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Archive for June, 2008

AV All-Franchise Teams: NFC South

Posted by Doug on June 30, 2008

Just for fun, I decided to use my Approximate Value method to come up with a post-merger all-franchise team for each franchise. I’ll post them by division.

Previous Divisions:

NFC West

Here are the rules:

1. The AV systems gives a player a score for each player season. To combine these into a career number, I take 100% of the player’s best season, plus 95% of his second-best season, plus 90% of his third-best season, and so on.

2. I’m only comfortable (for now) applying the AV methodology to post-merger seasons. Players who debuted before the merger, however, are included if their post-merger seasons alone merit inclusion. In this case, they have a ‘+’ after their AV score to remind you that their career AV is (probably) higher than the number shown.

3. To avoid 4-3/3-4 issues, I gave each defense 12 players, including two DT/NTs, two DEs, two OLBs, and two ILB/MLBs.

4. Because of the slippery and changing nature of defining what a fullback is, I simply decided to go with two RB/FBs, instead of an RB and an FB.

As with most things AV-related, this series of posts is mostly just for fun, but I’m also curious to hear feedback from long-time followers of the teams about things that look fishy.

Atlanta Falcons

QB   Steve Bartkowski      69
RB   William Andrews       68
RB   Warrick Dunn          50
WR   Terance Mathis        57
WR   Alfred Jenkins        53
TE   Alge Crumpler         49
T    Mike Kenn             98
T    Bob Whitfield         68
G    Bill Fralic           54
G    R.C. Thielemann       47
C    Jeff Van Note         75+

DT   Mike Lewis            50
DT   Travis Hall           40
DE   Claude Humphrey       77+
DE   Jeff Merrow           52
ILB  Jessie Tuggle         74
ILB  Keith Brooking        62
OLB  Greg Brezina          60+
OLB  Don Hansen            44+
CB   Rolland Lawrence      69
CB   Deion Sanders         47
SS   Ray Brown             45
FS   Scott Case            47

Carolina Panthers

QB   Steve Beuerlein       44
RB   DeShaun Foster        28
RB   Tim Biakabutuka       25
WR   Muhsin Muhammad       63
WR   Steve Smith           54
TE   Wesley Walls          49
T    Jordan Gross          32
T    Chris Terry           23
G    Matt Campbell         20
G    Mike Wahle            17
C    Frank Garcia          27 

DT   Kris Jenkins          55
DT   Brentson Buckner      30
DE   Julius Peppers        61
DE   Mike Rucker           55
ILB  Sam Mills             36
ILB  Dan Morgan            30
OLB  Kevin Greene          32
OLB  Lamar Lathon          31
CB   Eric Davis            35
CB   Chris Gamble          25
SS   Mike Minter           55
FS   Deon Grant            22

New Orleans Saints

QB   Archie Manning        70
RB   Deuce McAllister      51
RB   Dalton Hilliard       47
WR   Eric Martin           65
WR   Joe Horn              61
TE   Hoby Brenner          48
T    Willie Roaf           75
T    Stan Brock            65
G    Jim Dombrowski        48
G    Brad Edelman          35
C    John Hill             44 

DT   Derland Moore         55
DT   La'Roi Glover         43
DE   Wayne Martin          66
DE   Jim Wilks             63
ILB  Sam Mills             74
ILB  Vaughan Johnson       59
OLB  Rickey Jackson       106
OLB  Pat Swilling          79
CB   Dave Waymer           61
CB   Johnnie Poe           41
SS   Sammy Knight          37
FS   Tom Myers             49

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

QB   Doug Williams         45
RB   James Wilder          62
RB   Warrick Dunn          53
WR   Kevin House           40
WR   Mark Carrier          36
TE   Jimmie Giles          48
T    Paul Gruber           61
T    Rob Taylor            34
G    Ian Beckles           27
G    George Yarno          22
C    Tony Mayberry         46 

DT   Warren Sapp          105
DT   David Logan           41
DE   Lee Roy Selmon        81
DE   Simeon Rice           62
ILB  Hardy Nickerson       70
ILB  Shelton Quarles       56
OLB  Derrick Brooks       134
OLB  Cecil Johnson         47
CB   Ronde Barber          98
CB   Mike Washington       45
SS   John Lynch            76
FS   Cedric Brown          44

4 Comments | Posted in Approximate Value, General

All-Time NFL QBs: The Best Overall QBs Ever

Posted by Chase Stuart on June 27, 2008

On Tuesday, I looked at the best regular season QBs ever. On Wednesday, I looked at the best playoff QBs ever. On Thursday, I looked at the best SB QBs ever. Today, I'm going to combine that all into a look at the best "Overall" QBs ever.

As I noted yesterday, I only have the post-season data for QBs from 1967 to 2006, and I don't have any sack data for any QB in any playoff game. That's going to make for some incomplete analysis, but I figure something is better than nothing.

We can take a look at the "new" 50 best seasons by a QB in NFL history. I calculated that by taking a QB's regular season adjusted net yards above average rating, and then added in his weighted playoff adjusted net yards above average rating. The list does change a bit -- Joe Montana's 1989 season vaults into the top two. (I manually calculated Brady's 2007 playoffs numbers since I knew his season would be high on the list, but I didn't do it for any other QB's 2007 post-season). Troy Aikman now has three spots in the top 50, and Mark Rypien's 1991 jumps into the top ten.

			year	Reg	Post	Ovr
Dan Marino		1984	2098	328	2426
Joe Montana		1989	1277	916	2193
Steve Young		1994	1407	721	2128
Peyton Manning		2004	1885	199	2084
Kurt Warner		1999	1490	531	2021
Joe Montana		1984	1267	581	1848
Otto Graham		1953	1808	  0	1808
Steve Young		1992	1611	181	1791
Mark Rypien		1991	1257	503	1760
Tom Brady		2007	1817   - 86	1730
Ken Anderson		1981	1318	398	1716
Troy Aikman		1992	 713	885	1598
Daryle Lamonica		1968	1012	562	1574
Daunte Culpepper	2004	1388	150	1538
Sid Luckman		1943	1499	  0	1499
John Brodie		1970	1360	137	1496
Bert Jones		1976	1506   - 58	1448
Roger Staubach		1971	1144	296	1439
Ken Stabler		1976	 985	447	1433
Dan Fouts		1981	1399	 33	1432
Steve Young		1993	1262	149	1411
Drew Brees		2006	1248	162	1410
Randall Cunningham	1998	1324	 80	1405
Kurt Warner		2001	1189	214	1403
Roger Staubach		1977	1031	369	1400
Joe Montana		1988	 503	887	1390
Ken Anderson		1975	1292	 94	1387
Terry Bradshaw		1978	 669	712	1381
Jeff Garcia		2000	1354	  0	1354
Milt Plum		1960	1344	  0	1344
George Blanda		1961	1342	  0	1342
Troy Aikman		1995	 833	504	1337
Joe Theismann		1983	1142	182	1323
Jim Kelly		1990	 733	572	1306
Len Dawson		1962	1297	  0	1297
Brett Favre		1996	 707	585	1292
Peyton Manning		2003	1220	 60	1280
Peyton Manning		2006	1396   -117	1279
Peyton Manning		2005	1189	 80	1269
Brett Favre		1995	1040	225	1265
Johnny Unitas		1964	1225	  0	1225
Warren Moon		1990	1214	  0	1214
Jim McMahon		1985	 504	707	1211
Dan Fouts		1982	1275   - 76	1198
Sammy Baugh		1947	1167	  0	1167
Len Dawson		1966	1164	  0	1164
Troy Aikman		1993	 852	307	1159
Bart Starr		1966	1158	  0	1158
Joe Montana		1983	 993	159	1152

In addition to Aikman's increased presence on the list, Joe Montana has four seasons in the top 50 now. Terry Bradshaw's 1978 rises up the list, too. It's probably not too surprising that those guys won a bunch of Super Bowls.

Of course, we can also calculate the career ratings for each QB using the same method. Once again, be cognizant that this list is incomplete for any QB that had a post-season game outside of 1967-2006, and to the extent that they were good at avoiding sacks in playoff games, they'll be slightly undervalued here. I put an asterisk next to guys who may have had some playoff games not counted. I also included the QB's regular season rank from Tuesday's list.

16 Comments | Posted in History, Statgeekery

All-Time NFL QBs: Super Bowl Champions

Posted by Chase Stuart on June 26, 2008

When people say someone is the best, or worst, Super Bowl champion of all time, you rarely know what they mean. Such a statement could mean that someone was the best QB for the course of his career, and he happened to win a Super Bowl. Think Peyton Manning. Or, it could ask who was the best QB in the season his team happened to win the Super Bowl? Think Mark Rypien or Kurt Warner. Still, it might refer to who had the best post-season run, en route to his team winning the Super Bowl. Someone like Jim Plunkett comes to mind. Finally,the statement might be incredibly literal, meaning he's the best QB to win a Super Bowl, based on his Super Bowl performance. Maybe Doug Williams or Phil Simms.

You'd be surprised how many examples we have of QBs ranking all over the map based on which metric we use. But let's start with a ranking of the regular season performances by all 43 Super Bowl winning QBs. I say 43 and not 42 because I'm going to count Unitas and Morrall as both winning SB V, mostly to avoid an unnecessary sidetrack as to who really deserves the credit. I think it's Morrall, but who cares.

The following is the list of the career values of each QB that has won a Super Bowl, along with the year in which he got his ring. The list is sorted by the regular career value standard, measured against the league average. But I also added in the QB's career value if you measure the guy's career against three-fourths of the league average, as often that better comports with our general feelings about a guy.

 Car	3/4Val	 Year
 7946	13229	 2006	Peyton Manning
 7739	11712	 1994	Steve Young
 7006	11836	 1989	Joe Montana
 7006	11836	 1984	Joe Montana
 7006	11836	 1981	Joe Montana
 7006	11836	 1988	Joe Montana
 6211	10616	 1970	Johnny Unitas
 5680	 8169	 1971	Roger Staubach
 5680	 8169	 1977	Roger Staubach
 5604	 8554	 1969	Len Dawson
 5107	12029	 1996	Brett Favre
 4123	10064	 1997	John Elway
 4123	10064	 1998	John Elway
 4101	 7080	 1967	Bart Starr 
 4101	 7080	 1966	Bart Starr
 4004	 7278	 1999	Kurt Warner
 3845	 7917	 2004	Tom Brady
 3845	 7917	 2003	Tom Brady
 3845	 7917	 2001	Tom Brady
 3339	 6478	 1968	Joe Namath
 2919	 7299	 1993	Troy Aikman
 2919	 7299	 1995	Troy Aikman
 2919	 7299	 1992	Troy Aikman
 2799	 5924	 1978	Terry Bradshaw 
 2799	 5924	 1979	Terry Bradshaw 
 2799	 5924	 1975	Terry Bradshaw
 2799	 5924	 1974	Terry Bradshaw
 2785	 5338	 1973	Bob Griese
 2785	 5338	 1972	Bob Griese
 2723	 5059	 1970	Earl Morrall
 2294	 5098	 1976	Ken Stabler
 2285	 4954	 1991	Mark Rypien
 1992	 5409	 1982	Joe Theismann
 1892	 4439	 1987	Doug Williams
 1840	 5969	 2002	Brad Johnson
 1810	 6071	 1986	Phil Simms
 1359	 3849	 1985	Jim McMahon
 1184	 3739	 1990	Jeff Hostetler
 1153	 2992  	 2005	Ben Roethlisberger
  273	 3251 	 1983	Jim Plunkett
  273	 3251	 1980	Jim Plunkett
- 875	 1382	 2007	Eli Manning
-1275	 1684	 2000	Trent Dilfer

So yes, you can say with some solid backing that Trent Dilfer was the worst QB to ever win a Super Bowl (and Eli will pass Dilfer very soon on the 3/4 list; he just doesn't have enough attempts yet). But a couple of number one picks -- Manning and Plunkett -- aren't that far behind him. Eli's a pretty polarizing figure, especially after the Super Bowl, so I'll avoid discussing his career for now. But Jim Plunkett's a guy who had an entirely mediocre career but happened to be the first pick in the draft and win two Super Bowls. Now he happened to play very well in those post-seasons, but as far as regular season QBs go, Plunkett was your definition of average, statistically.

5 Comments | Posted in History, Statgeekery

All-Time NFL QBs: Playoff Edition

Posted by Chase Stuart on June 25, 2008

In case you haven't checked out the blog in a couple of days, here's a quick recap. On Friday, I explained the methodology I used to rank every regular season for every QB ever, and how I compiled his career rating. On Monday, I argued for Joey Harrington as the worst QB in NFL history, at least in a relative sense of receiving the most playing time while producing the least impressive stats. And then yesterday, I ranked the top 75 QBs in NFL history, leaving Dan Marino as the greatest regular season QB ever. Today, notwithstanding Jim Mora's wrath, I want to talk about playoffs. I'm not kidding you. Playoffs.

Whenever I've done a study analyzing NFL QBs, a frequent complaint is that I ignore post-season data. Part of the reason is simplicity -- I've got a long file of individual seasons, but a less complete and separate file of post-season seasons. It's easy to compare everyone across the board based on regular season numbers, while incorporating post-season data is tricky. Let me go through a few problems.

1) What weight do I give to post-season data? Do I weigh each playoff game equally, or give more weight to the later round games? What weights should be assigned? What standard should I compare the players against -- the league average for the post-season that year, or the league average for the regalar season that year? Should the QB's rating in that year's regular season matter?

2) Sample size issues. You might get one game against a terrific defense, or a game in a blizzard. Over the course of 10 regular seasons, I assume that those things even out. To the extent that they don't, I believe people subjective adjust the numbers, anyway (i.e., move Fouts and Anderson down because of their innovative offensive systems, move Elway up because of his weak supporting cast, and maybe move someone like Favre up because he plays in Green Bay).

3) I only have post-season data for QBs from 1967-2006, and I don't have sacks data for any of those games. I think that's a pretty significant problem, but it's not fatal. Pretty soon I'll get the 2007 data into my database, but I didn't want to let that delay me from posting.

4) Mostly, I thought that because the system was complicated enough, and because there would be some very real gripes with the method no matter what I chose, I took the hassle minimization approach. To be frank, I also feel that for the most part, post-season performances are overrated. Guys get way too much credit for post-season wins and losses, in my opinion, and it really overshadows the talent or ability of the QB.

But I thought it over some more. I don't have to focus on wins or losses at all. I could look simply at the QB's stats, and nothing more. For someone like Montana, the post-season makes up a very substantial part of his career -- he has 732 post-season attempts and 5,391 regular season attempts. So I'm effectively excluding over 10% of his career by ignoring the playoffs. Of course, you could do that and he still comes out as a top five QB.

That said, I'm going to go forward with some post-season analysis in the same way I did the best and worst QB analysis -- comparing the QB to the league average QB from the regular season that year. I'm going to assume, which is quite wrong, that no QB was ever sacked in the post-season from 1967 to 2006, and that no post-season games before 1967 were ever played. It's unfortunate, and often incomplete data is worse than no data, but I'm going to cave to demand here.

So... which QB had the best post-season of all time? No matter how you slice it, it was Joe Montana in 1989. But the guy who ranks #2 on the list might surprise you.

32 Comments | Posted in History, Statgeekery

All time NFL QBs: The Best Edition

Posted by Chase Stuart on June 24, 2008

Before the 2006 season, I wrote about the best quarterbacks of all time. With some more data on my hands, I decided to update that post. On Friday I discussed the methodology used, and yesterday, I ranked the worst quarterbacks in league history.

A couple of reminders. One, I ignored all post-season data, at least for now, mostly because it's a complicated issue that's worth separating out for a day. Later on this week, I plan to revisit post-season data. Two, on the list of the greatest QBs ever, I'm including sack data, and rushing yards, and using the league average as my baseline. Occasionally, though, I'll use some other requirements when the rankings change substantially as a result.

What was the greatest season in QB history? It's been almost a quarter-century, but Dan Marino's 1984 season still stands alone. Sure, Marino averaged 8.51 adjusted yards per pass and 8.11 adjusted net yards per pass, but a few other QBs have topped that. What makes Marino's season so amazing was that he kept that pace up for over 564 passes, in an era where the league average QB threw for just 4.61 adjusted net yards per attempt.

Peyton Manning and Tom Brady don't come far behind, with their 2004 and 2007 seasons ranking second and third, respectively. Right behind those years is Otto Graham's 1953 season, an oft forgotten yet incredible season. Graham averaged 9.41 AY/A while the rest of the NFL averaged only 3.40 adjusted yards per attempt. The table below shows the top 50 seasons by all QBs in NFL history. Remember, the second to last category, "RY4.0", shows how many adjusted rushing yards over 4.0 yards per carry that each QB had that season:

52 Comments | Posted in History, Statgeekery

All time NFL QBs: The Worst Edition

Posted by Chase Stuart on June 23, 2008

Two years ago I wrote up a post about the worst quarterbacks of all time. Today I'll be updating that post, while tomorrow I'll be writing about the best quarterbacks of all time. To save myself some headaches, I've separated out the methodology for ranking the QBs into a separate post. That's pretty much required reading if you want to understand how the rankings were derived.

For starters, it always bugs me how much time NFL fans spend discussing the best quarterbacks ever, and how little time we spend discussing the worst QBs ever. Let's start with the worst single season of all time.

I doubt anyone alive today remembers the name Bud Schwenk. That's what happens when you throw 295 passes, and complete 126 of them to your team and 27 of them to the opponents. Yes, Bud Schwenk averaged an impressive 0.69 adjusted yards per pass attempt, while the league average outside of Scwhenk was 4.25 adjusted yards per pass (After 1969, every QB will be ranked by his net adjusted yards per attempt, but we don't have reliable individual sack data from before then). Schwenk singlehandedly dropped the league average to 3.23 AY/A, which might have misled readers into seeing how bad he really was.

Six years later, Jack Jacobs was nearly as bad, averaging negative yards per pass attempt but on over 100 fewer passes. Ineptitude kept Jacobs from passing (sliding behind?) Schenk.

And the third worst QB season of all time? You need to fast forward 51 years, to 1999. Check out this stat line:

Cmp   Att   Cmp%   Yds   TD  Int   Sk  SkYd  ANY/A  LgAvg ANY/A
201   381   52.8   2111   9   24   27  152   2.38    4.87

Plummer, in 1999, "contributed" 1,017 fewer yards to the Cardinals than the league average QB would have brought to the table. As far as modern seasons go, Plummer's '99 stands as the worst. Here's a list of the 25 worst seasons by any QB:

48 Comments | Posted in History, Statgeekery

Some new features at p-f-r

Posted by Doug on June 21, 2008

As I alluded to earlier, by-distance breakdowns of (most) kickers since 1960 have been added. We did this primarily because George Blanda's page didn't have enough stuff on it already.

Also, for each franchise, we've added a nifty little grid that shows the team's starting lineup for each season. I think these pages are fun to just get lost in, but they're also handy if you want to, say, quickly see how many pro bowl linemen Eric Dickerson played with while on the Rams (answer: lots).

Finally, we've added for each franchise a complete list of pro bowlers and first-team all-pros who earned those honors while playing for that franchise. Here are all Dolphin all-pros and pro bowlers, for example.

Both of these last two are available from any franchise's main index page.

While I've got you here, I may as well hint at some more sports-reference news: within the next month or so, we'll be launching a brand-new site. It's not college-sports-reference.com, although we're making some progress on that as well and there is no reason to expect we won't meet our "Coming in 2008" projection. It's something new. As always, I'll keep you up to date right here at the p-f-r blog.

6 Comments | Posted in P-F-R News

Ranking the QBs — Methodology Discussion

Posted by Chase Stuart on June 20, 2008

A couple of years ago, I ran a post here titled "The Best QB of All Time." It was a pretty popular and controversial post, so that's reason enough to run it again every couple of years. All next week, I'll be running posts on the best and worst QBs of all time. Fortunately for me, I've got a whole lot more data (and brains) at my disposal now than I did two years ago. The biggest change, by far, is the addition of every QB in NFL history, as opposed to just QBs since 1970.

For those that don't remember, here's the basic summary. We start with each QB's adjusted yards per attempt average. AY/A is simply passing yards, adjusted by adding 10 yards for every passing TD and subtracting 45 yards for every interception. It's a neat, relatively simple stat that does a nice job of approximating how good a QB was in a given season. Obviously this isn't going to be perfect, as QBs on bad teams will be undervalued, while those that play with great WRs and offensive lines will be overvalued. For now, I'm just going to have to throw up my hands and so, 'oh well.' Additionally, of course, there's no adjustment whatsoever for playoff performance.

To rank QBs in a single season, I simply took each QB's AY/A ratio, subtracted the league average AY/A ratio, and then multiplied that difference by the QB's number of attempts. This does a nice job of balancing the trade-off between compilers and guys that excelled for a short period of time.

For example...

35 Comments | Posted in History, Statgeekery

AV All-Franchise Teams: NFC West

Posted by Doug on June 19, 2008

Just for fun, I decided to use my Approximate Value method to come up with a post-merger all-franchise team for each franchise. I'll post them by division.

Here are the rules:

1. The AV systems gives a player a score for each player season. To combine these into a career number, I take 100% of the player's best season, plus 95% of his second-best season, plus 90% of his third-best season, and so on.

2. I'm only comfortable (for now) applying the AV methodology to post-merger seasons. Players who debuted before the merger, however, are included if their post-merger seasons alone merit inclusion. In this case, they have a '+' after their AV score to remind you that their career AV is (probably) higher than the number shown.

3. To avoid 4-3/3-4 issues, I gave each defense 12 players, including two DT/NTs, two DEs, two OLBs, and two ILB/MLBs.

4. Because of the slippery and changing nature of defining what a fullback is, I simply decided to go with two RBs, instead of an RB and an FB.

As with most things AV-related, this series of posts is mostly just for fun, but I'm also curious to hear feedback from long-time followers of the teams about things that look fishy.

St. Louis / Arizona Cardinals

QB   Jim Hart              87+
RB   Ottis Anderson        68
RB   Terry Metcalf         53
WR   Roy Green             66
WR   Mel Gray              63
TE   Jackie Smith          46+
T    Dan Dierdorf          86
T    Luis Sharpe           74
G    Conrad Dobler         43
G    Bob Young             42+
C    Tom Banks             58 

DT   Eric Swann            44
DT   Bob Rowe              40+
DE   Ron Yankowski         43
DE   Michael Bankston      38
ILB  Eric Hill             47
ILB  Ronald McKinnon       43
OLB  E.J. Junior           52
OLB  Mark Arneson          51
CB   Roger Wehrli          96+
CB   Aeneas Williams       82
SS   Tim McDonald          39
FS   Kwamie Lassiter       27

Los Angeles / St. Louis Rams

QB   Jim Everett           67
RB   Marshall Faulk        88
RB   Lawrence McCutcheon   73
WR   Isaac Bruce           98
WR   Torry Holt            93
TE   Bob Klein             34+
T    Orlando Pace          96
T    Jackie Slater         92
G    Tom Mack              71+
G    Dennis Harrah         64
C    Doug C. Smith         63 

DT   Larry Brooks          77
DT   Merlin Olsen          76+
DE   Jack Youngblood      122
DE   Fred Dryer            77+
ILB  Jack Reynolds         69
ILB  Carl Ekern            52
OLB  Isiah Robertson       90
OLB  Jim Youngblood        57
CB   LeRoy Irvin           69
CB   Todd Lyght            54
SS   Dave Elmendorf        71
FS   Nolan Cromwell        71

San Francisco 49ers

QB   Steve Young          129
RB   Roger Craig           85
RB   Garrison Hearst       58
WR   Jerry Rice           151
WR   Terrell Owens         81
TE   Brent Jones           67
T    Harris Barton         79
T    Keith Fahnhorst       78
G    Randy Cross           75
G    Guy McIntyre          56
C    Jesse Sapolu          66 

DT   Bryant Young          92
DT   Michael Carter        67
DE   Tommy Hart            63+
DE   Cedrick Hardman       58
ILB  Mike Walter           46
ILB  Frank Nunley          43+
OLB  Keena Turner          59
OLB  Charles Haley         55
CB   Ronnie Lott          101
CB   Jimmy Johnson         71+
SS   Tim McDonald          49
FS   Merton Hanks          60

Seattle Seahawks

QB   Dave Krieg            78
RB   John L. Williams      74
RB   Shaun Alexander       68
WR   Steve Largent        103
WR   Brian Blades          58
TE   Itula Mili            22
T    Walter Jones          90
T    Steve August          47
G    Chris Gray            45
G    Edwin Bailey          42
C    Robbie Tobeck         34 

DT   Cortez Kennedy        98
DT   Joe Nash              77
DE   Jacob Green           80
DE   Jeff Bryant           70
ILB  Fredd Young           40
ILB  Lofa Tatupu           35
OLB  Chad Brown            55
OLB  Keith Butler          50
CB   Dave Brown            62
CB   Patrick Hunter        40
SS   Kenny Easley          64
FS   Eugene Robinson       67

27 Comments | Posted in Approximate Value, General

Rackers > Cribbs?

Posted by Doug on June 18, 2008

This post will do for field goal kicking essentially what Chase's recent series of posts did for return games. It will also introduce some new data that's soon to hit the main part of p-f-r.

Let's start by looking at Tony Franklin 1979, Kevin Butler 1985, and Matt Stover 2006.

                       FGA FGM    PCT
======================================
Matt Stover     2006    30  28   93.3%
Kevin Butler    1985    37  31   83.8%
Tony Franklin   1979    31  23   74.2%

I'm now going to make a case that Franklin's season was the best of the three. You never saw that coming, did you?

The obvious observation to make here is that field goal kicking percentages have been rising consistently for a long time. And that's right. Here are the league-wide field goal percentages since the posts were moved to the back of the end zone in 1974:

1974  0.606
1975  0.642
1976  0.595
1977  0.583
1978  0.631
1979  0.631
1980  0.634
1981  0.659
1982  0.689
1983  0.715
1984  0.717
1985  0.722
1986  0.686
1987  0.705
1988  0.717
1989  0.725
1990  0.744
1991  0.735
1992  0.726
1993  0.774
1994  0.790
1995  0.774
1996  0.801
1997  0.781
1998  0.796
1999  0.777
2000  0.796
2001  0.763
2002  0.776
2003  0.792
2004  0.808
2005  0.810
2006  0.814
2007  0.830

So we might compute as follows: in 1979, an average kicker would have made 19.6 out of 31 field goals. Franklin made 23, so he was about 3.4 field goals above average. Using similar computations on Stover and Butler, we get this:

8 Comments | Posted in General

The Simple Rating System: 2007 Offenses and Defenses

Posted by Chase Stuart on June 17, 2008

Yesterday, we looked at the simple rating system for each team. One of the nice things about the SRS is that we can also break it down into components, such as offense and defense. To be sure, these are far from perfect -- points scored is just a proxy for offense, and points allowed is just a proxy for defense. But for the most part, they're pretty good.

We can include the offensive strength of schedule ratings, too. The Pittsburgh Steelers scored 393 points last year, and the average team scored 343 points, meaning Pittsburgh scored 2.9 PPG more than average. But the Steelers played the Rams, the Cardinals, the Dolphins, Cincinnati twice, Denver, and Cleveland twice. That's half their schedule against really bad defenses, all of whom allowed more than 3 PPG above average (which you can see on the second chart). The Steelers offensive SOS (i.e., the quality of the defenses the Steelers' offense faced) was just under 2.0 PPG easier than average, which means the Steelers were "morally" about 0.9 PPG better at scoring points than average. The table below shows every team's grade.

10 Comments | Posted in History, Statgeekery

2007 Standings: Simple Ranking System

Posted by Chase Stuart on June 16, 2008

A couple of years ago, Doug described the Simple Ranking System, which is a basic method of ranking just about anything. You can use it to rank NFL teams, as well as NFL offenses and defenses. Here's a quick description of the system:

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 '07 Eagles outscored their opponents by 36 points, or 2.3 PPG. The Eagles had a really difficult schedule, playing nine games against the Patriots, Seahawks, Packers, Giants, Cowboys and Redskins. The Eagles' average opponent was 3.0 PPG better than average, so we can estimate that the Eagles must have been 5.3 theoretical points better than a league average team.

	Ovr Rat	   SOS
nwe	 20.1	   0.4
ind	 12.0	   0.3
dal	  9.5	   1.3
gnb	  9.0	   0.0
sdg	  8.8	   0.8
jax	  6.8	   0.1
phi	  5.3	   3.0
pit	  5.2	  -2.5
was	  4.5	   3.0
min	  3.8	   0.4
nyg	  3.3	   1.9
sea	  1.8	  -4.6
chi	  1.2	   2.1
tam	  1.2	  -2.8
ten	  0.7	   0.5
hou	  0.0	   0.3
cle	- 1.1	  -2.3
cin	- 2.4	  -2.1
nor	- 2.5	  -2.0
det	- 3.6	   2.6
nyj	- 3.7	   1.7
ari	- 3.9	  -4.3
den	- 3.9	   1.6
buf	- 4.1	   2.3
kan	- 5.5	   1.4
car	- 5.8	  -0.8
oak	- 6.0	   1.2
bal	- 6.7	   0.1
mia	- 8.4	   2.3
atl	-10.6	  -0.9
sfo	-11.9	  -2.9
ram	-13.0	  -2.0

The Patriots' +20.1 is by far the highest of all time. The '91 Redskins were +16.6, the '85 Bears at +15.9, and only three other teams were +15.0 or higher. The Patriots had a plus/minus differential of +19.7which is of course amazing; but incredibly, New England accomplished that against an above average schedule.

The Eagles, Redskins, Lions, Bills, Dolphins and Bears all faced rough schedules in 2007; I suspect that all those teams will be at least somewhat undervalued in 2008 because of that. Conversely, the Seahawks and Cardinals had incredibly easy schedules last year. Is it even going out on a limb anymore to say that Arizona will be overvalued this year?

The SRS has a lot of uses, including some predictive ability for the next season.

16 Comments | Posted in History, Statgeekery

John David Booty (what’s in a name?)

Posted by Jason Lisk on June 13, 2008

Many of the posts here at the blog contain some serious analysis. This, unfortunately, will not be one of them. I should also add that the opinions and bad jokes contained herein do not necessarily reflect the views of Pro-Football-Reference.com or its parent corporation, Sports Reference, LLC.

Today, I am going to discuss John David Booty. But I'm not going to focus on his measurables, such as the size of Booty. Nor am I going to pontificate on his intangibles, like pocket presence, ability to maintain mechanics under pressure, or release, to assess how frequently Booty will be hit, smacked or sacked in the NFL. And I'm certainly not going to address his ability to wiggle or shake (or lack thereof). No, I'm going to explore the question "what is in a quarterback's name?" Or in Mr. Booty's case, two names.

The two named individual has a long and storied tradition, from former Presidents to children's fairy tale writers to professional bowlers. The music industry, particularly the Country and Western wing, is a popular destination for the person sporting two names. Such singers have given us timeless classics like "Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother", "Achy Breaky Heart", and "Just a Gigolo." Acting is another field where two- named persons figure prominently. Tommy Lee Jones, Billy Bob Thornton, and Edward James Olmos. Police Chief Carlin from Fletch. Lando Calrissian and the voice of Darth Vader. The original Rusty, Farmer Ted, the Brain, and Gary. Doogie Howser. Stringfellow Hawke. Okay, so maybe not all Oscar-worthy performances, but certainly they had an impact on my youth.

What then, of the two named quarterback? When the Vikings selected John David Booty in the fifth round of the 2008 draft, they revived the lineage of the two named quarterback, which had been dormant since Billy Joe Hobert last turned in his unread playbook for good following the 2001 season. Okay, so maybe it's not so long and storied.

4 Comments | Posted in Totally Useless

Josh Cribbs, Superstar, Part 2

Posted by Chase Stuart on June 11, 2008

On Monday and Tuesday, I looked at some of the best seasons by returners in league history. As noted yesterday, Josh Cribbs' 2007 season was truly remarkable. He added 486 more adjusted yards than the league average kickoff returner would have produced, and another 136 adjusted yards above what the league average punt returner would have compiled with the same number of returns. Those 622 adjusted yards over average was the single highest total by any one player since the merger.

			year    KR VAL	PR VAL	RET VAL
Josh Cribbs		2007	486	136	622
Michael Lewis		2002	297	211	508
Dante Hall		2003	266	211	477
Mike Nelms		1981	347	123	470
Brian Mitchell		1994	242	181	423
Mel J. Gray		1991	247	175	422
Billy Johnson		1977	118	283	401
Mel J. Gray		1994	347	 42	389
Billy Johnson		1975	 76	312	388
MarTay Jenkins		2000	392    -  9	383
Terrence McGee		2005	373	  0	373
Derrick Mason		2000	208	158	366
Tyrone Hughes		1993	178	182	360
Ron J. Brown		1985	359	  0	359
Eddie Brown		1976	108	249	357
Brian Mitchell		2002	222	134	356
Eddie Drummond		2004	220	129	348
Raymond Clayborn	1977	340	  0	340
Ron Smith		1973	155	173	328
Jerome Mathis		2005	356    - 30	325
Jerry Azumah		2003	325	  0	325
Glyn Milburn		1995	260	 61	321
Brian Mitchell		1995	227	 89	316
Cecil Turner		1970	322    -  9	314
Tim Brown		1988	288	 25	313

When comparing returners to returners, using adjusted yards (adjusted meaning simply giving an additional ten yards for every TD score) compared to league average works well as a measure of accomplishment and value. But what if we want to compare returners to QBs? Well, that's a little more complicated.

For example, here's a list of the top ten QBs in yards over average last year, using adjusted yards per attempt compared to the league average.

13 Comments | Posted in General

Josh Cribbs, superstar

Posted by Chase Stuart on June 10, 2008

Yesterday, we looked at a way to measure the value of a good or bad return team, and some of the best return teams of all time. To start today, here are the top 50 individual kickoff returner seasons since the merger:

kr      kryd    krtd    AY/KR	LGKR	KR_VAL	year    team
59	1809	2	31.00	22.77	486	2007	cle	Josh Cribbs
82	2186	1	26.78	22.00	392	2000	crd	MarTay Jenkins
46	1391	1	30.46	22.34	373	2005	buf	Terrence McGee
28	 918	3	33.86	21.04	359	1985	ram	Ron J. Brown
54	1542	2	28.93	22.34	356	2005	htx	Jerome Mathis
37	1099	0	29.70	20.32	347	1981	was	Mike Nelms
45	1276	3	29.02	21.31	347	1994	det	Mel J. Gray
28	 869	3	32.11	21.47	340	1977	nwe	Raymond Clayborn
41	1191	2	29.54	21.62	325	2003	chi	Jerry Azumah
23	 752	4	34.43	22.18	322	1970	chi	Cecil Turner
20	 707	1	35.85	22.18	313	1970	clt	Jim Duncan
40	1067	2	27.18	19.47	308	1992	atl	Deion Sanders
51	1428	2	28.39	22.37	307	1998	det	Terry Fair
51	1382	1	27.29	21.29	306	1999	cin	Tremain Mack
58	1541	2	26.91	21.70	302	2001	sdg	Ronney Jenkins
46	1314	1	28.78	23.06	301	1971	gnb	Dave Hampton
70	1807	2	26.10	21.85	297	2002	nor	Michael Lewis
35	1022	1	29.49	22.18	292	1970	ram	Alvin Haymond
36	 982	1	27.56	19.46	292	1989	pit	Rod Woodson
41	1098	1	27.02	20.00	288	1988	rai	Tim Brown
46	1304	2	28.78	22.58	285	2006	nyj	Justin Miller
36	 992	1	27.83	19.97	283	1980	nwe	Horace Ivory
33	 998	1	30.55	22.02	281	1996	car	Michael Bates
47	1181	1	25.34	19.46	277	1989	dal	James Dixon
30	 924	1	31.13	23.11	275	1972	chi	Ron Smith
30	 892	2	30.40	21.29	273	1999	ram	Tony Horne
32	 968	3	31.19	22.77	269	2007	htx	Andre' Davis
49	1293	2	26.80	21.31	269	1994	sdg	Andre Coleman
52	1370	3	26.92	21.77	268	2004	buf	Terrence McGee
57	1478	2	26.28	21.62	266	2003	kan	Dante Hall
31	 866	1	28.26	19.80	262	1986	nor	Mel J. Gray
58	1509	2	26.36	21.85	261	2002	nyj	Chad Morton
47	1269	0	27.00	21.47	260	1995	den	Glyn Milburn
68	1718	2	25.56	21.77	258	2004	kan	Dante Hall
36	 962	0	26.72	19.57	258	1983	mia	Fulton Walker
39	1082	3	28.51	22.00	254	2000	atl	Darrick Vaughn
47	1291	3	28.11	22.77	251	2007	nyj	Leon Washington
70	1791	0	25.59	22.02	250	1996	nor	Tyrone Hughes
22	 675	1	31.14	19.84	249	1984	nyj	Bobby Humphery
36	 929	0	25.81	18.95	247	1991	det	Mel J. Gray
60	1577	1	26.45	22.34	246	2005	nyj	Justin Miller
47	1281	0	27.26	22.08	243	1997	car	Michael Bates
57	1497	2	26.61	22.37	242	1998	gnb	Roell Preston
58	1478	0	25.48	21.31	242	1994	was	Brian Mitchell
43	1148	1	26.93	21.31	242	1994	dal	Kevin Williams
36	1011	1	28.36	22.54	239	1973	was	Herb Mul-Key
56	1431	2	25.91	21.70	236	2001	car	Steve Smith
63	1556	2	25.02	21.31	233	1994	nor	Tyrone Hughes
53	1345	0	25.38	21.04	230	1985	min	Buster Rhymes
28	 812	1	29.36	22.18	230	1970	mia	Mercury Morris

The first thing that has to stand out from that list is just how awesome Josh Cribbs was last year. His 2007 season stands alone in the pantheon of great kickoff return seasons. He brought in nearly 500 more adjusted yards than an average kickoff returner would have last season, given 59 returns.

A bit surprising, perhaps, is the appearance of only one Deion Sanders season. Mel Gray appears on the list thrice, while Terrence McGee, Justin Miller, Michael Bates, Dante Hall and Tyrone Hughes appear two times, each. And while Brian Mitchell is only on there once, he also has the 51st and 52nd best seasons.

What about the worst kickoff return seasons?

11 Comments | Posted in General

Best Return Games of All Time

Posted by Chase Stuart on June 9, 2008

Which teams have had the best return games since the merger? How have punt returns and kickoff returns changed over the years? How in the world did the 2007 Chicago Bears returners wind up in the bottom five of one list and the top five of another? And finally, did you know the greatest return season since the merger happened last year? Sit back, relax, and get ready to hear about some returners.

Let's begin with some league wide data on kickoff returns. The main stats -- kickoff returns, kickoff return yards and kickoff return TDs -- do a pretty great job on capturing the ability of a kickoff returner. Unfortunately, our database currently does not have kickoff return fumbles separated out from regular return fumbles. So to rate kickoff returns, we're going to use adjusted yards per kickoff return, which I'm pretty sure I just created. The same logic applies to adjusted yards per kickoff return as it does to adjusted yards per pass attempt -- a touchdown is worth about ten yards. So the formula is simply (Kickoff Return Yards + 10 * Kickoff Return Touchdowns) / Kickoff Returns. Practically, this has little effect compared to simply using yards per kickoff return, but it's Just Plain Right, so that's what we'll do.

	KR	KR Yd	Y/KR	KR TD	AY/KR
2007	2037	46132	22.65	 25	22.77
2006	2037	45908	22.54	  9	22.58
2005	2137	47626	22.29	 12	22.34
2004	2155	46740	21.69	 17	21.77
2003	2161	46595	21.56	 13	21.62
2002	2205	48020	21.78	 17	21.85
2001	1997	43233	21.65	 10	21.70
2000	2040	44727	21.93	 15	22.00
1999	2035	43196	21.23	 13	21.29
1998	1857	41357	22.27	 18	22.37
1997	1890	41587	22.00	 14	22.08
1996	1919	42164	21.97	  9	22.02
1995	2043	43767	21.42	  9	21.47
1994	1842	39096	21.22	 16	21.31
1993	1381	26888	19.47	  4	19.50
1992	1393	27059	19.42	  6	19.47
1991	1487	28094	18.89	  8	18.95
1990	1632	31228	19.13	  6	19.17
1989	1725	33473	19.40	  9	19.46
1988	1695	33820	19.95	  8	20.00
1987	1681	32664	19.43	  6	19.47
1986	1693	33447	19.76	  7	19.80
1985	1732	36363	20.99	  8	21.04
1984	1744	34544	19.81	  5	19.84
1983	1781	34816	19.55	  3	19.57
1982	 975	19589	20.09	  2	20.11
1981	1709	34681	20.29	  5	20.32
1980	1764	35143	19.92	  8	19.97
1979	1781	36110	20.28	  6	20.31
1978	1633	34915	21.38	  7	21.42
1977	1374	29396	21.39	 11	21.47
1976	1527	32743	21.44	  2	21.46
1975	1471	32993	22.43	  7	22.48
1974	1390	30812	22.17	  4	22.20
1973	1264	28394	22.46	 10	22.54
1972	1284	29613	23.06	  6	23.11
1971	1335	30694	22.99	  9	23.06
1970	1280	28235	22.06	 15	22.18

As you can see, kickoff return averages tell a somewhat interesting story -- check out the breakdown:

14 Comments | Posted in General

2007 QB numbers: Adjusted for Strength of Schedule

Posted by Chase Stuart on June 5, 2008

Over here, you can find a link to the 2007 statistical leaders. For example, the table below shows how many adjusted yards per pass attempt each QB (minimum 214 pass attempts) had last season. For those that don't remember, adjusted yards per pass is calculated by taking a QB's total passing yards, adjusting them by adding 10 points for every touchdown pass and subtracting 45 points for every interception, and dividing those adjusted yards by pass attempts.

Quarterback             Att     PYds    TD      INT     AY/A
Tom Brady		578	4806	50	 8	8.56
David Garrard		325	2509	18	 3	7.86
Ben Roethlisberger	404	3154	32	11	7.37
Jeff Garcia		327	2440	13	 4	7.31
Peyton Manning		515	4040	31	14	7.22
Tony Romo		520	4211	36	19	7.15
Brett Favre		535	4155	28	15	7.03
Donovan McNabb		473	3324	19	 7	6.76
Matt Schaub		289	2241	 9	 9	6.66
Matt Hasselbeck		562	3966	28	12	6.59
Jay Cutler		467	3497	20	14	6.57
Kurt Warner		451	3417	27	17	6.48
Derek Anderson		527	3787	29	19	6.11
Carson Palmer		575	4131	26	20	6.07
Drew Brees		652	4423	28	18	5.97
Jon Kitna		561	4068	18	20	5.97
Philip Rivers		460	3152	21	15	5.84
Chad Pennington		260	1765	10	 9	5.62
Jason Campbell		417	2700	12	11	5.58
Joey Harrington		348	2215	 7	 8	5.53
Sage Rosenfels		240	1684	15	12	5.39
Damon Huard		332	2257	11	13	5.37
Brian Griese		262	1803	10	12	5.20
Cleo Lemon		309	1773	 6	 6	5.06
Rex Grossman		225	1411	 4	 7	5.05
Eli Manning		529	3336	23	20	5.04
Kyle Boller		275	1743	 9	10	5.03
Trent Edwards		269	1630	 7	 8	4.98
Tarvaris Jackson	294	1911	 9	12	4.97
Vince Young		382	2546	 9	17	4.90
Marc Bulger		378	2392	11	15	4.83
Brodie Croyle		224	1227	 6	 6	4.54
Kellen Clemens		250	1529	 5	10	4.52
Trent Dilfer		219	1166	 7	12	3.18

You might recall that last year, I wrote a post on Rearview Adjusted Yards per Attempt, where I adjusted the yards per attempt numbers for strength of schedule. Well I'm going to do that again this year. The math is pretty complicated, but can be found in the link to last year's post. But I adjust each QB and each defense for strength of schedule, to get a true rating for each QB and defense. Let's start with the defenses, first.

8 Comments | Posted in Statgeekery

Where have all the fumbling running backs gone?

Posted by Jason Lisk on June 2, 2008

I was looking through the new leaderboards, including the yearly fumbles category, when I noticed that there sure seemed to be a lot of running backs from the late seventies and early eighties with lots of fumbles. Turns out there were 32 different running back seasons between 1978 and 1985 where a running back had 10 or more fumbles. Since 1990, there have been a grand total of three: Cleveland Gary (1990), Garrison Hearst (1995) and Travis Henry (2002).

So I decided to dig a little deeper, to see if this was really a trend, and if so, when it began. Thanks to the new database, I was able to pull all seasons since 1970 by a player who played running back or fullback during his career, with fumble info. Now, I cannot tell how many fumbles are due to rushing attempts, receptions, or kick returns or punt returns. Certainly, some of the fumbles by players listed as running backs are occurring on special teams plays, so the first thing I did was find the league-wide running back fumble rates for all touches, where a touch constitutes any play for which a back might have fumbled--rush attempts + receptions + punt returns + kickoff returns. Here is the yearly data for fumble rates on all running back touches, reported as Fumble Rate Per 100 Touches:

26 Comments | Posted in General