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Archive for March, 2008

Finishing Strong

Posted by Jason Lisk on March 27, 2008

Does a team's finish have any impact on how they perform the next season? I looked at all teams that finished with between 4 and 8 wins, since 1990. I then used the following quick measurement to see how each team was performing at the end of the season. For every win in the final 4 games, the team got 2 points. For every win in games 9-12, the team got 1 point.

I then sorted the teams by win totals. The teams in each win total were then divided into three groups, the strong finishers, the average finishers, and the weak finishers, based on how many points they scored. The average finishers were those within +/- 1 pt of the average expected points for that particular win total. For example, a 6-win team would average 1.5 wins for every 4 games. That would be an average of 4.5 points in my system (3 points for final 4 weeks, 1.5 points for weeks 9-12), so the average finishers for the 6-win group were all teams that scored 4 or 5 points. The strong finishing 6-win teams scored 6 or more points (for example, 2 wins in last 4, and 4-4 in final 8). The weak finishing 6-win teams scored 3 points or less.

Here are the results sorted by win totals.

7 Comments | Posted in General

NFL draft database now queriable

Posted by Doug on March 25, 2008

There is some tidying to be done, but our draft data is now searchable.

You can do a quick search via the main draft index page, or you can get a bit more specific with this form.

9 Comments | Posted in NFL Draft, P-F-R News

March Madness: how important is a team’s recent play?

Posted by Jason Lisk on March 17, 2008

I would like to thank Doug for allowing me to infect this week's blog with some temporary March Madness. Long before I was doing research on the NFL, I was a NCAA tournament junkie.

I still have the NCAA program from the 1988 Final Four, featuring Arizona, Oklahoma, and Duke. (I'll be deep in the cold, cold ground before I recognize the fourth team). I memorized that program, and can still to this day tell you who won the NCAA tournament in any year. In college, I once banged my head on the floor during an intramural basketball game. My teammate's reportedly asked me who won the NCAA tournament in 1950, to see if I was okay. When I mumbled "CCNY, Irwin Dambrot, Nat Holman", they told the ref that I was okay. I don't really remember it.

My particular affliction, and the cause of an unhealthy love-hate relationship with March Madness, is that I am a Missouri Tigers fan. I cried when the 1987 team with Derrick Chievous lost in the first round to Xavier as a #4 seed. I cried the next year when they lost to Rhode Island in the first round. (Yes, I cried alot as a kid). By the time the 1990 NCAA tournament rolled around, I was a sophomore in high school. I was at school, but skipped class that afternoon, snuck into the A/V room in the library with a couple of other guys, and watched the second half of the game against Northern Iowa. I can still see Maurice Newby's prayer of a shot sailing through the net.

That particular Missouri Tigers team was led by Anthony Peeler and Doug Smith (who Doug had an opportunity to see up close at the first NFL game he attended). Less than a month earlier, they were the #1 ranked team in the country. They went into a bit of slump at the end of the season, culminating in a first round Big 8 tourney loss to the #8 seed Colorado Buffaloes, which dropped them all the way down to a #3 seed in the NCAA tournament. I'll use that Missouri Tigers team to transition to the point of this post. How important is a team's finish to the regular season, and does the tournament committee properly weight the end of season performance versus the whole body of a team's performance?

4 Comments | Posted in Non-football

Fifth-round picks

Posted by Doug on March 13, 2008

Yesterday I asked whether you, were you sitting in Bill Parcells' chair (and were such a thing not pure fantasy), would exchange the first overall pick in the draft for all 32 fifth round picks. Some good comments followed. As promised, I'll give a general overview of how often starters and stars emerge from the fifth round.

I looked at all fifth round picks between 1990 and 1999. That keeps the data somewhat recent while also leaving time for all the players being looked at to have finished at least most of their careers. Using some quick ratings based on my almost-finished-but-not-yet-released approximate value formula, here are the best fifth round picks of the 90s. 'St' is the number of seasons he was his team's main starter at his position and PB is the number of pro bowls he made.

9 Comments | Posted in Approximate Value, General, NFL Draft

Silly draft question

Posted by Doug on March 12, 2008

This is purely hypothetical, because no team would ever be faced with this choice, but I think it's a fun thought experiment and I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on it.

I'll offer a single question, then I'll give it a couple of twists.

The question: If you were the Miami Dolphins, would you trade the first overall pick for the entire fifth round (all 32 picks)?

For me, two things instantly pop into my mind. First, I wonder about the salary cap impact. Second, I'd be concerned about my ability to evaluate 32 marginal talents during the short duration of a single training camp. So here are a couple of follow-ups.

1. If it were mandated from above that the trade would be salary-cap neutral for the first two years, would you trade #1 for the fifth round?

2. If you got a special practice-squad exemption that allowed you to carry all your fifth-rounders for a full year to evaluate them, would you trade #1 for the fifth round?

Tomorrow, I'll look at the historical data to see how many starters and how many stars generally emerge from the fifth round. For now I'm interested in your gut reactions.

14 Comments | Posted in NFL Draft

More new features: franchise leaderboards

Posted by Doug on March 5, 2008

From a franchise index page, you can now get quick links to single-season and career team leaderboards.

Examples (don't forget to utilize the sortable column headers):

Cowboys' career rushing leaders

Top receiving seasons by a Giant

This page shows all those Buccaneers who didn't return any kicks for TDs from 1976 to 2006

5 Comments | Posted in P-F-R News

New site features

Posted by Doug on March 4, 2008

Lots of good stuff to announce today.

1. The touchdown data I told you about a few months ago has been integrated into the players pages (well, a link from the player pages). For instance, if you go to Johnny's Unitas's page you'll see, right above his stat tables, a link called View Details For: 290 Regular Season and 7 Playoff TDs Thrown. Click that and you can see a quick summary of all Johnny U's touchdown throws --- 63 were to Raymond Berry, 43 to Lenny Moore, and so on. Below that is a log of the details of every single one of them. On October 11, 1959, he threw a 68-yarder to Lenny Moore in the first quarter to give the Colts a seven-point lead over the Lions in a game the Colts would go on to win 31-24.

2. In anticipation of next month's big event, we have beefed up the draft section of the site. In addition to yearly drafts, you can also view all draft picks by franchise (here are all the Jaguars draft selections) and by position (all tight ends selected from 1980--2007). Also, interceptions and sacks have been added to the stat tables, so you can use the sortable column headers to bring (roughly) the top defenders to the front of the list.

3. We now have tackles and assists for individual players as far back as Ronnie Lott and Monte Coleman. They also appear on the team pages (scroll down to Defense & Fumbles) and there are now yearly defense registers, where you can use the sortable column headers to discover that the top three tacklers of 1994 were Junior Seau, Chris Spielman, and Sam Mills.

How complete are they and how far back do they go? This gets a little confusing, so bear with me if you're interested in the details. We have tackles for the complete careers of anyone who played in 1994 or later. So from 1994 onward, we are complete. For seasons prior to 1994, we are not complete. But the closer you get to 1994, the closer we are to complete. The 1985 defense register, for instance, shows tackle data for only 54 players (the 54 defensive players who played in 1985 and were active past 1994), so you shouldn't assume that Kyle Clifton was leading tackler of that season even though he appears at the top of the list. Finally, prior to 1994, some teams tracked assists and some didn't. So we have combined the tackles and assists into the tackles column and blanked out the assist column for years prior to 1994.


7 Comments | Posted in P-F-R News

Matt Ryan, Brian Brohm, and the right to choose

Posted by Jason Lisk on March 3, 2008

Matt Ryan is the consensus first quarterback who will be selected in the NFL draft. For example, this site has links to numerous mock drafts on the internet. Ryan is the first quarterback projected in virtually all of the mock drafts linked. However, there is less consensus on where he will go, with some placing him at the first overall, others somewhere in the top five, and the majority having him in the 8th slot to Baltimore. This is similar to what we see from the national draft pundits.

Almost universally, then, Matt Ryan is accepted as the top prospect. The next prospect on most draft boards is Brian Brohm. Chad Henne and Andre Woodson also appear in the majority of top 50 selections in mock drafts. Joe Flacco of Delaware rounds out the top 5 and is placed in the top 50 in about half of the mock drafts. There is almost uniform consensus that those are the top five quarterbacks available, as I did not see any others in anyone's top 50.

So, what is the likelihood that Matt Ryan will actually be better than Brian Brohm, the only other one who is unanimously somewhere in the top 50?

8 Comments | Posted in History, NFL Draft