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Archive for the 'General' Category

Comebacks and Game-Winning Drives On Player Pages, Leaderboards

7th October 2011

Though you have always been able to find a link to a list of a quarterback's game-winning drives and comebacks on his player page, we are now including those in the season stats for players themselves, so you can look at Terry Bradshaw's page and see his 3 comebacks and 4 game-winning drives for 1972 right there. This also lets us set up leaderboards for both stats, which is how I learned that Dan Pastorini is tied for #2 on the single-season game-winning drives list -- and, really, knowledge like that is why you're here.

Posted in General | 23 Comments »

Elo has been rebooted

22nd September 2011

As has many of you may have noticed over the past couple of weeks, the Elo Rater has been slightly off. This is due to both the inadvertent erasure of a DB table on my part (oops) and what appears to be some suspicious voting activity by a certain group of fans (you know who you are). In an effort to wipe the slate clean I have reset the database on purpose this time and repopulated it by running a million matchup simulations weighted towards picking the player with the higher career AV. This should give us a little better starting point instead of having everyone start as equals. To prevent ballot-stuffing, I have implemented a 200 vote per day limit -- I apologize if this keeps you from killing the entirety of your workday by making the agonizing choice between Hugh Green and Larry Hand, but I believe it's necessary.

Posted in General | 14 Comments »

The Peyton Manningless Colts of Indianapolis

9th September 2011

No one knows how the Colts will look without Peyton Manning. And we're about to find out much sooner than anyone in Indianapolis ever expected. Yesterday, Manning went under his third neck surgery in 19 months, and is expected to miss most, if not all, of the season. If Manning is indeed out for the year, what should we expect?

  • A few years ago, Doug noted that the average starting quarterback is worth 2.3 points, or about a win per season. A useful starting point, but no one has ever confused Manning with an 'average starting quarterback.'
  • Brian Burke says that the entire Colts passing offense -- of which Manning is the central figure -- is worth about 3.8 wins per season.

I'm less optimistic than most. I'm not going out on a limb if I tell you that the Colts are going to implode, but I think that's what's going to happen. If Manning is gone for 16 games, I would probably take the "under" even at 6 wins.
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Posted in General, Quarterbacks | 34 Comments »

PFR’s 2011 New York Jets season preview

8th September 2011

What should we expect from the Jets this year? New York has appeared in the AFC Championship Game in each of the past two seasons, but two bad halves (second against Indianapolis, first against Pittsburgh) prevented the Jets from making the Super Bowl. Every year with Rex Ryan is a "Super Bowl or bust" type of season: do the Jets have what it takes to meet those expectations in 2011?

Vegas views the Jets as one of the league's contenders: with a projection of 10 wins, the Jets land in the top quarter of the league. The odds say New England is the favorite, with the Steelers slightly behind the Patriots, and the Jets, Chargers and Ravens just behind Pittsburgh to win the AFC. Those five teams are the class of the conference, now that there's a Peyton Manningless-Indianapolis.

Most observers put the Jets in that 3-5 range among the AFC's heavyweights. But a full preview of the 2011 Jets should start by taking a look at both the 2009 and 2010 editions.

2009 vs. 2010 Jets

The 2009 Jets shocked a lot of people by getting to the AFC Championship Game; after all, the Jets started the season 7-7. New York flipped the script in 2010, starting the year 9-2, the second best start in franchise history. But the records belie their reality: the 2009 Jets were a bit better than their 9-7 record while the 2010 Jets may not have been as good as their 11-5 mark.
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Posted in General | 1 Comment »

Site Speed

24th August 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.
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Posted in Announcements, General | 4 Comments »

Vote for the NFL’s GOAT’s –

22nd August 2011

Elo Rater -

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.

Posted in General | 46 Comments »

Lee Evans goes to Baltimore

12th August 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 View Original Table
Generated 8/12/2011.

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Posted in General | 7 Comments »

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

12th August 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?
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Posted in General | 4 Comments »

The 2011 New Orleans Saints

10th August 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:

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Posted in General | 7 Comments »

ESPN attempts to fix the QB Rating formula

6th August 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.
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Posted in General | 14 Comments »

NFL veterans robbed Cameron Newton to pay Olindo Mare

28th July 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.
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Posted in General | 38 Comments »

2011 Free Agent Tracking

27th July 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).

Posted in General, Site Features | 6 Comments »

Repost: The 1987 strike and what could have been

4th March 2011

As the NFL owners and players' association negotiate the future of professional football, the 2011 season hangs in the balance. Hopefully we won't need to one day write a post titled "The 2011 lockout and what could have been."

But we did for the 1987 season. If you missed them the first time around, here's a link to Part I and Part II.

Posted in Checkdowns, General | 8 Comments »

Jobs @ Sports Reference: Web Developer

28th February 2011

Jobs @ Sports Reference: Web Developer

Sports Reference is hiring a web developer this spring. Please see the link above for details and how to apply.

Posted in Announcements, General | Comments Off on Jobs @ Sports Reference: Web Developer

2011 Hall of Fame Polls: Shannon Sharpe

2nd February 2011

After our look at Ed Sabol yesterday, it's back to players for the next 2011 Hall of Fame finalist poll. Here were Chase's thoughts from a year ago on Shannon Sharpe:

We continue the [Hall of Fame profiles] today, with a look at Shannon Sharpe. Part I of this post is a re-post of something I wrote last year:Part I

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.
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Posted in General | 2 Comments »

Super Bowl Preview: Blast from Halloween 2006

25th January 2011

Stop me if you've heard this one. Mike Tomlin owns the league's fiercest run defense, a unit so difficult to penetrate that he forces opponents to become one dimensional. In a prime-time matchup, he faces a pass-heavy team with a star quarterback and a constantly shifting ground attack. Is this the perfect opponent for Tomlinon's troops, an offense that will have no choice but to be one dimensional? Or the kryptonite to his super defense, a team that will play to its strength knowing it can't possibly win without playing basketball with cleats? On October 30th, 2006, the answer was very clear:

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Posted in General | 6 Comments »

Checkdowns: Biggest turnarounds

15th January 2011

The Patriots beat the Jets 45-3 on a Monday Night massacre in Foxboro just six weeks ago. Sixty-one times in league history has a team lost by 30+ points and then later beat that same opponent in a rematch that season. It's only happened 12 times, though, where the first defeat came by 40 or more points. The full list of 61, below:

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year           Team Opp Game 1 Diff Game 2
2009 KAN DEN 44-13 (Dec. 6) 31 44-24 (Jan. 3)
2009 TAM NOR 38-7 (Nov. 22) 31 20-17 (Dec. 27)
2008 CHI GNB 37-3 (Nov. 16) 34 20-17 (Dec. 22)
2007 BAL PIT 38-7 (Nov. 5) 31 27-21 (Dec. 30)
2005 WAS NYG 36-0 (Oct. 30) 36 35-20 (Dec. 24)
2003 NWE BUF 31-0 (Sep. 7) 31 31-0 (Dec. 27)
2002 NYJ NWE 44-7 (Sep. 15) 37 30-17 (Dec. 22)
2000 SDG KAN 42-10 (Sep. 17) 32 17-16 (Nov. 26)

Posted in General | 28 Comments »

Historical NFL Training Camp Locations –

15th December 2010

2010 NFL Training Camp Locations - / Chicago Bears Training Camp History

Every once and awhile we get an e-mail with some neat new dataset that they have put together. Earlier this fall, Andrew McKillop sent us a set of research he's been doing on training camp location. That material is now on our franchise and year pages. Included below is the source material Andrew used to research this data.

Andrew wrote an extensive article in the history of NFL Training Camps for his blog. Be sure to check it out.

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Posted in Announcements, General | 2 Comments »

Full Coaching Resumes on Coach Pages

15th December 2010

Eric Studesville Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks -

Just a quick reminder that we have year-by-year resumes for NFL coaches on our coaching pages. And if you want to know what a quality control coach does. Here is a good article from the New York Times from a year ago.

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What John Elway Really did Forty-Seven Times in His Career

30th November 2010

This is a guest post by Scott Kacsmar. Thanks to Scott for sharing his comeback data with us on the site. A complete list of comebacks for quarterbacks is available on their player pages linked just above their passing stats. (Sean Forman)

When Brett Favre produces a comeback victory, the sports world is a flutter with excitement. Highlight reels of the winning drive are shown ad nauseam. Mariucci cries. Madden sweats. The sales of Crocs go up. Nothing says "Brett Favre's just having fun out there" more than a signature comeback win.
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Posted in Best/Worst Ever, General | 62 Comments »