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Archive for October, 2009

Checkdowns: The Jags Have An Existential Crisis

Posted by Neil Paine on October 31, 2009

This is an older video from The Onion, but still funny, especially since here at PFR we tend to recognize the presence of randomness in the game more than the average fan...

(Of course, it bears mentioning that nowadays the Jags are having a different kind of existential crisis -- as in, will the team be based in Jacksonville much longer, given flagging ticket sales and the lure of Los Angeles as a relocation destination?)

3 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns

Tecmo Super Bowl Game of the Week: Vikings at Packers

Posted by Neil Paine on October 30, 2009

Courtesy of Matt Knobbe and the Tecmo Super Bowl Repository, here's your Tecmo Super Bowl Game of the Week for Week 8, featuring the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers. The highlights:

(How did we do this? Matt and the other dedicated folks at the Knobbe.org message board have spent a lot of time over the years updating this classic Nintendo football game, including the introduction of a 32-team ROM a few seasons ago. Sounds complicated, but don't worry, it's easy for you to enjoy the fruits of their labor: just get yourself an NES emulator, download the 2009 version of Tecmo here, and play to your heart's content. And be sure to check back at Matt's site for roster updates and more Tecmo-related goodness all season long.)

2 Comments | Posted in Tecmo Super Bowl

Similarity Scores for the 2009 teams, part III

Posted by Jason Lisk on October 30, 2009

357NOV30082_Saints_at_BucsThis is the third installment in a series of posts looking at similar historical teams through six games. The first installment looked at teams with at least 3 wins among those who did not have a bye in the first six weeks. The second post looked at the teams with losing record who played six games through the first six weeks. This one finishes up with the twelve teams who played their sixth game last weekend.

I don't know that this is rocket science, but when a team gets off to a 6-0 start and sets a record for most points scored in the first six games of a season, they are going to compare favorably to some other really good teams that continued to be good. The Saints have the highest expected win total of any of the 32 teams in this study. The Cowboys have a large number of teams that went on huge winning streaks over the second half of the season in their group.

Overall, my playoff odds calculation turned out to be pretty reasonable. The sum of the odds for AFC teams equaled exactly 6.00 teams making the playoffs. The sum of the odds in the NFC teams was slightly high (6.20), but this is explained by so many bad teams playing their seventh game last week, so the "through six games" record is slightly over .500. Also, I'm not taking into account that the NFC has several teams logjammed at 4-2 right now, so it's going to take slightly more wins than average to make the NFC Playoffs. So feel free to tick off a percent or two for the NFC teams and their playoff odds.

Teams are listed in descending order of playoff chances.

4 Comments | Posted in Statgeekery

Checkdowns: Analyzing the Cowboys’ Offensive Personnel Groups

Posted by Neil Paine on October 29, 2009

This is a pretty cool post by Bob Sturm of D Magazine, looking at the Dallas Cowboys' offensive personnel groups and how each did in the Falcons game, complete with video clips.

(Hat tip to Bill Barnwell and FO.)

1 Comment | Posted in Checkdowns

Checkdowns: Name Each Team’s Starting QBs Since 2005

Posted by Neil Paine on October 28, 2009

User-created Sporcle quizzes rock! This one comes courtesy of mkgrenwel, who would like to know: Can you name the NFL Teams' Starting QBs from 2005-09?

14 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns

Crazy Fun With SRS

Posted by Neil Paine on October 28, 2009

24959908_Jaguars_v_PatriotsBear with me while I throw two crazy SRS variations out there at you...

First: In the wake of Super Bowl XLII (while I was still weeping, if I recall correctly), Chase wrote this super-philosophical post about there not being a greatest team ever -- that the '07 Patriots might have been the GOAT early in the season when they were blowing the doors off of everybody, but by the time the Giants faced them in SBXLII, that team no longer resembled the team that was being billed as the most dominant ever a few months before. Likewise, the Giants were playing really well by the time January and February rolled around, and were far superior to the sorta mediocre version that trotted out on the field early in the season. So according to Chase's logic, it wasn't like you could really pinpoint "The 2007 Patriots" or "The 2007 Giants", because those two teams didn't actually exist.

20 Comments | Posted in Insane ideas, Simple Rating System, Statgeekery

PI Finds: Manning’s 2009 Topped Only By 2004

Posted by Neil Paine on October 26, 2009

In Peyton Manning's impressive career, his 2004 campaign stands out above all the rest -- that year, he broke Dan Marino's 20-year-old record for TD passes in a season (a record since eclipsed by Tom Brady), and led the league in yards per attempt, passer rating, and net yards (pass yards minus sacks) per dropback. According to Chase's yards above average metric, Manning's 2004 ranks as the 2nd-best season by a quarterback in NFL history.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because Manning '09 is nipping at Manning '04's heels. Following the Colts' 42-6 demolition of the Rams (a game in which he could have had his 6th straight 300-yard game to open the season had the Colts not called off the passing attack for sportsmanship reasons), Manning's current 6-game numbers trail only his 2004 stats in terms of sheer aerial greatness:

Rk Player Age Year Tm W L Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int AY/A
1 Peyton Manning 28 2004 CLT 4 2 131 196 66.8% 1689 17 3 9.66
2 Peyton Manning 33 2009 CLT 6 0 156 215 72.6% 1880 15 4 9.30
3 Peyton Manning 30 2006 CLT 6 0 131 206 63.6% 1620 12 2 8.59
4 Peyton Manning 31 2007 CLT 6 0 138 202 68.3% 1578 11 3 8.23
5 Peyton Manning 24 2000 CLT 4 2 145 227 63.9% 1882 12 7 7.96
6 Peyton Manning 27 2003 CLT 5 1 139 203 68.5% 1593 12 5 7.92
7 Peyton Manning 23 1999 CLT 4 2 123 209 58.9% 1679 13 8 7.56
8 Peyton Manning 29 2005 CLT 6 0 118 177 66.7% 1314 9 4 7.42
9 Peyton Manning 25 2001 CLT 3 3 132 200 66.0% 1625 12 9 7.30
10 Peyton Manning 26 2002 CLT 4 2 149 226 65.9% 1584 10 8 6.30
11 Peyton Manning 32 2008 CLT 3 3 136 224 60.7% 1531 8 7 6.14
12 Peyton Manning 22 1998 CLT 1 5 113 210 53.8% 1364 6 14 4.07

In terms of career 6-game starts, Manning's '09 ranks 1st in completion %, 1st in Y/A, 2nd in yards, 2nd in TD, 2nd in passer rating, and 2nd in adjusted YPA. What's even more amazing is that this a 33-year-old Manning we're seeing carve up defenses, not a 28-year-old one. It's going to be entertaining to watch Manning attack opponents -- and his 2004 numbers -- over the course of this season.

12 Comments | Posted in PI Finds

What quarterback rate stats stay most consistent when a team changes quarterbacks?

Posted by Jason Lisk on October 25, 2009

Three weeks ago, I asked the question "what quarterback rate stats stay most consistent when a quarterback changes teams?" Today I'm going to follow up with what happens when the opposite occurs, and a team changes quarterbacks (through ineffectiveness, injury, or because the team "needs a change" because the defense is giving up 30 points a game). I pulled all teams that had two quarterbacks each throw 200 or more passes, since the merger, and just like last time, used the advanced passing rating in each of five categories (completion percentage, yards per attempt, touchdown percentage, interception percentage, and sack percentage) to compare. There are 73 pairs of quarterbacks who qualify, ranging from notable names like DeBerg and Montana for the 1980 San Fransisco 49ers, to notorious names like the Craig Whelihan/Ryan Leaf pairing for the 1998 Chargers. One pair of quarterbacks, Jay Schroeder and Steve Beuerlein, appear on the list twice, for different franchises, six years apart.

Some teams' numbers stayed fairly consistent when they changed, like when the 1995 Saint Louis Rams used Rypien in place of Chris Miller, or when the 1998 Giants exchanged Kent Graham for Danny Kanell. Other switches resulted in wild swings in performance, like when a young Dave Krieg replaced Jim Zorn for the 1983 Seahawks, or an elderly Dave Krieg replaced a struggling Scott Mitchell for the 1994 Lions.

Running the correlation coefficients for this group was a little dicey. I'll go ahead and report the numbers, since I used it in the last post. But unlke before, where I'm comparing what the exact same quarterbacks did a year later, here, I had to decide which quarterbacks to include in group 1, and which in group 2. I settled on putting the first quarterback to play that season in the first slot. Here are the correlation coefficients between starter A (first QB to play) and starter B for this group of two quarterback teams.

Yards Per Attempt:  +0.26
Completion Percentage: +0.25
Touchdown Percentage: +0.07
Sack Percentage:  +0.00
Interception Percentage: -0.08

There were enough cases where the backup played significantly worse or better than the original starter that the correlations among the group are not high. YPA and completion percentage do remain most constant. Sack percentage and Interception percentage are the least consistent.

Next, the absolute value differences between the two quarterbacks' advanced passing score, sorted from smallest difference to largest.

Yards Per Attempt:  16.90
Completion Percentage: 17.00
Touchdown Percentage: 18.40
Interception Percentage: 19.90
Sack Percentage:  20.00

Same story here, yards per attempt and completion percentage have the smallest change; interceptions and sacks the largest. Next, just like last time, I computed the ordinal rankings for each team to see what category was the least and most consistent.

Completion Percentage: 2.89
Yards Per Attempt:  2.92
Touchdown Percentage: 2.94
Sack Percentage:  3.01
Interception Percentage: 3.25

Same story here. Finally, I looked at the total change in a quarterback's performance with a new team (as measured by the sum of the absolute value differences in each category), and divided the change in each category by the overall change to assign a percentage of change. This last summary lists the number of times that each category represented 20% or less of the total change in a team's performance after a quarterback change.

Yards Per Attempt:  48 of 73
Completion Percentage: 40 of 73
Touchdown Percentage: 40 of 73
Sack Percentage:  39 of 73
Interception Percentage: 37 of 73

Yards per attempt stands out here. Again, sack and interception percentage were the least consistent and accounted for the most change in performance.

Several commenters had excellent points in the previous post. So let me say that I'm not at this point measuring the exact contribution of the quarterback versus that of his offensive line or skill position players in terms of percentages. That's above and beyond the scope of what these numbers show. What they do show, though, is some general information about the relative effects of luck or other factors, such as game situation. Let's do some general summarizing of the information from this and the previous post.

Yards per attempt and Completion Percentage are both somewhat consistent when a team changes quarterbacks, and are also somewhat consistent when a quarterback changes teams. This tells me that with a large enough sample size of throws, luck plays a much smaller role in these two stats. The quarterback himself has something to do with both of these, and the teammates (and I'll lump things like offensive scheme and playcalling here as well) have something to do with these two. Is it 30/70? 40/60? I don't think we can answer that from just this information.

Touchdown percentage is somewhat inconsistent when a team changes quarterbacks, and also somewhat inconsistent when a quarterback changes teams. Interception percentage even moreso. It is the most inconsistent both when a team changes quarterbacks and a quarterback changes teams. This tells me that luck and game context play a large role in determining touchdown rates, and an even larger role in interception rates. What percentage of the remainder belongs to the quarterback versus his teammates? Again, that's beyond the scope of what I've looked at so far.

Which brings us to sack rate. It is one of the most consistent things when a quarterback changes teams. It is one of the least consistent things when a team changes quarterbacks. This tells me that the quarterback plays a larger role than people think in determining a team's sack rate. Again, I don't know what exact percentage is attributable to the quarterback versus the line, and I certainly don't think the line is irrelevant in determining a quarterback taking hits. I just think we measure line play by the wrong stat if we focus solely on sack rate. Sack rate does seem to have a lot to do with a quarterback's style, decision making, and willingness (or unwillingness) to gamble with a throw before ready. A quarterback with a tendency to take fewer sacks is going to get rid of the ball; it's his yards per attempt and completion percentage that are going to reflect whether the line did a good job. Was he throwing the ball when he wanted to, or before he wanted to?

To me, it makes sense that sack rate would most belong to the quarterback. It is the simplest statistic, and the one that the quarterback can exercise the most control over. It is simply "to release the ball, or not release the ball". What happens after the releasing of the ball brings in a lot of other factors--teammates, the opponent, luck.

3 Comments | Posted in Statgeekery

NCAA: SRS Ratings Through Eight Weeks

Posted by Neil Paine on October 25, 2009

With Chase on vacation, I thought I'd lend a helping hand by calculating this week's college SRS ratings (for a very thorough explanation of the method we're using, go here first). As you can see, we have a new #1 team in the rankings:

6 Comments | Posted in College, Statgeekery

Similarity scores for 2009 teams, part II

Posted by Jason Lisk on October 24, 2009

This is the second part of the similarity scores; the methodology and the teams that have won 3 or more games and played six games are in part I. Here, we look at the ten teams with a losing record through six games. Next week, I'll close with the teams who are playing their sixth game this weekend.

One of the losing teams stands out as the most likely to make a run and turn it around. All but one of the Seahawks' comparables won at least five of their final ten games. The rest, well, it's not particular pretty. The most amazing is the Titans' collapse. They don't really have any similar teams (their most similar team has a score of only 608). I guess that's a good thing, because the bad news is that on the Titans' list, both the 1989 Cowboys and 2000 Chargers appear, and those teams that went 1-15. The worse news is that those weren't even the worst teams on the list, as the 2008 Lions also appear.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
weighted wins (last 10): 5.91
playoff chances: 27%

==============================================================
911	GNB	2000		2-4		7-3
896	CLE	1983		2-4		7-3
857	RAI	1996		2-4		5-5
856	CRD	1993		2-4		5-5
848	ATL	1983		2-4		5-5
845	PHI	2007		2-4		6-4
840	DET	1983		2-4		7-3
834	CLE	1980		3-3		8-2
831	CRD	2004		2-4		4-6
826	CAR	2000		2-4		5-5
==============================================================

OAKLAND RAIDERS
weighted wins (last 10): 4.15
playoff chances: 7%

==============================================================
763	TAM	1996		1-5		5-5
755	SFO	2007		2-4		3-7
744	NOR	1981		1-5		3-7
712	NEW	1988		2-4 		7-3
683	CRD	1990		2-4		3-7
655	PHI	1986		2-4		3-6-1
650	NYG	1996		2-4		4-6
645	CRD	1994		2-4		6-4
641	SDG	1988		2-4		4-6
638	GNB	1980		2-3-1		3-7
==============================================================

WASHINGTON REDSKINS
weighted wins (last 10): 4.48
playoff chances: 5%

==============================================================
838	KAN	1988		1-4-1		3-7
838	WAS	2004		2-4		4-6
818	RAV	1998		2-4		4-6
812	CLE	2005		2-4		4-6
812	RAV	2005		2-4		4-6
807	PHI	1985		2-4		5-5
805	RAI	1992		2-4		5-5
789	CLE	1991		2-4		4-6
779	CHI	1980		2-4		5-5
779	CLE	1988		3-3		7-3
==============================================================

BUFFALO BILLS
weighted wins (last 10): 4.00
playoff chances: 2%

==============================================================
888	CAR	1997		2-4		5-5
847	TAM	2006		2-4		2-7
824	RAM	1992		2-4		4-6
819	BUF	2006		2-4		5-5
817	CRD	1999		2-4		4-6
815	KAN	1989		2-4		6-3-1
813	CLE	2000		2-4		1-9
806	PHI	1984		2-4		4-5-1
799	NYG	1995		2-4		3-7
798	CIN	2004		2-4		6-4
==============================================================

CLEVELAND BROWNS
weighted wins (last 10): 3.78
playoff chances: 1%

==============================================================
891	PHI	1998		1-5		2-8
806	TAM	1996		1-5		5-5
754	NOR	1981		1-5		3-7
745	TAM	1993		1-5		4-6
745	HTX	2002		1-5		3-7
743	ATL	1999		1-5		4-6
732	OTI	2006		1-5		7-3
725	PIT	1986		1-5		5-5
707	KAN	2008		1-5		1-9
702	CHI	2000		1-5		4-6
==============================================================

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
weighted wins (last 10): 3.66
playoff chances: 1%

==============================================================
923	GNB	1984		1-5		7-3
849	NYJ	2007		1-5		3-7
830	CAR	1995		1-5		6-4
821	TAM	1986		1-5		1-9
811	NYJ	1980		1-5		3-7
804	ATL	1997		1-5		6-4
785	WAS	1993		1-5		3-7
779	DET	2003		1-5		4-6
777	CAR	2001		1-5		0-10
773	CIN	1992		2-4		3-7
==============================================================

DETROIT LIONS
weighted wins (last 10): 2.99
playoff chances: 1%

==============================================================
889	CLT	1981		1-5		1-9
838	CRD	1983		1-5		7-2-1
807	ATL	2003		1-5		4-6
784	NYG	1980		1-5		3-7
753	CHI	2003		1-5		6-4
739	DET	2008		0-6		0-10
733	NWE	1990		1-5		0-10
732	SDG	2000		0-6		1-9
709	RAM	1996		1-5		5-5
694	NYJ	1995		1-5		2-8
==============================================================

SAINT LOUIS RAMS
weighted wins (last 10): 2.98
playoff chances: 0%

==============================================================
821	CLT	1986		0-6		3-7
766	CIN	2002		0-6		2-8
705	DAL	1989		0-6		1-9
688	NWE	1992		0-6		2-8
682	OTI	1984		0-6		3-7
678	CHI	1997		0-6		4-6
675	WAS	2001		1-5		7-3
660	CIN	2000		0-6		4-6
655	HTX	2005		0-6		2-8
647	CLE	1999		0-6		2-8
==============================================================

TENNESSEE TITANS
weighted wins (last 10): 2.72
playoff chances: 0%

==============================================================
608	CHI	1997		0-6		4-6
588	SFO	2005		1-5		3-7
580	HTX	2005		0-6		2-8
512	WAS	1998		0-6		6-4
511	DET	2008		0-6		0-10
509	CIN	1991		0-6		3-7
496	SDG	2000		0-6		1-9
477	DAL	1989		0-6		1-9
464	CIN	1999		1-5		3-7
464	ATL	1985		0-6		4-6
==============================================================

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
weighted wins (last 10): 2.69
playoff chances: 0%

==============================================================
872	NOR	1980		0-6		1-9
825	CIN	1991		0-6		3-7
823	CIN	1997		1-5		6-4
812	CLT	1997		0-6		3-7
805	ATL	1996		0-6		3-7
801	DET	2001		0-6		2-8
798	NYJ	1996		0-6		1-9
796	NWE	1990		1-5		0-10
795	CIN	1979		0-6		4-6
777	NWE	1993		1-5		4-6
==============================================================

4 Comments | Posted in Statgeekery

Tecmo Super Bowl Game of the Week: Vikings at Steelers

Posted by Neil Paine on October 23, 2009

Courtesy of Matt Knobbe and the Tecmo Super Bowl Repository, here's your Tecmo Super Bowl Game of the Week for Week 7, featuring the Minnesota Vikings and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The highlights:

(How did we do this? Matt and the other dedicated folks at the Knobbe.org message board have spent a lot of time over the years updating this classic Nintendo football game, including the introduction of a 32-team ROM a few seasons ago. Sounds complicated, but don't worry, it's easy for you to enjoy the fruits of their labor: just get yourself an NES emulator, download the 2009 version of Tecmo here, and play to your heart's content. And be sure to check back at Matt's site for roster updates and more Tecmo-related goodness all season long.)

9 Comments | Posted in Tecmo Super Bowl

Reggie Bush: Wide Receiver

Posted by Jason Lisk on October 22, 2009

The New Orleans Saints' offense is rolling in 2009. You may not have noticed that former 2nd overall pick Reggie Bush has not been a huge part of that offensive explosion, as he has had only 9 and 7 touches the last two weeks.

Is he a bust? Or does he just need to stop playing running back so he can excel?

I'm going to show you the first two years of two other first round draft picks at the running back position, compared to Reggie Bush.

Reggie Bush: 28 games, 312 rushes for 1,146 yards and 10 td's; 161 receptions for 1,159 yards and 4 td's.

Player A: 27 games, 344 rushes for 1,157 yards and 8 td's; 93 receptions for 1,391 yards and 8 td's.

Player B: 32 games, 267 rushes for 881 yards and 7 td's; 111 receptions for 849 yards and 5 td's.

Player A was detailed by Chase in this post about versatile players who played both running back and wide receiver. Player B is the son of the player I talked about in this podcast. What did those two players have in common? They both switched positions to wide receiver during their careers, though the decisions were not made at the same point in their careers. They both showed playmaking ability early in their careers, but they weren't very good at actually running the ball between the tackles at a young age. On roughly the same number of carries, they both averaged less yards per carry than Bush did through his first two years.

Charley Taylor made the switch to full-time wide receiver after 8 games of his third season in the NFL. His yards per carry was even lower than Bush's at that point. Taylor had been the third overall pick in the 1964 draft, and made two pro bowls, but based largely on his play making contributions as a pass catching receiver out of the backfield, and not based on his running.

In the fifth game of the 1966 season (Taylor's third in the league), the Redskins had 35 running back rush attempts, and Taylor had only 8 of them. He did score a rushing touchdown, and also had an 86 yard touchdown reception. The following week, Taylor split carries with Steve Thurlow, and had only 20 yards rushing on 11 attempts. A week later, both Thurlow and A.D. Whitfield had more rushing attempts, and Taylor finished with 9 yards on 6 carries. A week after that, Taylor gained only 7 yards on 3 attempts, as Joe Don Looney was the leading rusher and 27 carries went to the other three backs on the roster.

Taylor had gained only 32 yards on 24 carries in his last three games as running back, and Otto Graham made the switch and put Taylor at wide receiver in the ninth game of the 1966 season. Taylor immediately justified the decision, catching 8 passes for 111 yards and a touchdown. He would finish with 46 receptions for 613 yards and 8 touchdowns over the final six games, and ended up leading the NFL in receptions that season. He wouldn't stop until he put up numbers that merited induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Reggie Bush and Charley Taylor rank in the top five all-time in receiving yards for a running back in the first two years of a career (debut at age 23 or younger). Do I think that Reggie Bush will turn out to be Charley Taylor if he switches to wide receiver? Probably not. Taylor was taller (6'3") and had been even more productive as a receiver before the switch was made (though we should put Taylor's ypc in the context of his era).

But I do think he could at least be as good as the other guy referenced above, who, unlike Taylor, did not switch positions by age 25. Eric Metcalf was more similar to Bush size-wise (Bush is a little bigger). He, like Bush, was an explosive return man, who could make plays as a receiver, but was even worse than Bush as a runner.

Like Bush, Metcalf entered the NFL as a 21 year old, and was an undersized playmaker at the running back position selected 13th overall. He had a career high 185 rush attempts as a rookie. He returned kicks early on, and had two kickoff returns for touchdown in his second season. He began returning punts in his third season. He recorded only 30 rushes and 29 receptions at age 23 while missing half the season, and then only 73 rush attempts and 47 receptions the following year.

Metcalf continued to flash big play potential, and continued to be under-utilized and miscast by the Cleveland Browns. Between ages 24 and 26, Metcalf had five punt return touchdowns and was selected to two pro bowls as a returner. He recorded a career best 4.7 yards per carry in 1993. The Browns’ head coach said he was going to find ways to get Metcalf more touches, but it didn’t happen. In 1994, at age 26, Metcalf finished with fewer than 100 rushes and 50 receptions.

He was traded the next offseason. The San Fransisco 49ers wanted Metcalf and could only offer two late first round picks, and he went instead to the Atlanta Falcons for the tenth overall pick. The Falcons traded for him to make him into a slot receiver in their Run-N-Shoot offense. At age 27, Eric Metcalf finally was moved to wide receiver. He flourished right away, recording 30 catches and over 300 yards receiving in his first three games as a Falcon. He would finish the year with 104 receptions for 1189 yards and 8 touchdowns (the 11th best fantasy wide receiver) in 1995. He declined to 54 catches at age 28, and would stick around the league primarily as a return man and part-time receiver after that. One has to wonder what would have happened to Metcalf’s career if he had been converted before he was 27 ½ years old.

Which brings us back to Reggie Bush. It's pretty clear at this point that he is a not a good runner out of the running back position. He has, however, shown playmaker potential in roles other than running back. We've already seen that he ranks as one of the prolific pass catchers out of the running back position at a young age. Here's the link to the players with the most punt return touchdowns at age 23 or younger. Leroy Kelly is the only other running back on that list with 3 or more. That list has some small guys that were almost exclusively returners, some defensive players, and three receivers with 3 punt return touchdowns (one fewer than Bush) who are closer in size to Bush: Henry Ellard, Steve Smith of Carolina, and Louis Lipps.

So, we have a player who is historically great at making plays as a receiver at a young age, and making plays in the punting game at a young age, and is below replacement level as an actual runner. We have examples of players who were high draft picks and showed similar abilities making successful position switches, and players of similar size and early playmaking abilities having successful careers as wide receivers. It doesn't seem like rocket science to me to say that he should never (except maybe on reverses) be used as a runner, and he should exclusively be doing the things he does well. The switch should happen now, not a few years from now.

I know I'm not the first to suggest a position switch, just the latest. But with the rise of the inside slot receiver, expanding use of shotgun and three-wide receiver sets, it sure seems like this is a move that I would make. His skills seem perfectly suited for the inside receiver role.

7 Comments | Posted in History, Player articles

YouTube Finds: Love For the Mobile QBs

Posted by Neil Paine on October 21, 2009

Here are a few videos about some of the best mobile QBs of all time:

6 Comments | Posted in YouTube Finds

Checkdowns: Drew Brees’ Accuracy is Flat-Out Ridiculous

Posted by Neil Paine on October 20, 2009

Chris Brown of Smart Football turned us on to this SportScience video about Drew Brees' uncanny passing accuracy -- watch it and be amazed:

Yes, Brees is standing a lot closer to that target than the Olympic archers would be, but the fact that he was able to hit such a small area with such precision and consistency goes a long way toward explaining how a 6'0" 2nd-round draft pick with a surgically-repaired throwing shoulder was able to become arguably the best pure passer in the game this season. (BTW, Chris has another post about Brees and one of his favorite plays here.)

19 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns, YouTube Finds

Tutorial Videos: Player Season Finder

Posted by Neil Paine on October 20, 2009

In the second PFR tutorial vid, we take a look at what the Player Season Finder can do for you.

1 Comment | Posted in Tutorial Videos

Preliminary SRS Teams of the Decade, Part II

Posted by Neil Paine on October 20, 2009

In the comments of yesterday's post about the best SRS teams of the 2000s, loyal PFR reader MattieShoes took issue with lumping together all incarnations of a team into one decade-long SRS calculation:

I don't think a decade-long SRS calculation is very good though -- Take the Raiders. They had some very good teams early on and some very bad teams more recently, so they average out to be a bad team for the decade. But now every team that lost to them in 2000-2002 is being adjusted as having lost to a BAD team, which isn't right.

I think it'd make far more sense to calculate yearly SRS and average those, since team strength is less likely to change drastically over the course of a season, and any errors caused by teams changing strength over the course of one season are limited to just that, one season.

I agree with that -- it probably won't impact the ratings much, but the method really does need to be changed to reflect the strength of each opponent when a team plays them, instead of using their decade-long strength rating. So here's the new deal: I calculated SRS for each season of the 2000s unto itself, and then took a weighted average of those SRS scores (by game played per season) to find the decade-long SRS rating. The results:

6 Comments | Posted in General, History

Similarity Scores for 2009 teams, part I

Posted by Jason Lisk on October 20, 2009

I'm going to do some team similarity scores like what Doug did a couple of years ago. I'm not going to use the same methodology (not that either is better than the other), because I'm not going to look at specific game results. Rather, I am going to look at a team's overall profile, in terms of wins/losses, points scored and allowed, and yardage for and against.

Like Doug, I'm not putting a tremendous amount of time into deciding how to weigh each factor. I just went with adjustments that generally felt about right, and then made sure the results passed the sniff test.

2 Comments | Posted in Statgeekery

Checkdowns: NFL Standings… eBay-Style?

Posted by Neil Paine on October 19, 2009

That's right, fans, forget about those silly wins and losses... They're so passe compared to what's being tracked in these "standings" sent to us by PFR reader Aidan Henry. Aidan explains:

"I'm a huge stat junkie. This is why I got my company to make an NFL team merchandise scoreboard. It's based on the last 30 days of eBay data (we are an eBay data company) and it updates daily. The scoreboard shows divisional standings as if they were based on total sales. Average ticket prices and jersey prices are also given."

It's also perhaps the only set of standings on earth where you'll see the Raiders ranked ahead of the Colts. So I guess that's two pleasant surprises in a week, Oakland fans... Enjoy.

1 Comment | Posted in Checkdowns

Preliminary SRS Teams of the Decade

Posted by Neil Paine on October 19, 2009

We've done a Players of the Oughts (or at least 90% of them) post, so I figured it was time to put out a preliminary list of the teams of the decade. The ranking method? SRS, of course. I used all games, regular-season and playoffs, and accounted for home-field advantage by adding 2.66 points (the average home-team margin of victory this decade) to the margin for away teams & subtracting the same amount from home teams.

And no, playoff games are not arbitrarily weighted more than regular-season ones, other than the fact that they will boost your strength of schedule score. I'm certainly open to different weightings, but they have to be grounded in something more legitimate than "I feel like playoff games should count five times as much", or whatever.

Anyway, here are the best NFL teams by SRS from 2000 through yesterday's games:

Rank Team MOV SOS SRS W L T PO_W PO_L SB_W SB_L
1 NewEnglandPatriots 6.79 0.47 7.26 106 44 0 14 3 3 1
2 IndianapolisColts 5.90 0.43 6.33 106 43 0 7 7 1 0
3 PittsburghSteelers 5.15 -0.04 5.11 98 51 1 10 4 2 0
4 PhiladelphiaEagles 5.33 -0.64 4.68 95 53 1 10 7 0 1
5 BaltimoreRavens 3.72 0.16 3.88 86 64 0 7 4 1 0
6 SanDiegoChargers 2.03 0.47 2.50 74 74 0 3 4 0 0
7 DenverBroncos 1.85 0.54 2.39 90 59 0 1 4 0 0
8 GreenBayPackers 2.99 -1.13 1.86 87 62 0 3 5 0 0
9 JacksonvilleJaguars 1.08 0.54 1.61 72 78 0 1 2 0 0
10 NewYorkGiants 1.45 -0.24 1.21 85 65 0 6 5 1 1
11 TampaBayBuccaneers 1.69 -0.69 1.01 76 74 0 3 4 1 0
12 MiamiDolphins -0.13 0.98 0.85 74 75 0 1 3 0 0
13 NewYorkJets -0.21 0.93 0.72 74 76 0 2 4 0 0
14 KansasCityChiefs 0.09 0.48 0.56 67 83 0 0 2 0 0
15 TennesseeTitans -0.25 0.74 0.49 83 67 0 2 5 0 0
16 SeattleSeahawks 0.84 -1.00 -0.16 79 71 0 4 5 0 1
17 NewOrleansSaints 0.16 -0.70 -0.54 75 74 0 2 2 0 0
18 MinnesotaVikings 0.00 -0.71 -0.70 78 72 0 2 3 0 0
19 ChicagoBears -0.12 -0.71 -0.82 77 72 0 2 3 0 1
20 DallasCowboys -0.85 -0.20 -1.05 74 75 0 0 3 0 0
21 CarolinaPanthers -0.43 -0.71 -1.14 73 76 0 5 3 0 1
22 BuffaloBills -2.56 1.14 -1.42 62 88 0 0 0 0 0
23 WashingtonRedskins -1.61 0.07 -1.54 68 82 0 1 2 0 0
24 OaklandRaiders -2.44 0.73 -1.71 59 91 0 4 3 0 1
25 AtlantaFalcons -2.14 -0.42 -2.56 70 78 1 2 3 0 0
26 CincinnatiBengals -3.57 0.84 -2.73 62 87 1 0 1 0 0
27 St.LouisRams -1.96 -0.90 -2.86 70 80 0 3 4 0 1
28 HoustonTexans -5.04 0.80 -4.24 43 75 0 0 0 0 0
29 ClevelandBrowns -5.36 0.98 -4.37 53 97 0 0 1 0 0
30 SanFrancisco49ers -3.62 -0.94 -4.55 63 86 0 1 2 0 0
31 ArizonaCardinals -5.23 -0.79 -6.02 55 94 0 3 1 0 1
32 DetroitLions -7.19 -0.19 -7.38 41 109 0 0 0 0 0

14 Comments | Posted in General, History

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