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Archive for August, 2007

The Vick-less Falcons

Posted by Doug on August 29, 2007

A few weeks ago I wondered what the 2007 Dallas Cowboys season would tell us about Bill Parcells. But secretly I already knew what it would tell me. If the Cowboys slide to 4-12, it will be because Parcells ruined the team and left the cupboard bare. If they go to the Super Bowl, it will be because the talent had been there all along (which was none of Parcells' doing), but Parcells had been inept at translating it into production.

Similarly, the many Michael Vick haters --- I'm talking about those who disparaged Vick as a player --- already have several scripts written. Which one they use depends on the kind of numbers that Joey Harrington produces this year. The Vick-bashers are truly in a no-lose situation here. If Harrington posts good passing numbers, it'll prove that Vick was horrible and that White, Jenkins, et al weren't the problem. If he doesn't, well, he's Joey Harrington, the worst quarterback in the league. If the Falcons go 8-8 or better, it will put an end to the notion that Vick was ever responsible for those winning records the Falcons posted during his tenure. If they go 4-12, it will be because of the distraction created by Vick this offseason.

My contention (which I should admit is not backed by any objective evidence that I'm aware of, but which I persist in believing anyway) is that Vick's presence under center was an immense help to the running backs. Opposing ends and outside linebackers had to stay outside, which left bigger gaps in the interior line. For me, the real test of Vick's former value will be whether Dunn and Norwood see a drop in their yards-per-rush average this season.

My team data goes back to 1972. Since then, there have been 17 teams who experienced a yards-per-rush drop of more than one yard from one season to the next. I'd bet big money that this year's Falcons will be the 18th, and they may well set the record.

           YearN YearN+1
           Y/RSH  Y/RSH  DIFF
=============================
phi 1990   4.73   3.13  -1.60
ind 1985   5.03   3.66  -1.37
buf 1973   5.10   3.84  -1.26
pit 1972   5.07   3.86  -1.21
ram 1984   5.29   4.09  -1.20
nwe 1985   4.13   2.93  -1.20
nwe 1976   4.99   3.82  -1.17
mia 1973   4.97   3.84  -1.13
det 1984   4.52   3.40  -1.12
det 1997   5.51   4.43  -1.08
det 1981   4.69   3.61  -1.08
oak 2000   4.75   3.68  -1.07
nyj 2004   4.53   3.46  -1.07
sfo 2003   4.57   3.51  -1.06
car 1999   4.28   3.27  -1.02
det 1990   5.27   4.25  -1.01
sdg 1991   4.84   3.83  -1.01

But I'm being a little disingenuous. The Falcons' 5.47 yards per rush last season was largely due to the rushing of Vick himself. A more fair test would be to see what happens to the rushing average of the running backs. Last season, the Atlanta RBs were sixth in the league with an average of 4.64.

+======+======+======+======+
| team | rsh  | yd   | ypr  |
+======+======+======+======+
| sdg  | 461  | 2482 | 5.38 |
| sfo  | 343  | 1785 | 5.20 |
| jax  | 430  | 2206 | 5.13 |
| nyg  | 426  | 2121 | 4.98 |
| phi  | 354  | 1658 | 4.68 |
| atl  | 405  | 1881 | 4.64 |
| den  | 426  | 1887 | 4.43 |
| was  | 415  | 1824 | 4.40 |
| pit  | 415  | 1816 | 4.38 |
| stl  | 396  | 1725 | 4.36 |
| kan  | 470  | 2040 | 4.34 |
| ten  | 379  | 1632 | 4.31 |
| mia  | 358  | 1508 | 4.21 |
| dal  | 426  | 1795 | 4.21 |
| nwe  | 432  | 1818 | 4.21 |
| min  | 393  | 1648 | 4.19 |
| ind  | 416  | 1726 | 4.15 |
| gnb  | 396  | 1623 | 4.10 |
| chi  | 471  | 1916 | 4.07 |
| hou  | 365  | 1459 | 4.00 |
| nor  | 427  | 1707 | 4.00 |
| cin  | 393  | 1562 | 3.97 |
| car  | 389  | 1546 | 3.97 |
| bal  | 401  | 1518 | 3.79 |
| oak  | 352  | 1328 | 3.77 |
| buf  | 368  | 1370 | 3.72 |
| sea  | 449  | 1657 | 3.69 |
| tam  | 346  | 1273 | 3.68 |
| det  | 264  | 963  | 3.65 |
| nyj  | 426  | 1449 | 3.40 |
| ari  | 377  | 1256 | 3.33 |
| cle  | 313  | 1023 | 3.27 |
+======+======+======+======+

I predict that that falls below 4.0 this year.

26 Comments | Posted in General

What are the odds of that?

Posted by Doug on August 27, 2007

This post has nothing to do with football, unless you're the kind of person who sees football wherever you look. It was inspired by a question I saw on a fantasy football message board, and I might be able to make some loose football tie-ins at the end, but you may want to skip this one if you read this blog primarily for the football rather than the math.

Here is the inspiration: a post on the footballguys message board that said simply,

What are the odds of drawing the 14th pick out of 14 teams for three straight years?

The poster had apparently done just that. It was posted at 7:29 p.m. By 7:31, three people had posted the answer that most people would consider the right one.

(1/14)*(1/14)*(1/14) = 1/2744

Assuming everything is on the level, that guy's chances of drawing the fourteen slot in a given year would be 1 in 14. Since each year would be independent of the others, multiplying the yearly probabilities should give the overall probability of 1/2744. Fair enough. But the question "what are the odds of that?" can --- and often should --- be interpreted differently. [By the way, I am blurring, and will continue to blur, the distinction between odds and probability. Nothing bad will happen as a result.]

Suppose I flip a coin ten times and get: THHHTTHHTH. What are the odds of that?

Well, that depends on what you mean; it depends on what you think is the essence of a sequence of coin flips. The probability of that precise string is 1/2^10, or 1/1024. The probability of 6 heads and 4 tails is about 20.5% (that's 10-choose-6 divided by 2^10). The probability of a 6/4 split one way or the other is about 41%. So is THHHTTHHTH a rare event or not? It's a rare outcome, but all of the 1024 outcomes are rare. And we're often not interested in the outcome itself. Instead we group outcomes together into the events that we're interested in. We might be interested in the event "six of one, four of the other," which consists of a lot of different outcomes. That event is not particularly rare.

As a brief football-related aside, this is one reason --- not the only reason, but one reason --- to hate the expression

When you put the football in the air, three things can happen, and two of them are bad.

Actually, when you put the football in the air, there are about eleventy-bajillion different things that can happen. Grouping them into the three events: complete, incomplete, and interception, is arbitrary. If I was at my own 20-yard line, I could just as easily say, "when you put the football in the air, 75 different things can happen, and 72 of them are good." I could gain 80 yards, I could gain 79 yards, I could gain 78 yards, I could gain 77 yards, ..., I could gain 5 yards or less, I could throw an incompletion, or I could throw an interception.

Back to our fantasy football playing friend. If he had drawn the 6th pick for three straight years, or the 8th pick, or the 3rd pick, the same pick for three straight years, would we have heard from him? If so, then maybe the right question is "what are the odds of me getting the same draft slot for three straight years?" Answer: 1/14^2 = 1/196 (this was pointed out in the same thread, at 1:41 a.m.).

But as someone who wasn't involved, I might have a different perspective. If any single member of that league happened to draw the 14 slot all three years, you can bet I would have heard from him on the message board. Quite possibly if any person in that league had drawn the same slot for three years, we would have heard about it. But wait. This message board comprises people from many, many different leagues that probably have similar draws. From my perspective, maybe the question is "in a given year, what are the odds of me reading about some guy who got the same draft slot for each of the last three years?" And the probability of that is pretty high.

How high? Well, first, let's focus on a single 14-team league and examine the probability of somebody drawing the same slot (any slot) for three straight years. This turned out to be a hard question, at least for me. The answer is:

Sum_{k=1 to 14} P_k * Q_k

where P_k is the probability that there are exactly k guys with the same slot in the second year as the first, and Q_k is the probability that, given exactly k guys were in the same slot year one and year two, one or more of them would again land the same slot in year three. Even figuring P_k isn't an easy, but it turns out (google one of my favorite official mathematical words --- derangements --- for details) that

P_k = (1 / k!) * sum_{i=0 to (14-k)} (-1)^i / i!.

I think there must be an easier way to express Q_k, but what I came up with was:

Q_k = (1 / 14!) * sum_{j=1 to k} [(-1)^(j+1) * (k-choose-j) * (14-j)!].

Crunching the numbers, we find that the chance of somebody in a 14-team league getting the same slot three years in a row is about .06876. Roughly 7%. Now suppose that all the members of, say, 10 different leagues of the same kind frequent my message board. Then there is a 1 - (1-.06876)^10 probability --- about 51% --- that I, a random member of the message board, will be hearing about somebody who had a 1-in-2744 event happen to him.

This discussion is vaguely connected to my annual splits happen posts, where I point out highly non-interesting facts, like that Thomas Jones averaged nearly 10 fantasy points per game more against teams whose city name starts with A--M than against those that started with N--Z. A friend of mine read that post and remarked, "I don't even know how you thought to look for something like that." But the point is that I don't have to be clever. I don't have to know where to look. If you look at enough things, enough players' splits, enough fantasy draft drawings, you will see some things that seem absurdly unlikely.

This is one reason that it's not always appropriate to apply standard significance tests to facts you read about or see flashed on the screen during a game. You think Marty Schottenheimer is a crummy playoff coach. What are the chances that the collection of teams he's coached would, against the playoff opponent's they've faced, have a record of 5-13 or worse? You could make some assumptions and run the numbers; maybe you'd find that it is 4% or so. So you conclude: the probability of his record having happened due to chance is very, very low. Therefore, it probably isn't just chance; he must be a bad playoff coach.

That isn't necessarily appropriate. Why not? Because, even if all coaches were exactly average and chance was completely responsible for their records, there would undoubtedly still be coaches with records like Marty's (about 4% of all coaches, in fact!). You were (probably) checking the unlikelihood of Marty's record because you already knew it was bad. Do you see why that method is a self-fulfilling prophecy?

That's not to say that Marty isn't a bad playoff coach, or that statistical significance testing can never be used to examine such questions. It's just a reminder that "how unlikely is it that Marty's teams would go 5-13 in the postseason?" is a question that, just like "what are the chances of me getting the 14th slot in my draft three years in a row?" can be interpreted in different ways.

7 Comments | Posted in Statgeekery

Algorithmicizing the human polls

Posted by Doug on August 24, 2007

I still have not finalized the details of my attempt to algorithmicize college football's human polls. Since this project is too silly to post on any day other than Friday, and since this is the last Friday before the season starts, I guess I'd better nail it down right here.

In the above-linked post, I laid out a rough draft of an algorithm for ranking college football teams that would match up with the human poll at the end of the year. I knew that that formula in that post probably wouldn't end up being the finished product, and was hoping to get some suggestions from the readership (that's you). As usual, I did get good suggestions. In particular, both JKL and Pat noted that there needs to be a mechanism for vaulting teams up in the rankings when they beat a team ranked ahead of them, especially early in the season. They're right.

So here is the new system:

STEP 1: Build the preseason rankings - this will be done just as described in the earlier post:

1a. First rank all the BCS conference schools

1a(i). put them in order of last year's final poll (including the "others receiving votes" part)

1a(ii). order the non-vote-receiving teams by their 2006 winning percentage, with ties broken by perceived conference superiority: SEC > Big 10 > Big 12 > Pac 10 > ACC > Big East (note: since Notre Dame was "ranked" at the end of 2006, there is no need to make a special rule for them. Should the need arise in future years (yeah, like this thing is going to survive past week 3, much less into future years), they will be treated as a Big 10 team.)

1b. rank the non-BCS teams, first using last year's final poll, then ranking the rest by record, ties broken alphabetically (A's first)

1c. put all the non-BCS teams behind all the BCS teams to create the preseason rankings.

STEP 2: weekly adjustments

2a. deal with the losers first

2a(i). teams that lose by 9 or fewer points to a team ranked higher drop 2 spots.
2a(ii). teams that lose by 10 or more points to a team ranked lower drop 10 spots.
2a(iii). all other losing teams drop 5 slots.
2a(iv). all losing teams drop an additional 5 slots if they lost their previous game as well.
2a(v). all ties broken by the previous week's rankings. [for example, if the #1 team loses by 3 points, they should drop to #6. Meanwhile, if the #4 team loses to the #2 team by 3 points, they should also drop to #6. In this case, the former #1 would be #6 and the former #4 would be #7.]

At this point all the losers have a ranking. We need only order the rest of the teams, then fill them in to the empty slots in order.

2b. ordering the non-losers. (All references to "teams" below refer only to the non-losing teams.)

2b(i). starting with the lowest-ranked (worst) team, we look at each team in turn. If they beat a top 25 team, then they leapfrog int((.5 - .02r_1)r_2) teams, where r_1 is the previous rank of the beaten team, r_2 is the previous rank of the winning team, and int() is the greatest integer function (i.e. round down).

That's it. I'd like to point out that, even though it took a fair amount of verbiage, this isn't as complicated as it seems. The basic idea is: drop the losers down, move up the big winners, and fill everyone else in in the same order as the previous week.

I honestly have no idea how this is going to work out. I hope I'll be able to keep up with it throughout the season. Here is the preseason poll:

1. Florida
2. Ohio State
3. LSU
4. USC
5. Wisconsin
6. Louisville
7. Auburn
8. Michigan
9. West Virginia
10. Oklahoma
11. Rutgers
12. Texas
13. Cal
14. Arkansas
15. Wake Forest
16. Virginia Tech
17. Notre Dame
18. Boston College
19. Oregon State
20. Tennessee
21. Penn State
22. Georgia
23. Nebraska
24. Texas A&M
25. Georgia Tech
26. South Carolina
27. Maryland
28. Texas Tech
29. Kentucky
30. South Florida
31. Missouri
32. Clemson
33. Cincinnati
34. Purdue
35. Kansas State
36. Oklahoma State
37. UCLA
38. Oregon
39. Arizona State
40. Florida State
41. Miami (FL)
42. Kansas
43. Washington State
44. Arizona
45. Pittsburgh
46. Alabama
47. Minnesota
48. Iowa
49. Indiana
50. Washington
51. Virginia
52. Ole Miss
53. Vanderbilt
54. Northwestern
55. Michigan State
56. Baylor
57. Iowa State
58. UConn
59. Syracuse
60. Mississippi State
61. NC State
62. North Carolina
63. Illinois
64. Colorado
65. Stanford
66. Duke
67. Boise
68. BYU
69. TCU
70. Hawaii
71. Houston
72. Central Michigan
73. Navy
74. San Jose State
75. Ohio
76. Southern Miss
77. Nevada
78. Troy
79. Tulsa
80. Utah
81. Western Michigan
82. East Carolina
83. Middle Tennessee
84. Northern Illinois
85. Rice
86. Arkansas State
87. Kent State
88. La-Lafayette
89. SMU
90. Wyoming
91. New Mexico
92. Akron
93. Ball State
94. Florida Atlantic
95. Marshall
96. Toledo
97. UTEP
98. Air Force
99. Bowling Green
100. Fresno State
101. Idaho
102. La-Monroe
103. New Mexico State
104. Tulane
105. UCF
106. Colorado State
107. Army
108. La Tech
109. North Texas
110. San Diego State
111. UAB
112. Buffalo
113. Memphis
114. Miami (OH)
115. UNLV
116. Eastern Michigan
117. Temple
118. Utah State
119. Florida International

18 Comments | Posted in BCS, College

Rearview Adjusted Yards per Attempt

Posted by Chase Stuart on August 23, 2007

In March, I ranked the 2006 NFL quarterbacks based on how many adjusted passing yards they accumulated. Adjusted passing yards are calculated by starting with raw passing yards, subtracting 45 yards for each interception thrown and adding 10 points for every touchdown pass. Adjusted yards is nothing new -- PFR has always posted lists of the top ten leaders in several statistics, and adjusted yards per attempt is one of those categories. Here's the list from this past season:


D McNabb 8.09
D Huard 7.96
P Manning 7.72
D Brees 7.55
T Romo 7.44
C Palmer 7.17
M Bulger 7.11
P Rivers 6.96
M Brunell 6.50
T Brady 6.26

If you have to use one statistic to rank quarterbacks, adjusted yards per attempt is probably the best one. It's "better" than quarterback rating in the sense that it more closely mirrors what quarterbacks are supposed to do to win games. But as we all know, not every quarterback faces the same schedule. It's not really fair to compare Peyton Manning to Drew Brees if one is playing the Ravens and the other the Bengals. Sure, over 16 games the variance in the strengths of opposing defenses gets pretty small, but it does not even out. The solution? Rearview adjusted yards per attempt, which adjusts for strength of schedule.

Doug and I have written a rearview QB article for our other website, Footballguys.com, each of the past two years using fantasy points per game as our statistic. Finally, the light bulb went off in our heads to do the same process here, but using adjusted yards per attempt.

The system is essentially the same as the one used in the Simple Rating System. Let's look at Tony Romo, who averaged 7.44 yards per attempt last season, on 337 attempts. If we want to find Tony Romo's true rating, we need an equation that looks something like this:

    R_Romo = 7.44 + (29/337) * (R_phi) + (23/337) * (R_clt) + ... (36/337) * (R_was)

What's that formula say? Romo's true rating should equal his AY/A plus the rating of each defense he played multiplied by the number of pass attempts he had against that team. Since Romo threw 29 passes against the Eagles, 23 against the Colts and 36 against Washington, those numbers should be weighted accordingly. Each of the defenses will be assigned a rating based on how much tougher or easier they are on opposing QBs than the league average. Philadelphia had a +0.57 rating last year, which means that opposing QBs averaged 0.57 fewer yards per pass against them than against the rest of the league. So the R_phi would be +0.57. It's simply Romo's AY/A plus the weighted average rating of his opponent's adjusted yards per attempt allowed rating.

Therefore, an average quarterback playing an average schedule would have the league average 5.825 adjusted yards per attempt. If Romo played a schedule that was exactly average, the sum of all the numbers to the right of the first plus sign would be zero, and Romo's true rating would be the same as his actual rating. If he played an easy schedule (which he did), all the numbers on the right would sum to a negative number, and Romo's "moral" rating would be worse than what he actually did.

It wouldn't be that difficult to find Romo's rating if we knew all of his opponents’ ratings. But we can’t figure those out until we’ve figured out the ratings of all the QBs they've faced; after all, a team like Tennessee played Peyton Manning twice, Donovan McNabb, Tom Brady and Philip Rivers. They shouldn't be penalized for that, so we have to adjust Tennessee's defensive rating for strength of schedule, as well. But we can't do that until we figure out the ratings for Manning, McNabb, Brady and Rivers. As you can see, each QB's rating depends on each team's defensive rating, and vice versa.

Fortunately, Doug whipped up a formula that will iterate this strength of schedule adjustment process over and over again until the ratings no longer change. That's when we know we've finally reached the "morally accurate" ratings for each QB and each team defense.

With that out of the way, here's a list of all QBs with 100 attempts last season, with their SOS adjusted yards per attempt on the left, their actual adjusted yards per attempt in the middle column, and their SOS adjustment on the far right. A positive number indicates a hard schedule, and a negative number indicates an easy schedule.


player adjAY/A actAY/A SOS rating
Donovan McNabb 7.92 8.09 -0.17
Peyton Manning 7.87 7.72 0.15
Damon Huard 7.73 7.96 -0.24
Carson Palmer 7.37 7.17 0.20
Drew Brees 7.36 7.55 -0.19
Tim Rattay 7.23 6.91 0.32
Tony Romo 7.02 7.44 -0.42
Jeff Garcia 6.99 7.02 -0.02
Philip Rivers 6.98 6.96 0.02
Marc Bulger 6.91 7.11 -0.21
Mark Brunell 6.78 6.50 0.29
Kurt Warner 6.69 7.21 -0.52
Tom Brady 6.47 6.26 0.22
J.P. Losman 6.33 6.09 0.25
Chad Pennington 6.12 5.78 0.35
Daunte Culpepper 6.07 6.07 -0.01
David Garrard 6.05 5.93 0.12
Ben Roethlisberger 5.89 5.67 0.22
Jay Cutler 5.88 6.32 -0.44
Jon Kitna 5.81 5.75 0.06
Matt Leinart 5.69 5.61 0.08
Steve McNair 5.68 5.70 -0.02
Trent Green 5.68 5.09 0.59
David Carr 5.64 5.29 0.35
Jake Delhomme 5.41 5.75 -0.35
Brett Favre 5.27 5.31 -0.04
Byron Leftwich 5.25 5.49 -0.24
Drew Bledsoe 5.18 5.17 0.01
Michael Vick 5.16 5.38 -0.22
Vince Young 5.16 4.86 0.30
Alex Smith 5.16 5.27 -0.12
Matt Hasselbeck 5.12 5.25 -0.13
Eli Manning 5.06 5.12 -0.06
Jake Plummer 5.05 4.79 0.26
Jason Campbell 5.04 5.44 -0.41
Rex Grossman 5.01 5.26 -0.24
Seneca Wallace 4.85 4.91 -0.06
Brad Johnson 4.82 4.93 -0.11
Joey Harrington 4.72 4.33 0.38
Charlie Frye 4.55 4.56 -0.02
Derek Anderson 4.21 4.13 0.08
Andrew Walter 4.00 4.06 -0.07
Bruce Gradkowski 3.93 4.10 -0.17
Aaron Brooks 3.71 4.04 -0.32
Chris Simms 2.21 2.64 -0.43

If I was going to make a guess as to how many adjusted yards per attempt each QB would average this season, the above list would be my starting point. Manning, McNabb and Palmer, three of the best QBs in the league, come out on top. It's a bit surprising to see Damon Huard rank highly, but it's hard to argue with his numbers from last year. He had the lowest interception rate of any quarterback since 1960, throwing just one interception in 244 pass attempts.

Perhaps a more interesting way to look at the QBs would be to check just their schedule:


Trent Green 0.59
Joey Harrington 0.38
David Carr 0.35
Chad Pennington 0.35
Tim Rattay 0.32
Vince Young 0.30
Mark Brunell 0.29
Jake Plummer 0.26
J.P. Losman 0.25
Ben Roethlisberger 0.22
Tom Brady 0.22
Carson Palmer 0.20
Peyton Manning 0.15
David Garrard 0.12
Derek Anderson 0.08
Matt Leinart 0.08
Jon Kitna 0.06
Philip Rivers 0.02
Drew Bledsoe 0.01
Daunte Culpepper -0.01
Charlie Frye -0.02
Jeff Garcia -0.02
Steve McNair -0.02
Brett Favre -0.04
Seneca Wallace -0.06
Eli Manning -0.06
Andrew Walter -0.07
Brad Johnson -0.11
Alex Smith -0.12
Matt Hasselbeck -0.13
Donovan McNabb -0.17
Bruce Gradkowski -0.17
Drew Brees -0.19
Marc Bulger -0.21
Michael Vick -0.22
Damon Huard -0.24
Byron Leftwich -0.24
Rex Grossman -0.24
Aaron Brooks -0.32
Jake Delhomme -0.35
Jason Campbell -0.41
Tony Romo -0.42
Chris Simms -0.43
Jay Cutler -0.44
Kurt Warner -0.52

Jay Cutler had the second easiest schedule in the league last year, while Jake Plummer had one of the harder ones. Tony Romo and Jason Campbell were young QBs that put up impressive numbers, but both played easy schedules. Really, we don't know too much about either QB just yet. And maybe, just maybe, Trent Green isn't finished after all. His numbers were very close to the league average last season, he just faced an impossible schedule -- while Damon Huard got to play the easy opponents. He's not exactly moving into an easy division, though. Look at the AFC East QBs last year -- Harrington, Brady, Pennington and Losman all had very difficult schedules. None had great numbers, and a tough schedule was one of the reasons why.

What about the defenses? The table below shows how many yards per attempt each defense allowed last year, relative to the league average. The middle column shows that the Bears actually allowed 1.56 AY/A below the league average last season. But since Chicago faced an easier than average string of QBs, their SOS rating was -0.13. Therefore, the Bears were "morally" just 1.43 adjusted yards per pass better than the league average. The Jaguars move the other way; Jacksonville faced Peyton Manning twice, Donovan McNabb, Damon Huard and a bunch of pretty good QBs. Despite that, they still were 1.04 AY/A better than the league average, but they shoot way up and almost catch the Bears when adjusting for strength of schedule.


team adjR actR SOSR
chi 1.43 1.56 -0.13
jax 1.36 1.04 0.32
rai 1.00 1.03 -0.03
rav 0.89 1.13 -0.25
nwe 0.76 0.82 -0.06
phi 0.57 0.76 -0.19
clt 0.57 0.43 0.15
den 0.49 0.28 0.21
cle 0.48 0.27 0.21
nyg 0.36 0.14 0.21
gnb 0.33 0.32 0.01
pit 0.31 0.29 0.02
buf 0.27 0.20 0.07
min 0.25 0.42 -0.17
ten 0.24 -0.28 0.52
sdg 0.10 0.19 -0.09
nyj 0.08 0.32 -0.24
car 0.04 0.19 -0.15
dal -0.15 -0.38 0.23
mia -0.28 -0.48 0.20
cin -0.39 -0.33 -0.06
sea -0.46 -0.54 0.08
kan -0.50 -0.16 -0.33
sfo -0.54 -0.81 0.27
nor -0.61 -0.27 -0.34
ram -0.67 -0.26 -0.41
hou -0.70 -0.86 0.15
tam -0.73 -0.85 0.12
crd -0.87 -0.83 -0.05
det -1.06 -0.84 -0.22
atl -1.36 -1.09 -0.27
was -1.43 -1.62 0.18

The Redskins last year were just pitiful against the pass, but at least they had a tough schedule to take (a small) part of the blame. Washington pulled off the rare double 32s, ranking dead last in interceptions (6) and touchdown passes allowed (30). That might explain why LeRon Landry, the defensive back out of LSU, was Washington's first round draft pick in April. Atlanta goes the other way; the Falcons looked bad against the pass in '06, but were actually even worse than they looked. Only a historically bad year by Washington kept Atlanta out of the basement.

The Titans' pass defense looked below average at first glance, but Tennessee was actually one of the better pass defenses last year. The 49ers added Tully Banta-Cain, Nate Clements, Michael Lewis and Patrick Willis in the off-season, in the hopes of giving their weak defense a boost. And while those additions will get the credit if San Francisco improves this year, note that the 49ers weren't that bad against the pass in 2006, either. They just looked awful because they played McNabb, Huard, Brees and Rivers, along with facing Bulger and Warner twice. Across the Bay, the Raiders look legit. Sure, Oakland allowed the fewest passing yards in the league because the Raiders had a miserable offense and opposing teams never needed to pass on them. But Oakland also ranks third here in SOS-adjusted yards per attempt allowed, which indicates that on a per-attempt basis, they were extremely very effective. Remember, that unit intercepted 18 of the 401 passes thrown against them last year, one of the best five rates in the league.

3 Comments | Posted in General

Twice the simplicity

Posted by Doug on August 21, 2007

Back when I used to write blog posts, I would frequently use this simple rating system as a quick gauge of team quality. To refresh your memory, it's a system that's been around forever and is extremely basic compared some of the other power rating systems out there. But I like it because it's easy to understand. An average team will have a rating of zero. An above average team will have a positive rating while a below average team will have a negative rating. Every team will have a rating that is the equal to their average point margin plus the average of their opponent's ratings, so the teams' ratings are all interdependent: the Colts' rating depends upon the ratings of all their opponents, which depends upon the ratings of all their opponents (some of which are the Colts), and so on. The 2006 Steelers had a rating of +3.4. They outscored their opponents by an average of 2.4 points per game, while their opponents were on average, according to the same kind of calculation, 1.0 points better than average. Hence we estimate that the Steelers must be 3.4 abstract theoretical points better than an abstract theoretical average team.

Another project I was working on --- and that either Chase or I will be writing about soon --- prompted me to do something I've been meaning to do for awhile, which is to separate the simple rating system into an offensive and a defensive component. Doing so, we find that the Steelers +3.4 rating breaks down into +3.0 on offense and +0.4 on defense. Meanwhile, their strength of schedule of +1.0 breaks down as +1.6 for offense and -0.5 for defense (ignore the rounding discrepancy). Here's what all that means:

The Steelers' offense scored 1.4 points per game more than an average team, but they faced defenses that, all things considered, were 1.6 points better than average. So morally the Steelers' offense was 3.0 points per game better than average.

The Steelers' defense allowed 0.9 points per game fewer than average, but the offenses they played were on average 0.5 points below average. So morally, the Steelers D was only 0.4 points per game better than average.

When you put these two facts together (and again ignore the rounding discrepancies), you get the same numbers as in the first paragraph. So what we've done is to break down the Steelers' rating --- and their strength of schedule --- into two pieces. Here are the offensive and defensive ratings for each team last season:

                offense          defense          total
            rating   SOS     rating   SOS     rating   SOS
==========+================+================+===============
nwe 2006  |   +4.3   +0.9  |   +5.9   +0.1  |  +10.2   +1.0
sdg 2006  |  +10.0   -0.1  |   +0.2   -1.5  |  +10.2   -1.6
bal 2006  |   +1.5   +0.1  |   +7.8   -0.3  |   +9.3   -0.2
chi 2006  |   +4.9   -1.1  |   +3.0   -1.7  |   +7.9   -2.9
jax 2006  |   +2.6   +0.1  |   +4.9   +1.3  |   +7.5   +1.4
ind 2006  |   +6.9   +0.9  |   -1.1   +0.8  |   +5.9   +1.7
cin 2006  |   +4.0   +1.4  |   +0.0   +0.1  |   +4.1   +1.5
nor 2006  |   +4.9   -0.2  |   -0.9   -1.4  |   +4.0   -1.6
dal 2006  |   +5.0   -0.9  |   -1.3   -0.1  |   +3.7   -1.0
pit 2006  |   +3.0   +1.6  |   +0.4   -0.5  |   +3.4   +1.0
phi 2006  |   +3.2   -1.0  |   +0.2   +0.0  |   +3.4   -1.0
buf 2006  |   -0.2   +1.7  |   +2.4   +1.2  |   +2.2   +2.9
nyj 2006  |   +0.4   +1.3  |   +1.7   -0.5  |   +2.0   +0.7
den 2006  |   -0.8   -0.1  |   +2.1   +0.5  |   +1.3   +0.4
kan 2006  |   +0.4   +0.4  |   +0.6   -0.4  |   +1.0   -0.0
mia 2006  |   -3.3   +1.1  |   +4.0   +1.1  |   +0.7   +2.1
nyg 2006  |   +1.2   -0.3  |   -1.1   +0.8  |   +0.1   +0.5
ten 2006  |   +1.0   +1.4  |   -2.3   +2.0  |   -1.3   +3.5
car 2006  |   -4.2   -0.4  |   +1.5   -0.1  |   -2.7   -0.5
atl 2006  |   -2.8   -0.4  |   -0.2   -0.4  |   -3.0   -0.8
sea 2006  |   -1.6   -1.9  |   -1.9   -1.3  |   -3.6   -3.2
stl 2006  |   +0.8   -1.5  |   -4.7   -1.6  |   -4.0   -3.1
was 2006  |   -2.1   -0.6  |   -2.0   +0.9  |   -4.0   +0.3
min 2006  |   -3.7   -0.6  |   -0.4   -0.7  |   -4.1   -1.3
gnb 2006  |   -2.3   -0.4  |   -2.1   +0.1  |   -4.4   -0.4
hou 2006  |   -3.2   +0.8  |   -1.3   +0.9  |   -4.5   +1.7
cle 2006  |   -4.5   +1.3  |   -1.3   +0.3  |   -5.8   +1.5
det 2006  |   -1.8   -0.2  |   -4.6   -0.4  |   -6.4   -0.5
ari 2006  |   -2.6   -1.6  |   -4.3   -0.6  |   -6.9   -2.2
tam 2006  |   -7.2   +0.3  |   -0.8   +0.7  |   -7.9   +0.9
sfo 2006  |   -3.5   -1.4  |   -5.2   -0.2  |   -8.7   -1.6
oak 2006  |  -10.3   -0.2  |   +0.7   +0.8  |   -9.6   +0.6

Some basic SRS trivia:

Best and worst offenses since 1970

                offense          defense          total
            rating   SOS     rating   SOS     rating   SOS
==========+================+================+===============
min 1998  |  +13.2   -0.2  |   +1.6   -1.1  |  +14.9   -1.4
stl 2000  |  +12.6   -0.4  |   -9.5   -0.7  |   +3.1   -1.2
was 1983  |  +11.7   -0.2  |   +2.2   +1.1  |  +13.9   +0.9
ind 2004  |  +11.7   +0.6  |   -0.3   +0.1  |  +11.4   +0.7
was 1991  |  +11.7   +0.4  |   +4.9   -0.0  |  +16.6   +0.3
sdg 1982  |  +10.5   -1.3  |   -5.4   -1.0  |   +5.1   -2.3
stl 2001  |  +10.4   -0.8  |   +2.9   -0.2  |  +13.4   -1.0
buf 1975  |  +10.4   +1.0  |   -3.4   +1.4  |   +7.1   +2.4
kan 2004  |  +10.0   +1.3  |   -4.7   +1.0  |   +5.3   +2.3
sdg 2006  |  +10.0   -0.1  |   +0.2   -1.5  |  +10.2   -1.6
sfo 1993  |   +9.9   -0.9  |   -0.3   -0.5  |   +9.7   -1.5
sfo 1994  |   +9.9   -1.4  |   +1.7   -0.0  |  +11.6   -1.4
den 1998  |   +9.5   -0.5  |   -0.6   -2.6  |   +8.9   -3.1
bal 1976  |   +9.3   -1.3  |   +0.4   -1.1  |   +9.8   -2.5
kan 2003  |   +9.2   -0.2  |   -0.9   -1.0  |   +8.3   -1.2
sdg 1981  |   +9.2   -0.0  |   -4.7   -1.0  |   +4.4   -1.1
mia 1984  |   +9.1   -1.8  |   +1.5   -1.1  |  +10.6   -2.9
sfo 1998  |   +8.8   +0.2  |   +1.8   +1.0  |  +10.6   +1.2
sfo 1987  |   +8.8   -0.2  |   +4.2   -0.5  |  +13.1   -0.7
oak 1977  |   +8.8   +0.9  |   +1.6   +0.9  |  +10.4   +1.7
stl 1999  |   +8.7   -3.4  |   +3.2   -2.5  |  +11.9   -5.9
gnb 1996  |   +8.7   +0.6  |   +6.6   -0.7  |  +15.3   -0.1
nyj 1982  |   +8.7   +1.6  |   +1.6   -0.1  |  +10.3   +1.5
dal 1983  |   +8.6   +0.5  |   -0.1   +0.6  |   +8.5   +1.1
kan 2002  |   +8.4   +0.9  |   -2.3   +1.0  |   +6.1   +1.9
sdg 1985  |   +8.3   +0.7  |   -7.2   -1.6  |   +1.1   -0.9
dal 1971  |   +8.3   -1.4  |   +1.6   -1.9  |   +9.9   -3.3
ram 1973  |   +8.2   -0.1  |   +5.2   -1.5  |  +13.4   -1.6
ind 2003  |   +8.2   +1.0  |   -1.2   -1.0  |   +7.0   +0.0

.....

cin 1993  |   -7.4   -0.4  |   -1.0   +0.2  |   -8.4   -0.2
chi 1974  |   -7.4   -0.1  |   -2.9   -1.2  |  -10.3   -1.2
sea 1982  |   -7.4   -1.4  |   +2.0   -1.8  |   -5.4   -3.2
tam 1983  |   -7.5   -0.7  |   -1.6   +0.4  |   -9.0   -0.3
nwe 1990  |   -7.5   +1.3  |   -7.1   +0.7  |  -14.6   +2.0
cle 1999  |   -7.6   -0.4  |   -6.5   +0.0  |  -14.1   -0.3
dal 1989  |   -7.6   +0.2  |   -2.8   +1.2  |  -10.4   +1.4
sdg 1998  |   -7.7   -1.4  |   -0.7   -0.6  |   -8.4   -2.1
nwe 1991  |   -7.9   -2.1  |   -0.8   -0.7  |   -8.7   -2.8
nyj 1995  |   -7.9   -1.0  |   -3.3   -0.8  |  -11.2   -1.7
atl 1987  |   -7.9   +0.0  |   -5.9   +1.5  |  -13.9   +1.5
cin 2000  |   -8.1   +1.0  |   -2.4   -0.6  |  -10.5   +0.4
dal 2002  |   -8.2   -0.1  |   -0.3   -1.4  |   -8.5   -1.5
nor 1975  |   -8.2   +0.6  |   -5.9   -0.7  |  -14.1   -0.1
hou 2002  |   -8.4   -0.0  |   -1.1   -0.5  |   -9.4   -0.5
chi 2004  |   -8.5   -1.4  |   +0.3   -0.5  |   -8.2   -2.0
cle 2000  |   -9.1   +1.5  |   -5.5   +0.0  |  -14.6   +1.5
gnb 1977  |   -9.1   -1.5  |   +0.4   -1.1  |   -8.7   -2.6
bos 1970  |   -9.1   -0.5  |   -6.8   -0.2  |  -15.9   -0.7
phi 1972  |   -9.2   +0.7  |   -5.3   -0.4  |  -14.6   +0.2
buf 1985  |   -9.5   -0.5  |   -0.2   +2.0  |   -9.8   +1.5
atl 1974  |   -9.7   +0.6  |   -2.6   -1.5  |  -12.3   -0.9
sea 1992  |   -9.8   +0.2  |   -0.2   +0.6  |  -10.0   +0.8
oak 2006  |  -10.3   -0.2  |   +0.7   +0.8  |   -9.6   +0.6
tam 1976  |  -10.8   -0.6  |   -8.8   +1.4  |  -19.7   +0.8
tam 1977  |  -11.1   -1.3  |   +0.3   -0.9  |  -10.7   -2.2
ind 1991  |  -11.5   -1.5  |   -5.7   -0.9  |  -17.3   -2.4
phi 1998  |  -12.3   -1.1  |   -0.5   -0.2  |  -12.8   -1.3

Best and worst defenses since 1970

                offense          defense          total
            rating   SOS     rating   SOS     rating   SOS
==========+================+================+===============
min 1971  |   -3.4   -1.5  |   +9.9   +0.5  |   +6.5   -1.1
tam 2002  |   -1.0   -0.9  |   +9.8   +0.4  |   +8.8   -0.6
pit 1976  |   +5.7   +0.4  |   +9.6   +0.3  |  +15.3   +0.8
chi 1985  |   +6.5   -0.5  |   +9.4   +0.3  |  +15.9   -0.2
den 1977  |   +1.9   -0.5  |   +9.4   +2.8  |  +11.3   +2.3
min 1970  |   +5.9   +1.2  |   +9.2   +0.1  |  +15.1   +1.4
pit 1975  |   +5.4   -0.7  |   +8.8   -0.2  |  +14.2   -0.9
ram 1975  |   +0.5   -1.2  |   +8.7   -2.3  |   +9.1   -3.5
bal 1971  |   +2.0   -1.0  |   +8.5   -0.9  |  +10.4   -1.9
mia 1973  |   +5.0   -0.1  |   +8.2   -0.5  |  +13.2   -0.6
bal 2000  |   +0.0   -0.1  |   +8.0   -2.3  |   +8.0   -2.5
bal 2006  |   +1.5   +0.1  |   +7.8   -0.3  |   +9.3   -0.2
chi 1986  |   -0.1   -1.6  |   +7.7   -1.1  |   +7.6   -2.7
nyg 1990  |   +0.0   -0.8  |   +7.6   +0.7  |   +7.7   -0.1
buf 1999  |   -0.2   +0.6  |   +7.4   +0.9  |   +7.1   +1.5
mia 2000  |   +0.0   +0.5  |   +7.1   +0.5  |   +7.1   +1.0
nor 1992  |   +0.7   -1.2  |   +7.1   +1.0  |   +7.8   -0.2
chi 2001  |   +0.8   -0.1  |   +7.1   -0.5  |   +7.9   -0.5
min 1973  |   +1.7   -0.0  |   +7.0   -0.5  |   +8.6   -0.5
den 1978  |   -1.9   -1.2  |   +6.9   +1.0  |   +5.0   -0.2
kan 1995  |   +0.8   -0.1  |   +6.9   +0.4  |   +7.6   +0.3
phi 1980  |   +2.9   -0.6  |   +6.8   +0.2  |   +9.7   -0.4
ten 2000  |   +1.5   +0.6  |   +6.8   -1.9  |   +8.3   -1.3
phi 2001  |   +0.9   -0.3  |   +6.8   -0.4  |   +7.7   -0.7
bal 2004  |   -0.6   +1.0  |   +6.8   +2.0  |   +6.1   +3.1
tam 1999  |   -4.1   -0.2  |   +6.7   +0.6  |   +2.6   +0.4
oak 1973  |   +0.1   -1.3  |   +6.7   -0.3  |   +6.8   -1.6
phi 1981  |   +2.0   -0.3  |   +6.7   -0.2  |   +8.7   -0.5
den 1984  |   +1.0   +0.1  |   +6.7   +0.5  |   +7.7   +0.7

.....

nwe 1990  |   -7.5   +1.3  |   -7.1   +0.7  |  -14.6   +2.0
hou 1982  |   -3.9   +1.2  |   -7.1   -0.0  |  -10.9   +1.2
nyj 1975  |   -1.2   +0.9  |   -7.1   +3.2  |   -8.3   +4.2
gnb 1983  |   +5.2   +0.3  |   -7.1   -1.5  |   -1.9   -1.2
sdg 1985  |   +8.3   +0.7  |   -7.2   -1.6  |   +1.1   -0.9
nyj 1996  |   -2.5   +0.5  |   -7.6   +0.3  |  -10.1   +0.8
phi 1973  |   +3.4   +0.7  |   -7.7   +0.9  |   -4.3   +1.6
ram 1982  |   +1.0   -1.1  |   -7.8   -0.1  |   -6.8   -1.2
cle 1990  |   -5.2   +0.7  |   -7.8   +1.0  |  -13.0   +1.7
hou 1983  |   -3.7   +0.2  |   -7.9   -0.9  |  -11.5   -0.8
ari 2000  |   -7.2   +0.4  |   -8.1   -1.1  |  -15.2   -0.7
min 1984  |   -2.7   +1.3  |   -8.2   +0.9  |  -10.9   +2.1
cin 1999  |   -3.3   -0.2  |   -8.2   -0.3  |  -11.5   -0.5
sdg 1973  |   -3.6   +2.4  |   -8.3   -0.2  |  -11.9   +2.2
sfo 2004  |   -5.1   +0.2  |   -8.6   -1.8  |  -13.6   -1.6
sea 1977  |   +4.2   +1.3  |   -8.6   +0.9  |   -4.3   +2.2
tam 1976  |  -10.8   -0.6  |   -8.8   +1.4  |  -19.7   +0.8
atl 1996  |   -0.2   +0.9  |   -8.9   -0.5  |   -9.1   +0.4
buf 1971  |   -4.5   +1.7  |   -8.9   -0.1  |  -13.4   +1.6
nor 1980  |   -1.1   +1.2  |   -9.4   +0.6  |  -10.4   +1.8
nor 1977  |   +0.3   +0.9  |   -9.4   -2.6  |   -9.2   -1.7
stl 2000  |  +12.6   -0.4  |   -9.5   -0.7  |   +3.1   -1.2
ind 2001  |   +6.1   +0.5  |   -9.8   +0.3  |   -3.8   +0.8
tam 1986  |   -4.6   +1.0  |  -10.8   -1.8  |  -15.4   -0.8
nwe 1972  |   -6.3   +0.2  |  -11.1   +0.6  |  -17.4   +0.7
bal 1981  |   -3.8   +0.7  |  -12.0   +0.6  |  -15.8   +1.3
hou 1973  |   -4.3   +0.9  |  -12.3   +0.1  |  -16.7   +1.1
sea 1976  |   -2.2   +0.6  |  -12.9   -1.4  |  -15.1   -0.8

Biggest discrepancies between offense and defense

                offense          defense          total
            rating   SOS     rating   SOS     rating   SOS
==========+================+================+===============
stl 2000  |  +12.6   -0.4  |   -9.5   -0.7  |   +3.1   -1.2
sdg 1982  |  +10.5   -1.3  |   -5.4   -1.0  |   +5.1   -2.3
ind 2001  |   +6.1   +0.5  |   -9.8   +0.3  |   -3.8   +0.8
sdg 1985  |   +8.3   +0.7  |   -7.2   -1.6  |   +1.1   -0.9
kan 2004  |  +10.0   +1.3  |   -4.7   +1.0  |   +5.3   +2.3
sdg 1981  |   +9.2   -0.0  |   -4.7   -1.0  |   +4.4   -1.1
buf 1975  |  +10.4   +1.0  |   -3.4   +1.4  |   +7.1   +2.4
cin 1985  |   +6.2   +0.2  |   -6.9   -1.1  |   -0.7   -0.9
sea 1977  |   +4.2   +1.3  |   -8.6   +0.9  |   -4.3   +2.2
gnb 1983  |   +5.2   +0.3  |   -7.1   -1.5  |   -1.9   -1.2
ind 2004  |  +11.7   +0.6  |   -0.3   +0.1  |  +11.4   +0.7
mia 1986  |   +6.2   -0.2  |   -5.7   -0.9  |   +0.5   -1.1
buf 1991  |   +7.6   -2.0  |   -4.1   -3.2  |   +3.6   -5.2
min 1998  |  +13.2   -0.2  |   +1.6   -1.1  |  +14.9   -1.4
phi 1973  |   +3.4   +0.7  |   -7.7   +0.9  |   -4.3   +1.6
sea 1976  |   -2.2   +0.6  |  -12.9   -1.4  |  -15.1   -0.8
kan 2002  |   +8.4   +0.9  |   -2.3   +1.0  |   +6.1   +1.9
was 1999  |   +6.8   -0.1  |   -3.9   -1.2  |   +2.9   -1.2
bal 1996  |   +3.9   +1.1  |   -6.8   +0.3  |   -2.9   +1.4
den 2000  |   +7.8   -1.9  |   -2.7   -0.3  |   +5.0   -2.2
sfo 1993  |   +9.9   -0.9  |   -0.3   -0.5  |   +9.7   -1.5
kan 2003  |   +9.2   -0.2  |   -0.9   -1.0  |   +8.3   -1.2
den 1998  |   +9.5   -0.5  |   -0.6   -2.6  |   +8.9   -3.1
det 1990  |   +4.2   +1.0  |   -5.9   -0.2  |   -1.6   +0.9
cin 1986  |   +5.7   +0.6  |   -4.2   -0.1  |   +1.5   +0.5
nor 1977  |   +0.3   +0.9  |   -9.4   -2.6  |   -9.2   -1.7
sdg 2006  |  +10.0   -0.1  |   +0.2   -1.5  |  +10.2   -1.6
was 1983  |  +11.7   -0.2  |   +2.2   +1.1  |  +13.9   +0.9
ind 2003  |   +8.2   +1.0  |   -1.2   -1.0  |   +7.0   +0.0

......

cle 1984  |   -6.1   -0.5  |   +2.3   -0.3  |   -3.8   -0.8
chi 2004  |   -8.5   -1.4  |   +0.3   -0.5  |   -8.2   -2.0
tam 1996  |   -5.9   +0.7  |   +2.9   +0.8  |   -3.0   +1.5
car 2002  |   -6.0   -0.5  |   +2.8   -0.0  |   -3.3   -0.5
tam 1995  |   -6.9   -0.3  |   +1.9   +1.4  |   -5.0   +1.1
ari 1994  |   -5.6   +0.0  |   +3.3   -0.3  |   -2.3   -0.3
den 1978  |   -1.9   -1.2  |   +6.9   +1.0  |   +5.0   -0.2
nwe 1988  |   -4.5   +0.1  |   +4.4   +1.9  |   -0.2   +2.0
chi 1993  |   -4.6   -0.5  |   +4.3   +0.0  |   -0.2   -0.5
nyg 1983  |   -5.5   -0.4  |   +3.4   +3.3  |   -2.1   +2.9
buf 2003  |   -5.0   +0.7  |   +4.0   +0.6  |   -1.0   +1.3
kan 1973  |   -4.1   -1.2  |   +5.1   -0.6  |   +1.0   -1.8
buf 1985  |   -9.5   -0.5  |   -0.2   +2.0  |   -9.8   +1.5
sea 1982  |   -7.4   -1.4  |   +2.0   -1.8  |   -5.4   -3.2
kan 1979  |   -4.0   +1.2  |   +5.4   +1.8  |   +1.4   +2.9
gnb 1977  |   -9.1   -1.5  |   +0.4   -1.1  |   -8.7   -2.6
sea 1992  |   -9.8   +0.2  |   -0.2   +0.6  |  -10.0   +0.8
phi 1983  |   -6.7   +0.5  |   +3.6   +1.9  |   -3.1   +2.4
tam 2002  |   -1.0   -0.9  |   +9.8   +0.4  |   +8.8   -0.6
tam 1999  |   -4.1   -0.2  |   +6.7   +0.6  |   +2.6   +0.4
oak 2006  |  -10.3   -0.2  |   +0.7   +0.8  |   -9.6   +0.6
was 2004  |   -7.4   -0.9  |   +4.0   -0.9  |   -3.4   -1.8
tam 1977  |  -11.1   -1.3  |   +0.3   -0.9  |  -10.7   -2.2
phi 1998  |  -12.3   -1.1  |   -0.5   -0.2  |  -12.8   -1.3
chi 2005  |   -5.2   -0.9  |   +6.6   -1.4  |   +1.4   -2.2
jax 2004  |   -5.7   -0.5  |   +6.4   +2.5  |   +0.8   +1.9
atl 1977  |   -6.1   -1.7  |   +6.6   -1.4  |   +0.5   -3.1
min 1971  |   -3.4   -1.5  |   +9.9   +0.5  |   +6.5   -1.1

15 Comments | Posted in General

Mangini and Payton

Posted by Chase Stuart on August 20, 2007

Last year, I wrote that Eric Mangini, Sean Payton and the other rookie coaches stood had decent chances of seeing early success. As we now know, both rookie head coaches took their teams to the post-season in 2006. Herm Edwards also guided the Chiefs to the playoffs, in his first year in Kansas City. From 1991-2005, twenty-four of the 180 playoff teams made the playoffs with new coaches. Of those 24, thirteen of those coaches were rookies, and eleven were "retreads". So roughly once a year, a rookie head coach takes his team to the playoffs. So what does history say about the Jets or Saints or Chiefs chances of repeating?

For the sake of simplicity, "first" represents a rookie coach like Mangini, "retread" represents a guy that's coached before but is on a new team like Edwards, and "old" represents a guy that's not in his first year with his current team. Here's the data for the 15 seasons from 1991-2005:


Coach #Teams Repeats Repeat%
first 13 8 0.615
retread 11 4 0.364
old 156 82 0.526
total 180 94 0.522

While at first glance it appears as though the rookie head coaches fare are better at returning to post-season play than regular coaches, let's take a look at those first year coaches:


Coach tm year Yr N Yr N-1 Yr N+1 N+1 playoffs?
Jim Mora atl 2004 11-5-0 5-11-0 8-8-0 no
Bill Callahan rai 2002 11-5-0 10-6-0 4-12-0 no
Herm Edwards nyj 2001 10-6-0 9-7-0 9-7-0 yes
Mike Martz ram 2000 10-6-0 13-3-0 14-2-0 yes
Jim Haslett nor 2000 10-6-0 3-13-0 7-9-0 no
Chan Gailey dal 1998 10-6-0 6-10-0 8-8-0 yes
Jim Fassel nyg 1997 10-5-1 6-10-0 8-8-0 no
Steve Mariucci sfo 1997 13-3-0 12-4-0 12-4-0 yes
Ray Rhodes phi 1995 10-6-0 7-9-0 10-6-0 yes
Barry Switzer dal 1994 12-4-0 12-4-0 12-4-0 yes
Dennis Green min 1992 11-5-0 8-8-0 9-7-0 yes
Bill Cowher pit 1992 11-5-0 7-9-0 9-7-0 yes
Bobby Ross sdg 1992 11-5-0 4-12-0 8-8-0 no

While it's true that eight of the thirteen coaches returned, there were a few irregular situations. Bill Callahan took over a loaded Raiders team left without a coach when Jon Gruden bolted to Tampa Bay, and he still couldn't take Oakland to the playoffs in consecutive years. Herm Edwards inherited a pretty good Jets team when Al Groh left to coach Virginia. Mike Martz and Barry Switzer inherited Super Bowl champions from Dick Vermeil and Jimmy Johnson, while Steve Mariucci took over a similarly skilled roster in San Francisco after George Seifert. So five of the "rookie" head coaches were handed the keys to teams with winning records, and four of them brought their teams to the playoffs the first two years. Mangini and Payton took over teams that won a seven games combined in '05, so those five coaches aren't the best of comparables. Of the other eight, half brought their teams back to the playoffs, which is in line with what the "old" coaches did as well.

So it seems that inexperience at the head coaching position shouldn't be held against or brought forward as evidence as to why the Jets or Saints will make the playoffs again in '07. Maybe they'll be like Cowher or Dennis Green, and have a long run of success with their teams. Or perhaps they'll end up like Jim Mora, Jr. or Jim Haslett, remembered mostly for failing to meet expectations.

Besides the coaching switch, the Jets and Saints were also pretty unique compared to most playoff teams: both teams made the post-season despite winning fewer than 5 games the previous year. Only seven of the 180 playoffs teams from 1991-2005 won fewer than five games in Year N-1. Here's a table of all 180 teams, along with how many of them returned to the playoffs in Year N+1:


N-1Wins #Teams N+1Post Repeat%
3 2 1 0.500
4 5 2 0.400
5 13 3 0.231
6 16 7 0.438
7 20 7 0.350
8 16 11 0.688
9 26 17 0.654
10 26 11 0.423
11 21 14 0.667
12 17 10 0.588
13 12 7 0.583
14 4 3 0.750
15 2 1 0.500
Total 180 94 0.522

As you can tell, not all playoff teams are created equally. Teams that were losing teams the year before they made the playoffs, returned to the playoffs the following year just 36% of the time. Conversely, all other playoff teams made the playoffs again at a 60% clip. To be sure, there's some element of a hidden variable involved -- the bad teams the prior year were probably "weaker" playoff teams in Year N, and weak playoff teams return at lower rates.

There were 56 playoff teams in Year N that had losing records in Year N-1. Of those, nine teams failed to reach double digit wins in Year N, but obviously still made the playoffs. Only one of those -- the '97 Jaguars -- reached the post-season in Year N+1. That leaves 47 teams with double digit wins in Year N, and they would be repeat post-season entrants 40% of the time. While that's better than the 8 or 9 win teams, that 40% rate is a bit below the 60% rate from the other teams.

So what do you think? Is the one-year wonder theory for real?

1 Comment | Posted in General

If your RB has 20 carries, you just might win

Posted by Chase Stuart on August 17, 2007

We've all heard a sports analyst say "Team A is 19-1 when RB X has 20 or more carries in a game", as if giving RB X twenty carries in a game is what causes the team to win. While it's clear that the causation runs the other way, I was curious what exactly were the average winning percentages that correlated with a certain number of carries in a game.

The table below displays the winning percentages from all games in the past decade, when a team's leading running back in that game (as measured by number of carries) had X number of carries:


#Car Gm Win Win%
39+ 10 9 0.900
38 8 7 0.875
37 13 11.5 0.885
36 18 17 0.944
35 10 8.5 0.850
34 23 21 0.913
33 28 24 0.857
32 37 33 0.892
31 72 63 0.875
30 72 57 0.792
29 73 64 0.877
28 99 79 0.798
27 120 96.5 0.804
26 164 126 0.768
25 151 114 0.755
24 198 143 0.722
23 213 142 0.667
22 267 175 0.655
21 267 171 0.640
20 270 151.5 0.561

Rudi Johnson tops the list with a 43-carry game in week 10 of the 2003 season, a 34-27 victory over the Texans. The one loss at the top occurred in 1999 when Ricky Williams rushed 40 times for 179 yards, but the Saints still fell to the Browns, 21-16. Cleveland was involved with the one 38-carry outlier, too. In 2004, Lee Suggs rushed for "only" 143 yards on 38 carries in a 10-7 loss to Miami.

When a RB gets "only" 25 carries, that's a pretty good sign that his team is going to win. RBs with exactly 25 carries were on teams that won three out of every four games, but RBs with 20 carries only were on the winning team 56% of the time. While announcers often use the "20 carry rule", it seems like 25 might be the true magic number.

Let's break that table down into some more manageable tiers, though:


#Car GM Win Win%
35+ 59 53 0.898
30-34 232 198 0.853
25-29 607 479.5 0.790
20-24 1215 782.5 0.644

I don't think there's anything groundbreaking in the data, although it's nice to get some empirical evidence. If a team is giving its RB thirty-five or more carries in a game, chances are that: 1) that team is winning and/or going to win; and 2) it's a pretty close game. Thirty-three of the 59 games were decided by seven points or less, and only six involved 20-point victories. It makes sense that you'd only keep riding your star RB if it's a close game.

For what it's worth, when a team has a RB get 20 or more carries in a game, that team has won 71.6% of its games over the past ten years. I'm not sure what I would have guessed, but at least it gives me some baseline against which to compare. So the next time an announcer mentions that the Chargers are 37-18 when Tomlinson gets 20 or more carries, I'll know that that rate isn't very successful at all.

Doubling up
Only four times in the past decade has a team had two RBs get 20 carries in the same game. In week sixteen this year, Deuce McAllister (27-108) and Reggie Bush (20-126) led the Saints to a 30-7 victory over the Giants, while DeShaun Foster (28-102) and DeAngelo Williams (21-82) helped the Chris Weinke-led Panthers beat the Falcons, 10-7. Also in week 16 but this time in 2002, Ladell Betts (20-116) and Kenny Watson (20-110) carried the Redskins to victory over the expansion Texans, 26-10. Three years earlier, the Bills performed the same feat against the Redskins, with Antowain Smith (20-68) and the unforgettable Jonathon Linton (24-96) helping Buffalo double up Washington, 34-17.

Individual RBs

How do the individual RBs fare? Here are the 25 RBs with the most 20-carry games from 1997 to 2006. Note: for players like Curtis Martin, this is not a career list, since they were active before 1997.


player #gms #wins Win%
Antowain Smith 29 24 0.828
Edgerrin James 81 67 0.827
Ahman Green 46 38 0.826
Eddie George 68 55 0.809
Warrick Dunn 34 27.5 0.809
Jamal Lewis 50 40 0.800
Marshall Faulk 39 31 0.795
Terrell Davis 34 27 0.794
Jerome Bettis 58 45 0.776
Deuce McAllister 35 27 0.771
Rudi Johnson 33 25 0.758
Ricky Watters 32 24 0.750
Tiki Barber 46 34 0.739
Priest Holmes 41 30 0.732
Shaun Alexander 59 43 0.729
Stephen Davis 47 33 0.702
Thomas Jones 30 21 0.700
Ricky Williams 47 32 0.681
LaDainian Tomlinson 55 37 0.673
Curtis Martin 83 55 0.663
Emmitt Smith 49 32 0.653
Fred Taylor 61 38 0.623
Clinton Portis 41 25 0.610
Corey Dillon 57 34 0.596
Travis Henry 32 17 0.531

Travis Henry just barely breaks .500 when he gets 20 carries in a game, despite being on pretty decent teams for his career. In 20+ carry games, his teams went 2-1 in 2001, 5-3 in 2002, 6-5 in 2003, 0-3 in 2004, 0-0 in 2005, and 4-3 last season. Henry's teams actually lost five straight games from 2003-2006 when he had 20+ carries, losing by 17, 3, 3, 14 and 3. It's not too surprising seem Smith and James on top of the list here, as they've been on two of the winningest teams of the last half-decade.

I'm not sure if there's much else to learn from this list, but at least you'll have something to refer to next time you see a RB get his 20th carry of the game.

13 Comments | Posted in General, Statgeekery

Barry Sanders and Lee Bouggess

Posted by Chase Stuart on August 16, 2007

While Doug was writing about Jimmy Smith a year ago, he used the following stat:

One of my favorite arbitrary-but-interesting stats is Yards Over 1000. We compute it simply by starting to count the yards only after they reach the 1000 mark.

I was wondering how last year's RBs would look under a made-up stat called "Yards Over 3.0." That's derived by subtracting 3.00 from a player's yards per carry average, and then multiplying the difference by his number of carries. This strikes a balance of rewarding players with high YPC averages but a low number of carries, while also letting compilers keep adding to their "YO3.0" as long as they're gaining over three yards per carry. Here's how last year's top 35 RBs look:

2006 RBs

player			team	rsh	yd	ypc	YO3.0
LaDainian Tomlinson sdg 348 1815 5.22 771
Frank Gore sfo 312 1695 5.43 759
Tiki Barber nyg 327 1662 5.08 681
Larry Johnson kan 416 1789 4.30 541
Brian Westbrook phi 240 1217 5.07 497
Steven Jackson ram 346 1528 4.42 490
Willie Parker pit 337 1494 4.43 483
Fred Taylor jax 231 1146 4.96 453
Maurice Jones-Drew jax 166 941 5.67 443
Ladell Betts was 245 1154 4.71 419
Joseph Addai clt 226 1081 4.78 403
Travis Henry ten 270 1211 4.49 401
Jerious Norwood atl 99 633 6.39 336
Tatum Bell den 233 1025 4.40 326
Deuce McAllister nor 244 1057 4.33 325
Thomas Jones chi 296 1210 4.09 322
Chester Taylor min 303 1216 4.01 307
Rudi Johnson cin 341 1309 3.84 286
Ronnie Brown mia 241 1008 4.18 285
Julius Jones dal 267 1084 4.06 283
Warrick Dunn atl 286 1140 3.99 282
Michael Turner sdg 80 502 6.28 262
Ahman Green gnb 266 1059 3.98 261
Marion Barber III dal 135 654 4.84 249
Laurence Maroney nwe 175 745 4.26 220
DeShaun Foster car 227 897 3.95 216
Corey Dillon nwe 199 812 4.08 215
Willis McGahee buf 259 990 3.82 213
Mike Bell den 157 677 4.31 206
Leon Washington nyj 151 650 4.30 197
Jamal Lewis rav 314 1132 3.61 190
Cedric Benson chi 157 647 4.12 176
Ron Dayne htx 151 612 4.05 159
Edgerrin James crd 337 1159 3.44 148

Because running backs are often running in different down and distances and at different points in the game, it's not always fair to make such comparisons. Was Jerious Norwood's season really the 13th best in the league? Would the Falcons have rather had him than Dunn last year? I'm not sure, but I think it's probably easier to find a guy that will run 286 times at 4.0 yards per clip than 99 times at 6.4 yards per carry.

Was Michael Turner about equal to Ahman Green last year? Turner averaged 6.28 yards per carry and Green averaged 3.98. Certainly, you'd prefer Turner to Green if he had only a few less carries. Conversely, you'd clearly prefer Green to Turner if Turner had less than twenty carries on the season. The question is, at what number of carries do your preferences intersect? Is it 186 carries as this formula tells us? That sounds like a lot, but consider this: Turner (or another RB) would have needed to rush for 557 yards on 186 carries, which isn't too tough to find in the NFL. That's why I like having the replacement value of a carry being 3.00; it still rewards compilers, but guys that make big plays can rocket up the chart.

In case you were wondering, two Jets RBs -- Derrick Blaylock (-31) and Kevan Barlow (-23) -- join J.J. Arrington (-23) at the bottom of this list.

How does LT's monster season stack up against some of the all-time greats?

Best 60 RB seasons of all-time

player			year	team	rsh	yd	ypc	YO3.0
Barry Sanders 1997 det 335 2053 6.13 1048
O.J. Simpson 1973 buf 332 2003 6.03 1007
Jim Brown 1963 cle 291 1863 6.40 990
Eric Dickerson 1984 ram 379 2105 5.55 968
Jamal Lewis 2003 rav 387 2066 5.34 905
Barry Sanders 1994 det 331 1883 5.69 890
Walter Payton 1977 chi 339 1852 5.46 835
Terrell Davis 1998 den 392 2008 5.12 832
O.J. Simpson 1975 buf 329 1817 5.52 830
Ahman Green 2003 gnb 355 1883 5.30 818
Earl Campbell 1980 oti 373 1934 5.18 815
Tiki Barber 2005 nyg 357 1860 5.21 789
LaDainian Tomlinson 2006 sdg 348 1815 5.22 771
Shaun Alexander 2005 sea 370 1880 5.08 770
Frank Gore 2006 sfo 312 1695 5.43 759
Jim Brown 1958 cle 257 1527 5.94 756
Larry Johnson 2005 kan 336 1750 5.21 742
Clinton Portis 2003 den 290 1591 5.49 721
LaDainian Tomlinson 2003 sdg 313 1645 5.26 706
Ricky Williams 2002 mia 383 1853 4.84 704
Clinton Portis 2002 den 273 1508 5.52 689
Tiki Barber 2006 nyg 327 1662 5.08 681
Jim Brown 1965 cle 289 1544 5.34 677
Priest Holmes 2002 kan 313 1615 5.16 676
Jim Taylor 1962 gnb 272 1474 5.42 658
Terrell Davis 1997 den 369 1750 4.74 643
Emmitt Smith 1995 dal 377 1773 4.70 642
Garrison Hearst 1998 sfo 310 1570 5.06 640
Eric Dickerson 1983 ram 390 1808 4.64 638
Shaun Alexander 2004 sea 353 1696 4.80 637
Emmitt Smith 1993 dal 283 1486 5.25 637
Robert Smith 2000 min 295 1521 5.16 636
O.J. Simpson 1976 buf 290 1503 5.18 633
Barry Sanders 1996 det 307 1553 5.06 632
Barry Sanders 1989 det 280 1470 5.25 630
Marshall Faulk 1999 ram 253 1381 5.46 622
Tony Dorsett 1981 dal 342 1646 4.81 620
Marcus Allen 1985 rai 380 1759 4.63 619
Otis Armstrong 1974 den 263 1407 5.35 618
Jamal Anderson 1998 atl 410 1846 4.50 616
Ottis Anderson 1979 crd 331 1605 4.85 612
Jim Brown 1960 cle 215 1257 5.85 612
Eric Dickerson 1986 ram 404 1821 4.51 609
Jim Brown 1964 cle 280 1446 5.16 606
Marshall Faulk 2001 ram 260 1382 5.32 602
Corey Dillon 2004 nwe 345 1635 4.74 600
Marshall Faulk 2000 ram 253 1359 5.37 600
Mike Anderson 2000 den 297 1487 5.01 596
Emmitt Smith 1992 dal 373 1713 4.59 594
Earl Campbell 1979 oti 368 1697 4.61 593
Deuce McAllister 2003 nor 351 1641 4.68 588
Curtis Martin 2004 nyj 371 1697 4.57 584
Walter Payton 1985 chi 324 1551 4.79 579
Jim Taylor 1961 gnb 243 1307 5.38 578
James Brooks 1989 cin 221 1239 5.61 576
Warrick Dunn 2005 atl 280 1416 5.06 576
William Andrews 1983 atl 331 1567 4.73 574
Priest Holmes 2001 kan 327 1555 4.76 574
Roger Craig 1988 sfo 310 1502 4.85 572

With almost any study you do, it's hard to avoid having Barry's 1997, O.J.'s 1973, or Jim Brown's 1963 pop up at the top of the list. They remain the only three to ever average over 6.00 yards per carry in a season with at least 150 carries. Mercury Morris ranks 4th in carries by a RB with a 6.00+ YPC average, when he rushed 149 times for 954 yards (6.40 YPC) in 1973. Morris and Simpson might have had something to do with the Patriots awful run defense that year.

What about from the other side? What RBs kept getting carries but not much else? Look at Jack Holmes, second on the list. He's got more than double the number of carries of any RB to average 0.50 or fewer yards per carry in a season (Jim Stinnette, not shown below).

Worst 20 RB seasons of all time


player year team rsh yd ypc YO3.0
Eddie Price 1953 nyg 101 206 2.04 -97
Jack Holmes 1980 nor 38 19 0.50 -95
Abner Haynes 1966 den 129 304 2.36 -83
Lee Bouggess 1970 phi 159 401 2.52 -76
Ron Johnson 1974 nyg 97 218 2.25 -73
Don Allen 1960 den 30 18 0.60 -72
Odell Lawson 1970 nwe 56 99 1.77 -69
Dub Jones 1953 cle 31 28 0.90 -65
Larry Schreiber 1975 sfo 134 337 2.51 -65
Robert Holcombe 1998 ram 98 230 2.35 -64
Dick Christy 1961 nyj 81 180 2.22 -63
Jonathan Wells 2002 htx 197 529 2.69 -62
Louis Carter 1977 tam 59 117 1.98 -60
Larry Brown 1974 was 163 430 2.64 -59
Natrone Means 1999 sdg 112 277 2.47 -59
Donnell Bennett 2000 kan 27 24 0.89 -57
Tony Collins 1986 nwe 156 412 2.64 -56
Harold Green 1993 cin 215 589 2.74 -56
Benny Malone 1979 was 176 472 2.68 -56
Tom Moore 1967 atl 53 104 1.96 -55

How about a career list? I think you know who's going to top this one.

Best 30 RBs of all time


player rsh yards YPC YO3.0
Barry Sanders 3062 15269 4.99 6083
Jim Brown 2359 12312 5.22 5235
Walter Payton 3838 16726 4.36 5212
Emmitt Smith 4409 18355 4.16 5128
Eric Dickerson 2996 13259 4.43 4271
O.J. Simpson 2404 11236 4.67 4024
Tony Dorsett 2936 12739 4.34 3931
Tiki Barber 2216 10448 4.71 3800
Marshall Faulk 2836 12279 4.33 3771
Curtis Martin 3518 14101 4.01 3547
Thurman Thomas 2877 12074 4.20 3443
Corey Dillon 2618 11241 4.29 3387
Fred Taylor 2062 9513 4.61 3327
Franco Harris 2949 12120 4.11 3273
Jerome Bettis 3479 13662 3.93 3225
Marcus Allen 3022 12243 4.05 3177
Joe Perry 1737 8378 4.82 3167
LaDainian Tomlinson 2050 9176 4.48 3026
James Brooks 1685 7962 4.73 2907
Ahman Green 1871 8491 4.54 2878
Earl Campbell 2187 9407 4.30 2846
Priest Holmes 1734 8035 4.63 2833
Edgerrin James 2525 10385 4.11 2810
Shaun Alexander 1969 8713 4.43 2806
Ricky Watters 2622 10643 4.06 2777
Jim Taylor 1941 8597 4.43 2774
Warrick Dunn 2256 9461 4.19 2693
Freeman McNeil 1798 8074 4.49 2680
Terrell Davis 1655 7607 4.60 2642
John Riggins 2916 11352 3.89 2604

I'm surprised to see Tiki Barber and Curtis Martin so high on this list. I figured Barber didn't have enough carries, and Martin didn't have a high enough YPC average. But seeing them both crack the top ten makes me confident that this list doesn't penalize the workhorses too much, or prevent great players with shorter careers from ranking highly.

And, of course, let's end it with the co-star of today's title:

Worst 15 RBs of all time


player rsh yards YPC YO3.0
Lee Bouggess 271 697 2.57 -116
Odell Lawson 70 130 1.86 -80
Don Allen 30 18 0.60 -72
Willie Spencer 104 247 2.38 -65
Tony Jordan 144 371 2.58 -61
Jack Holmes 117 293 2.50 -58
Gary McDermott 54 108 2.00 -54
Jim Tiller 31 43 1.39 -50
Tom Smiley 120 312 2.60 -48
Harry Jones 44 85 1.93 -47
Walt Kowalczyk 103 264 2.56 -45
Fred Bukaty 76 187 2.46 -41
Reggie Evans 16 11 0.69 -37
Travis Prentice 187 525 2.81 -36
Sam Gash 121 327 2.70 -36

All I can say is that Lee Bouggess sure must have been a pretty good receiver, blocker and teammate to stick around for three years.

8 Comments | Posted in General

Reggie Bush and Maurice Jones-Drew, Part III

Posted by Chase Stuart on August 15, 2007

On Monday and Tuesday, we tried to decide who would be the better NFL RB, Reggie Bush or Maurice Jones-Drew. In the end, both were projected to have excellent careers. But let's take a look at their rookie seasons from a different angle now, one commonly promoted by fans of either as reason for optimism in '07.

From weeks 10 through 17 last year, Reggie Bush and Maurice Jones-Drew ranked as the 8th and 4th best fantasy RBs, respectively. This was a large improvement from the first half of the season, when Bush ranked 38th and Jones-Drew ranked 20th at the end of week nine. So it's easy to see why fantasy owners are excited about the prospects for Bush and Jones-Drew, but is it warranted? Bush's average draft position is towards the end of the first round, while MJD's is being selected int he early to middle parts of round two. In fantasy leagues that reward points per reception, both are drafted even earlier.

It's been argued many times over that the light went on for Reggie Bush, and he adjusted to the pro game in the middle of last year. If that was the case, then it certainly seems appropriate to expect Bush to play like the 8th best RB and not the 38th best. But remember that sometimes splits happen with no explanation at all. Further, Bush's big game of the season happened when Marques Colston was on the sidelines, and the 67 rushing yards in week 1 were his second highest total of the season. Bush's strong playoff performance shouldn't be ignored, but neither should the careers of Kevin Jones and William Green.

Like Bush, Green had a subpar YPC average as a rookie in 2002 (3.7), but the last seven weeks of the season he ran for 708 yards and averaged 4.2 yards per carry. It was certainly easy to claim that "the light went on" for Green, and in fact, many thought he'd be a stud in 2003. Green never regained the success from the second half of his rookie season, though, and was out of football last year.

Kevin Jones led the league with over 900 rushing yards in the second half of 2004, his rookie season. He averaged 5.3 YPC, and he was expected to be a stud in 2005. He was drafted as a top 12 RB that year, but was one of the biggest busts of the season.

It's easy to say that Bush and Jones-Drew are way better running backs than Green and Jones. But that's only because of what we've seen since the rookie years of Green and Jones. It's non-controversial to state that Bush has about a million times more talent than Willie Green did. But would you have said that after Green carried his Browns into the playoffs by rushing for 178 yards and two scores against the 9-5-1 Falcons in week 17?

Regardless, the question I want to look at today is whether rookie RBs that perform better at the end of the year play better the next season than those that hit the rookie wall.

Jones-Drew (13th best) and Reggie Bush (18th) were among the 26 rookie running backs since 1996 to total over 1,000 yards from scrimmage. The group was evenly split with respect to yards per carry average: twelve saw their YPC decrease as the season went on, twelve saw it increase, and two saw no change. When looking at fantasy points, the picture was much clearer: only seven saw their fantasy production decrease as the season went on, and only two or three of those seven were significant.

While some people like to use first and second half splits, the arbitrariness of those numbers often fails to reflect a true change in production. Instead, I like to use a weighted average formula to note progression:

Adjusted Fantasy Points =

1*(Gm 1 FP) + 2*(Gm 2 FP) + 3*(Gm 3 FP) + ... + 16*(Gm 16 FP)
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

        1 + 2 + 3 + ... + 16

[Note: For the purposes of this study, fantasy points were calculated by dividing a player's total yards by 10, and adding six points for each touchdown scored by the running back.]

Here's a table of all 26 RBs, with the fantasy players that improved the most during their rookie seasons at the top. The "Improve" column is simply the adjusted FPs minus the actual fantasy points. The last column shows how many FPs each player scored in their sophomore season:

Name			Year	Team	FP	adjFP	Improve	Next Year
Clinton Portis		2002	den	289.2	354.3	65.1	274.5
William Green		2002	cle	136.0	191.5	55.5	 66.9
Corey Dillon		1997	cin	198.8	241.4	42.6	160.8
Maurice Jones-Drew	2006	jax	227.7	269.1	41.4	 --
Kevin Jones		2004	det	167.3	207.9	40.6	107.3
Willis McGahee		2004	buf	207.7	247.7	40.0	172.5 
Jamal Lewis		2000	rav	202.0	241.2	39.2	 --
Dominic Rhodes		2001	clt	186.8	216.1	29.3	 --
Reggie Bush		2006	nor	178.7	207.4	28.7	 --
Anthony Thomas		2001	chi	178.1	201.3	23.2	124.4
Mike Anderson		2000	den	255.6	278.1	22.5	 96.4
Edgerrin James		1999	clt	315.9	337.2	21.3	338.3
Domanick Williams	2003	htx	186.2	207.3	21.1	261.6
Fred Taylor		1998	jax	266.4	284.5	18.1	117.5
Marcel Shipp		2002	crd	178.7	192.0	13.3	101.4
Ricky Williams		1999	nor	117.6	128.3	10.7	194.9
Eddie George		1996	oti	203.0	212.8	 9.8	186.3
Joseph Addai		2006	clt	188.6	193.9	 5.3	 --
Olandis Gary		1999	den	173.8	178.1	 4.3	  9.0
Cadillac Williams	2005	tam	161.9	160.0	-1.9	105.4
Antowain Smith		1997	buf	149.7	144.9	-4.8	161.5
Robert Edwards		1998	nwe	216.6	211.1	-5.5	 --
Karim Abdul-Jabbar	1996	mia	191.5	184.6	-6.9	211.3
Warrick Dunn		1997	tam	186.0	175.6  -10.4	149.0
Ronnie Brown		2005	mia	143.9	128.9  -15.0	158.4
LaDainian Tomlinson	2001	sdg	220.3	194.4  -25.9	307.2

Twenty of the 26 RBs played in the NFL the following season (Jones-Drew, Bush and Addai have yet to play their second seasons, while Jamal Lewis, Dominic Rhodes and Robert Edwards all suffered season-ending injuries before the next regular season). Olandis Gary tore his ACL in the season opener the next year, and Mike Anderson's role changed significantly, leaving just 18 runners to examine.

Only Portis, Dillon and Green had better improvement as rookies than Jones-Drew. None of those three matched their rookie production the next year, though, and only Portis was close. William Green was a huge bust, and Dillon played nowhere near as well as he did towards the end of 1996. Further, the next big improvers -- Kevin Jones, Willis McGahee and Anthony Thomas -- also were busts as sophomores. Only Edge, Dom (Davis) Williams and Ricky Williams were able to even match their rookie production the following year.

On the other side, Antowain Smith, Karim Abdul-Jabbar, Ronnie Brown and Tomlinson were slow finishers that improved the next season. So four of the six strong starters improved on their overall rookie production, while only three of the thirteen fast finishers improved on their overall production. While it's worth noting that all three also bested their adjusted fantasy point totals, this evidence would seem to go strongly against intuition. We shouldn't expect to see the Reggie Bush or MJD from the second half of '06, and might be lucky to just see what we got out of them last year.

I used the same formula to compute adjusted yards per carry, but used Rushing Yards in the numerator and Carries in the denominator.

Adjusted YPC =

1*(Game 1 Rush Yards) + 2*(Gm 2 RYds) + 3*(Gm 3 RYds) + ... + 16*(Gm 16 RYds)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

1*(Game 1 Rushes) + 2*(Gm 2 Rsh) + 3*(Gm 3 Rsh) + ... + 16*(Gm 16 Rsh)

Here's the full list, along with their sophomore production (min: 100 carries):

Name			Year	Team	YPC	adjYPC	Improve	Next Year
Reggie Bush		2006	nor	3.65	4.13	 0.48	 --
William Green		2002	cle	3.65	4.05	 0.40	3.94
Olandis Gary		1999	den	4.20	4.56	 0.36	 --
Clinton Portis		2002	den	5.52	5.80	 0.28	5.49
Maurice Jones-Drew	2006	jax	5.67	5.92	 0.25	 --
Kevin Jones		2004	det	4.70	4.94	 0.24	3.57
Corey Dillon		1997	cin	4.85	4.98	 0.13	4.31
Willis McGahee		2004	buf	3.97	4.10	 0.13	3.84
Mike Anderson		2000	den	5.01	5.12	 0.12	3.87
Edgerrin James		1999	clt	4.21	4.32	 0.11	4.42
Robert Edwards		1998	nwe	3.83	3.91	 0.08	 --
Karim Abdul-Jabbar	1996	mia	3.64	3.70	 0.06	3.15
LaDainian Tomlinson	2001	sdg	3.65	3.65	 0.00	4.52
Dominic Rhodes		2001	clt	4.74	4.74	 0.00	 --
Joseph Addai		2006	clt	4.78	4.73	-0.05	 --
Jamal Lewis		2000	rav	4.41	4.35	-0.06	 --
Warrick Dunn		1997	tam	4.37	4.29	-0.08	4.19
Cadillac Williams	2005	tam	4.06	3.93	-0.13	3.55
Ricky Williams		1999	nor	3.49	3.35	-0.15	4.03
Domanick Williams	2003	htx	4.33	4.18	-0.15	3.93
Anthony Thomas		2001	chi	4.26	4.10	-0.16	3.37
Ronnie Brown		2005	mia	4.38	4.21	-0.17	4.18
Eddie George		1996	oti	4.08	3.88	-0.21	3.92
Marcel Shipp		2002	crd	4.44	4.19	-0.25	3.64
Fred Taylor		1998	jax	4.63	4.37	-0.26	4.60
Antowain Smith		1997	buf	4.33	3.91	-0.42	3.75

Reggie tops the list this time, as he really made great strides last year. But remember, William Green is second on that list. On the fast finishers side, of the eight RBs that played their sophomore seasons, only two of them improved. One was Green, who was still a big time bust for the Browns. The other was Edgerrin James. For the strong starters, only one out of ten -- Ricky Williams -- bested his rookie YPC average. Antowain Smith and Anthony Thomas ended the year poorly, and things never turned around for them the next season.

So what's it all mean? Will Bush or Drew be the next Edgerrin James or the next William Green? Perhaps most notably, only four of the 18 RBs -- James, Ricky Williams, Dom Williams and Tomlinson -- had better years as sophomores. Fourteen RBs totaled over 1,000 yards as rookies, were poised to breakout, but then regressed the following year. And it doesn't look like the great finishes in 2006 by Bush or Jones-Drew should make them immune from suffering similar fates.

3 Comments | Posted in Fantasy, History, Statgeekery

Reggie Bush and Maurice Jones-Drew, Part II

Posted by Chase Stuart on August 14, 2007

In Part I, we looked at the rookie seasons and draft values of all RBs drafted between 1978 and 1997. We found out that Reggie Bush, as a result of his significantly higher draft value, still was projected for slightly more remaining career rushing yards than Drew. However, rushing yards doesn't tell the whole story. Jones-Drew averaged 5.7 YPC, which is incredible. Reggie Bush scored 178 fantasy points, which is very high for a RB with just 565 rushing yards.

Let's start with fantasy points. Using the same technique as we did before, we can perform a regression analysis to find career fantasy points scored, using fantasy points scored as a rookie and draft value as our two variables. Here's the formula:

Remaining career FPs = 107.6 + 0.14 * (Draft Value) + 3.58 * (rookie FPs)

What's that mean? If Tony Hunt (Pick 90, Draft Value = 140) scores 31 fantasy points this year, we'd project him to score about 238 fantasy points for the rest of his career. If he breaks out and scores 150 FPs, we'd up that projection to 664 fantasy points. If Titans' rookie Chris Henry (Pick 50, draft value 400) scores 34 fantasy points, we'd project him out at 285 fantasy points for the remainder of his career. If Chris Henry scores 150 FPs, his projection moves up to 701 FPs. But Marshawn Lynch (Pick 12, Draft Value 1200) only needs 119 FPs to be projected for 701 remaining fantasy points.

Once again, I think those numbers don't feel too out of whack with what your intuition would tell you. How do Reggie and Maurice stack up? Bush (DV = 2600) scored 178 fantasy points last year, projecting him out at 1,109 career fantasy points. Jones-Drew (DV = 300) scored a whopping 228 fantasy points last year, which translates to a prediction of "just" 966 career fantasy points. The extra 50 fantasy points aren't enough to counteract the 2300 point difference in pick value. Don't forget that Freeman McNeil and Garrison Hearst both scored under 100 FPs as rookies, but the former number three overall picks would each end up topping 1200 career fantasy points. While it makes sense to put a lot of stock in what players do in the NFL, one rookie season is a pretty small sample compared to three or four years of college and a draft combine.

On the other hand, what about yards per carry? Jones-Drew's sparkling 5.67 YPC is one of the biggest reasons people are so bullish on his future. In fact, since 1970, only two others RBs with a minimum of 100 carries have hit 5.5 YPC as a rookie: Clinton Portis and Franco Harris. That's pretty good company. And just as interesting, Reggie Bush averaged only 3.65 YPC, over two yards per carry fewer than Jones-Drew.

I looked at all rookie RBs from 1978-1997 with a minimum of 100 carries, and ran a regression using yards per carry and draft value to predict fantasy points for the remainder of their careers. Here's the formula:

Remaining fantasy points = -792 + 0.26 * (Draft Value) + 320 * (Rookie Year Yards Per Carry Average)

Jones-Drew (draft value 300, YPC = 5.67) is now projected to score 1110 more fantasy points the rest of his career. This feels about right: he was projected at 966 when looking at just last year's total fantasy points, but deservedly gets a big boost when using yards per carry as a variable. Bush (draft value 2600, YPC = 3.65) is projected for 1,052 fantasy points, which is still pretty good. That's only a small downgrade from before, when we ignored Bush's low YPC average. Why? The sample here is different, because we're only looking at RBs with 100 or more carries as a rookie. The nine RBs drafted in the top three over this 20 year span averaged over 1500 career fantasy points. Only one -- Blair Thomas -- was a bust. So the draft value variable here got a nice boost.

Finally, let's combine rookie fantasy points, rookie yards per carry average and draft value and see what we get:

Rest of career fantasy points = -515 + 0.10 * (Draft Value) + 130 * (YPC) + 4.5 * (FPs)

Jones-Drew's projected soars to 1282 fantasy points for the rest of his career. Reggie Bush is projected for 1024 fantasy points. Bush got a 231 point head start due to his draft position, but loses 263 points to Drew due to the large YPC difference, and another 226 FPs because of the 50 point difference the players scored last year. Interestingly enough, the relatively small 50 point difference in points scored last year is weighed almost as heavily as the enormous YPC differential. Why is a low YPC average for a rookie not so terrifying? Emmitt Smith (3.9 YPC average as a rookie, 3,025 fantasy points scored the rest of his career), Marshall Faulk (4.1, 2,479), Curtis Martin (4.0, 2,078), Tiki Barber (3.8, 1860), Roger Craig (4.1, 1561), Eddie George (4.1, 1532), Charlie Garner (3.7, 1322) and James Wilder (3.5, 1115) all had great careers despite not running very well as rookies. The fact that Barber, Garner and Wilder -- all excellent receivers -- had similar YPC averages to Bush is good news for Bush fans.

For Jones-Drew, the news is even better. The 11 RBs to score 228 or more FPs during their rookie season averaged 1,472 FPs for the remainder of their careers. Don't forget that the NFL's 4th all-time leading rusher -- Curtis Martin -- was a third round pick who had an incredible rookie year and never looked back.

One note: Herschel Walker was drafted in the 5th round due to his involvement with the USFL, and considered a 5th round pick for this study, despite undoubtedly being an elite, top-ten pick talent. To a small extent, that may understate the value of being a high draft pick, because he's not morally one of the low round picks to succeed.

Check out Part III, tomorrow, though. The news doesn't always stay good for our second year stars.

2 Comments | Posted in Fantasy, History, NFL Draft, Statgeekery

Reggie Bush and Maurice Jones-Drew, Part I

Posted by Chase Stuart on August 13, 2007

[Note: This can also be seen over at the Footballguys.com blog:]

Reggie Bush and Maurice Jones-Drew are two of the most exciting and talented young players in the league. Both have the necessary skills to earn annual trips to Honolulu. Bush, of course, was a Heisman Trophy winner and top three pick in the NFL draft … just like O.J. Simpson, Tony Dorsett, Earl Campbell, Bo Jackson and Barry Sanders. Jones-Drew averaged over 5.5 YPC and rushed for 12+ TDs last year, joining an elite club consisting of only Drew, Jim Brown, O.J Simpson, Eric Dickerson and Clinton Portis. And only Portis did that as a rookie.

It is not controversial to state that Bush was viewed as the better prospect and that MJD had a better rookie season. The key question now, is which one trumps the other? Forgetting the names for a minute, which RB would you expect to have the better career: the highly touted prospect or the rookie stud? Reuben Mayes rushed for 1353 yards at 4.7 yards per carry as a rookie, but had just 2,131 more rushing yards the rest of his career. Additionally, John Stephens, Karim Abdul-Jabbar, Greg Bell and Terry Miller all had 1,000 yard rookie seasons, but fizzled out quickly. On the other hand, we know that high draft position doesn’t mean everything, either. Ki-Jana Carter, Brent Fullwood, Blair Thomas, Alonzo Highsmith, and, well, Terry Miller, were top five draft picks that recorded fewer than 2,500 rushing yards in their careers.

I looked at all RBs drafted from 1978 to 1997. That gives us 20 years worth of drafts, with little worry about active players. There are a few guys still remaining, but Tiki Barber and Corey Dillon just retired from that ‘97 draft class, and I doubt we’ll be seeing significant changes to career totals to cause concern. Here’s a pretty intuitive chart:

Draft Pick   #RBs      Career Rush Yards
1 - 3 13 7132
4 - 10 15 4663
11 - 20 29 3642
21 - 40 54 2930
41 - 70 57 2135
71 -100 52 1629
101-150 70 1268
150+ 154 1032

There were 13 RBs drafted among the top three over this 20 year era, and they each averaged 7,132 career rushing yards. There’s a very strong correlation between draft pick and career rushing yards, which isn’t terribly surprising. Based off this, you might have projected last year that Reggie Bush (#2 overall) would outrush Jones-Drew (#60 overall) for his career by about 5,000 yards.

But now it’s this year, and we have some more information at our disposal. Jones-Drew rushed for 941 yards last year, while Reggie Bush rushed for only 565 yards. What does history tell us to think about those data? The table below breaks down all rookie RBs into tiers based on their number of rushing yards during their rookie season. The last column shows the average rest of career rushing yards (AROCRY) for those players:

Rushing Yards	#RBs	AROCRY
1400+ 8 9702
1100-1399 11 5053
900-1099 13 4161
600-899 31 3109
400-599 45 2527
200-399 80 1590
01-199 206 960
0 50 716

Like the draft pick chart, there are no surprises here. The more yards you rush for as a rookie, the more yards you’d expect a player to rush for during the remainder of his career. Based off this table, you might project that MJD will rush for about 1600 more yards than Bush for the rest of their respective careers.

But we DO know something else about Bush and Jones-Drew, namely their draft position. We’re getting closer to answering the question of which RB should be expected to rush for more yards: the highly drafted player or the better rookie. We can use multiple regression analysis to tell us how these two variables play off each other. One of the problems with using regression analysis, however, is that it treats the difference between the 1st pick and the 20th pick the same as it would the difference between the 201st and 220th pick. The solution? The NFL pick value chart. So now the 1st pick is worth 3000 points, the 2nd 2600 points, the 10th 1300 points, the 116th pick 62 points, etc. So if we use rookie rushing yards and NFL draft value as our two variables to solve for remaining career rushing yards, here’s the formula we get:

Remaining Career rushing yards =

439 + 0.88 * (Pick Value) + 4.49 * (rookie rushing yards)

So let’s say Adrian Peterson (the 7th pick, pick value 1500) rushes for 1,000 yards this year. This formula would project him to rush for 6,249 rushing yards for the rest of his career. If he rushed for 1,500 yards, we’d project him at 8,494 remaining career rushing yards. If the first pick in the draft rushed for 1,206 yards as a rookie, we’d project him for the same 8,494 remaining career rushing yards. An undrafted rookie would need to rush for 1794 yards to be projected for the same remaining career rushing yards. Those numbers “feel” about right to me, so I think our formula will work.

How do Reggie Bush and Maurice Jones-Drew fare? Bush was the 2nd pick (2600 points) and rushed for 565 yards, so that projects him out at 5,264 rushing yards for the rest of his career. Jones-Drew was the 60th pick (300 points) and rushed for 941 yards, projecting him at 4,928 yards. So at least for now, it looks like Reggie Bush holds a slight edge.

In part II of this series, we’ll compare the two players using different variables than rushing yards. In part III, we’ll take a step back and reign in our optimism just a bit.

9 Comments | Posted in Fantasy, History, NFL Draft, Statgeekery

Trivia answers

Posted by Doug on August 9, 2007
Ernest Givins         8215
Ronnie Harmon         6076
John Taylor           5598
Jerry Smith           5496
Marcus Allen          5411
Russ Francis          5262
Ike Hilliard          5251
Brent Jones           5195
Mike Pritchard        5187
Tiki Barber           5183
Raymond Chester       5013
Joe Morrison          4993
Rodney Holman         4771
Mike Renfro           4708
Jay Novacek           4630
Earnest Byner         4605
Walter Payton         4538
Thurman Thomas        4458
Preston Carpenter     4457
James Jett            4417
Rick Upchurch         4369
Paul Coffman          4340
J.J. Stokes           4293
Ricky Watters         4248
Freddie Jones         4232
Ken Dilger            4099
Tony McGee            4089
Tony Galbreath        4066
Michael Timpson       4047
Sam McCullum          4017
Marcus Pollard        4007
Pete Holohan          3981
Hassan Jones          3824
Warrick Dunn          3771
David Patten          3761
T.J. Houshmandzadeh   3735
Doug Cosbie           3728
Willie Green          3720
Charlie Garner        3711
Steve Young           4239
Walt Garrison         3886
Rocky Bleier          3865
Michael Vick          3859
Fran Tarkenton        3674
Clarence Davis        3640
Preston Pearson       3609
Don Calhoun           3559
Steve McNair          3558
John Elway            3407
Wayne Morris          3387
Walter Abercrombie    3357
Ernie Green           3204
Roland Harper         3044
Charlie Harraway      3019
John Cappelletti      2951
Matt Suhey            2946
Jim Braxton           2890
Kordell Stewart       2874
Archie Griffin        2808
Jim Harbaugh          2787
Bobby Mitchell        2735
Greg Landry           2655
Charles Alexander     2645
Kent Graham           7801
Don Strock            5349
Todd Blackledge       5286
Cody Carlson          4469
Matt Cavanaugh        4332
Mark Herrmann         4015
Don Trull             3980
Sean Salisbury        3824
Jamie Martin          3814
Turk Schonert         3788
Harry Gilmer          3786
Jeff Rutledge         3628
Anthony Wright        3578
Eric Zeier            3520
Billy Joe Hobert      3371
Ed Luther             3187
Mike McMahon          2867
Mike Moroski          2864
Bobby Scott           2781
Tony Adams            2733
Paul Justin           2614
Terry Hanratty        2510
Glenn Foley           2469
Kelly Stouffer        2333
John Fourcade         2312
Don Heinrich          2287

9 Comments | Posted in General

Trivia questions

Posted by Doug on August 8, 2007

1. What player has the most career receiving yards, among all players who never led their team in receiving yards?

2. What player has the most career rushing yards, among all players who never led their team in rushing yards?

3. What player has the most career passing yards, among all players who never led their team in passing yards?

37 Comments | Posted in General

Fun QBs (Part 2)

Posted by Chase Stuart on August 7, 2007

Yesterday, we took a look at which QBs have had really fun and really boring seasons. Well it only makes sense now to check out the career list, broken up by era. It's pretty clear to see that each decade breeds more and more boring QBs. The transformation from the vertical game of the AFL to the West Coast Offense and efficient passing games of today makes it necessary to separate out players from different decades. Note: Only QBs with 50 career TDs + INTs were eligible.

Top 10 most passers that debuted before 1960:


Fun Player Cmp Yard TD INT Debut Year
23.68 Sid Luckman 904 14686 137 132 1939
22.91 Lamar McHan 610 9449 73 108 1954
22.76 Ed Brown 949 15600 102 138 1954
21.74 Eddie LeBaron 898 13399 104 141 1952
21.50 Adrian Burk 500 7001 61 89 1950
21.47 Bob Waterfield 814 11849 97 128 1945
21.46 Johnny Lujack 404 6295 41 54 1948
21.15 Cotton Davidson 770 11760 73 108 1954
21.03 Babe Parilli 1552 22681 178 220 1952
21.00 George Ratterman 299 4279 39 41 1950

In the '60s:


Fun Player Cmp Yard TD INT Debut Year
21.09 Steve Tensi 369 5558 43 46 1965
20.73 Daryle Lamonica 1288 19154 164 138 1963
20.39 Jacky Lee 430 6191 46 57 1960
19.96 Don Meredith 1170 17199 135 111 1960
19.95 John McCormick 214 2895 17 38 1962
19.88 Joe Namath 1886 27663 173 220 1965
19.88 Bill Nelsen 963 14165 98 101 1963
19.79 Tom Flores 838 11959 93 92 1960
19.74 Pete Beathard 575 8176 43 84 1964
19.71 Johnny Green 275 3921 26 34 1960

In the '70s:


Fun Player Cmp Yard TD INT Debut Year
20.16 Matt Robinson 244 3519 18 38 1977
19.50 Steve Grogan 1879 26886 182 208 1975
19.21 Steve Ramsey 456 6437 35 58 1970
19.03 Terry Bradshaw 2025 27989 212 210 1970
18.96 Matt Cavanaugh 305 4332 28 30 1979
18.75 Scott Hunter 335 4756 23 38 1971
18.25 Dennis Shaw 489 6347 35 68 1970
17.98 Jim Plunkett 1943 25882 164 198 1971
17.95 Vince Evans 704 9485 52 74 1977
17.93 Lynn Dickey 1747 23322 141 179 1971

In the '80s. [Note: 1980 takes six of the top ten spots (and the 11th one, as well), so I'm going to show the top 10 that debuted in the '80s, along with the next best five that debuted from 1981-1989]:


Fun Player Cmp Yard TD INT Debut Year
17.96 Jay Schroeder 1426 20063 114 108 1985
17.60 Marc Wilson 1085 14391 86 102 1980
17.13 Jeff Kemp 479 6230 39 40 1981
16.81 Dave Wilson 551 6987 36 55 1981
16.80 Cliff Stoudt 359 4506 23 38 1980
16.77 Mike Tomczak 1248 16079 88 106 1985
16.67 Eric Hipple 830 10711 55 70 1980
16.66 Scott Brunner 512 6457 29 54 1980
16.58 Bill Kenney 1330 17277 105 86 1980
16.53 Paul McDonald 411 5269 24 37 1980

16.42 Todd Blackledge 424 5286 29 38 1983
16.40 Boomer Esiason 2969 37920 247 184 1984
16.16 Mike Pagel 756 9414 49 63 1982
16.11 Steve Beuerlein 1894 24046 147 112 1988
16.06 Mark Rypien 1466 18473 115 88 1988

In the '90s or later:


Fun Player Cmp Yard TD INT Debut Year
16.92 Ben Roethlisberger 644 8519 52 43 2004
16.24 Craig Erickson 591 7625 41 38 1992
15.86 Rex Grossman 367 4496 27 26 2003
15.75 Gus Frerotte 1427 18120 95 79 1994
15.68 Kurt Warner 1645 20591 125 83 1998
15.68 Michael Vick 930 11505 71 52 2001
15.59 Trent Green 2143 26963 157 101 1997
15.51 Ryan Leaf 317 3666 14 36 1998
15.51 Tommy Maddox 686 8087 48 54 1992
15.50 Jake Delhomme 1151 13965 92 63 1999

Now let's take a look at the most boring QBs, also sorted by debut year.

Pre-1960:


Fun Player Cmp Yard TD INT Debut Year
17.19 Frank Tripucka 879 10282 69 124 1949
17.21 John Brodie 2469 31548 214 224 1957
17.68 Bart Starr 1808 24718 152 138 1956
17.71 Frankie Albert 316 3847 27 43 1950
17.81 Sonny Jurgensen 2433 32224 255 189 1957
18.19 Milt Plum 1306 17536 122 127 1957
18.23 Bill Wade 1370 18530 124 134 1954
18.38 Len Dawson 2136 28711 239 183 1957
18.45 Jim Finks 661 8622 55 88 1949
18.49 Y.A. Tittle 2118 28339 212 221 1950

1960's:


Fun Player Cmp Yard TD INT Debut Year
15.44 Virgil Carter 425 5063 29 31 1968
15.62 Jack Concannon 560 6270 36 63 1964
15.71 Steve Spurrier 597 6878 40 60 1967
15.88 Bill Munson 1070 12896 84 80 1964
16.14 Roman Gabriel 2366 29444 201 149 1962
16.20 Mike Livingston 912 11295 56 83 1968
16.52 Greg Landry 1276 16052 98 103 1968
16.67 Karl Sweetan 269 3210 17 34 1966
16.87 Gary Cuozzo 584 7402 43 55 1963
16.88 Fran Tarkenton 3686 47003 342 266 1961

1970's:


Fun Player Cmp Yard TD INT Debut Year
14.47 Steve Dils 504 5816 27 32 1979
14.68 Steve Fuller 605 7156 28 41 1979
14.92 Joe Montana 3409 40551 273 139 1979
15.25 Gary Huff 392 4329 16 50 1973
15.39 Steve Deberg 2874 34241 196 204 1978
15.59 Archie Manning 2011 23911 125 173 1971
15.74 Ken Anderson 2654 32838 197 160 1971
15.98 Joe Theismann 2044 25206 160 138 1974
16.05 Gary Danielson 1105 13764 81 78 1976
16.09 Brian Sipe 1944 23713 154 149 1974

1980's:


Fun Player Cmp Yard TD INT Debut Year
13.96 Steve Bono 934 10439 62 42 1985
14.01 Troy Aikman 2898 32942 165 141 1989
14.04 Hugh Millen 560 6440 22 35 1987
14.07 Jim Harbaugh 2305 26288 129 117 1987
14.15 Rich Gannon 2533 28743 180 104 1987
14.20 Steve Walsh 713 7875 40 50 1989
14.33 Bernie Kosar 1994 23301 124 87 1985
14.57 Ken O'Brien 2110 25094 128 98 1984
14.89 Erik Kramer 1317 15337 92 79 1987
14.91 Jack Trudeau 873 10243 42 69 1986

1990's or later:


Fun Player Cmp Yard TD INT Debut Year
12.46 Shane Matthews 492 4756 31 24 1993
13.22 Jim Miller 610 6387 36 31 1995
13.27 David Carr 1243 13391 59 65 2002
13.40 Joey Harrington 1209 12478 72 77 2002
13.58 Brad Johnson 2619 28548 164 117 1994
13.59 Kyle Boller 578 6103 36 34 2003
13.62 Josh McCown 498 5431 25 29 2002
13.76 Danny Kanell 491 5129 31 34 1996
13.80 Chad Pennington 1081 11973 72 46 2000
13.82 Kent Graham 696 7822 39 33 1992

Other notable recent players:


Fun Player Cmp Yard TD INT Debut Year
15.31 Peyton Manning 3131 37586 275 139 1998
15.22 Eli Manning 690 8049 54 44 2004
15.20 Daunte Culpepper 1760 21097 137 89 1999
15.15 Trent Dilfer 1645 19352 106 117 1994
14.92 Jeff George 2298 27602 154 113 1990
14.87 Brett Favre 5021 57500 414 273 1991
14.80 Marc Bulger 1357 16233 95 59 2002
14.80 Carson Palmer 932 10768 78 43 2003
14.60 Drew Bledsoe 3839 44611 251 206 1993
14.58 Donovan McNabb 1898 22080 152 72 1999
14.36 Steve McNair 2600 30191 172 114 1995
14.34 Tom Brady 1896 21564 147 78 2000
14.19 Drew Brees 1481 16766 106 64 2001

[NOTE: ADDED AFTER 11:00 AM EST TODAY]

Here are the numbers for the 2006 season, minimum 200 attempts:

Donovan McNabb		18.04	180	2647	18	 6
Tony Romo 16.83 220 2903 19 13
Rex Grossman 16.29 262 3193 23 20
Ben Roethlisberger 16.21 280 3513 18 23
Michael Vick 16.17 204 2474 20 13
Carson Palmer 15.62 324 4035 28 13
Matt Hasselbeck 15.56 210 2442 18 15
Jason Campbell 15.43 110 1297 10 6
Vince Young 15.35 184 2199 12 13
David Garrard 15.24 145 1735 10 9
Drew Brees 15.01 356 4418 26 11
Peyton Manning 14.91 362 4397 31 9
Jake Plummer 14.82 175 1994 11 13
Damon Huard 14.72 148 1878 11 1
Philip Rivers 14.66 284 3388 22 9
Matt Leinart 14.59 214 2547 11 12
J.P. Losman 14.46 268 3051 19 14
Alex Smith 14.36 257 2890 16 16
Eli Manning 14.27 301 3244 24 18
Jon Kitna 14.20 372 4208 21 22
Andrew Walter 14.13 147 1677 3 13
Brett Favre 13.95 343 3885 18 18
Tom Brady 13.88 319 3529 24 12
Marc Bulger 13.79 370 4301 24 8
Chad Pennington 13.35 313 3352 17 16
Jake Delhomme 13.33 263 2805 17 11
Joey Harrington 13.05 223 2236 12 15
Mark Brunell 12.90 162 1789 8 4
Steve McNair 12.71 295 3050 16 12
Charlie Frye 12.42 252 2454 10 17
Brad Johnson 12.41 270 2750 9 15
Bruce Gradkowski 11.93 177 1661 9 9
David Carr 11.07 302 2767 11 12

I'll leave the commentary up to you guys, today.

2 Comments | Posted in Totally Useless

Fun QBs

Posted by Chase Stuart on August 6, 2007

Do you know who holds the modern record for yards per completion in a season? It's Jack Kemp, the former Buffalo Bills QB and United States Congressman. In 1964, Kemp averaged 19.20 yards per completion, easily the most for any QB since 1960 with at least 200 pass attempts. Here's a list of the top 20 QBs:

19.20	Jack Kemp	1964	buf
18.59	Tom Flores	1963	rai
17.87	Johnny Unitas	1964	clt
17.83	Craig Morton	1970	dal
17.81	George Blanda	1961	oti
17.75	Ed Brown	1963	pit
17.61	Bobby Layne	1960	pit
17.47	Tom Flores	1966	rai
17.39	Norm Snead	1963	was
17.38	Joe Namath	1972	nyj
17.13	Don Meredith	1965	dal
16.99	Terry Bradshaw	1970	pit
16.84	Eric Hipple	1981	det
16.83	Joe Namath	1968	nyj
16.70	John Hadl	1968	sdg
16.70	John Brodie	1961	sfo
16.64	Sonny Jurgensen	1962	phi
16.61	Cotton Davidson	1962	rai
16.60	Chris Chandler	1998	atl
16.45	Greg Landry	1971	det
16.45	Ed Brown	1964	pit
16.42	Jim Ninowski	1961	det
16.31	Johnny Unitas	1960	clt
16.28	Jack Kemp	1961	sdg
16.27	Jay Schroeder	1988	rai
And the bottom 25 QBs:
8.43	Bobby Hoying	1998	phi
8.94	Donovan McNabb	1999	phi
8.95	Doug Pederson	2000	cle
9.12	Mark Rypien	1993	was
9.15	Kordell Stewart	1999	pit
9.16	David Carr	2006	htx
9.31	Kelly Holcomb	2003	cle
9.32	Joey Harrington	2003	det
9.38	Bruce Gradkowski2006	tam
9.50	Gary Huff	1975	chi
9.56	Joe Namath	1976	nyj
9.62	Dan Pastorini	1973	oti
9.65	Anthony Wright	2005	rav
9.67	Roman Gabriel	1974	phi
9.70	Hugh Millen	1992	nwe
9.72	David Carr	2005	htx
9.74	Kelly Holcomb	2005	buf
9.74	Charlie Frye	2006	cle
9.77	Boomer Esiason	1992	cin
9.84	Kyle Orton	2005	chi
9.84	Jim McMahon	1993	min
9.85	Shane Matthews	1999	chi
9.85	Patrick Ramsey	2004	was
9.89	Mike Livingston	1978	kan
9.91	A.J. Feeley	2004	mia
Certainly, Kemp's 1964 season is interesting because of his high yards per completion rate. But there are some other peculiar notes about his stat line. Kemp completed an abysmal 44.2 percent of his passes, converting 119 of 269 passes. There have been 1280 quarterbacks to throw 200 passes in a season since 1960: Kemp ranks as the 27th worst on the list. In Mike Shanahan's only full season with the Raiders, both his QBs completed 44.1% of his passes. No wonder he didn't stay in California for very long. Here's a list of the worst 30:
35.3%	Gary Marangi	1976	buf
36.1%	Dick Wood	1966	mia
37.1%	Cotton Davidson	1962	rai
38.1%	Terry Bradshaw	1970	pit
39.0%	Johnny Green	1960	buf
39.8%	Tom Sherman	1968	nwe
40.3%	Steve Tensi	1967	den
40.4%	Bobby Douglass	1971	chi
40.6%	Babe Parilli	1965	nwe
40.7%	John McCormick	1965	den
41.0%	Pete Beathard	1967	oti
41.2%	John Hadl	1962	sdg
41.2%	Rusty Hilger	1988	det
41.4%	Jim Zorn	1977	sea
41.8%	Doug Williams	1979	tam
42.1%	George Blanda	1965	oti
42.7%	Jack Kemp	1966	buf
42.7%	Joe Pisarcik	1977	nyg
42.8%	Dan Darragh	1968	buf
43.5%	Bob Avellini	1976	chi
43.6%	Jack Kemp	1967	buf
43.7%	Randy Johnson	1966	atl
44.1%	George Herring	1961	den
44.1%	Steve Beuerlein	1988	rai
44.1%	Jay Schroeder	1988	rai
44.2%	Akili Smith	2000	cin
44.2%	Jack Kemp	1964	buf
44.3%	Jim Hart	1968	crd
44.5%	Ed Brown	1964	pit
44.7%	Vince Evans	1981	chi
And the best 30:
70.6%	Ken Anderson	1982	cin
70.3%	Steve Young	1994	sfo
70.2%	Joe Montana	1989	sfo
69.3%	Brian Griese	2004	tam
69.2%	Chad Pennington	2002	nyj
69.2%	Daunte Culpepper2004	min
69.1%	Troy Aikman	1993	dal
68.7%	Kurt Warner	2001	ram
68.3%	David Carr	2006	htx
68.0%	Steve Young	1993	sfo
67.8%	Carson Palmer	2005	cin
67.7%	Kurt Warner	2000	ram
67.7%	Steve Young	1996	sfo
67.7%	Steve Young	1997	sfo
67.6%	Rich Gannon	2002	rai
67.6%	Peyton Manning	2004	clt
67.4%	Kelly Holcomb	2005	buf
67.3%	Peyton Manning	2005	clt
67.3%	Steve Bartkowski1984	atl
67.0%	Peyton Manning	2003	clt
66.9%	Marc Bulger	2005	ram
66.9%	Steve Young	1995	sfo
66.8%	Joe Montana	1987	sfo
66.7%	Brian Griese	2002	den
66.7%	Ken Stabler	1976	rai
66.7%	Ken Anderson	1983	cin
66.7%	Steve Young	1992	sfo
66.4%	Ben Roethlisberger2004	pit
66.4%	Trent Green	2004	kan
66.3%	Peyton Manning	2002	clt

Those large data dumps are just the background for this post. Because Kemp's season gets even more interesting. Kemp threw 13 TDs against 26 INTs in 1964, which is pretty incredible considering he only had 269 pass attempts. His 9.67 INTs per 100 pass attempts ranks as the 5th worst of those 1280 QBs. Here are the top and bottom 10 INT rates:


11.1 Eddie LeBaron 1960 dal
11.0 Terry Bradshaw 1970 pit
10.4 George Herring 1961 den
10.0 George Blanda 1962 oti
9.7 Jack Kemp 1964 buf
9.4 Norm Snead 1973 nyg
9.2 John Hadl 1962 sdg
8.9 Dennis Shaw 1971 buf
8.6 Joe Namath 1975 nyj
8.5 Ralph Guglielmi 1960 was


0.4 Damon Huard 2006 kan
0.9 Steve Deberg 1990 kan
1.2 Steve Bartkowski1983 atl
1.2 Neil O'Donnell 1998 cin
1.2 Brian Griese 2000 den
1.2 Bart Starr 1966 gnb
1.3 Phil Simms 1990 nyg
1.3 Jim Harbaugh 1997 clt
1.3 Doug Flutie 2000 buf
1.3 Brad Johnson 2002 tam

That's right, Damon Huard last season had the lowest INT rate of the 1,280 QBs since 1960 to throw 200 passes in a season.

So roughly, every 20 times Jack Kemp threw a pass, he would have nine 20-yard completions, with one of those going for a TD, two INTs, and nine incompletions. Maybe it's the AFL'er in me, but that sounds pretty exciting to watch. So I've decided to come up with a fun index, centered around Mr. Kemp. Without putting too much thought into this (since this is, after all, filed under 'totally useless'), here's the formula:

[ ((Interceptions + Touchdowns) X 25) + Passing Yards ] / Completions

It's basically yards per completion, with a bonus for "big plays." Since both passing TDs and INTs are big plays, I weighed them the same. Both are fun to see.

Kemp had a fun score of 27.39, the highest in the modern era. He had 13 TDs, 26 INTs, 2285 passing yards and 119 completions. I think this "fun score" formula approximates what we're trying to get at, and since Kemp topped the list, I'm happy. Here are the top 30 most fun seasons to watch since 1960:

Fun	Player		Year	Team	Cmp	Yard	TD	INT
27.39 Jack Kemp 1964 buf 119 2285 13 26
26.02 Terry Bradshaw 1970 pit 83 1410 6 24
25.89 Tom Flores 1963 rai 113 2101 20 13
25.56 George Blanda 1961 oti 187 3330 36 22
24.89 Bobby Layne 1960 pit 103 1814 13 17
24.63 Jim Zorn 1977 sea 104 1687 16 19
23.85 Ed Brown 1963 pit 168 2982 21 20
23.79 John Hadl 1968 sdg 208 3473 27 32
23.76 Tom Flores 1966 rai 151 2638 24 14
23.56 Joe Namath 1972 nyj 162 2816 19 21
23.33 Don Meredith 1965 dal 141 2415 22 13
23.23 Craig Morton 1970 dal 102 1819 15 7
23.10 Norm Snead 1963 was 175 3043 13 27
22.92 Cotton Davidson 1962 rai 119 1977 7 23
22.85 Ed Brown 1964 pit 121 1990 12 19
22.85 Norm VanBrocklin1960 phi 153 2471 24 17
22.81 Cotton Davidson 1961 kan 151 2445 17 23
22.76 Sonny Jurgensen 1962 phi 196 3261 22 26
22.76 Johnny Unitas 1960 clt 190 3099 25 24
22.75 Y.A. Tittle 1962 nyg 200 3224 33 20
22.56 Cotton Davidson 1964 rai 155 2497 21 19
22.54 Bill Wade 1961 chi 139 2258 22 13
22.27 Charley Johnson 1962 crd 150 2440 16 20
22.03 Jay Schroeder 1988 rai 113 1839 13 13
22.02 Eric Hipple 1981 det 140 2358 14 15
21.99 Matt Robinson 1978 nyj 124 2002 13 16
21.97 John Hadl 1965 sdg 174 2798 20 21
21.89 Earl Morrall 1968 clt 182 2909 26 17
21.88 Jack Kemp 1961 sdg 165 2686 15 22
21.83 Johnny Unitas 1964 clt 158 2824 19 6

Of note: two pre-1960 QBs even beat mighty Jack. In 1943, Sid Luckman (29.04) had 110 completions (on 202 attempts), 2,194 passing yards, 28 TDs and 12 INTs. But if you lower the bar to 100 attempts, no one could match Joe Geri: despite completing just 41 of 113 passes (36.3%), he passed for 866 yards (21.12 yards per completion). Throw in 15 INTs and 6 TDs, and he has a fun score of 33.93.

You might notice that there aren't any QBs on the fun score list since 1990. Here are the top 25 most fun seasons since then:


Fun Player Year Team Cmp Yard TD INT
21.47 Chris Chandler 1998 atl 190 3154 25 12
19.50 Jay Schroeder 1990 rai 182 2849 19 9
19.32 Jeff George 1999 min 191 2816 23 12
19.10 Chris Miller 1991 atl 220 3103 26 18
18.81 Jake Plummer 1997 crd 157 2203 15 15
18.74 Kurt Warner 2000 ram 235 3429 21 18
18.67 Boomer Esiason 1990 cin 224 3031 24 22
18.55 Randall Cunningham 1998 min 259 3704 34 10
18.40 Heath Shuler 1994 was 120 1658 10 12
18.25 Vinny Testaverde 1993 cle 130 1797 14 9
18.23 Mark Rypien 1991 was 249 3564 28 11
18.19 Vinny Testaverde 1990 tam 203 2818 17 18
18.07 Ben Roethlisberger 2005 pit 168 2385 17 9
18.04 Donovan McNabb 2006 phi 180 2647 18 6
17.95 Peyton Manning 2004 clt 336 4557 49 10
17.92 Billy Joe Tolliver 1999 nor 139 1916 7 16
17.85 Trent Green 2000 ram 145 2063 16 5
17.81 Donald Hollas 1998 rai 135 1754 10 16
17.66 Jay Schroeder 1991 rai 189 2562 15 16
17.60 Rodney Peete 1990 det 142 1974 13 8
17.55 Kurt Warner 1999 ram 325 4353 41 13
17.50 Rodney Peete 1992 det 123 1702 9 9
17.49 Jeff Blake 1994 cin 156 2154 14 9
17.46 Steve Young 1991 sfo 180 2517 17 8
17.38 Daunte Culpepper 2000 min 297 3937 33 16

I think it's safe to say that Jay Schroeder was a pretty darn fun QB to watch: he's on this list twice, and his 1988 season even cracked the original list. Whatever happened, it sure wasn't boring. And don't be too surprised to see Chandler at the top of this list. The 1998 Falcons had Tony Martin and Terance Mathis catch 130 balls for 2,317 yards, 17.8 yards per catch. Chandler was incredible that season, leading Atlanta to the Super Bowl. A few of the players on here -- Jeff George, Vinny Testaverde, Jeff Blake -- were physical talents with rocket arms and exciting games, but will never be remembered as winners. And check out the 2000 Rams, with two QBs on this list. That was the Rams team that saw 1,011 points scored in their games, easily the most in league history.

How about the reverse? Here are the 25 most boring QB seasons since 1990.


Fun Player Year Team Cmp Yard TD INT
10.40 Bobby Hoying 1998 phi 114 961 0 9
11.07 David Carr 2006 htx 302 2767 11 12
11.09 Doug Pederson 2000 cle 117 1047 2 8
11.23 Mark Rypien 1993 was 166 1514 4 10
11.65 Kordell Stewart 1999 pit 160 1464 6 10
11.78 Brad Johnson 2001 tam 340 3406 13 11
11.85 Jeff George 1991 clt 292 2910 10 12
11.93 Bruce Gradkowski 2006 tam 177 1661 9 9
11.93 Anthony Wright 2005 rav 164 1582 6 9
11.97 Jim McMahon 1993 min 200 1968 9 8
12.15 Steve Walsh 1994 chi 208 2078 10 8
12.16 David Klingler 1993 cin 190 1935 6 9
12.16 David Carr 2005 htx 256 2488 14 11
12.16 Kelly Holcomb 2003 cle 193 1797 10 12
12.19 Rich Gannon 2003 rai 125 1274 6 4
12.24 Kyle Boller 2004 rav 258 2559 13 11
12.25 Shane Matthews 1999 chi 167 1645 10 6
12.26 Jim Harbaugh 1993 chi 200 2002 7 11
12.29 Jeff George 1993 clt 234 2526 8 6
12.37 Kurt Warner 2002 ram 144 1431 3 11
12.40 Rich Gannon 1991 min 211 2166 12 6
12.41 Brad Johnson 2006 min 270 2750 9 15
12.42 Charlie Frye 2006 cle 252 2454 10 17
12.42 Brad Johnson 2005 min 184 1885 12 4
12.48 Joey Harrington 2003 det 309 2880 17 22

Bobby Hoying was just awful: he had a 45.6 QB rating for the season. But the 2006 version of David Carr embodies exactly what the formula was intended to find -- really boring QBs. He was everything that Jack Kemp was not. You might remember that Carr tied the NFL single game record for consecutive completions against the Bills last season (sorry, Bill M.). While impressive, note that Carr threw for exactly 202 yards during that stretch. That ugly 9.18 yards per completion average barely topped his season average of 9.16 YPC. There was nothing interesting about the Texans' passing game last year, as Carr completed a ton of short passes for not very many yards. Eleven TDs on 442 passes isn't very exciting to watch. Maybe if Houston had drafted Reggie Bush, they would have been just a bit more fun.

Brad Johnson (2001 - Tampa, 2005-2006 - Minnesota) hasn't been very fun to watch, either. Thankfully him and Carr aren't starting anymore. But here's something interesting: Jeff George (twice), Kurt Warner and Mark Rypien all appear on the boring list, despite also appearing on the fun list! George was incredibly boring as a Colt in 1991, but eight years later he had the third most fun season since 1990 with the Vikings. That should finally settle the debate that Bill Brooks and Jessie Hester were no Randy Moss and Cris Carter. Warner was really fun with the Rams in 1999 and 2000, but by 2002 he had become boring. Throwing 11 INTs was the only thing he did that was exciting -- he had just 3 TD passes in 220 attempts that season. Similarly, Rypien was great and fun to watch in 1991, but two years later, he ran a boring and incompetent 'Skins offense. Amazingly, he had only 4 TDs in 319 attempts that year.

As you might imagine, there aren't very many boring QBs from before 1990. Only five QBs had scores below 13.00, and none were below 12.00. Gary Huff (1975, Chicago) was the most boring, followed by Roman Gabriel (1974, Philadelphia), Greg Landry (1977, Detroit), Eric Hipple (1986, Detroit) and Mike Livingston (1978, Kansas City).

Tomorrow, we'll switch from a seasons view to a careers view, and see how the QBs stack up.

18 Comments | Posted in Totally Useless

Random (possibly meaningless) statistical fact

Posted by Doug on August 3, 2007

I was quickly browsing the 2006 NFL team stats, and I noticed that the league's top scoring team, San Diego, scored many more points (492) than the league's worst defensive team allowed (San Fran, 412). Five teams, in fact, scored more points than the 49ers allowed. On the other end, the league's worst offensive team, the Raiders, scored far fewer points than the league's best defensive team, the Ravens, allowed (168 vs. 201).

A bit more calculation shows that the standard deviation of points scored in last year's NFL was 67.3, while the standard deviation of points allowed was 47.1. In plain English, this means that the defenses were much more tightly bunched around average than the offenses were.

Last season, while a bit more extreme than usual, was not an anomaly. It was the fifth straight year that offenses were more spread out than defenses. If we go back to the beginning of the 16-game schedule in 1978, we find that offenses have been more spread out than defenses in 21 of 29 seasons. Here's the data.

 Yr     PF STD   PA STD
=======================
1978      47.1    50.8
1979      54.7    51.4
1980      59.6    58.7
1981      55.8    62.1
1982      43.4    32.2
1983      71.4    51.4
1984      69.2    63.1
1985      61.6    62.8
1986      59.1    60.6
1987      55.3    47.4
1988      60.1    48.7
1989      57.8    57.6
1990      55.8    64.8
1991      72.7    53.1
1992      63.5    53.8
1993      60.8    47.4
1994      57.8    50.2
1995      57.1    39.2
1996      52.2    63.3
1997      51.1    51.4
1998      81.2    47.9
1999      66.4    61.0
2000      82.3    73.5
2001      57.1    65.5
2002      60.7    54.9
2003      70.3    51.2
2004      68.7    58.7
2005      65.7    58.2
2006      67.3    47.1
=======================
AVG       61.6    54.8

Questions:

  1. Why?
  2. Do we care?
  3. Does this same tendency exist in other sports?

My initial reaction to the first question is that this happens because offense is much more dependent a single person than defense is.

On the second question, I think probably not, but I'd be interested in hearing other opinions.

15 Comments | Posted in General

Bill Walsh and …

Posted by Doug on August 1, 2007

My friend Jene Bramel, a lifelong Bengal fan, has an interesting post over at the footballguys blog. Here's the intro:

Every team has their share of "coulda, shoulda, wouldas." Cleveland fans have The Fumble and The Drive. Raider fans are left to wonder about the Immaculate Reception, the Tuck Rule and Bo. Buffalo fans, well, let’s not dredge up those memories again. Bengal fans have their own painful memories. Pete Johnson stuffed on 4th and 1 or Lewis Billups dropping an interception in the end zone at crucial points in separate Super Bowls, Carson Palmer lying in a heap in a 2005 playoff game and any number of failed top draft picks. The passing of offensive innovator and former Bengal assistant coach Bill Walsh may have reminded long time Cincinnati homers of possibly the biggest what-could’ve-been in franchise history.

Read about the injury that changed football history.

5 Comments | Posted in General, History