Steve Grogan is the Yards Per Completion King

July 26, 2014 History

In 2013, the average completion went for 11.63 yards. That’s a pretty low number historically, although it’s actually a bit higher than some of the recent NFL seasons. Take a look at how Yards per Completion has generally been declining throughout NFL history: If you want to discuss the quarterbacks who excelled in this metric, […]

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Quarterback Wins: Outlier Seasons

July 24, 2014 History

The 1998 season was one of my favorite years in NFL history. It was also a pretty weird one. We had Terrell Davis rushing for 2,000 yards, rookies Randy Moss and Fred Taylor making defenses look silly, and a quartet of old quarterbacks stun the football world. Doug Flutie came out of nowhere Canada to […]

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Worst Passer Ratings In Every Year Since the Merger

July 20, 2014 History

In 2013, Geno Smith had the worst passer rating (66.5) in the NFL. The year before, Mark Sanchez had a passer rating of 66.9, which was very nearly the lowest in the league (Matt Cassel had a rating of 66.7). But while the Jets didn’t quite do it, a couple of teams have managed to […]

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The Rashard Mendenhall/Andre Ellington Time Share Part II

July 17, 2014 History

In November, I wrote about the unique running back by committee taking place in Arizona. At the time, Rashard Mendenhall was averaging 3.1 yards per carry, while backup Andre Ellington was averaging 7.2 yards per rush on 54 carries. I thought it would be fun to revisit the Ellington/Mendenhall time share now that the season […]

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Best AV-Weighted Winning Percentages of Defensive Players and Hall of Famers

July 4, 2014 History

Yesterday, I looked at the best AV-weighted winning percentages of offensive players. Today, we examine the same numbers but for defensive players and kickers since 1960. Again, players who entered the league prior to 1960 are included, but for purposes of this study, only their 1960+ seasons count (assuming they produced at least 50 points […]

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Best AV-Weighted Winning Percentages of Offensive Players

July 3, 2014 History

Yesterday, I looked at the weighted career winning percentages for running backs, with the weight being based on each player’s yards from scrimmage in each season of his career. Today, I want to do the same thing but for all offensive players, using PFR’s Approximate Value ratings. By this methodology, Dan Koppen has the highest […]

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Average margins in Wins and Losses

June 30, 2014 History

Okay, some fun trivia to kick off the week. Do you know which team last year had the worst points differential in games they lost? I’ll put the answer in spoiler tags. Where does that rank historically? I thought it would be fun to look at the teams since 1950 with the worst average margin […]

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The Coryell Index

June 24, 2014 Coaches

Yesterday, we looked at the Billick Index, a measure of coaches who managed teams that were good at preventing offensive touchdowns and bad at creating them. Today, the reverse, which is appropriately named after Don Coryell. Coryell’s teams were slanted towards the offense even when he was in St. Louis, but the situation exploded when […]

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The Billick Index

June 23, 2014 Coaches

The 2004 Ravens were hardly Brian Billick’s most interesting team. But those Ravens serve as a shining example of what you envision when you think of Baltimore in the 2000s: terrible on offense and great on defense. The team went 9-7 despite the Kyle Boller-led offense producing just 24 touchdowns, tied for the second fewest […]

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The Smarter (Sigh) Football Betting Market

June 19, 2014 History

Economists (I am one) have historically been trained to believe in the efficiency of markets. The simplest way to think of this is that market prices capture all relevant information. Of course, this is sometimes not quite right, or even close to right. All the mortgage-backed securities that helped bring down our economy were horrendously […]

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Weekend Trivia: Sack Differential

June 14, 2014 Defense

Last year, the Denver Broncos led the NFL in sack differential — that is, sacks recorded by the defense minus sacks allowed by the offense. Having Peyton Manning really helps, as the Broncos had essentially an average number of defensive sacks (41) but ranked first in offensive sacks (20). So Denver ranked 1st in 2013 […]

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The Greatest QB of All-Time V, Part II: Career Rankings

June 10, 2014 G.O.A.T.

Yesterday, I explained the methodology behind the formula involved in ranking every quarterback season since 1960. Today, I’m going to present the career results. Converting season value to career value isn’t as simple as it might seem. Generally, we don’t want a player who was very good for 12 years to rank ahead of a […]

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The Greatest QB of All-Time V, Part I (Methodology)

June 9, 2014 G.O.A.T.

In 2006, I took a stab at ranking every quarterback in NFL history. Two years later, I acquired more data and made enough improvements to merit publishing an updated and more accurate list of the best quarterbacks the league has ever seen. In 2009, I tweaked the formula again, and published a set of career […]

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Graphic: Interceptions, Passing Touchdowns, NY/A, and Wins From 1950 to 2013

June 5, 2014 History

It’s fun to play with weighted averages to see how the NFL has (or hasn’t) evolved. For example, the Giants led the league with interceptions: as a result, 5.8% of all interceptions thrown in the NFL last year were by Eli Manning or Curtis Painter. Since the Giants went 7-9 in 2013, that means 5.8% […]

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First Season in a New Stadium

May 29, 2014 History

This year, the Vikings will play their home games at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium. The Metrodome is no longer, and Minnesota will play outdoors for two years before moving into a new indoor facility in 2016. Should we expect the Vikings to struggle in 2014 in their temporary home? This scare piece […]

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Memorial Day 2014

May 26, 2014 History

It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves […]

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Drafting Diamonds in the Rough

May 7, 2014 Draft

Guest blogger Andrew Healy, an economics professor at Loyola Marymount University, is back and the author of today’s post. As a reminder, there a tag at the site where you can find all of his great work. Asante Samuel. Jahri Evans. Robert Mathis. These three players share something in common that offers a hint to […]

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Rookie Draft Impact and Super Bowl Champions

May 6, 2014 Draft

The NFL Draft is this week, which means we have something resembling real football to talk about. But how much impact will the players who hear their names called during the 2014 Draft have on the 2014 season? Here’s the short answer: as a group, they will make up about 10% of games played by […]

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The Evolution of Quarterbacks

May 4, 2014 Data Dump

With the NFL draft approaching, you’ll hear a lot of statements about how the quarterback position is changing. Mobile quarterbacks are now “in”, which is a good thing for Johnny Manziel. A 6’4 frame is no longer required, which is a good thing for… well, Manziel, and negates some of the value of a player […]

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Bill Belichick And Coaching Records Against The Spread

May 1, 2014 Coaches

Last week at Five Thirty Eight, Nate Silver noted that San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has produced an excellent record against the spread. He also checked in football’s version of Pop, Bill Belichick, and came to the same conclusion: Belichick hasn’t just been great, but he’s been great against the spread, too. My […]

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Remembering Earl Morrall

April 30, 2014 Current Events

Five days ago, Earl Morrall passed away at the age of 79. His story is well-known to many, but it’s one worth recounting for the uninitiated. Born in Muskegon, Michigan, Morrall was a star quarterback and baseball player at Michigan State.  He made it to the College World Series in 1954 as an infielder, and […]

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Turnover Among Targets, Part II

April 27, 2014 History

Yesterday, I looked at team turnover in the passing game for every team in 2013. You can review the pretty complicated1 formula in that post, but the short version is to give each player credit for the lower of two values: his percentage of team receiving yards in Year N and his percentage of team […]

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Turnover Among Targets, Part I

April 26, 2014 History

The Carolina Panthers have experienced a lot of turnover this offseason. Steve Smith (Baltimore), Ted Ginn (Arizona), Domenik Hixon (Chicago), and Brandon LaFell (New England) are all gone. Those four players were the only wide receivers to catch a pass for Carolina in 2013, and they accounted for 59% of the Panthers receiving yards. last […]

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Percentage of Team Rushing Yards by Running Back

April 25, 2014 History

Peyton Manning’s time in Indianapolis was peppered with record-breaking moments that have been very well-publicized. But a relatively unknown record occurred during the nascent days of the Manning Era. In 1999, Edgerrin James rushed for 1,553 yards, an impressive accomplishment in any era. But here’s what’s really crazy: Manning was second in the team in […]

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The Least/Most Lucky Teams When It Comes To Rings

April 22, 2014 History

By now, you know about guest blogger Andrew Healy, an economics professor at Loyola Marymount University and author of today’s post. There’s now a tag at the site where you can find all of his great work. He’s back with a cap to his excellent series about playoff performance, and today’s post will not disappoint: […]

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Running backs getting shorter and heavier

April 20, 2014 History

In December, I noted that fewer rushing yards are coming from first round picks. That’s a trend that seems very likely to continue in 2014, and perhaps for the foreseeable future. As it turns out, running backs are also getting shorter and heavier. LeSean McCoy, Alfred Morris, Frank Gore, Knowshon Moreno, Zac Stacy, DeAngelo Williams, […]

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Ranking the Almost Dynasties, Part II

April 15, 2014 History

Andrew Healy is back with a sequel to his popular post. As always, we thank him for his generous contributions. Andrew Healy is an economics professor at Loyola Marymount University. He is a big fan of the New England Patriots and Joe Benigno. A couple of weeks ago, I went decade-by-decade since the 1970 AFL-NFL […]

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Head Coach Retention Rates

April 7, 2014 Coaches

In the footnotes (always read the footnotes!) to one of Neil’s posts at 538, he included a fun chart displaying the likelihood that a baseball manager would be retained by his team X seasons from now. That made me wonder: what is the NFL head coach retention rate? And, as is often assumed by the […]

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A Passing League

April 6, 2014 History

In some ways, the premise of this post is geeky even for this site. And that’s saying something. There is a debate over the proper way to measure league average. For example, when we say the average completion percentage in the NFL is 61.2%, this is generally assumed to reflect the fact that in 2013, […]

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Scoring Distribution Since 1940

April 3, 2014 History

We all know that scoring is on the rise. The 2013 season was the highest scoring season in NFL history, just narrowly edging out the … 1948, 1950, and 2012 seasons. Scoring soared in the aftermath of World War II, but quickly dropped off in the middle of the 1950s. Scoring fell to its nadir […]

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