≡ Menu

Consecutive Playoff Losses For a Franchise

From 1993 to 2015, the New York Islanders lost eight consecutive playoff series, beginning with a loss in the conference finals to Montreal in 1993, and culminating in a heartbreaking, 7-game series loss last year to Washington. Last night, the Isles came from behind and defeated Florida, to win the series, four games to two.

So the streak stopped at eight for the Islanders; as it turns out, the longest streaks for consecutive playoff losses in NFL history is also at eight, with two of those streaks being active. [click to continue…]

{ 6 comments }

Yesterday, I wrote how the NBA seemed to undervalue the three-point shot for many years. While the 3-point shot was consistently the better EV play, and the ratio of three-point shots to overall shots was increasing, it didn’t seem to increase quickly enough. As pointed out in the comments, one could make a pretty similar claim about pass/run ratio in the NFL.

It’s a little misleading to start things in 1970, since that’s really the beginning of the dead air era in football history. Pass efficiency was very high in the late ’40s and parts of the ’60s, so a chart beginning in 1970 would inaccurately imply a linear progression of the passing game. That said, because first down data is spotty the farther back we go, and because of the complexity involved in deciding how to treat the AFL, I’m going to limit myself today to the period from 1970 to 2016. [click to continue…]

{ 6 comments }

NBA 3-Point Attempts and Going For it On 4th Down

In overly simple terms (ignoring things like fouls, rebounds, game theory, etc.), the expected value of a 2-point field goal attempt is the 2-point field goal percentage multiplied by 2, and the expected value of a 3-point field goal attempt is the 3-point field goal percentage multiplied by 3. Here’s a look at the EV for both 2-point and 3-point attempts in every NBA season going back to 1979-1980, courtesy of basketball-reference:

nba

The inflection point came right around 1990; after that, the 3-point shot was associated with a higher expected value, and since ’97-’98, the 3-point shot has about 12% more EV than a 2-point shot. Now, I know just about nothing about the NBA and even less about NBA analytics, but it’s easy to draw a couple of conclusions from this chart. One would be that teams should be taking more 3-pointers, even though “traditional coaches” have not been fans of the 3-point shot. It’s easy to look at this chart and dismiss it, and say that a team shouldn’t take a bunch of 3 pointers just because the math says it makes sense. On the other hand, you have the Golden State Warriors. [click to continue…]

{ 11 comments }

Quarterbacks Going 1-2 in the NFL Draft, Part II

A year ago, I wrote that quarterbacks going with the first two picks in the NFL Draft was a pretty unusual thing. From 1967, the start of the common draft, through 2011, it happened just four times. Since then, it has happened two more times, and now will apparently happen in 2016, too, after the Eagles sent way too many draft picks to the Browns for the right to pick second overall. We can save for another day how this was a shrewd move by Cleveland — if nothing else, the Browns do have a history of getting a boatload to move down, including in trades for Sammy Watkins and Julio Jones — and a head-scratcher for the Eagles.

This move also opens up San Diego as the team “in control” of the draft, non-QB edition. The Chargers will now take the first non-QB off the board. Unfortunately, that’s a lot less exciting than it sounds, although it may come with it the ability to extract some trade value, potentially from the Cowboys at #4. Let’s take a look at the six times since 1967 that quarterbacks went 1-2, and who was the first non-QB taken. [click to continue…]

{ 6 comments }

You probably heard that Kobe Bryant has retired from the NBA. In his final game, he put up a whopping 60 points, albeit on a modern record 50 shot attempts. On twitter, Topher_Doll asked me what were some of the greatest final games in NFL history.

Since 1970, there have been 37 times where a player eclipsed 100 yards from scrimmage in his final game. This includes Calvin Johnson, but not Johnny Manziel, who rushed for over 100 yards in his last game but is not exactly out of the NFL just yet. The record-holder is Domanick Williams (formerly Davis) of the Houston Texans, who had a very successful but short career that was ended by a knee injury. [click to continue…]

{ 15 comments }

Yesterday, I looked at the Pythagenpat records for all teams since 2000. Since I crunched all that data, I thought it would be fun to look at the biggest outlier teams.

The 2003 Steelers were not very good. Pittsburgh went 6-10, scoring 200 points and allowing 327 points. Because of regression to the mean, the ’04 Steelers were expected to be a little better, and finish with 7.2 wins. Instead, behind a rookie Ben Roethlisberger and an outstanding running game and defense, the Steelers went 15-1, exceeding expectations by 7.8 wins.

Last year’s Panthers also went 15-1, and have a similar story. Cam Newton, the AP MVP, was more of the driving force, of course, but a great running game and defense powered the team. But based on a mediocre ’14 season, Carolina was expected to win only 7.8 games, so the 2015 Panthers exceeded expectations by 7.2 wins.

The third biggest outlier? That would be the ’07 Patriots, who went 16-0 with a projection of just 9.5 wins. The next year, New England was projected to win 10.99 games, and… went 11-5.

The table below shows each team since 2000, and their number of projected and actual wins. The table is sorted by the difference column: [click to continue…]

{ 2 comments }

Over the last week, I’ve looked at the biggest quarterback declines and quarterback turnarounds when it comes to career records. But there were some limitations in those studies, so today, I want to use a new method.

I assigned 20 games of .500 play — i.e., a 10-10 record — to each quarterback’s record after every start of his career. Then I checked to see which quarterbacks had the biggest declines/improvements in record/rest-of-career record using these metrics.

Let’s take Marc Bulger as an example. He started 95 games in his career. At one point, he was 28-11, which is a 0.718 winning percentage. For the rest of his career, he went 13-43, for a 0.232 winning percentage. If we add 20 games of .500 play to his first stint, that makes him 38-21, which translates to a 0.644 winning percentage. For his rest of career, his record would go down as 23-53, a 0.303 adjusted winning percentage. That’s an adjusted winning percentage decline of 0.341, the most of any quarterback in history. [click to continue…]

{ 10 comments }

Jim Brown, Bobby Boyd, and Retiring Early

The GOAT.

The GOAT.

Jim Brown is the standard bearer for athletes who retired too young, and for very good reason. Brown led the NFL in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, yards from scrimmage, and total touchdowns in his final season in 1965, all while averaging 5.3 yards per run and 9.6 yards per reception. With D’Brickashaw Ferguson choosing to retire “early” yesterday, on the heels of Calvin Johnson doing the same thing, I decided to run a quick query on the players who were best in the final season of their career.

The table below shows all players who had at least 10 points of Approximate Value in the final season of their career (Megatron had 10 points of AV in 2015; Ferguson had 9) and whose last season came in 2014 or earlier.1  As it turns out, Brown ranks tied for first on this list, next to Colts defensive back Bobby Boyd.

Here’s how to read the table below. Boyd’s last season came in 1968 with Baltimore.  Playing left cornerback, he accumulated 21 points of AV that year at the age of 31. He received a number of awards that season: he was 1st-team All-Conference (that’s what the + sign means) according to the Sporting News, and a 1st-team All-Pro choice by the AP, Pro Football Writers, NY Daily News, Pro Football Weekly, and the UPI. [click to continue…]

  1. Note that Patrick Willis had just 3 points of AV in his final year in the NFL. []
{ 7 comments }

Fran Tarkenton, Warren Moon, and Career Turnarounds

Getting 62 wins is much easier the second time around

Getting 62 wins is much easier the second time around

A couple of days ago, I looked at the quarterbacks with the best records before ultimately finishing their careers with losing records. Today, the reverse, and we start with Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton, who has a fascinating career split.

Tarkenton went 124-109-6 in his 18-year career with the Vikings and Giants. His first 62 wins took him a long time; at age 32, he was 62-86-4 after a week 6 loss to the Bears in 1972. At 24 games under .500 and with a career 0.421 winning percentage, Tarkenton was a five-time Pro Bowler with little to show for it and zero career playoff appearances.

But for the rest of his career, he won another 62 games, and he did so much quicker, going 62-23-2. That’s 41 games over .500 and a 0.724 winning percentage. That’s extremely impressive, of course, enough to make Tarkenton have a career 0.531 winning percentage. And, among quarterbacks who finished their career at .500 or better, Tarkenton is the only quarterback to ever be 24 games below .500 at any point in his career.

Although one could argue that Warren Moon had an even more remarkable career turnaround. I’ve written before about the terrible Oilers franchise that Moon joined in the mid-’80s. After 43 games, Moon had a 10-33 record. While it took Tarkenton 152 games to get to 24 games below .500, Moon was one shy of that mark in over 100 fewer games! At that point, the odds of Moon — then 30 years old — finishing his career with a winning record would have been seen as astronomically low. Yet he did just that, going 92-68 over the remainder of his career. [click to continue…]

{ 2 comments }

The under-appreciated Jim Hart

The under-appreciated Jim Hart

Yesterday, I noted that Cleveland Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar had a 39-23-1 career record after the 1989 season, but actually finished his career with a losing record. That sounded pretty wild to me, so I wanted to investigate further.

Kosar’s Browns defeated the Steelers in the 1990 season opener, which brought his career record to 40-23-1, or 17 games over .500. But Kosar went just 13-31 over his final 44 games; after a 0.633 winning percentage in his first 64 games, he posted a 0.295 winning percentage for the remainder of his career.

So I wondered, among quarterbacks who finished their career with a .500 record or worse, does Kosar hold the record for most games above .500 at any one point? As it turns out, that honor goes to Jim Hart. Younger fans likely know very little about Hart, but he’s one of the better quarterbacks not in the Hall of Fame. He spent 18 years with the Cardinals, and made the Pro Bowl in four straight seasons from ’74 to ’77. By 1981, he ranked third all time in career passing yards and ninth in passing touchdowns. He made it into the top 50 on Brad Oremland’s list, and snuck into the top 30 on my list.

But if you look at the raw numbers, you’re likely to be unimpressed. That’s because the bulk of his career took place during the ’70s, but also because he retired with an 87-88-5 record. But as of November 20th, 1977, Hart had a 69-47-5 record, a 0.591 winning percentage. Of course, it was all downhill from there for Hart, who went just 18-41 (0.305) for the rest of his career. [click to continue…]

{ 11 comments }

Bob Ford, a longtime fan of Pro-Football-Reference and Football Perspective, has contributed a 2-part guest post on Yards Per Carry Leaders. Bob is the owner and founder of GOATbacks.com, which looks at the greatest running backs of all time. Thanks to Bob for yesterday’s and today’s articles!


Yesterday, I looked at the YPC leaders for the 46 seasons since the merger was completed, 1970-2015 at the 100/120/180-carry cutoffs. Today, a look at the YPC leaders since 1970 at three higher thresholds. [click to continue…]

{ 17 comments }

Bob Ford, a longtime fan of Pro-Football-Reference and Football Perspective, has contributed a 2-part guest post on Yards Per Carry Leaders. Bob is the owner and founder of GOATbacks.com, which looks at the greatest running backs of all time. Thanks to Bob for today’s (and tomorrow’s) article!


I’ve been curious about YPC leaders over the years, particularly as they’re sorted through increasing numbers of carries. Over the next two days, I will look at the YPC leaders using six different carry minimum thresholds: 100, 120, and 150 today, and 180, 220, and 280 carries tomorrow. These cutoffs weren’t arrived at in an analytically rigorous way, just through instinct and personal judgment. I ran a number of different carry thresholds and simply tried to keep my statistical eyes peeled; in my view, these are at least 6 of the minimums where interesting changes seemed to emerge.

As a general rule, though not an absolute one, I’m in the camp that regards YPC as, at best, a questionable stat when it comes to assessing skill and performance, and at worst a misleading and even bunkum stat, to borrow a term from Chase and the crew over at Intentional Rounding. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting YPC is useless. In fact in some narrow contexts I think it’s even key. But I think it’s woefully overused and over relied on, and I do regard it with suspicion when it comes to assessing rushing and running back value and effectiveness, particularly in “real-game” situations. I think the same holds for mobile quarterbacks, too.

I decided to look at YPC leaders for the 46 seasons since the merger was completed, 1970-2015. Again, no special reason, just to make things more manageable. This would probably get really interesting if we included all pre-merger seasons, but I didn’t do that here. If anyone does, kudos. At any rate, here are the YPC leaders since 1970, sorted at 6 different carry thresholds. [click to continue…]

{ 2 comments }

The only thing stable in Cleveland

The only thing stable in Cleveland

With the Cleveland Browns undergoing an overhaul this offseason, there are some rumors that offensive tackle Joe Thomas could be traded. If that’s the case, it could be classified as a charity trade, as arguably no great player has been stuck on such a bad organization as Thomas.

The third overall pick in the 2007 draft, Thomas has never missed a single game. During that time, he has made the Pro Bowl every season, while Cleveland has won just 47 of 144 games. That gives Thomas a career winning percentage of 0.326, and since he has made the Pro Bowl each year, he has the same career winning percentage in each Pro Bowl season.

There have been 78 players to make 9+ Pro Bowls. Among that group, Thomas has the lowest career winning percentage during Pro Bowl seasons. But the shocking thing is that it’s not even close: the 2nd-worst winning percentage belongs to the late Junior Seau, but his teams won 10% more games than Thomas’ Browns! [click to continue…]

{ 4 comments }

That’s pretty darn impressive. Going back to December of his rookie season in 2011, Julio Jones has gained 5,703 yards in his last 57 games. That’s not a record, but he is just the fourth player since 1960 to do that. You can probably guess who the first four were: in fact, I think most of you would be able to name the top 3 if you take a minute and think about it. So take that minute.

……….

……….

………. [click to continue…]

{ 4 comments }

Beebe was part of the special teams unit that blocked for Howard's kickoff return TD

Beebe was part of the special teams unit that blocked for Howard’s kickoff return TD

ESPN’s 30 for 30 episode, the Four Falls of Buffalo, was a tremendous look at one of history’s most memorable teams. When I watched it, I was reminded that a few of those Bills actually won Super Bowls. [click to continue…]

{ 11 comments }

Carolina Led The NFL In Points Scored In A Unique Way

Carolina led the league in points scored this season with an even 500. That is nothing to be ashamed: over the previous 15 seasons, the average points scored leader has put up 517 points, but six of those teams failed to hit the 500-points barrier. That is not an overwhelmingly high total, but it’s not really an outlier, either.

What is an outlier is just about everything else on the Panthers offense, at least among teams that led the league in scoring since 1970. Let’s start with the traditional metric used to rank offenses: total yards. Here, Carolina ranked just 11th overall. How unusual is it for a team to lead the NFL in points scored but rank outside of the top 10 in yards? Well, it’s never happened before, so I guess that qualifies as pretty unusual. The 1980 Dallas Cowboys, led by Danny White in his first season as a starter, ranked 9th, representing the previous low: [click to continue…]

{ 20 comments }
Davis switched teams, but not (yet) sports

Davis switched teams, but not (yet) sports

Joe Campbell and Vernon Davis have a lot in common. Campbell went to Maryland, and was the 7th overall pick in the 1977 NFL draft. Davis went to Maryland, and was the 6th pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. Campbell was 6’6, 254 pounds in his playing days; Davis measures in at 6’3, 250 pounds. And both wound up unexpectedly playing in a Super Bowl.

Campbell was drafted by the Saints, and had three and a half nondescript seasons with the team. Then, on October 15, 1980, the Saints traded him to Oakland for a 1981 sixth round draft pick. New Orleans was 0-5 at the time, while the Raiders were just 2-3. But after trading for Campbell — and also inserting Jim Plunkett into the starting lineup — Oakland got hot. The Raiders finished the regular season 11-5, and then won three playoff games to become the first Wild Card team to reach the Super Bowl.

That Super Bowl was held at the Superdome, where Campbell played his home games earlier in the year (and during the prior three years). That, of course, is exactly what Davis is doing. On November 2nd, 2015, the 49ers sent Davis and a 2016 7th round pick to Denver for 6th round picks in 2016 and 2017. Now, three months later, Davis will return to Levi’s Stadium to play in the biggest game of them all. [click to continue…]

{ 1 comment }

The graph below shows Washington’s winning percentage after each game this season:

wash winp

The season began with a home loss to Miami, the start of a loss-win-loss-win-loss pattern that defined the team’s first five games. The sixth game was a loss to the Jets, followed by a win-loss-win-loss-win-loss pattern that brought the team’s record to 5-7. Finally, after three straight wins, Washington now has a winning record at 8-7. In the process, the team clinched the disappointing NFC East: that’s because the Eagles and Cowboys will finish with losing records, while the Giants would lose a tiebreaker (based on NFC record) to Washington at 8-8.

The last time Washington made the playoffs, it was with a quarterback drafted in 2012 and following a slow start, too: that year, the team began 3-6 but finished 10-6. There are more than a few similarities between those two teams, particularly at quarterback. Over his last 9 games, Kirk Cousins has completed 72% of his passes for 2,570 yards (8.57 Y/A), with 20 TDs and 3 INTs, while also rushing for four touchdowns. In RG3’s last 10 games of his rookie season, he threw for 2,039 yards (8.0 Y/A) with 16 TDs and 4 INTs, while also rushing for 574 yards with three scores. [click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

In 2014, the Denver Broncos ranked 4th in Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt; in case you forgot, Peyton Manning‘s “struggles” last year were really confined to the back end of the season. This year, the Broncos rank 31st in ANY/A, as Manning has been terrible and Brock Osweiler has been far below average. The Broncos ANY/A has dropped from 7.67 to 4.90, a decline of 2.77 ANY/A.

But that’s not even the biggest decline of 2015. Last year, the Dallas Cowboys ranked 2nd in ANY/A at 7.96; this year, without Tony Romo, the team is dead last at 4.76, for a decline of 3.20 ANY/A. Here is the full list of how passing offenses have improved/declined from 2014, which also shows why Carson Palmer is a pretty good choice for MVP: [click to continue…]

{ 7 comments }

Marshall and Decker, following one of many touchdowns

Marshall and Decker, following one of many touchdowns

Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker have quickly become one of the best wide receiver duos in the NFL. In their first game together this season, against the Browns, both scored a touchdown. The next week, the duo repeated that act against the Colts. A month later, both caught touchdowns against Washington. Then, Marshall and Decker each scored in back-to-back games against the Jaguars and Bills, and have since caught touchdowns against the Dolphins and Titans.

That’s seven games where both players have scored touchdowns in the same game.  They are just the second pair of receivers to pull off this feat. And with two games remaining, it’s still possible for them to tie the NFL record for any pair of teammates. Today, let’s look at all duos to score a touchdown in at least seven games.

Nine Games

In 1995, Emmitt Smith rushed for 25 touchdowns, while Michael Irvin caught 10 touchdowns. Of course, Smith set a record by scoring a touchdown in 15 regular season games, the only player to ever do that. Irvin’s 10 touchdowns came in 10 games, and while he did catch a touchdown in the lone game in which Smith was left out of the end zone, that still leaves 9 games where both players scored a touchdown. Incredibly, Smith then scored in all three playoff games, while Irvin caught touchdowns in the Cowboys wins over Philadelphia and Green Bay, giving the duo 11 games that season where both scored a touchdown. [click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

Back in week 3, Jimmy Clausen was the Bears starting quarterback when Chicago traveled to Seattle. The Bears offense was abysmal that day, with Chicago punting on all ten drives. Clausen has since been released, pick up by the Ravens, and now will start his second game of the season for Baltimore against… Seattle.

Clausen becomes the fifth quarterback to start against the same opponent twice in the same season, but with different teams. The first four? [click to continue…]

{ 1 comment }

Trivia: Longest Walkoff Passing Touchdown

Last night, Aaron Rodgers threw a walk-off, game-winning Hail Mary to Richard Rodgers to beat the Lions. According to Elias, it’s the longest game-winning Hail Mary in NFL history. And yet, perhaps most incredible part of the play was not how long it was, but high high it was:

Same ole lions 🦁

A video posted by Brandon Movitz (@brandicle) on

And here’s how I picture Lions fans during the middle of that pass.

But while this may have been the longest Hail Mary pass in history, it certainly wasn’t the longest walk-off passing touchdown in history.

Trivia hint 1 Show


Trivia hint 2 Show


Trivia hint 3 Show


Click 'Show' for the Answer Show

Also of note: this was the 9th touchdown pass, including playoffs, from Rodgers to Rodgers, which ties the same name passing touchdown NFL record.

{ 2 comments }

The Panthers were 3-8-1 entering December 2014. Carolina has not lost a game since. There have been 108 different “teams” to win 12 straight regular season games, with teams being broadly defined (if a team wins 13 straight games, that counts as two separate 12-game streaks; if it wins 14, that’s three separate streaks, and so on). Previously, just one team in history had ever posted a losing record in one 12-game period before winning 12 straight games. That was the 2003-2004 Pittsburgh Steelers; Pittsburgh struggled in 2003, and then began the ’04 season with a 1-1 record during Ben Roethlisberger’s rookie year. But beginning in week three — Roethlisberger’s first career start — Pittsburgh won 16 consecutive regular season games.

But Pittsburgh went “only” 5-7 in their previous 12 games before the long winning streak began. As a result, Carolina’s 3-8-1 record in their previous 12 games is worst record by 1.5 games of any team to win 12 straight games. The table below shows all 108 teams, the year and game number when the streak began, and the team’s record and winning percentage in their previous 12 games. [click to continue…]

{ 3 comments }

Today’s guest post/trivia question comes from Adam Harstad, a co-writer of mine at Footballguys.com. You can follow Adam on twitter at @AdamHarstad.


While researching my article on DeAndre Hopkins’ receiving first downs, I came across a striking statistic. Since 1994 (as far back as Pro Football Reference has queryable play-by-play data), there have been three seasons where a receiver gained at least 800 receiving yards and had at least 49.5% of that receiving yardage come while his team was trailing by at least 14 points.

Amazingly, all three seasons belonged to a different Arizona Cardinals receiver. In 1995, Rob Moore gained 907 receiving yards, and 475 (52.4%), came while his team was down by at least two touchdowns. In 2000, David Boston gained 1156 receiving yards, and 591 (51.1%), came while his team was trailing by 14 or more. In 2003, Anquan Boldin gained 1377 receiving yards, and 682 (49.5%) came while trailing by at least 14.

Three different seasons. Three different receivers catching passes from three different quarterbacks, (Dave Krieg, Jake Plummer, and Jeff Blake, respectively). The only common thread uniting them was the franchise they played for. [click to continue…]

{ 12 comments }

With six teams on bye this week, that left 26 teams playing in week nine. Not a single one of the main quarterbacks for any of those teams averaged fewer than 4.00 Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt. That’s incredible: overall, quarterbacks this week averaged an insane 7.12 ANY/A. Take a look: the table below shows the passing stats from all 30 players who threw a pass in week 9. I have calculated the Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt for each player as well, along with their VALUE (ANY/A minus league average multiplied by number of dropbacks) provided relative to league average, with one catch: league average is 7.12. As a result, all of the quarterback grades feel a little depressed. [click to continue…]

{ 1 comment }

Antonio Brown caught caught 17 passes (on 23 targets) for an incredible 284 yards today against the Raiders. He also had two carries for 22 yards. But while 306 yards from scrimmage is insane, Brown wasn’t a one-man show: DeAngelo Williams rushed 27 times for 170 yards and two touchdowns, while catching two passes for 55 yards. Together, the duo combined for an insane 531 yards from scrimmage. That’s the most in the NFL by any duo since at least 1960… by a whopping 50 yards!

TeamOppYearDuo YFSPlayer 1YFSPlayer 2YFSBoxscore
PITOAK2015531Antonio Brown306DeAngelo Williams225Boxscore
OAKHOU1963481Art Powell247Clem Daniels234Boxscore
DETDAL2013451Calvin Johnson329Reggie Bush122Boxscore
PHIDET2007442Kevin Curtis221Brian Westbrook221Boxscore
BUFMIA1991422Thurman Thomas268Andre Reed154Boxscore
PITATL2002421Plaxico Burress253Hines Ward168Boxscore
INDBAL1998420Marshall Faulk267Torrance Small153Boxscore
CLENYG1965414Ernie Green222Jim Brown192Boxscore
PHISTL1962411Timmy Brown249Tommy McDonald162Boxscore
RAMMIA1976410Ron Jessie220Lawrence McCutcheon190Boxscore
WASDEN1987402Timmy Smith213Ricky Sanders189Boxscore
NYJBAL1972401Rich Caster204Eddie Bell197Boxscore
CHIMIN2013400Alshon Jeffery249Matt Forte151Boxscore
STLWAS2006400Steven Jackson252Isaac Bruce148Boxscore

But hey, Cleveland fans: the Steelers duo still wasn’t quite as good as Jerome Harrison and Josh Cribbs.

{ 4 comments }

Ben Watson, and Career Games at Older Ages

Ben Watson has played 153 regular season games, and 11 more in the postseason. Yet it was in his most recent game that he set his career high with 127 receiving yards. It was just the third 100-yard game of his career, and topped his previous career high by 20 yards. That just doesn’t happen to a player who was 34 years, 301 days old at kickoff…. right?

I looked at all players to enter the NFL since 1960 who have at least 500 career receiving yards and played in 100 career regular season games. Among that group, here were the three players who, prior to 2015, set their career-high in receiving yards at nearly 35 years old or older. [click to continue…]

{ 4 comments }

Joe Philbin, Ryan Tannehill, and Non-Winning Seasons

We are in year 4 of the Joe Philbin/Ryan Tannehill era in Miami, one that has been defined by a season of scandal surrounded by a constant stream of mediocrity.  The Dolphins went 7-9, 8-8, and 8-8 during the last three seasons, but entered 2015 with higher expectations. Then, after an ugly opening week win against Washington, Miami lost to Jacksonville before getting embarrassed by the Bills last weekend. So with the Dolphins at 1-2 and underdogs on Sunday against the Jets in London, rumors are swirling that it won’t take much to cause Miami to move on from Philbin — perhaps as soon as after the Jets game, if it’s a repeat of last Sunday for Miami.

Let’s say that doesn’t happen, but that Miami finishes the year with another 7-9 or 8-8 record. How rare would it be if Philbin and Tannehill stay in Miami and the team fails to post a winning record for the fourth season in a row? [click to continue…]

{ 7 comments }

It’s safe to say that no team has exceeded expectations through two weeks quite like the Jets. In week 1, New York was a 3.5-point home favorite against the Browns, but won by 21 points (a 17.5-point cover). In week 2, the Jets won 20-7 in Indianapolis, despite being 7-point underdogs (a 20-point cover). The Jets are the only team to cover by 17+ points in each of the first two weeks; in fact, Arizona (+10 against New Orleans, +23 against Chicago) is the only other team to even cover by at least five points in both games so far.

The last team to pull off this feat? The 2007 Patriots. Yes, another day, another Tom Brady/Ryan Fitzpatrick comparison. From 1978 to 2014, there were 19 teams that covered by at least 17 points in each of their first two games. How did those teams do the prior year, and during the rest of that season?

I’ve included the relevant data for each team in the table below. Here’s how to read the line of the ’06 Chargers. San Diego covered by 24 points in week 1, and 21 points in week 2. The Chargers won 9 games in 2005, but the hot start in ’06 was a sign of things to come, as San Diego won 14 games. That was an improvement of 5 wins, although the Chargers season ended in the Division round of the playoffs. [click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

2014 Offensive Lineman and NFL Draft Value

You probably don’t think of the St. Louis Rams as a team that’s built along the offensive line. And for good reason: according to Pro Football Focus, St. Louis ranked 30th in pass blocking and 29th in run blocking in 2014. Football Outsiders also ranked the Rams offensive line in the bottom five in both power rushing and stuffed rates. But the Rams struggles on the offensive line are not for a lack of acquiring highly-drafted linemen.

Let’s put aside the selection of Jason Smith with the second overall pick of 2009, who would presumably be in the prime of his career right now had he not been a bust. Because even without him, no offensive line had as strong a pedigree in 2014 as the Rams.

  • At left tackle, Jake Long started 7 games; Long was the first overall pick in the ’08 Draft, albeit by the Dolphins. The other nine games were started by Greg Robinson, taken by St. Louis with the second overall pick in the 2014 Draft.
  • The left guard spot generally belonged to Rodger Saffold (who started 16 games), taken by St. Louis with the 33rd overall pick in 2010.
  • Center was manned by Scott Wells, the 251st pick by the Packers way back in 2004.
  • At right guard was Davin Joseph for 13 games, the 23rd pick in 2006 by the Bucs. The other three games were started by Saffold, and during those games, Robinson moved into the left guard spot during (with Long sticking at left tackle).
  • At right tackle was Joe Barksdale for all 16 games. Barksdale was the 92nd pick in the draft in 2011 by the Raiders.

[click to continue…]

{ 5 comments }
Previous Posts