SITE NEWS: We are moving all of our site and company news into a single blog for Sports-Reference.com. We'll tag all PFR content, so you can quickly and easily find the content you want.

Also, our existing PFR blog rss feed will be redirected to the new site's feed.

Pro-Football-Reference.com » Sports Reference

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

Site Speed

Posted by Sean on August 24, 2011

I try to be very careful with how the site's code is structured, so that the pages will load and render as blazingly fast a possible. Users like it and it can have a direct impact on our bottom line.

One item that has been out of my control is the ad code we include on the pages. Some of these ads load 5-15 additional files and quite frankly some of the ad servers don't seem to have a good idea of what speed means, so the pages hang and we get lots of frustrated e-mails. As well as being frustrated ourselves.

4 Comments | Posted in Announcements, General

Larry Fitzgerald: Can he break Jerry Rice’s receptions record?

Posted by Chase Stuart on August 23, 2011

In my opinion, Jerry Rice is the greatest football player ever. His records are so incredibly, absurdly, ridiculously unbelievable that you can't throw enough adjectives and adverbs his way. But with Larry Fitzgerald signing his enormous-but-justifiable megadeal with the Arizona Cardinals this past weekend, I wondered if he could one day challenge Rice's records. After all, Fitzgerald entered the league at a very young age and has been almost dominant since then. He turns 28-years-old a week from today.

Rice was the most dominant receiver through age 34 in league history. He ranks 1st in touchdowns, receiving yards and receiving yards per game through that age. Last year, Tony Gonzalez passed him in receptions through age 34, 1069 to 1050, dropping Rice into second place in that category. Of course, that's because Gonzalez entered the league at 21 while Rice didn't start playing until age 23. Rice was in his 12th season at age 34, and he laps the field in even more embarrassing fashion in receptions, receiving yards, touchdowns and yards per game through twelve seasons.

At age 35, Rice tore his ACL in week one, causing him to miss nearly the entire season. In dramatic fashion, Rice came back for MNF in week 16 and scored a touchdown, helping him become the only player to catch a touchdown in 20 seasons.

28 Comments | Posted in History, Player articles

Vote for the NFL’s GOAT’s – Pro-Football-Reference.com

Posted by Sean on August 22, 2011

Elo Rater - Pro-Football-Reference.com.

User ratings for GOAT debates always lead to interesting discussions both here and elsewhere. At PFR, we have just launched our Sports Reference Elo Rater on the football site. The raters have been popular tools on basketball, baseball, hockey, and college football and we have no doubt it will be popular here as well.

The ratings are based on a head-to-head rating system developed by Arpad Elo and played a role in the movie, The Social Network, and Zuckerberg's FaceMash app. You are given two players to rate along with their stats and vote for which one you think it better. That's it. We then change the player's rating based on the margin separating them and whether the win was expected or an upset.

All players are starting today, August 22nd, at 1500, so it will take quite a lot of votes to start separating the wheat from the chaff.

46 Comments | Posted in General

Checkdowns: Jason Lisk adds to the Sam Bradford discussion

Posted by Chase Stuart on August 20, 2011

Jason Lisk has started a series titled "A Thought about the ..." for each of the 32 teams in the league, as part of his NFL preview for the Big Lead. Today, he takes his thoughts to St. Louis, and cites my somewhat controversial article on Bradford from earlier this week.

Jason Lisk takes a different look at the Rams' success.

So, what I looked at for this is other teams where the defensive points allowed improved dramatically from one year to the next. The Rams last year went from next to last in 2009, 31st in points allowed, to 12th in the league. I found all teams since 1978 who improved at least 15 spots in their points allowed ranking in the league. I then went deeper into those teams, and isolated two different types. The first, we’ll call the “Bradford effects”, which found all teams that had a different QB (who had never been the main starter for that franchise prior) during the dramatic improvement season, and that same new QB was also the starter a year later. The second, we’ll call the “Manning effects”, since he shows up 3 times on the list, and this is for all teams that had a dramatic improvement from one year to the next, and the same QB was the starter before, during, and after the points allowed improvement.

Obviously, we don’t think Peyton Manning has an impact on his defenses–he’s played with good ones and bad ones and everything in between during his career. Same with Marino and Elway and Brady and Montana and all the other guys that show up on this list. If a team dramatically improves during the middle of a QB’s career, we are less likely to attribute that to the quarterback.

12 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns

Will Chris Johnson’s salary demands prohibit Tennessee from winning the Super Bowl?

Posted by Chase Stuart on August 18, 2011

Tennessee running back Chris Johnson is currently holding out of training camp because he wants more money. A lot more money. Some think that isn't a prudent decision for the Titans. As a running back, Johnson might wear down in a year or two and will therefore be overpaid over the life of his contract. I'll resist the urge to go on another rant on rookie salaries -- owners and GMs argue that rookies don't deserve big bucks because they're unproven and that veterans don't deserve big bucks because their future potential is limited -- and instead look at a question posed by Ryan Wilson at Cbssports.

Look, there's no disputing that Johnson and Adrian Peterson are the two best running backs in the NFL. But the difference between them and the NFL's 32nd-best back is negligible when compared to the differences between, say, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning and whoever your candidate is for the league's worst starting quarterback. The same holds for wide receivers, left tackles, cornerbacks, safeties -- basically every position but running back.

So why is that?

15 Comments | Posted in Running Backs

Sam Bradford’s rookie season has been incredibly overrated

Posted by Chase Stuart on August 16, 2011

Sam Bradford's rookie season has been incredibly overrated by nearly every football writer and talking head. If you wanted the perfect storm of a formula that would spit out an overrated rookie quarterback, you would want to have a quarterback who:

  • Finished near the top of the league in attempts, overinflating his yards and touchdown metrics. Yards and touchdowns aren't good ways to grade quarterbacks, but that doesn't stop people from doing just that;
  • Played for a team with just a couple of wins in the prior year, so the quarterback would get credit for any regression to the mean in the form of a significant increase in wins;
  • Played a really weak schedule that boosted the quarterback's individual stats and team wins; and
  • Played for a team whose defense got a lot better without adding any big names, so people can just think "what's the difference between them this year and last year? That rookie QB and not much else."

Some rookie quarterbacks will have some of those factors working in their favor, but Bradford has all four. This isn't a post blasting Bradford as much as it is blasting the Bradford backers. One of those includes the normally outstanding Mike Tanier, who thought Bradford had one of the best rookie seasons of all time. Kurt Warner thinks Bradford is going to be a superstar. Fantasy football fans are drafting him as the 15th quarterback in standard leagues. Article have been written based on the notion that the Rams have already drafted a future Super Bowl winner. Bradford's part-Aikman, part-Montana, part-Manning and part-Matt Ryan, but calling him part-Unitas would be too much.

60 Comments | Posted in Quarterbacks

Lee Evans goes to Baltimore

Posted by Chase Stuart on August 12, 2011

I'm an unabashed Lee Evans fan. In Febrruary 2009, I ran a series of posts discussing the greatest wide receivers in pro football history. I argued that it was necessary to adjust wide receiver stats based on team attempts, as otherwise wide receivers in pass-happy offenses would hold an unfair advantage over receivers playing in more run-oriented schemes. But I was shocked to find that in 2006, Evans ranked as the number one receiver in football. His numbers were good but not overwhelming -- Evans had 82 catches for 1,292 yards and 8 touchdowns; he ranked 6th in the NFL in receiving yards. To be fair, a lot of receivers had down years in '06, but still, I couldn't figure out why Evans came out on top. The reason, of course, was that Buffalo ranked just 31st in pass attempts that year. As a result, his 6th place ranking ended up being the most impressive season by any receiver that year.

But Evans has put together a string of disappointing seasons since then. The question is, how much of that is Evans' fault and how much blame can go on the collection of talent the Bills have put together? Buffalo has struggled to get even average production out of its offensive lineman and quarterbacks over the past five years. In fact, take a look at the passers for the Bills since Evans entered the league:

Games Passing Advanced Passing
Rk Player From To G GS Cmp Att Rate Y/A ANY/A Y/A+ Sack%+ NY/A+
1 J.P. Losman 2004 2008 42 33 558 941 75.6 6.60 4.40 96 77 87
2 Trent Edwards 2007 2010 34 32 535 878 76.8 6.54 4.85 94 96 94
3 Ryan Fitzpatrick 2009 2010 23 21 382 668 77.7 6.62 5.14 93 98 94
4 Drew Bledsoe 2004 2004 16 16 256 450 76.6 6.52 4.92 95 93 94
5 Kelly Holcomb 2005 2005 10 8 155 230 85.6 6.56 4.89 94 99 92
6 Brian Brohm 2009 2010 3 2 27 52 26.0 4.85 0.25 61 80 65
7 Levi Brown 2010 2010 1 0 2 3 51.4 8.00 -7.00 118 147 132
8 Shane Matthews 2004 2004 3 0 2 3 149.3 14.67 21.33 238 146 246
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/12/2011.

7 Comments | Posted in General

Added: 2011 Pages, Historical Coordinator Data

Posted by Neil Paine on August 12, 2011

As you may have noticed this week, we now have 2011 team pages on the site. Right now these have the team's 2011 schedule & draftees, but they will be populated with 2011 stats when the regular season begins.

Mike also added the 2011 Draft page, and has made it possible to sponsor drafted players right now -- so get your Cam Newton sponsorship while it's hot.

Last but not least, we now have complete team coordinator info going back to the early 1970s. In addition to being awesome in and of itself, this data also allows us to list a coach's "coaching tree" -- coaches that he worked under as an assistant a coordinator or were his subordinates as a head coach.  (Thanks to Scott Kacsmar, who helped us enter this data.)

6 Comments | Posted in Announcements, Site Features

Book Review: That First Season: How Vince Lombardi Took the Worst Team in the NFL and Set It on the Path to Glory

Posted by Chase Stuart on August 12, 2011

Vince Lombardi has been a football icon for half a century. Lombardi and W.C. Heinz penned Run to Daylight in 1963, a blueprint for success for football coaches at all levels. Five years later, Jerry Kramer's diary, Instant Replay, offered the first real insight underneath the veneer of the coaching legend. David Maraniss' book, When Pride Still Mattered, first published in 1999, set a new standard for sports biographies.

Last December, NFL Films and HBO created a documentary exploring the life and career of the great coach. Two months earlier, the coach came to Broadway in the fantastic play Lombardi -- which I had the pleasure of seeing -- loosely based on Maraniss' work. In February, Al Pacino is going to "Hooah", mail-it-in, and over-act as Lombardi in an ESPN documentary to be aired the week before the Super Bowl.

Perhaps no coach has been as idolized and well-chronicled as the man whose name is on the Super Bowl trophy. ESPN and NFL Network have played certain clips so many times that you can close your eyes and hear sports anchors mimic the phrase ""a seal here...and a seal here." With so much on the great coach, what separates John Eisenberg's That First Season: How Vince Lombardi Took the Worst Team in the NFL and Set It on the Path to Glory?

4 Comments | Posted in General

The 2011 New Orleans Saints

Posted by Chase Stuart on August 10, 2011

I understand why the hyped teams in the NFC are Philadelphia and Green Bay. The Eagles had the most dynamic football player in football last season, a reformed Michael Vick. Prior to 2010, no player had ever averaged 40 rushing yards per game and 240 passing yards per game in the same season; Vick averaged 252 passing yards and 56 rushing yards in a scorched-earth, twelve-game stint in 2010. Since then, the Eagles added arguably the best cornerback in the league, Nnamdi Asomugha, in addition to bringing in DT Cullen Jenkins (from GB), DE Jason Babin (Ten), Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Ari), Vince Young (Ten), Ronnie Brown (Mia) and Ryan Harris (Den). Joined by Asante Samuel, the Eagles have an embarrassment of riches at the cornerback spot, key for a team that will have to contend with a dominant passing attack to get to the Super Bowl.

But no one is doubting the defending Super Bowl champion Packers, either. In addition to being a young team, Green Bay lost more key players to more games due to injury than any Super Bowl champion in recent memory. The Packers recaptured the Lombardi despite TE Jermichael Finley, RB Ryan Grant, DE Mike Neal and S Morgan Burnett, among others, all spending most of the year on injured reserve. The Packers led the NFC in SRS by a mile -- don't be fooled by that 6 seed they earned -- and there's reason for optimism for the future. Eight of the top ten players in AV for the Packers were 27 years or younger last season: Clay Matthews, Aaron Rodgers, Nick Collins, Greg Jennings, Tramon Williams, A.J. Hawk, B.J. Raji and Desmond Bishop are entering the primes of their careers. And while Charles Woodson and Chad Clifton will be 35 this season, both played well in 2010.

But I'm in love with what the Saints did this off-season. This team looks to be better than the '09 team that won the Super Bowl, and would be my pre-season favorite to win it all. Here's an extensive look at what the Saints have done over the last 2.5 years. Let's start by taking a look at the key contributors from the championship team:

7 Comments | Posted in General

Estimating ESPN’s QBR for Historical Seasons

Posted by Neil Paine on August 7, 2011

ESPN came out with a new quarterback rating ("Total QBR") on Friday, and if you haven't read Chase or Jason's takes, do so immediately. The early consensus seems to be this:

Pros:

  • It can't help but be better than the NFL's official passer rating
  • Based in large part on the strong analytical framework found in The Hidden Game of Football and the work of Aaron Schatz, Brian Burke, etc.
  • Takes into account all of a QB's actions (sacks, rushing carries, etc.)
  • Doesn't penalize QBs for dropped passes
  • Tries to parse credit between QB and receiver by breaking down Air Yards vs. YAC

Cons:

  • No adjustment for strength of schedule
  • A 'black box' -- we don't know the specifics about how it works
  • WPA-style clutch adjustments might be retrodictive, but aren't predictive
  • Splitting of credit between teammates appears to rely on subjective assessments

As soon as ESPN released the first batch of ratings from the 2008-10 seasons, I ran some correlations between existing stats and QBR:

                    r         R^2
    voa         0.9295      0.8639
    dvoa        0.9200      0.8464
    anypa_idx   0.8988      0.8079
    anypa       0.8960      0.8029
    rate_idx    0.8766      0.7684
    rate        0.8745      0.7647
    uAYA*       0.8647      0.7478
    aypa_idx    0.8478      0.7188
    nypa_idx    0.8445      0.7132
    aypa        0.8411      0.7075
    cmppct      0.7690      0.5913
    cmp_idx     0.7680      0.5898
    ypa_idx     0.7384      0.5453
    ypa         0.7340      0.5388
    tdpct_idx   0.7173      0.5146
    ypg         0.7146      0.5107
    tdpct       0.7027      0.4937
    intpct_idx  0.6013      0.3616
    intpct     -0.5989      0.3586
    skrate     -0.5546      0.3076
    skrate_idx  0.5516      0.3042
    (* = 2010 data only)

Basically, 86% of the variation in QBR is explained by Football Outsiders' VOA metric, and 81% is explained by our Adjusted Net YPA stat. Oddly enough, even though QBR factors in rushing plays, Ultimate Adjusted YPA correlates worse with QBR than Adjusted Net YPA -- in essence, uAYA tracks more closely with QBR if you remove its rushing components.

You can also explain 85% of the variation in QBR using the following formula composed of nothing but our Advanced Passing Indices:

QBR ~ -60.5 + 1.2 * Cmp%_Idx - 2.1 * YPA_Idx + 0.5 * TD%_Idx - 3.5 * Rate_Idx + 4 * AY/A_Idx + 0.9 * NY/A_Idx

This produces the following list of the best estimated post-merger "QBR" seasons (min 225 att):

Rk Player Year Age Tm G Cmp Att Yds TD Int Sk SkYds Cmp%+ Y/A+ TD%+ Rate+ AY/A+ NY/A+ predQBR
1 Dan Marino 1984 23 MIA 16 362 564 5084 48 17 13 120 127 140 148 141 141 153 95.8
2 Peyton Manning 2004 28 IND 16 336 497 4557 49 10 13 101 127 141 168 151 149 147 95.8
3 Kurt Warner 2000 29 STL 11 235 347 3429 21 18 20 115 138 158 125 128 136 158 90.0
4 Joe Montana 1984 28 SFO 16 279 432 3630 28 10 22 138 128 127 125 134 133 135 87.6
5 Dan Fouts 1982 31 SDG 9 204 330 2883 17 11 12 94 119 133 111 124 130 143 87.1
6 John Brodie 1970 35 SFO 14 223 378 2941 24 10 8 67 123 118 119 129 126 133 84.6
7 Steve Young 1991 30 SFO 11 180 279 2517 17 8 13 79 127 145 126 135 140 145 83.4
8 Mark Rypien 1991 29 WAS 16 249 421 3564 28 11 7 59 108 133 132 130 135 142 82.8
9 R. Cunningham 1998 35 MIN 15 259 425 3704 34 10 20 132 117 135 141 134 136 140 82.6
10 Ken Stabler 1976 31 OAK 12 194 291 2737 27 17 19 203 142 145 148 140 137 143 82.2
11 Steve Young 1992 31 SFO 16 268 402 3465 25 7 29 152 129 134 130 142 142 132 82.2
12 Steve Young 1994 33 SFO 16 324 461 3969 35 10 31 163 138 139 147 147 143 136 82.1
13 C. Pennington 2002 26 NYJ 15 275 399 3120 22 6 22 135 135 125 123 138 134 127 81.9
14 Joe Montana 1989 33 SFO 13 271 386 3521 26 8 33 198 152 145 132 149 145 138 81.8
15 Tom Brady 2007 30 NWE 16 398 578 4806 50 8 21 128 129 130 153 148 142 132 81.7
16 Erik Kramer 1995 31 CHI 16 315 522 3838 29 10 15 95 108 115 121 122 124 124 81.5
17 Brian Griese 2000 25 DEN 10 216 336 2688 19 4 17 139 125 123 121 135 134 125 81.3
18 Drew Brees 2009 30 NOR 15 363 514 4388 34 11 20 135 133 129 131 132 129 132 81.0
19 Dan Fouts 1983 32 SDG 10 215 340 2975 20 15 14 107 121 132 118 121 124 142 81.0
20 Dan Marino 1983 22 MIA 11 173 296 2210 20 6 10 80 106 107 127 125 123 120 80.6
Rk Player Year Age Tm G Cmp Att Yds TD Int Sk SkYds Cmp%+ Y/A+ TD%+ Rate+ AY/A+ NY/A+ predQBR
21 Bert Jones 1976 25 BAL 14 207 343 3104 24 9 29 284 124 139 127 139 143 134 80.4
22 Dan Fouts 1981 30 SDG 16 360 609 4802 33 17 19 134 111 118 115 125 126 131 79.9
23 Kurt Warner 1999 28 STL 16 325 499 4353 41 13 29 201 130 132 143 136 133 132 79.5
24 Brett Favre 1995 26 GNB 16 359 570 4413 38 13 33 217 117 125 135 130 131 124 79.3
25 Dan Marino 1986 25 MIA 16 378 623 4746 44 23 17 119 121 114 132 124 118 129 79.2
26 Jeff Garcia 2000 30 SFO 16 355 561 4278 31 10 24 155 121 116 119 127 125 122 79.0
27 V. Testaverde 1998 35 NYJ 14 259 421 3256 29 7 19 140 120 117 129 129 126 123 79.0
28 Bernie Kosar 1987 24 CLE 12 241 389 3033 22 9 22 129 123 117 116 127 125 123 78.8
29 Troy Aikman 1995 29 DAL 16 280 432 3304 16 7 14 89 123 122 97 122 124 130 78.4
30 Peyton Manning 2006 30 IND 16 362 557 4397 31 9 14 86 116 121 118 126 127 127 78.1
31 Joe Theismann 1983 34 WAS 16 276 459 3714 29 11 34 242 111 119 123 126 128 122 78.1
32 Norm Snead 1972 33 NYG 14 196 325 2307 17 12 8 66 126 107 109 121 115 120 77.7
33 Peyton Manning 2000 24 IND 16 357 571 4413 33 15 20 131 118 118 122 123 122 125 77.6
34 Peyton Manning 2005 29 IND 16 305 453 3747 28 10 17 81 125 124 124 129 127 129 77.6
35 Kurt Warner 2001 30 STL 16 375 546 4830 36 22 38 233 133 140 136 132 132 137 77.5
36 Steve DeBerg 1990 36 KAN 16 258 444 3444 23 4 22 191 106 117 114 128 132 119 77.5
37 Ken Anderson 1981 32 CIN 16 300 479 3754 29 10 25 140 123 117 123 137 132 125 77.4
38 Scott Mitchell 1995 27 DET 16 346 583 4338 32 12 31 145 105 117 120 120 124 121 77.3
39 Trent Green 2002 32 KAN 16 287 470 3690 26 13 26 141 107 126 123 120 126 128 77.3
40 Peyton Manning 2009 33 IND 16 393 571 4500 33 16 10 74 127 117 120 120 116 126 77.1

Finally, here are the predicted 2010 QBR leaders alongside the actual QBR leaders (min 225 att):

Player Year Age Tm G Att predQBR Rk Action Plays Actual QBR Rk
Tom Brady 2010 33 NWE 16 492 75.7 1 607 76.0 1
Aaron Rodgers 2010 27 GNB 15 475 71.5 2 627 67.9 4
Philip Rivers 2010 29 SDG 16 541 68.2 3 667 63.2 9
Peyton Manning 2010 34 IND 16 679 66.3 4 779 69.5 2
Josh Freeman 2010 22 TAM 16 474 64.0 5 626 63.5 8
Drew Brees 2010 31 NOR 16 658 62.3 6 760 65.9 6
Michael Vick 2010 30 PHI 12 372 61.9 7 547 66.6 5
Matt Schaub 2010 29 HOU 16 574 61.8 8 678 57.8 12
Ben Roethlisberger 2010 28 PIT 12 389 59.9 9 500 59.8 10
Matt Ryan 2010 25 ATL 16 571 59.8 10 709 68.6 3
Eli Manning 2010 29 NYG 16 539 58.1 11 654 64.3 7
Jon Kitna 2010 38 DAL 10 318 57.7 12 409 46.1 20
Matt Cassel 2010 28 KAN 15 450 57.6 13 566 51.2 15
Joe Flacco 2010 25 BAL 16 489 56.0 14 647 58.1 11
Shaun Hill 2010 30 DET 11 416 55.0 15 499 44.8 21
Kyle Orton 2010 28 DEN 13 498 53.5 16 612 46.6 19
Carson Palmer 2010 31 CIN 16 586 51.1 17 720 46.7 18
Ryan Fitzpatrick 2010 28 BUF 13 441 50.4 18 551 48.7 16
David Garrard 2010 32 JAX 14 366 50.3 19 510 57.3 13
Kerry Collins 2010 38 TEN 9 278 49.6 20 342 56.0 14
Alex Smith 2010 26 SFO 11 342 47.7 21 426 40.0 28
Mark Sanchez 2010 24 NYJ 16 507 45.2 22 619 47.4 17
Jason Campbell 2010 29 OAK 13 329 44.9 23 479 43.8 22
Matt Hasselbeck 2010 35 SEA 14 444 44.8 24 547 42.4 24
Chad Henne 2010 25 MIA 15 490 44.7 25 604 41.4 25
Sam Bradford 2010 23 STL 16 590 43.9 26 732 41.0 26
Jay Cutler 2010 27 CHI 15 432 41.9 27 596 42.6 23
Donovan McNabb 2010 34 WAS 13 472 40.9 28 596 41.0 26
Brett Favre 2010 41 MIN 13 358 39.4 29 459 25.8 30
Derek Anderson 2010 27 ARI 12 327 34.3 30 387 35.9 29
Jimmy Clausen 2010 23 CAR 13 299 19.2 31 397 11.7 31

27 Comments | Posted in History, Quarterbacks, Statgeekery

ESPN attempts to fix the QB Rating formula

Posted by Chase Stuart on August 6, 2011

Everyone knows that quarterback rating is flawed. Everyone has known this for a long time. But because of the drawbacks to other statistics -- touchdowns, wins, interceptions, yards -- QB rating has persevered as the most mainstream singular statistic for grading quarterbacks. PFR has used Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt; Advanced NFL Stats using Expected Points Added; Football Outsiders uses DYAR. Now, ESPN takes its turn at measuring quarterback play.

The actual formula behind quarterback rating is complicated, but it can be reduced to a simple formula. That's what Bob Carroll, Pete Palmer and John Thorn discovered in their groundbreaking book, The Hidden Game of Football. Essentially, QB rating is equivalent to yards per attempt, but with a 20-yard-bonus for each completion, an 80-yard-bonus for each touchdown, and a 100-yard-penalty for an interception. Such adjustments should seem ridiculous to every reader, which is why everyone finds quarterback rating ridiculous. By way of comparison, PFR's ANY/A formula -- in addition to including relevant data on sacks -- gives no bonus for completions, a 20-yard bonus for touchdowns and a 45-yard penalty for interceptions.

But on Thursday, ESPN released the methodology behind its new QB Rating. And last night, ESPN aired an hour-long segment at 8 PM to discuss the new formula. So how does ESPN's formula look?

There's some good and some bad, which means it has exceeded my expectation. As Jason Lisk said, ESPN will promote it ad nauseum but it should have value. It's not perfect, but it's almost certainly better than the traditional passer rating and possibly the best single statistic out there. Here's my take.

14 Comments | Posted in General

Plaxico Buress to the Jets

Posted by Chase Stuart on August 2, 2011

Over the weekend, the New York Jets signed Plaxico Burress as a cheaper alternative to fill the void left by Braylon Edwards. Buress and Edwards have had very similar career paths: From Michigan to Lake Erie to New York, these tall wide receivers have been in the news and teasing us with their talents for a decade. How do they compare?


Category                   Buress              Edwards              Edge

Ht/Wt                      6'5, 226            6'3, 211             Burress

Michigan School            Michigan State      Michigan             Push (MSU under Nick Saban)

Sophomore year             65--1013--8         67--1035--10         Push

Junior Year                66--1142--12        85--1138--14         Edwards

Senior Year                Entered Draft       97--1330--15         N/A

1st-team All-Conf.         Twice               Twice                Push

Last college game          13--185-3 in 37-34  10--109--3 in 38-37
                           win over Florida    loss to Texas        Burress

College hardware           Two Bowl MVPs       Biletnikoff Award    Edwards

Drafted by Lake Erie       Pittsburgh          Cleveland            Burress
franchise in…   

Third year breakout        78-1325-7           80-1289-16           Edwards

Breakout more impressive   Tommy Maddox        Derek Anderson       Edwards
because he played with   

Found out the hard way:    NFL rules, college  Helmet can't be used 
                           rules, different    as a reception device Burress


Touchdown rate             Every 9.2 catches   Every 8.4 catches    Edwards

Guilty of...               Criminal possession Driving while
                           of a weapon         intoxicated          Edwards

Super Bowls + Pro Bowls    One                 One                  Push

Brush with greatness       Game-winning TD to  Fisticuffs with 
                           defeat Pats in SB   LeBron's entourage   Burress

Edwards just edges out Burress, 6 to 5. But Jets fans -- and fantasy football owners -- are forward thinking. They want to know how Burress will play in 2011. As usual, I don't know, and you don't know. At this point, it's wild speculation. But we can look to the past to get some sense as to what sort of path Burress' career might take.

7 Comments | Posted in Player articles

NFL veterans robbed Cameron Newton to pay Olindo Mare

Posted by Chase Stuart on July 28, 2011

Olindo Mare gets paid to kick footballs, not to predict the future. So cut him some slack for being wide right on one projection. In March, he said that he would give a hometown discount to Seattle.

I think that whole highest bid thing for me is not quite as important with the four kids.... [On whether he would give Seattle a hometown discount] Oh, absolutely. For sure. I would be stupid not to. The Seahawks gave me an opportunity. I always take that into consideration also. But we’ll see. I have to get a offer first.... What would be great would be is if there was a bunch and it would show that people appreciate what you do, and that’s always flattering. Just to get all your options available. If you signed [for] three, four, five years, that would be your last contract. You want to make sure that everything was done right. But yeah, Seattle will definitely get a home discount.

Mare was operating under the assumption that a few teams would pay him market salaries and he'd sign with Seattle if they were in the same ballpark. In 2008, he signed a two-year contract for $3.25 million, good money for a 35-year-old kicker. Seattle didn't want to give a long-term contract to a 37-year-old placekicker, so they franchised him for the 2010 season, electing to pay him $2.8 million for one year instead of giving him a contract extension. Presumably, in the spring of 2011, Mare was hoping for something along the lines of a three-year, six million dollar deal. That would be a bump over what he signed three years earlier in both years and per-year value, and would be a coup for a 38-year-old kicker.

38 Comments | Posted in General

2011 Free Agent Tracking

Posted by Mike Kania on July 27, 2011

Now that the NFL is back to business as usual, we've added a free agent tracker with a list of current free agents to be updated as signings happen. The chart lists each player's career AV plus his AV over the last three years & is sortable if you want a quick look at who's the best player available (as long as your definition of "available" includes the perpetually-rumored-to-be-going-somewhere Brett Favre).

6 Comments | Posted in General, Site Features

PFR Improvements (July 22, 2011)

Posted by Neil Paine on July 22, 2011

The owners and players may still be struggling to agree on a CBA, but we're definitely ready for some football. Our new programmer Mike Kania has been hard at work for the past nine weeks, and here are some of the new site features he has implemented today:

  • A better, faster navigation system along the top of all pages (roll-over the "[+]" to expand the menu and get more choices).
  • Fixes to various bugs, especially with regard to Approximate Value.
  • Row summation for player gamelogs -- click the rows of any two games, and we'll display the total stats accumulated over that span.

There's a lot more to come, so stay tuned. And be sure to email us if you have any questions or comments about the site.

16 Comments | Posted in Announcements, Site Features

Mike Kania joins Sports Reference Team

Posted by Sean on June 2, 2011

I'm pleased to announce that Mike Kania has joined Sports Reference as a web developer. Mike previously worked as a developer for SixApart and AOL and also designed the very valuable reference site HasTheLargeHadronColliderDestroyedTheWorldYet.com. He dramatically increases the number of Cleveland fans on staff (bringing us to one) and works in our Philadelphia office. Mike will be focusing on football initially. He's been on the job a couple of weeks and is already close to rolling out a couple of new features on the football site.

9 Comments | Posted in Announcements

Football StatHead: May 6, 2011

Posted by Neil Paine on May 6, 2011

Football StatHead: May 6, 2011

Today at Stathead, more draft grades from CHFF, and an ongoing discussion about Markov models and football.

11 Comments | Posted in Announcements, Checkdowns, StatHead

Football StatHead: May 4, 2011

Posted by Neil Paine on May 4, 2011

Football StatHead: May 4, 2011

Today's Stathead entries include links to Smart Football, The Sports Economist, and a Cold Hard Football Facts draft study that used PFR data.

4 Comments | Posted in Announcements, Checkdowns, StatHead

Football StatHead: May 3, 2011

Posted by Neil Paine on May 3, 2011

Football StatHead: May 3, 2011

Today's Stathead entries feature research from Jason Lisk and a new edition of JQAS.

2 Comments | Posted in Announcements, Checkdowns, StatHead

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