I think this is a compromise that still generates a big chunk of the benefit the owners see in an 18-game slate while alleviating the concerns of the players who would prefer 16.
NFL teams have a full 18-game schedule, but each individual player can play in at most 16 regular season games.
As far as I know, it would be unprecedented in any non-little-league sport for a healthy player who wants to play, and whose team wants him to play, to be forced to sit for non-punitive reasons. For that reason alone, this idea could probably never gain any traction. I'm aware of that. And yes, some games would be devalued. There would be lots of local news stories about 7-year-old Tom-Brady-idolizers whose parents paid a month's salary so he could watch Brady explain Polaroids to Brian Hoyer for three hours.
In light of the researchChase & JKL have done about the consistency of passing stats between seasons, I was wondering which quarterbacks were likely to be best in 2011 -- assuming there is a 2011 season -- if we take their 2010 numbers and strip away the factors that were heavily influenced by luck or other elements beyond a player's control.
Eighty-seven yards away from the end zone. 119 seconds on the clock. One timeout remaining. Down by six. The Super Bowl is on the line. This is the stuff football fans dream of watching, and players dream of performing on the biggest stage. This is the stuff legends are made of.
This is what the Steelers had staring them down at the end of Super Bowl XLV against the Packers. If they were successful, there would be only one way of describing it. The Steelers may not have known it when they took the field, but they were looking at the greatest drive in NFL history.
What is currently the greatest drive in NFL history? There are many great moments that stand out in NFL lore, but this is not a question that has had a definitive answer to it. I will go back now and review the candidates.
Good post by Nate Silver over at the NYT Fifth Down Blog. I thought I'd build on some of Nate's work.
As of game day, the Packers are 3-point favorites over the Steelers and the game has an over/under of 44.5 points. Over the 20-year period from '88 to '07 (we're a little behind at entering point spread data into our database), there were 425 games that featured a point spread of between 2 and 4 points with an over/under ranging from 42.5 to 46.5. Some notes on those games:
Based on the above numbers, the favorite has won 63.5% of the games, with an average margin of victory of 11.4 points.
The biggest blowout came against the Steelers in a season opening game against the Browns. Cleveland opened the 1989 season as 2-point road favorites: they covered the spread with ease, winning 51-0.
On average, when the underdog wins, they win by 8.7 points. Atlanta started the 1996 season 0-8, but after squeaking past Carolina 20-17, they were 2 point favorites in St. Louis, who had just lost 42-6 in Pittsburgh. The 2-7 Rams pulled the upset, winning 59-16.
On average, the favorite has scored 24.3 points while the underdog has scored 20.2 points. Favorites, against the spread, have a 209-197-19 record. The "over" was hit less frequently, with 195 games going over, 11 games "pushing" and 219 games finishing "under" the line.
121 of the games, 28.5% of the data-set, had final margins of victory of within three points. If you're hoping for a close game, there's a better than even chance you'll get one: 53% of the games were decided by one touchdown or less. Only 16 games had final margins of 30 points or greater, but just over one in every four games were decided by at least 15 points.
Hoping for the first Super Bowl to go to overtime and the first playoff game to feature the new overtime rules? 5.8% of the games in this data set went into a fifth quarter.
Richter was deemed the second-most undeserving of all finalists by the readership, ahead of only Charles Haley. Dent was also voted 6th-most undeserving, but Sharpe was narrowly behind Brown in terms of the % of readers who felt he did deserve the HoF.
PFR readers would probably consider the biggest snub to be Roaf, whom 96.8% of the voters felt was deserving; also, 91.6% felt Dawson deserved HoF honors, and both failed to survive the final cut. Brown over Sharpe, though, was so close in the voting that it's hard to call it a snub.
I won't pretend to be objective here: Curtis Martin is my favorite player of all-time. To maintain credibility as a football writer, one must be objective. Still, I feel comfortable avoiding such responsibility this time as long as I announce it. I've sponsored his P-F-R page since we rolled out the sponsorship option several years ago, and have no plans of ending my sponsorship. The quote I use to sponsor him was uttered by Martin late in the 2005 season, when he finally had to shut it down for good:
But early last week, the pain prompted a visit to the coach's office.
''Herm said: 'Curtis, just for us to be having this conversation, it must be a very bad situation. There is no way you'd be sitting in Herman Edwards's office if this wasn't drastic,' '' Martin said Sunday afternoon. ''It was. Yesterday, I felt like there was probably no way we're going to be able to do it. We got up this morning and said no.
''If the Raiders had said, 'Curtis, we're not going to tackle you' and gave me the ball on the 1-yard line and let me run 99 yards, I don't even think I'd have been able to get it.''
In each off-season, Martin submits himself to savage workouts, to prepare his body for the inevitable punishment. Martin once played through a season with two severely sprained ankles. He played through another even though a ligament was tearing away from the bone in his buttocks. He played two consecutive seasons with torn knee ligaments that did not slow him.
If you're playing Super Bowl squares this weekend, this app will tell you which squares have the best chance of winning (based on game data from 1994-2010). For more information about features, as well as links to posts about Super Bowl squares theory, click here.
Chris Hanburger was born at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, just months before the start of United States' involvement in World War II, and when he graduated from high school, he served a stint in the Army as well. After the Army, Hanburger went to play for the University of North Carolina, and was twice selected as the all-ACC center. Hanburger's age (24 when he entered professional football) and the fact that he was more accomplished on the offensive side of the ball help explain why he lasted until the 18th and final round of the 1965 draft.
He was quite a find, though, as he moved into the starting lineup at linebacker late in his rookie year, and would remain a staple of the Redskins lineup for well over a decade. Hanburger may not have been the most explosive athlete at the position, but he was a heady and instinctive player who is often attributed with being a quarterback on the defensive side of the field. His knowledge and game smarts was a natural for George Allen, who had a strong preference for veterans, and Hanburger was a key member of the "Over the Hill Gang" that led the Redskins to their first Super Bowl appearance following the 1972 season.
Robert Duvall once said "I love the smell of napalm in the morning" in Apocalypse Now. I have never smelled napalm before, but there is something I enjoy. I love the smell of freshly produced spreadsheets on quarterbacks that will provide the data to expose myths and spit in the face of conventional wisdoms. I want to know why certain teams succeed and others fail, especially in the postseason. Well after my latest research efforts, I feel much more knowledgeable about certain quarterbacks and why their playoff record is what it is.
Just in time for a big quarterback match-up in Super Bowl XLV between Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers, I compiled playoff drive stats for two dozen quarterbacks that have played in the last thirty years. It was my goal to get every quarterback with at least 8 playoff starts since 1980, and I almost succeeded. Only Phil Simms, Joe Theismann, Jim Plunkett and Danny White were left out due to lack of complete career data. I also included a few active quarterbacks with 4-7 playoff starts to their credit. I used official NFL gamebooks to get this data. While many of these gamebooks offer drive summaries, I actually went through the play-by-play for each drive (over 3400 of them) to get a better understanding of how the game progressed and for more accurate statistics.
Here is a table of stats that you may be familiar with for the quarterbacks involved:
Those are your conventional passing stats. Drive stats are something I have taken much interest in the last few years. I guess it started with my work on fourth quarter drives, and has since carried over to the full game. They offer more measures of efficiency and give better insight into how productive a team's offense or defense is and what style or tempo they may play at. Think about basketball and how the stats for a run and gun/fast break offense are going to be different than the numbers of a half-court offense.
The number of possessions a team gets in a game or season is one of the most overlooked parts of football. Every offense and defense is held to the same standard of points and yards scored/allowed, but did the defense that allows 20 points on 8 drives really play better than the defense that allowed 24 points on 13 drives? Some teams get the ball less than others year after year, meaning their offense has to play at a higher level on fewer opportunities. This would make the offense's stats look better, and the defense's look worse since they are not on the field as much as other teams. The Colts have often been a team in recent seasons that are at the bottom or close to it in offensive possessions every season. Jon Gruden, on a Monday Night Football telecast in Miami in 2009, is probably the only analyst I have heard reference this fact in the media.
If you are not familiar with drive stats, I would highly recommend a visit to that section on the FootballOutsiders site, where Jim Armstrong does a great job of putting out the drive stats on a weekly basis each season. They are listed for 1997-2010. You can familiarize yourself with the kind of numbers you can expect from an offense that is ranked at the top of the league, the average, and at the bottom, to use as a reference when you look over these playoff drive stats.
Disclaimer: the stats presented here are in the quarterback's name, but even more than usual this is really about the team's offensive performance as a whole rather than the individual quarterback. There are certain parts, like the breakdown on interceptions, that are mostly all about the quarterback, but overall drive stats are something you have to keep the team in mind first for. There are of course drives where a quarterback does nothing but hand the ball off every play. The entry "Joe Montana" is another way of saying "1981-90 49ers, 1993-94 Chiefs". Also I will note that I tried to include every drive a QB played in during the playoffs, whether or not they started the game did not matter. I will point out several things, but I will also leave the reader to make their own observations on all the various data presented below. Kneel down drives at the end of either half are excluded.
If you're at a Super Bowl party this weekend and there's a game of squares set up, this app will tell you which squares have the best chance of winning based on game data from 1994-2010. Also, if you're new to the game, there's a page devoted to basic rules that will help you navigate your first SB squares experience. The app costs $0.99, but will pay for itself many times over if you win the pool.
For more information about its features, as well as links to posts about Super Bowl squares theory, click here.
It took Art Monk eight years to make the Hall of Fame. While his career numbers were terrific, Monk's biggest problem was the lack of statistical single season dominance. He only ranked in the top 10 in receiving yards three times -- finishing fourth in '84, third in '85 and tenth in '89. But arguably Monk shouldn't have been compared to the star receivers of NFL history. As argued by Sean Lahman in the Pro Football Historical Abstract:
Even though Monk lined up as a wide receiver, his role was really more like that of a tight end. He used his physicality to catch passes. He went inside and over the middle most of the time. He was asked to block a lot. All of those things make him a different creature than the typical speed receiver.... His 940 career catches put him in the middle of a logjam of receivers, but he'd stand out among tight ends. His yards per catch look a lot better in that context as well. Read the rest of this entry »
Continuing our 2011 Hall of Fame finalist polls, let's get some opinions on Ed Sabol -- and, specifically, the role of NFL Films in shaping football's success in the second half of the 20th century.
Since 1964, when Sabol convinced the NFL that it needed its own motion picture company to document games for posterity, NFL Films has marketed pro football in an epic style that clearly resonates with fans. Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune summed up Sabol's influence nicely in an article this week:
"There are only 18 contributors in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Sabol never owned an NFL team or served as commissioner. But that doesn't mean this 94-year-old visionary doesn't deserve to be recognized for his unique contributions since starting NFL Films almost 50 years ago.
'I think NFL Films was as important to the growth and success of the NFL as any one single thing that ever took place,'' says former 49ers owner Ed DeBartolo, who lives in Tampa. 'It put the teams and players in the forefront of fans' minds.'
At some point in the 1960s, pro football vaulted past baseball as America's most popular sport; NFL Films played a pivotal role in that transformation."
Now, for some sample videos... This is 100% classic NFL Films:
And here's a good example of the modern NFL Films style:
So, what do you think? Should Sabol be in the Hall of Fame for his contribution to the NFL's success over the past 50 years?
Teams almost never replace one Hall of Famer with another. The 49ers replacing Joe Montana with Steve Young, the Bears filling Bill George's absence with Dick Butkus and the Browns handing the ball off from Jim Brown to Leroy Kelly are exceptions to the rule. Things aren't supposed to be that easy for a team. But in Pittsburgh, fans didn't have to worry about their center for a quarter-century. From 1976 to 1988, Hall of Famer Mike Webster manned the middle for the Steelers offense. Pittsburgh drafted Dermontti Dawson in the second round of the 1988 draft, and he played next to Webster for one season. After Webster left for Kansas City, Dawson moved to the middle, and would start for the Steelers from 1989 to 2000. Those in Pittsburgh still debate who was the better center. But things didn't end there for Pittsburgh, as Jeff Hartings would replace Dawson similarly to the way Jeff Garcia followed Young. From '01 to '06, Hartings continued the Steelers tradition of excellence at the position: he was named to two Pro Bowls and two Associated Press All-Pro teams. But today, we're going to focus on Dawson, and his fantastic accomplishments during his twelve seasons in Pittsburgh. Read the rest of this entry »
I almost deleted this post before I hit "Publish." There are so many caveats I'm urged to proclaim, and so many nits at which any reader could pick, that I'm still not sure if this is worth posting. Further, on some level, I fundamentally disagree with the not-so-subtle argument this post implicitly endorses. Allow me to cut you off, by noting that yes, this post is stupid, yes I forgot about X, Y and Z, yes, this doesn't even make sense once you realize M, N and Q, yes I've never watched a football game before, and yes I'm biased against Player A and Player B. And, of course, I am Player C's mother. Note that I've categorized this post under both Rant and Insane ideas.
I started wondering how to break down each playoff game based on the level of support each quarterback received, from both the running game and the defense. Game-ending stats are deceiving -- just one of the many caveats in my head as I wrote paragraph 1 -- but I figured there was little harm in doing some back of the envelope calculations. If nothing else, this post can just add some layers to the typical discussion of post-season records. Here's what I did: Read the rest of this entry »