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

Archive for September, 2010

Mark Sanchez, David Garrard and your ANY/A leaders

Posted by Chase Stuart on September 29, 2010

In week 1, Mark Sanchez went 10/21 for only 74 yards and threw no touchdowns; while he wasn't intercepted, he was sacked twice for 14 yards lost. For the game, he had an ugly 2.61 ANY/A average. The day before, David Garrard had a fantastic performance that largely went unnoticed by the national media: he was 16/21 for 170 yards, threw 3 TDs, was sacked just once for 5 yards, and didn't throw an interception. That comes out to an average of 10.2 adjusted net yards per pass, good enough to win almost any game you play. Sanchez looked like he was hopelessly lost and confused by the NFL game; Garrard appeared primed for a bounceback year.

And then weeks 2 and 3 happened. Garrard averaged -0.04 ANY/A in 25 passes in week two and then only 0.3 ANY/A last weekend against the Eagles. Despite his great game against the Broncos, he's averaging only 2.8 ANY/A on the season. Sanchez, meanwhile, improved to a 7.9 ANY/A average against New England and then an 11.3 ANY/A ratio in Miami on Sunday night. For the season, he's up to a 7.6 ANY/A average, dispelling any notions of a sophomore slump (he averaged 4.1 ANY/A as a rookie).

So who are the ANY/A leaders so far in 2010?

3 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns

New York Times Post: Week 3

Posted by Chase Stuart on September 29, 2010

Are the Chiefs for real? Jason hasn't been bombarding my e-mail inbox with predictions of a Jets-Chiefs playoff showdown, but I think Kansas City could be a playoff team this year. This week, I wrote about how the Chiefs overhauled their roster but noted that their poor performance last year may still be a harbinger of bad times ahead. You can check it out over on the Fifth Down blog or on Page B12 of the Times today.

What do you think? Will the Chiefs make the playoffs?

2 Comments | Posted in Announcements, Checkdowns

Server Downtime – Wednesday Morning

Posted by Neil Paine on September 28, 2010

Just a quick note to let everyone know there will be a brief site downtime at 4AM EST tomorrow morning. As always, send us an e-mail if you have any questions or comments, and hopefully everything will go smoothly with minimal inconvenience to all.

Comments Off | Posted in Announcements

R.I.P. George Blanda

Posted by Neil Paine on September 28, 2010

I'm sure everyone has seen the news already, but in case you didn't, Hall of Famer George Blanda passed away yesterday at age 83.

Just one look at Blanda's PFR page tells you why this is a significant loss for the game -- Blanda played more seasons (26) than anyone in pro football history, set a scoring record (2002 points) that wouldn't be broken until 25 years after his retirement (he still ranks 5th on the all-time list), played 340 career games (still 4th all-time), tossed 236 TDs (still the 19th-most ever), was the 1st player ever to throw 35 TD passes in a season, led Houston to 2 AFL crowns, won the 1961 AFL and 1970 NFL Player of the Year Awards, was 69th in Chase's pre-2009 QBGOAT rankings despite spending half his career as a kicker... I could go on for days listing Blanda's accolades, or the ways his stat lines caused future generations to do double-takes.

25 Comments | Posted in Best/Worst Ever, Checkdowns, Great Historical Players, History, Obituaries, Player articles, Quarterbacks

Support Pro-Football-Reference.com, Sponsor a Page

Posted by Neil Paine on September 27, 2010

Sponsoring a page is fun, fast, and easy way to support what we're doing here at Pro-Football-Reference. With a sponsorship, you can:

  • Show your support for your favorite player or team.
  • Drum up traffic for your own site & draw in fans with a common interest.
  • Get some well-deserved recognition for your support of PFR.
  • Make your voice heard by the tens of thousands of people who visit Pro-Football-Reference every day.

Here's all you have to do to get involved:

  1. Create a membership account.
  2. Find the page(s) you'd like to support, and click "sponsor" (available pages).
  3. If the page you want is already sponsored, click "Alert Me!" to be informed when the current sponsorship expires.
  4. Follow the instructions to create your message and make your payment.
  5. Your message and links will be visible on the page after we approve them (usually in less than 24 hours).

And who knows, if you're clever enough, your message might end up on lists like these.

Comments Off | Posted in Announcements, Site Features

Most quarterbacks to win games for one team

Posted by Chase Stuart on September 24, 2010

The Pittsburgh Steelers are starting their second quarterback of the season this week, and will start their third quarterback no later than week 6 when Ben Roethlisberger returns. Dennis Dixon was the starting quarterback for Pittsburgh's two wins this year, but after tearing the lateral meniscus of his left knee against the Titans, Charlie Batch is expected to start the team's next two games. Ben Roethlisberger will be back starting the team's fifth game, right after the bye week. Because Pittsburgh may have three different starting quarterbacks win games for them in the first five weeks, I started wondering which team had the most quarterbacks start and win games for them in a single season.

Not surprisingly, it's a strike team that tops the last among teams since 1960. Steve Grogan started the opener for the 1987 Patriots, a 28-21 win over Miami. Tony Eason started in week 2, a blowout loss against the Jets. Then the strike hit, and Richmond product Bob Bleier started for the Pats in weeks 3 and 4, the latter a "win" where Bleier went 4/13 for 43 yards and threw an interception. For game 5, the last of the strike games, hometown hero Doug Flutie got the start and guided New England to a 21-7 victory over Houston. After the strike, Eason resumed his role as starter for game 6, a was back for games 6 and 7, 30-16 loss to the Colts. The next week Eason would notch his lone victory of the season, a 26-23 win over the Raiders.

Grogan returned for the next two games, both Patriots losses, before missing another month due to injury. Tom Ramsey replaced him when Grogan went down against the Cowboys, and started the next three weeks against the Colts, Eagles and Broncos, winning once. Grogan returned in time to exact revenge on the Jets, throwing 4 touchdowns on only 18 attempts in a 42-20 victory. Grogan helped the Patriots win their final 3 games of the season, to finish the season at 8-7. The final tally goes like this: Grogan (4-2), Tom Ramsey (1-2), Tony Eason (1-2), Bob Bleier (1-1) and Doug Flutie (1-0).

17 Comments | Posted in General

Site Features: Game Score Finder

Posted by Neil Paine on September 22, 2010

In the wake of last week's strange 19-11 Steelers-Titans and 25-22 Saints-49ers scores, there's been a lot of chatter about how often those specific scores have happened in NFL history. Luckily, here at Pro-Football-Reference you can answer that very question -- in fact, you can run a search on any combination of final scores to see how often they've occurred all-time.

Using the Game Score Finder, we see that Monday night's 25-22 final was just the 8th such game in NFL history, and Sunday's 19-11 score was even rarer -- only the 3rd time such a score has ever occurred!

Using the main table on this page, and clicking the "count" column header to sort by he number of instances in the database, you can find the rarest and most common scores in pro football history. You might be surprised to see the number of combinations that have taken place just once, running the gamut from 66-0 blowouts to brutal 5-3 affairs. And at the other end of the spectrum, 20-17 is by far the most common all-time final score. Play around with the tool for a while, and you'll always know where to find an answer when somebody asks, "how often does this score happen?"

6 Comments | Posted in Announcements, Site Features

New York Times Post: Week 2

Posted by Chase Stuart on September 22, 2010

After two weeks, the Texans’ rushing offense looks much better than we thought; ditto, the Ravens’ pass defense, even without the star safety Ed Reed. But do you remember how things appeared this time a year ago?

That's the theme of this week's post for the Fifth Down, where I use NY/A and RYO2.0 to grade the passing and rushing strengths of each team.

2 Comments | Posted in Announcements

Checkdowns: Former Track Stars Turned Pro in Other Sports

Posted by Neil Paine on September 22, 2010

At the website TrackAndFieldNews.com, Heimo Elonen has compiled a neat list of pro football, basketball, and baseball players who were track and field stars before pursuing a career in a different sport. All in all, it's an interesting piece of research if you're a sports fan, and especially if you like football -- as you might expect, lots of NFL players turn up here, including a punter! (Brian Moorman ran the 400m hurdles at Pittsburg State and was actually a highly accomplished Division II track athlete.)

9 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns, Non-football, Trivia

2010 Site Updates — Week 1

Posted by Sean on September 15, 2010

Just copied over the new pages for 2010. Everything that was updating last year, should now be updating. We are working on some improvements and should have more news later this month and into October. As always, we greatly appreciate any bug reports as there are far too many pages here for us to check one-by-one.

Going forward for future weeks, we'll be updating the site each morning with the previous day's games.

13 Comments | Posted in Announcements, Site Features

New York Times post: Week 1

Posted by Chase Stuart on September 15, 2010

Once again, Pro-Football-Reference.com will be teaming up with the New York Times and the New York Times' Fifth Down Blog. Every Tuesday on the Fifth Down blog (link available here) and every Wednesday in print (page B14 of your newspaper today) we'll be running a weekly update (for you baseball fans out there, Sean has been doing essentially the same thing through Baseball-Reference.com this season).

Today's article references one of the discussions Jason, Doug and I got into on a recent podcast: when do good teams lose games? As it turns out, "week 1" is a pretty common answer.

9 Comments | Posted in Announcements

Chronology of the Fourth Quarter Comebacks and Game-Winning Drives Records

Posted by Doug on September 14, 2010

Written by Scott Kacsmar

As the 2010 season gets under way, the record for fourth quarter comeback wins is about to fall. It can happen before October starts. Veteran readers know that Peyton Manning is one comeback win away from tying record holder Dan Marino with 36, and two away from sole possession of the record. Marino also still holds the record for game-winning drives with 51. Peyton Manning is at 44 so that one will take some time to beat. I have also included the chronology for that record at the bottom of the page.

38 Comments | Posted in History

Reactions from the Jets opening game

Posted by Chase Stuart on September 14, 2010

It was hard to contain my excitement. Amazing seats, on Monday Night Football, for the Jets in their new stadium, against one of the best teams in the league. And after one of the craziest, most intense games I can remember, I'm left with nothing to do but blog.

First, let's good the good plays out of the way.

16 Comments | Posted in General, Rant

Seattle Seahawks, superstars?

Posted by Chase Stuart on September 12, 2010

It turns out that Pete Carroll didn't have much of a problem playing against a team that also got to pay its players. The Seahawks scored the biggest upset and the biggest cover of the day, shocking the San Francisco, 31-6. The 49ers were favored to win by 3 points, giving Seattle a 28-point cover against the spread. There's usually one huge upset by an underdog each season opener: from 1983 to 2010, there have been 27 underdogs to cover by at least 20 points in their first game of the season:

3 Comments | Posted in Statgeekery

Checkdowns: Congrats to Jason Lisk, The Big Lead’s New NFL Blogger

Posted by Neil Paine on September 10, 2010

Some terrific news from the blogosphere this week: PFR's very own Jason Lisk (JKL for longtime readers of the blog) is now The Big Lead's NFL blogger. Everyone here at Sports-Reference is very proud of Jason, and we're also excited because it means we get to read his stuff a lot more (he'll be producing around 20 posts a week for TBL). Congratulations, JKL, you earned this.

Also, no need to worry -- Jason's relationship with PFR isn't completely over because of his new job. He'll still be able to occasionally post things like the AFL series, HoF profiles, and other historical pieces here, as well as podcasts. Obviously the majority of his time and writing power will be devoted to TBL, as it should be, but it's reassuring to know that he'll be making cameo appearances at our humble blog from time to time.

Anyway, big props to Jason, and here's to great success in the future. We'll miss having you around here all the time, but we're also thrilled about your new opportunity. Go get 'em!

8 Comments | Posted in Announcements, Checkdowns, P-F-R News

Best Single-Game, Super Bowl, & Single-Season Quarterback Performances – Adjusted for Opponent/Era

Posted by Neil Paine on September 10, 2010

As a follow-up to last week's post about the 100 Greatest Single-Game Quarterback Performances since the merger, today I'm going to re-post the list after adjusting every QB game for the strength of the opposing defense (as you can imagine, this changes the rankings quite a bit). Commenter/PFR contributor Scott Kacsmar had a great idea about adjusting for era and opponent in one step, so instead of translating from the per-game rates of the season in question to the 1993-2009 period average, I simply translated from the regular-season per-game rates allowed by the defense faced. In other words, if a 1975 defense happened to allow numbers that would be average in 1993-2009, I wouldn't translate the raw stats of the QBs that faced them at all, even though the general offensive environment of 1975 was far different from that of 1993-2009.

Anyway, after that change here are the best QB games since 1970, adjusted for opponent:

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

Checkdowns: Wall Street Journal’s 2010 College Football Database

Posted by Neil Paine on September 7, 2010

Here's a link that should interest all of our college fans: David Biderman and Darren Everson of the Wall Street Journal have put together a cool search tool for this year's NCAA teams that lets you rank teams by experience, lineman height/weight, average recruiting ranking, returning starters, and a ton of other categories. Much like the tools here at PFR, this WSJ finder looks to be something you can get lost in for huge amounts of time, so have at it!

Comments Off | Posted in Checkdowns, College

A Rookie Quarterback’s Real Best Friend

Posted by Jason Lisk on September 7, 2010

From time to time, I hear that a tight end is a rookie quarterback's best friend. I've often wondered what this is supposed to mean. Do they room together and eat dinner after practice? Is it some hypothetical ideal, where the young quarterback should realize that he can utilize the tight end as a secondary outlet? Do people actually mean that the rookie quarterback does throw to the tight end more?

Whatever the original intention or origin of this truism, it seems to me that many people perceive the latter and actually do believe that a tight end paired with a young quarterback is a good thing. This talk comes up frequently this time of year, when people are looking for "value" in their fantasy drafts.

So, dubious of such claims about tight end and rookie quarterback glory, I decided to take a look at the data. I pulled every season where a rookie quarterback at age 24 or under threw 300+ passes in a season since the merger, and then looked at the reception distribution on those teams. 26 seasons made the list. I divided the receptions on those teams into WR1, WR2, WR3, RB1, and TE1. Here are the percentage of team receptions that went to each:

WR1: 23.8%
WR2: 16.1%
RB1: 15.4%
TE1: 10.4%
WR3: 8.1%
Others: 26.4%

For a quick and incomplete comparison, here is the distribution for the ten highest scoring teams from 2009

WR1: 23.6%
WR2: 15.6%
RB1: 11.9%
TE1: 15.9%
WR3: 10.7%
Others: 22.3%

I know that the tight end versus running back usage rates have changed a little in recent years, but there is no truth to the adage that a tight end is a rookie quarterback's best friend. Apparently, the Jeff Komlo to David Hill combo back in 1979 was quite memorable, and I'm going to attribute the rise of the "tight end is a young quarterback's best friend" mantra to that historic combination. It appears though, that it is a running back as a receiver who receives a relative percentage increase with rookie quarterbacks, while tight ends are, well, whatever the opposite of a young quarterback's best friend.

7 Comments | Posted in General

Best Single-Game Quarterback Performances, 1970-2009

Posted by Neil Paine on September 3, 2010

Last year, I wrote a post explaining a method of translating quarterback stats across different eras based on the league's average numbers. I followed that up with a pair of posts that looked at peak QB performance using the translation method and an estimate of Football Outsiders' YAR (Yards Above Replacement) metric. Today, I want to apply that same methodology to all single-game QB performances (regular-season and playoffs) since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970...

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

Checkdown: Team Game Finder

Posted by Sean on September 3, 2010

Play Index: Team Game Finder

Searching for the most rushing yards in a loss or the fewest pass attempts by a team in a game is so much easier using the Team Game Finder. Check it out before the season starts.

Comments Off | Posted in PI Finds, Play Index

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