 2483 6.90 15 9 83.1
Tony Romo 4 1 3 135 80 59.26 832 6.16 4 2 80.8
Donovan McNabb 16 9 7 577 341 59.10 3752 6.50 24 17 80.0
John Elway 22 14 8 651 355 54.53 4964 7.63 27 21 79.7
Philip Rivers 7 3 4 229 134 58.52 1820 7.95 8 9 79.2
Eli Manning 7 4 3 193 113 58.55 1297 6.72 8 7 77.6
Dan Marino 18 8 10 687 385 56.04 4510 6.56 32 24 77.1
Randall Cunningham 12 5 7 365 192 52.60 2426 6.65 12 9 74.3
Dave Krieg 12 5 7 282 144 51.06 1895 6.72 11 9 72.3
Jim Kelly 17 9 8 545 322 59.08 3863 7.09 21 28 72.3
Steve McNair 10 5 5 311 184 59.16 1764 5.67 6 11 66.7
Mark Brunell 11 5 6 307 156 50.81 1833 5.97 11 11 66.3

Those are your conventional passing stats. Drive stats are something I have taken much interest in the last few years. I guess it started with my work on fourth quarter drives, and has since carried over to the full game. They offer more measures of efficiency and give better insight into how productive a team's offense or defense is and what style or tempo they may play at. Think about basketball and how the stats for a run and gun/fast break offense are going to be different than the numbers of a half-court offense.

The number of possessions a team gets in a game or season is one of the most overlooked parts of football. Every offense and defense is held to the same standard of points and yards scored/allowed, but did the defense that allows 20 points on 8 drives really play better than the defense that allowed 24 points on 13 drives? Some teams get the ball less than others year after year, meaning their offense has to play at a higher level on fewer opportunities. This would make the offense's stats look better, and the defense's look worse since they are not on the field as much as other teams. The Colts have often been a team in recent seasons that are at the bottom or close to it in offensive possessions every season. Jon Gruden, on a Monday Night Football telecast in Miami in 2009, is probably the only analyst I have heard reference this fact in the media.

If you are not familiar with drive stats, I would highly recommend a visit to that section on the FootballOutsiders site, where Jim Armstrong does a great job of putting out the drive stats on a weekly basis each season. They are listed for 1997-2010. You can familiarize yourself with the kind of numbers you can expect from an offense that is ranked at the top of the league, the average, and at the bottom, to use as a reference when you look over these playoff drive stats.

Disclaimer: the stats presented here are in the quarterback's name, but even more than usual this is really about the team's offensive performance as a whole rather than the individual quarterback. There are certain parts, like the breakdown on interceptions, that are mostly all about the quarterback, but overall drive stats are something you have to keep the team in mind first for. There are of course drives where a quarterback does nothing but hand the ball off every play. The entry "Joe Montana" is another way of saying "1981-90 49ers, 1993-94 Chiefs". Also I will note that I tried to include every drive a QB played in during the playoffs, whether or not they started the game did not matter. I will point out several things, but I will also leave the reader to make their own observations on all the various data presented below. Kneel down drives at the end of either half are excluded.

With that cleared up, on to the data.

25 Comments | Posted in Best/Worst Ever, History, Quarterbacks, Statgeekery

2011 Hall of Fame Polls: Willie Roaf

Posted by Neil Paine on February 2, 2011

After covering Dermontti Dawson yesterday, we now come to the other offensive lineman in this year's group of Hall of Fame finalists: Willie Roaf. The facts on Roaf's career:

NumYrs Players whose career was of similar quality and shape
3 Stan Jones*, Gary Zimmerman*, Lou Creekmur*, Jim Parker*, Jonathan Ogden, Ralph Neely, Bob Brown*, Dick Stanfel, Tony Boselli, Gene Upshaw*
4 Tony Boselli, Gary Zimmerman*, Lou Creekmur*, Jonathan Ogden, Bob Brown*, Richmond Webb, Gene Upshaw*, Jim Parker*, Tom Newberry, Ralph Neely
5 Jonathan Ogden, Lou Creekmur*, Gary Zimmerman*, Bob Brown*, Tony Boselli, Marvin Powell, Larry Allen, Logan Mankins, Ralph Neely, Jim Parker*
6 Jonathan Ogden, Lou Creekmur*, Gary Zimmerman*, Jim Lachey, Bob Brown*, Marvin Powell, Mike Kenn, Gene Upshaw*, Kent Hull, Bob Vogel
7 Gary Zimmerman*, Bob Vogel, Dick Stanfel, Marvin Powell, Mike Kenn, Jonathan Ogden, Bob St. Clair*, Rosey Brown*, Lou Creekmur*, George Kunz
8 Gary Zimmerman*, Bob Vogel, Gene Upshaw*, Bob Brown*, Rosey Brown*, Randall McDaniel*, Stan Jones*, Marvin Powell, Jonathan Ogden, Ron Mix*
9 Gary Zimmerman*, Bob Vogel, Marvin Powell, Jim Tyrer, Rosey Brown*, Gene Upshaw*, Bob St. Clair*, Tom Mack*, Walt Sweeney, Alan Faneca
10 Gary Zimmerman*, Jim Tyrer, Rosey Brown*, Walter Jones, Alan Faneca, Bob Brown*, Lou Creekmur*, Tarik Glenn, Gene Upshaw*, Bob Vogel
11 Gary Zimmerman*, Jim Tyrer, Rosey Brown*, Walter Jones, John Hannah*, Jonathan Ogden, Mike Webster*, Richmond Webb, Bob Brown*, Alan Faneca
12 Gary Zimmerman*, John Hannah*, Gene Upshaw*, Rosey Brown*, Walter Jones, Richmond Webb, Jonathan Ogden, Randall McDaniel*, Jim Tyrer, Jim Ringo*
13 John Hannah*, Gary Zimmerman*, Gene Upshaw*, Jonathan Ogden, Rosey Brown*, Randall McDaniel*, Jim Ringo*, Walter Jones, Jim Tyrer, Art Shell*
Career Gary Zimmerman*, Jonathan Ogden, John Hannah*, Forrest Gregg*, Walter Jones, Rosey Brown*, Gene Upshaw*, Art Shell*, Jim Tyrer, Jim Ringo*
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/2/2011.

What's the verdict on Roaf?

12 Comments | Posted in Best/Worst Ever, Great Historical Players, HOF, PI Finds, Play Index, Player articles

2011 Hall of Fame Polls: Jerome Bettis

Posted by Neil Paine on January 28, 2011

Yesterday's poll on Marshall Faulk was truly a no-brainer, with 98.6% of PFR readers considering him HoF-worthy. So let's challenge the voters with a more interesting question: is Jerome Bettis a Hall of Famer?

The facts on Bettis' career:

NumYrs Players whose career was of similar quality and shape
3 Robert Holmes, Don Bosseler, Marion Barber, Kevan Barlow, Howie Ferguson, Floyd Little*, Gary W. Anderson, Napoleon Kaufman, Travis Henry, Marshawn Lynch
4 Ted Brown, Lynn Chandnois, Reggie Bush, Brian Westbrook, John Riggins*, Greg Pruitt, Floyd Little*, Dickie Post, Kevin Mack, Alex Webster
5 Brian Westbrook, Frank Gore, Sam Cunningham, Neal Anderson, Delvin Williams, John Brockington, John Riggins*, Larry Csonka*, Jim Taylor*, Sherman Smith
6 John Brockington, Sherman Smith, Sam Cunningham, John Riggins*, Jim Taylor*, Neal Anderson, Delvin Williams, Chuck Muncie, Don Perkins, Larry Csonka*
7 Sam Cunningham, Don Perkins, Tony Nathan, Neal Anderson, Delvin Williams, John Riggins*, Floyd Little*, Mark van Eeghen, Earnest Byner, Larry Csonka*
8 Floyd Little*, Corey Dillon, Don Perkins, Neal Anderson, Earnest Byner, John Riggins*, Earl Campbell*, Greg Pruitt, Jim Taylor*, Ollie Matson*
9 Corey Dillon, Floyd Little*, Earnest Byner, John Riggins*, Jim Taylor*, Ollie Matson*, Ken Willard, Greg Pruitt, Don Perkins, Chuck Muncie
10 Corey Dillon, Floyd Little*, Freeman McNeil, Jim Taylor*, Earnest Byner, Ollie Matson*, Leroy Kelly*, John Riggins*, Ken Willard, John L. Williams
11 Corey Dillon, Freeman McNeil, John Riggins*, Earnest Byner, Floyd Little*, James Brooks, Jim Taylor*, Ollie Matson*, Greg Pruitt, Leroy Kelly*
12 Corey Dillon, John Riggins*, Earnest Byner, Freeman McNeil, Larry Csonka*, James Brooks, Ollie Matson*, Floyd Little*, Herschel Walker, Jim Taylor*
13 Corey Dillon, Earnest Byner, John Riggins*, Ollie Matson*, Freeman McNeil, Larry Csonka*, James Brooks, Floyd Little*, Herschel Walker, Jim Taylor*
Career Corey Dillon, Earnest Byner, Ollie Matson*, Freeman McNeil, Larry Csonka*, James Brooks, Floyd Little*, Herschel Walker, Jim Taylor*, John L. Williams
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/28/2011.

So what do you think about Bettis?

49 Comments | Posted in Great Historical Players, HOF, PI Finds, Running Backs

The Most Storied Super Bowl Matchups of All Time

Posted by Neil Paine on January 24, 2011

Is Super Bowl XLV going to feature the most prestigious franchise matchup in the Big Game's history?

Here are the most storied matchups by total franchise regular-season wins (in all leagues; ties count as half a win):

Year SB Team A rsW Team B rsW Combined
2010 XLV Green Bay Packers 682.0 Pittsburgh Steelers 551.0 1233.0
2006 XLI Indianapolis Colts 454.5 Chicago Bears 725.0 1179.5
1985 XX Chicago Bears 725.0 New England Patriots 405.5 1130.5
1967 II Green Bay Packers 682.0 Oakland Raiders 423.5 1105.5
1996 XXXI Green Bay Packers 682.0 New England Patriots 405.5 1087.5
1997 XXXII Denver Broncos 403.0 Green Bay Packers 682.0 1085.0
1966 I Green Bay Packers 682.0 Kansas City Chiefs 401.0 1083.0
1979 XIV Pittsburgh Steelers 551.0 Los Angeles Rams 521.0 1072.0
2008 XLIII Pittsburgh Steelers 551.0 Arizona Cardinals 507.5 1058.5
2007 XLII New York Giants 652.5 New England Patriots 405.5 1058.0
1986 XXI New York Giants 652.5 Denver Broncos 403.0 1055.5
1990 XXV New York Giants 652.5 Buffalo Bills 362.0 1014.5
1995 XXX Dallas Cowboys 443.0 Pittsburgh Steelers 551.0 994.0
1978 XIII Pittsburgh Steelers 551.0 Dallas Cowboys 443.0 994.0
1975 X Pittsburgh Steelers 551.0 Dallas Cowboys 443.0 994.0
1983 XVIII Los Angeles Raiders 423.5 Washington Redskins 560.5 984.0
1974 IX Pittsburgh Steelers 551.0 Minnesota Vikings 417.5 968.5
1987 XXII Washington Redskins 560.5 Denver Broncos 403.0 963.5
1982 XVII Washington Redskins 560.5 Miami Dolphins 396.0 956.5
1972 VII Miami Dolphins 396.0 Washington Redskins 560.5 956.5
1980 XV Oakland Raiders 423.5 Philadelphia Eagles 522.0 945.5
2004 XXXIX New England Patriots 405.5 Philadelphia Eagles 522.0 927.5
2001 XXXVI New England Patriots 405.5 St. Louis Rams 521.0 926.5
1991 XXVI Washington Redskins 560.5 Buffalo Bills 362.0 922.5
1989 XXIV San Francisco 49ers 516.5 Denver Broncos 403.0 919.5
1984 XIX San Francisco 49ers 516.5 Miami Dolphins 396.0 912.5
1994 XXIX San Francisco 49ers 516.5 San Diego Chargers 389.5 906.0
1999 XXXIV St. Louis Rams 521.0 Tennessee Titans 380.0 901.0
1970 V Baltimore Colts 454.5 Dallas Cowboys 443.0 897.5
1977 XII Dallas Cowboys 443.0 Denver Broncos 403.0 846.0
1976 XI Oakland Raiders 423.5 Minnesota Vikings 417.5 841.0
1971 VI Dallas Cowboys 443.0 Miami Dolphins 396.0 839.0
1969 IV Kansas City Chiefs 401.0 Minnesota Vikings 417.5 818.5
1973 VIII Miami Dolphins 396.0 Minnesota Vikings 417.5 813.5
2005 XL Pittsburgh Steelers 551.0 Seattle Seahawks 262.0 813.0
1968 III New York Jets 355.0 Baltimore Colts 454.5 809.5
1993 XXVIII Dallas Cowboys 443.0 Buffalo Bills 362.0 805.0
1992 XXVII Dallas Cowboys 443.0 Buffalo Bills 362.0 805.0
1988 XXIII San Francisco 49ers 516.5 Cincinnati Bengals 287.0 803.5
1981 XVI San Francisco 49ers 516.5 Cincinnati Bengals 287.0 803.5
2000 XXXV Baltimore Ravens 128.5 New York Giants 652.5 781.0
2009 XLIV New Orleans Saints 288.5 Indianapolis Colts 454.5 743.0
1998 XXXIII Denver Broncos 403.0 Atlanta Falcons 292.0 695.0
2002 XXXVII Tampa Bay Buccaneers 218.5 Oakland Raiders 423.5 642.0
2003 XXXVIII New England Patriots 405.5 Carolina Panthers 119.0 524.5

10 Comments | Posted in Best/Worst Ever, History

Bears-Packers: Oldest rivals meet for just 2nd playoff game ever

Posted by Chase Stuart on January 22, 2011

Green Bay and Chicago are the oldest pair of rivals in pro football. The Packers and Bears have battled 180 times in NFL history and once in 1921 as members of the American Professional Football Association. The Lions have met both NFC North rivals just over 160 times, and only three other pairs of NFL teams have met even 130 times: New York and Washington (158), New York and Philadelphia (158) and Philadelphia and Washington (154). As two of the three oldest franchises in the league -- the Arizona Cardinals franchise, playing in Normal Park on Racine Avenue in Chicago, trace their history back at least one year further than Green Bay -- the Packers and Bears have a storied and long history together. Chicago won the head to head serieses in the '20s, '30s, '40s and '50s, before Vince Lombardi flipped the script in the 1960s. Chicago edged out Green Bay in the '70s and '80s, but Brett Favre helped Green Bay get the upper hand over the past two decades. As the Bears and Packers begin their 10th decade of battle, the teams split their two games in 2010. Tomorrow, they'll meet for just the second time in playoff history. The first one, in 1941, was a titanic clash of the titans, with George Halas and Curly Lambeau on the sidelines.

The 1940 Bears assembled more Hall of Fame talent on offense than any team before or since, as six starters would one day wind up in the Hall of Fame. In addition to QB Sid Luckman and back George McAfee, the '40 Bears were one of just two teams (the '71-'73 Raiders) to start four HOF offensive lineman. LT Joe Stydahar, LG Danny Fortmann, C Bulldog Turner and RG George Musso all have busts in Canton (and Stydahar, as you may recall, would coach one of the greatest offenses the football world has ever seen a decade later). Ed Kolman replaced Stydahar on the blind side in '41 while Ray Bray stepped in at right guard. Behind a still dominant offensive line, George McAfee graded out as the most dominant running back of the '41 season. Chicago quarterback Sid Luckman was the top quarterback in the league and in the prime of his Hall of Fame career.

5 Comments | Posted in History

Draft stories: 1968

Posted by Doug on January 13, 2011

This is a sequel to Draft stories: 1967 and possibly a precursor to Draft stories 1969 through whenever.

11 Comments | Posted in History, NFL Draft

Which Quarterbacks’ Offenses Exceed Expectations in the Playoffs?

Posted by Neil Paine on January 10, 2011

Curious after Peyton Manning & the Colts scored 16 points at home against the Jets on Saturday, I wanted to calculate how many points we should have expected them to put on the board, knowing the opponent and game location.

According to the Simple Rating System (SRS), the Jets' defense was +4.2 this season -- meaning they allowed 4.2 fewer PPG than an average team after accounting for strength of schedule. The average NFL team scored 22.0 PPG during the regular-season, so at a neutral site we'd expect an average team to score 17.8 PPG against the New York defense. And since the Colts were at home, 0.95 PPG (half the overall home-field advantage in 2010) should be added in as well, giving a final expectation of 18.8 PPG for a league-average team against the Jets at home. Since the Colts actually scored 16, we can score this performance as -2.8 points relative to average.

Additionally, we wouldn't have expected the Colts' offense to be average based on the regular season. Their offensive SRS was +3.7, which means Indianapolis "should have" scored 22.0 + 0.95 + 3.7 - 4.2 = 22.5 pts against the Jets at home. This yields a score of -6.5 pts relative to regular-season expectations.

Here's Peyton Manning's entire playoff career according to this methodology:

20 Comments | Posted in Best/Worst Ever, History, Quarterbacks, Simple Rating System, Statgeekery

Draft stories: 1967

Posted by Doug on January 9, 2011

I've really been enjoying perusing old newspaper articles in the google news archives lately, so I figured I may as well put that time to good use by blogging some interesting tidbits. This post contains a random assortment of details and stories from the 1967 draft, along with some offshoots.

6 Comments | Posted in History, NFL Draft

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