Friend of the program Stephanie Stradley (@StephStradley) interviewed me over at her blog at the Houston Chronicle to discuss quarterback stats.

Some folks have the point of view that rookie quarterbacks should sit and learn. Some folks have the point of view that the only way a young quarterback can learn is by getting a ton of first team reps in practice and then playing real games. Do the numbers say anything about this?

“This is always going to be an impossible question to answer. We don’t live in a counter-factual world, and nobody knows what would have happened to David Carr if he sat on the bench for a couple of years. Ryan Mallett might benefit from having sat behind Tom Brady for three years, or he might just be the next Curtis Painter (or Brian Hoyer or Jim Sorgi or Rohan Davey).

That said, I’m pretty skeptical of the idea that a quarterback needs to sit and learn. There’s nothing wrong with sitting and learning, but I don’t think it makes a quarterback better.  Aaron Rodgers was great right away after sitting for three years; had he started right away, he almost certainly would not have been that good, but I don’t doubt that he would have still turned into the superstar he is today.

One thing that isn’t really true: rookie quarterbacks aren’t really starting much earlier than they used to. In general, top picks always got a chance pretty early in their careers.”

You can read the full article here.

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In 1995, Football Outsiders graded the Eagles special teams as the worst in the NFL. The next two years, Philadelphia ranked 20th and 26th, respectively. In 1998, after hiring a new special teams coordinator, the team still finished just 25th. But, over the next eight years, the Eagles’ special teams flipped dramatically, ranking as the second-best in football during that period. In fact, from 2000-2004, Philadelphia ranked in the top five in the Football Outsiders’ special teams ratings each season.

When the Ravens hired the coordinator of those special teams, John Harbaugh, as their head coach in 2008, Baltimore turned one of the more surprising coaching hires in recent history into one of the best. Based on where the team was when it hired him, Harbaugh’s first three years were about the best since 1990 of any coach not named Harbaugh, at least according to DVOA. The Ravens made the playoffs in Harbaugh’s first five seasons, winning the Super Bowl in the last of those. Harbaugh’s success even caused Chase to wonder whether it would change the way teams hired head coaches.

Since Harbaugh was so successful as a coordinator, does that mean he was a good bet to be a successful head coach? At first glance, you might think just about every coordinator who gets promoted or poached to become a head coach was very successful in his previous job. As it turns out, that’s not always the case. Once we correct for expectations, a little more than one in four hired head coaches actually underperformed in their previous jobs, at least according to DVOA.

Consider one man who performed particularly poorly as a coordinator: Eric Mangini. The 2005 New England defense had a DVOA that was 15.2 points lower than we would have predicted based on the Patriots’ performance in the preceding seasons. He was not so much of a (Man)genius to have a good defense in 2005, and that may have given some hint that he was not the greatest bet to succeed as a head coach, either.1

This leads to an obvious question: on average, have teams done better when they have hired head coaches who were actually good in their previous jobs (either as coordinators or head coaches)? Let’s take this to the data. [click to continue…]

  1. Always a bonus when painful Jets memories come up organically. There are always other coaching greats like Joe Walton for Jets fans to remember fondly, at least for epic nasal invasions. []

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A full one-quarter of all NFL teams have opening day starters who have won a Super Bowl: New England (Tom Brady), Pittsburgh (Ben Roethlisberger), Baltimore (Joe Flacco), Denver (Peyton Manning), New York Giants (Eli Manning), Green Bay (Aaron Rodgers), New Orleans (Drew Brees) and Seattle (Russell Wilson) all sport Super Bowl winning passers.

That’s pretty rare. In 1991, Jeff Hostetler was the only quarterback starting in week 1 who had a Lombardi Trophy on his resume.1 From 1993 to 2012, an average of 4.0 week 1 starters had previously won a title. Having a Super Bowl winning quarterback is nice, but it doesn’t exactly make a team unique. At least not for 2014.

Year
Wk 1 SB QBs
Quarterbacks
20148Tom Brady; Ben Roethlisberger; Peyton Manning; Eli Manning; Drew Brees; Aaron Rodgers; Joe Flacco; Russell Wilson
20137Tom Brady; Ben Roethlisberger; Peyton Manning; Eli Manning; Drew Brees; Aaron Rodgers; Joe Flacco
20126Tom Brady; Ben Roethlisberger; Peyton Manning; Eli Manning; Drew Brees; Aaron Rodgers
20115Tom Brady; Ben Roethlisberger; Eli Manning; Drew Brees; Aaron Rodgers
20105Brett Favre; Tom Brady; Peyton Manning; Eli Manning; Drew Brees
20096Brett Favre; Kurt Warner; Tom Brady; Ben Roethlisberger; Peyton Manning; Eli Manning
20086Brett Favre; Kurt Warner; Tom Brady; Ben Roethlisberger; Peyton Manning; Eli Manning
20074Brett Favre; Tom Brady; Ben Roethlisberger; Peyton Manning
20064Brett Favre; Kurt Warner; Tom Brady; Brad Johnson
20054Brett Favre; Kurt Warner; Trent Dilfer; Tom Brady
20044Brett Favre; Kurt Warner; Tom Brady; Brad Johnson
20034Brett Favre; Kurt Warner; Tom Brady; Brad Johnson
20023Brett Favre; Kurt Warner; Tom Brady
20012Brett Favre; Kurt Warner
20003Troy Aikman; Brett Favre; Kurt Warner
19993Troy Aikman; Steve Young; Brett Favre
19984Troy Aikman; Steve Young; Brett Favre; John Elway
19973Troy Aikman; Steve Young; Brett Favre
19962Troy Aikman; Steve Young
19953Jeff Hostetler; Troy Aikman; Steve Young
19943Joe Montana; Jeff Hostetler; Troy Aikman
19936Joe Montana; Jim McMahon; Phil Simms; Jeff Hostetler; Mark Rypien; Troy Aikman
19922Phil Simms; Mark Rypien
19911Jeff Hostetler
19902Joe Montana; Phil Simms
19893Joe Montana; Jim McMahon; Phil Simms
19884Joe Montana; Jim McMahon; Phil Simms; Doug Williams
19872Joe Montana; Phil Simms
19862Joe Montana; Jim McMahon
19853Jim Plunkett; Joe Montana; Joe Theismann
19843Jim Plunkett; Joe Montana; Joe Theismann
19834Ken Stabler; Jim Plunkett; Joe Montana; Joe Theismann
19824Terry Bradshaw; Ken Stabler; Jim Plunkett; Joe Montana
19813Terry Bradshaw; Ken Stabler; Jim Plunkett
19803Bob Griese; Terry Bradshaw; Ken Stabler
19794Roger Staubach; Bob Griese; Terry Bradshaw; Ken Stabler
19783Roger Staubach; Terry Bradshaw; Ken Stabler
19775Joe Namath; Roger Staubach; Bob Griese; Terry Bradshaw; Ken Stabler
19764Joe Namath; Roger Staubach; Bob Griese; Terry Bradshaw
19754Joe Namath; Roger Staubach; Bob Griese; Terry Bradshaw
19744Joe Namath; Len Dawson; Roger Staubach; Bob Griese
19734Joe Namath; Johnny Unitas; Roger Staubach; Bob Griese
19723Joe Namath; Len Dawson; Johnny Unitas
19711Len Dawson
19703Bart Starr; Joe Namath; Len Dawson
19692Bart Starr; Joe Namath
19681Bart Starr
19671Bart Starr
  1. Phil Simms was the team’s backup, Joe Montana missed the entire year with an elbow injury, Doug Williams had retired, Jim McMahon was the backup in Philadelphia, Jim Plunkett and Joe Theismann had long been retired, and that takes us all the way back to 1979. []

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Some trivia today from longtime commenter Jason Winter. Jason is a former sports blogger (http://jasonwinter.blogspot.com/) who’s shifted his focus to video games (http://jasonwinter.wordpress.com/).

1) In a 16-game regular season, what team has the highest low point total in their games? In other words, this is the only team to score 24 or more points in every game.

Trivia hint 1 Show


Trivia hint 2 Show


Trivia hint 3 Show


Click 'Show' for the Answer Show

2) After reading Jason’s first trivia, I decided to do some digging. Since 1940, only two other teams scored more than 20 points in every game, including the postseason. Both teams were from the ’50s.

Click 'Show' for the Answer Show

[click to continue…]

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I think I’m one of eight billion people who love “The Wire” and “Breaking Bad.” Those are the two best TV shows I’ve seen and it isn’t particularly close.1 “The Wire” had an amazing volume of unforgettably vivid characters. Below is my list of memorable “Wire” characters. To be a real test of unforgettableness, it’s got to be off the top of my head, so I’m sure I’m going to forget somebody, but here goes and I’ll include the first thought that jumps to mind:

Omar (“man’s gotta have a code”), Bunk (“f***”), McNulty (“f***”), DeAngelo (library), Stringer (mastermind), Avon (winner), Brother Mouzone (bow tie), Cedric (good posture), Garcetti (that’s actually the mayor of LA, I mean the Baltimore mayor), Clay Davis (“sheeeeeet”), Bunny (“New Hamsterdam”), Keisha (car chase scene), Lester (wood carving), Bodie (corner), Prop Joe (large), …

Ah, Prop Joe. Prop Joe was a very large and very reasonable drug kingpin. His name apparently stemmed from saying “I’ve got a proposition for you,” so we could certainly see him getting into prop bets. So, in honor of Prop Joe, I’ll cover some intriguing season prop bets.2 Most of these bets are only available online, which continues to be a legal gray area. Like Prop Joe, I would never directly touch anything slightly questionable, so I will be referring to bets made by my good friend Rawls.3 We’ll start with his favorite prop bet for 2014 and go from there in descending order.

Rawls’s Prop Bet #1: $76 On Any Team To Win at Least 14 Games (Odds: 3/1)

At first glance this bet seems to have a lot of merit. Since the 1987 strike, at least one team won 14 games 15 out of 26 times (57.7%). In the last 15 years, it’s even better, hitting 10 out of 15 times (66.7%). The bet only needs to win 25% of the time to break even, so this looks fantastic.

But Chase brought up a point that Rawls missed: schedule strength. The years without a 14-game winner in the last 15 years include 2012 and 2013. Rawls dismissed that as a blip, but it comes in part from two of the best teams in football playing in the same division. Moreover, the last run of years without a 14-game winner (1993-1997) also happened during a time of NFC dominance, at least until ‘97. The Cowboys played the Packers and Niners every year during that span, for example. This season, the best teams in football may have it even tougher. The Niners and Seahawks have to play each other twice, and each has one of the four hardest schedules in football this year. The Broncos get the NFC West, the Saints have the sixth-hardest schedule, and the Packers have above-average schedule strength. Only the Patriots have an easy schedule amongst the main threats to win 14 games. [click to continue…]

  1. “Seinfeld” is all alone in third with a pretty big gap after that, too. []
  2. The actor who played Prop Joe, Robert F. Chew, sadly passed away in January 2013. []
  3. Definitely not this Rawls who is the enemy of all that is good. []

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The AFC East was a very stable division over the past two years. The Patriots won 12 games in 2012 and 12 more in 2013. The Bills, with six wins in 2013, also repeated their 2012 win total. Miami won 7 games in 2012, and then 8 last year. And the Jets followed up a 6-10 season in 2012 with an 8-8 season last year. That’s about as stable as a division can get. The four teams saw their win totals move by an aggregate of just three wins, making the 2012-2013 AFC East the most stable division since realignment.

On the other end of the spectrum: the NFC South. The Falcons dropped from 13 wins in 2012 to just four last year. The Panthers jumped from 7 wins in 2012 to 12 last year, and it didn’t even take Bill Parcells to do it. New Orleans also won seven games in 2012, but jumped to 12 wins in 2013. The team that saw the least movement in the NFC South last year was Tampa Bay, but the Bucs still fell from 7 wins to 4 wins, matching the total movement by all AFC East teams. As a group, NFC South teams had a change of 21 wins from 2012 to 2013, the most of any division since realignment.

That’s hardly new for the NFC South, or for that matter, the AFC East. Since realignment, the NFC South has easily been the league’s most unstable division: the Falcons, Saints, Bucs, and Panthers have seen their win totals fluctuate by an average total of 18.8 wins per year, beginning with the 2002-2003 seasons. The AFC East has been incredibly stable: no team has ever finished with more wins than New England, while the Bills have finished last or tied for last eight times since realignment. As a result, the average movement among AFC East teams — in the aggregate — has been just 6.3 wins.

Rk
Division
Change # Wins/Yr
1NFC South18.8
2NFC North16.2
3AFC West14.5
4AFC North12.5
5AFC South11.6
6NFC East10.4
7NFC West7
8AFC East6.3

[click to continue…]

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Great Offenses and Missing the Playoffs

August 28, 2014 Data Dump

From 2002 to 2005, Peyton Manning was the best quarterback in the NFL, at least statistically, by a wide margin. But the #2 quarterback in Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt was Trent Green, and there was a wide gap between Green and all other quarterbacks not named Manning.  Over that same period, Tony Gonzalez led […]

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Guest Post: DVOA-Adjusted Pythagorean Expectation

August 27, 2014 Statgeekery

Just above these words, it says “posted by Chase.” And it was literally posted by Chase, but the words below the line belong to Bryan Frye, a longtime reader and commenter who has agreed to write this guest post for us. And I thank him for it. Bryan lives in Yorktown, Virginia, and operates his […]

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538: NFC West Preview Articles

August 26, 2014 Announcements

Yesterday, Neil Paine previewed the NFC East teams over at FiveThirtyEight. Today, yours truly is up with a look at the NFC West. The Cardinals won 10 games last year, only the second time the team reached double digits in victories since moving to Arizona in 1988. Their run defense was the key. The Cardinals […]

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Great Defenses and Missing the Playoffs

August 25, 2014 Data Dump

Ten years ago, the teams with three of the four best defenses in football missed the playoffs. The Buffalo Bills ranked 1st in Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt allowed and 2nd in Adjusted Yards per Carry allowed. That year, Sam Adams, Takeo Spikes, Terrence McGee, and Nate Clements made the Pro Bowl, while Aaron Schobel […]

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Call for Guest Writers

August 24, 2014 Announcements

There’s no more enjoyable community than the Football Perspective community. Over the past few months, I’ve been devoting more time to my day job, which is a very good thing. The only downside, of course, is that it leaves less time for me to devote to Football Perspective. And while The Streak is still alive, […]

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Checkdowns: Rushing Attempts Leaders Over Three-Year Periods

August 24, 2014 Data Dump

Over the last three years, no player has recorded more carries than Marshawn Lynch. But while Lynch’s 901 carries may lead the league, that’s a pretty low number, at least in modern history. The 2011-2013 seasons very nearly became the first three-year period where no running back had 900 carries since 1989 to 1991, which […]

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Can the Jets or Rams Send Three Defensive Linemen to the Pro Bowl?

August 23, 2014 Defensive Players

I’ve already spent some time this off-season discussing the Rams fantastic front four. Robert Quinn made the Pro Bowl last season, and he’s a good bet to make the trip to Hawaii again this year as long as he stays healthy. Adding Aaron Donald to a line that also has Chris Long and Michael Brockers […]

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Mick Tingelhoff is the 2015 Senior Committee Nominee

August 22, 2014 HOF

Dermontti Dawson is the only Hall of Fame center to play in the NFL in the last 20 years. Go back 30 years, and the only other HOF centers are Mike Webster and Dwight Stephenson. Go back a few more years, and you only get to add Jim Langer. In fact, since 1975, the only […]

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Football Perspective/FanDuel Promotion

August 21, 2014 Announcements

Football Perspective is teaming up again with the fine folks at FanDuel to provide another promotion for our readers. As you know, Football Perspective turns down just about advertising requests. But this is different, and frankly, this isn’t even advertising. Because we’ve got a great community here, FanDuel is happy to bring a fun promotion […]

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538: Are the Broncos or Seahawks More Immune From Regression?

August 20, 2014 Statgeekery

Over at Five Thirty Eight, I look at whether the Broncos pass offense, or the Seahawks pass defense, is more immune from regression to the mean.  As a general rule, elite offenses are further from league average than great defenses, so offensive regression isn’t as likely as defensive regression. It helps, too, that research has […]

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Is Quarterback Stability on the Rise?

August 19, 2014 History

This time last year: Michael Vick was fighting Nick Foles for the Eagles starting job, a battle Vick ultimately won. Brandon Weeden was preparing for his second season as the Browns starting quarterback. Matt Schaub was preparing to lead the Texans to another 12-win season and AFC South title. Josh Freeman was looking to resurrect […]

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Predictions: Is it Too Early to Get Excited (Or Worried) About Rookie QBs?

August 18, 2014 History

The preseason is meaningless, right? Well, as it turns out, it might give us a window into quarterback development, despite what you might think. The threshold for whether the preseason is useful is whether including that information tells us anything about a quarterback’s potential that we don’t already know from his draft position (or perhaps […]

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Updated: Vegas Futures Wins Totals

August 17, 2014 Current Events

Some background links: Warren Sharp’s look at the initial futures numbers from Cantor My look at implied SRS ratings based on May point spreads Andrew Healy’s post on line movements from March to July: Andrew’s follow-up post on not-entirely-awful futures bets Today I want to look at the latest odds from Vegas on NFL futures, […]

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The Rams and First Round Linemen

August 16, 2014 Trivia

Bill Barnwell and Robert Mays do a great job on their NFL podcasts. Yesterday, I listened to their NFC West preview, and it’s just stunning the amount of highly drafted talent the Rams have on both lines. We already know that the Rams have four former first rounders on the team’s starting defensive line, making […]

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Site News: Call For Help

August 15, 2014 Announcements

As regular readers know, this website has been experiencing some significant issues over the past couple of days. For long stretches, the website was down, and certain pages have been unavailable throughout this period. Why? That’s the tricky part. I’m not a tech guy, but as best I can tell, there were two issues: 1) […]

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Will Calvin Johnson Break Jerry Rice’s Career Receiving Yards Record?

August 14, 2014 Receiving

Over the last three seasons, Calvin Johnson has caught 5,137 yards of passes. That’s an incredible amount, and the most by a player over any three-year span in NFL history. That stat by itself isn’t proof of Johnson’s greatness – after all, Detroit has thrown 2,040 passes over the last three years, also the most […]

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Predictions: Rob Gronkowski’s Chances of Making it Through the Season

August 13, 2014 Statistics

In the 2011 AFC Championship Game against the Ravens, Bernard Pollard happened to Rob Gronkowski. And the Patriots offense ground to a halt for the rest of the game before being held to just 17 points in the Super Bowl.1 In 2012, it was a freak injury on an extra point and then a reinjury […]

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Which Young Quarterbacks Are On Track To Become Franchise QBs?

August 12, 2014 Current Events

Yesterday, I looked at how long it took the best quarterbacks to break out. Today, I want to apply what we learned from that post to 15 current NFL quarterbacks with fewer than 50 starts, all of whom were 26 years old or younger during the 2013 season. Sam Bradford (49 career starts): Career Relative […]

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How Long Does It Take Great Quarterbacks To Break out?

August 11, 2014 History

A couple of years ago, I asked how long it should have taken the Jaguars to move on from Blaine Gabbert. Today I want to revisit that general idea, but look at how long it takes the best quarterbacks to identify themselves as top-tier players. A couple of months ago, I looked at the greatest […]

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Super Bowl Champions and Top-Heavy Divisions

August 10, 2014 Theory

The NFL realigned its divisions in 2002, placing four divisions of four teams each in each conference. Some divisions have been top-heavy, with the most obvious example being the 2007 AFC East. The Patriots won 16 games, while the Jets, Dolphins, and Bills combined to win just twelve games (with six of those twelve wins […]

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Thoughts on Jerome Bettis and Running Back Size

August 9, 2014 Rushing

Jerome Bettis is a polarizing Hall of Fame candidate. I’m on the fence with the Bus; I don’t think he’s as deserving as Steelers fans think, but he’s a more deserving candidate than those who mostly remember end-of-career-Bus remember. One thing I’ve heard from time to time about Bus is that he was the greatest […]

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Footballguys.com – Why You Should Subscribe

August 8, 2014 Announcements

Regular readers know that I’m one of the writers at Footballguys.com. I think regular readers know that I’m not a very good salesman, either. But if you are a hardcore fantasy footballer, you probably already know that Footballguys.com is the single best source for fantasy football information. If you are a more casual fantasy football […]

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The New CBA and the Youthification of NFL Rosters

August 7, 2014 History

Some teams, like the Rams have done a good job of fielding a very young roster; others, like the Raiders, have made a conscious effort to head in the other direction. Overall, the Rams are more representative of the current trend. NFL teams have made a shift towards younger players in the last three years, although […]

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Leading Receivers Trivia

August 6, 2014 Trivia

Roger Craig, 1985. Terrell Owens, 1999. Terrell Owens, 2000. Tim Brown, 2001. Neil Paine wrote a fantastic post today at 538 about wide receivers competing with their teammates for production. That inspired me to start crunching some numbers. From 1985 to 2003, Jerry Rice played in at least 8 games in 18 different seasons. In […]

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