≡ Menu

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…]

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…]


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…]


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…]


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.


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…]


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…]


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.


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…]


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…]


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…]


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…]


At the start of the new season, every team has hope. Well, just about every team. And that made me wonder: how did Super Bowl champions look in the year before winning the Super Bowl?

The Jets were at -5.0 in the SRS last year: has any team ever been that bad (or worse) and won the Super Bowl the next season? Why yes, one — and only one — team has. The graph below shows the SRS ratings of each Super Bowl champion in the year before they won the Super Bowl. Note that I’m still using the Super Bowl year in the graph below, so if you go to 1972, you’ll see the 1971 Dolphins’ SRS. [click to continue…]


Last weekend, we looked at the league-average ratios between receiving yards and touchdowns, and which players scored far more touchdowns than we would expect. Today, we do the same but for rushing yards.

For whatever reason, Jerome Bettis’ 2005 has become etched in the memories of many folks. That year, he rushed for 368 yards and 9 touchdowns. Back in ’05, the NFL average was 133.6 rushing yards per rushing touchdown. So we would expect Bettis, with 368 rushing yards, to rush for 2.8 touchdowns. That means Bettis actually rushed for 6.2 more touchdowns than we would “expect” given his rushing total. [click to continue…]


Checkdowns: Top Receiving Seasons By Age

On Thursday, I spent some time looking at the underrated career of Joey Galloway. After playing with bad quarterbacks most of his career, Galloway finally broke out with some of the best seasons of his career with Jon Gruden and the Bucs. In fact, Galloway set his career high in receiving yards at age 34, which is pretty rare. [click to continue…]

{ 1 comment }

Julius Thomas and Expected Touchdowns

In 2013, NFL players combined for 129,177 receiving yards and 804 receiving touchdowns. That means, on average, a touchdown was scored every 160.7 receiving yards. Denver tight end Julius Thomas gained 788 receiving yards that year, which means we might have “expected” him to catch 4.9 touchdowns. But Thomas was no average scorer: he finished with 12 touchdowns, or 7.1 more than expected.

In 2013, only Jimmy Graham and Vernon Davis scored more receiving touchdowns relative to expectation than Thomas (Davis scored 13 times on just 850 receiving yards, or 7.7 more than expected, while Graham converted 1,215 receiving yards into 16 touchdowns, or 8.4 more than expected).

Well, as good as Thomas was in 2013, he was even crazier at scoring touchdowns last year. Despite gaining just 489 receiving yards, Thomas again scored 12 touchdowns, 8.9 more than expectation (the league average was 159.7 receiving yards per receiving touchdown). That was the most in the NFL, and only Dez Bryant (1,320/16/+7.7) was within shouting distance of him. [click to continue…]


Passing By Uniform Number

Namath BearMost people know about quarterbacks and the number 12. Even if you didn’t know where it started — Al Dorow of the New York Titans made the Pro Bowl in ’61 wearing number 12, while Charley Johnson of the St. Louis Cardinals was the first #12 to throw for 3,000 yards, doing so in 1963 and 1964 — you can probably recite most of the history from there. John Brodie, who entered the NFL in 1957, was the first great #12, while Joe Namath took the number to iconic status in the late ’60s. It was popularized by Roger Staubach (who also wore 12 at Navy in the early ’60s), Bob Griese, Terry Bradshaw, and Ken Stabler in the ’70s.1 That means the Super Bowl winning quarterback wore #12 for nine straight years, beginning with Super Bowl VI. Doug Williams even wore it in Tampa Bay, although punter Steve Cox forced Williams to don #17 when in Washington.

Lynn Dickey wore it for the Packers in the early ’80s, while Randall Cunningham and Jim Kelly repped #12 later in the decade. Stan Humphries made it to the Super Bowl wearing #12 with the Chargers, while Erik Kramer set the still-standing franchise records for passing yards and passing touchdowns in a season while wearing #12 for the Bears in 1995. The only time a Ravens quarterback threw for 4,000 yards or 30 touchdowns was when Vinny Testaverde wore #12 in 1996. Chris Chandler took the Falcons to the Super Bowl in 1998 wearing #12, while Rich Gannon became the second great Raiders quarterback to wear twelve a year later.

And since then, three guys you might have heard of have worn #12: Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Andrew Luck.

Since 1950, players wearing #12 have thrown for 675,044 yards. No other number has yet to hit the 500,000-yard mark. But that brings us to today’s trivia: Which number has produced the second most passing yards since 1950? [click to continue…]

  1. And, sadly, not popularized by Greg Cook. []

Reggie Bush, After 9 NFL Seasons

Bush in his prime

Bush in his prime

There’s no better college football writer than Matt Hinton, and his latest article — The Ghost of Reggie Bush — is a good example of Matt’s typically thorough work. Thinking about Bush now, there’s no denying that he has failed in the NFL to deliver on his oversized hype. And while you don’t need me to count the ways, here are just a few of them:

  • Bush’s best single-season performance in rushing yards is 1,086, set when he was with the Dolphins in 2011. Since he entered the league, 52 players have rushed for1,087 yards or greater in a seaseon at least one time. And that’s 52 players, not 52 player-seasons. Frank Gore, for example, has hit the 1,087-yard mark 7 times since 2006.
  • Bush’s best single-season performance in yards from scrimmage is 1,512, set two years ago as a member of the Lions. Since 2006, 46 players have had at least one season with 1,513 yards from scrimmage or greater. Adrian Peterson has 5 such seasons.

So yeah, Bush has failed to change the game.  He hasn’t been able to do this, or this, or this (sorry, Richie), or this (sorry, Richie), or this in the pros.  Bush has had some impressive returns in the NFL, but the closest he’s ever come to approximating USC Bush was this touchdown run in the playoffs against Arizona.  So, other than for a few brief moments, no, Reggie Bush never became Gale Sayers.

But let’s try to paint Bush’s career in some positive lights. Consider:

  • Rushing Yards: Bush ranks 19th in rushing yards since 2006, which is — not bad? He’s also one of 13 backs to rush for 5,000 yards and 4.3 YPC over the last nine seasons.
  • Yards from Scrimmage: Bush ranks 21st in yards from scrimmage over the last nine years, and 11th in that metric among running backs. That’s … pretty good?

OK, those aren’t great, but what should we have expected out of Bush? In the last 50 years, there have been 21 running backs to win the Heisman, including Bush (who, you know, “didn’t win the Heisman”). Here are their NFL stats: [click to continue…]


Guest Post/Contest: PFRWhacks

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

Like most of you,1 I like to spend my weekends building custom databases of NFL statistics. This past weekend, while doing just that, I happened to notice that Marshall Faulk topped 2,000 yards from scrimmage in both 2000 and 2001 despite playing just 14 games each year. Which sent me scrambling to the Pro-Football-Reference.com player season finder2 so I could share on Twitter the novel observation that Marshall Faulk was, indeed, good at football.

As luck would have it, the humble proprietor of Football Perspective just happened to be sitting at home, trolling around on Twitter, and likewise playing with various historical databases.3 He saw my tweet and responded in kind, with a list of all NFL players sorted by average yards per game from age 25 to 28.

All of this inspired a fun back-and-forth between various other users on Twitter which culminated in me providing a list of all running back seasons with 250+ carries and 50+ yards per game receiving. It’s a rather short list featuring just 8 total seasons. Marshall Faulk accounted for four of those eight seasons, consecutively, from 1998 to 2001.

I quickly noticed an interesting thing about that last list, though. Not only did Marshall Faulk account for half of those seasons in NFL history, but he actually had the top four by receiving yards per game. In fact, if we adjust our “receiving yards per game” baseline from 50 to 54, we wind up with this list, instead.

Now that is a rather more impressive list. Using just two simple cutoffs, we had managed to create a list that was just four names long, and every single one of those names was “Marshall Faulk.”

Seguing away for a second… in the early days of the internet, before there were continents composed solely of cat pictures (or handy NFL season finders to query, for that matter), people would resort to pretty much anything to keep themselves entertained. One game that sprung from these dark times was known as “Googlewhacking”. A Googlewhack was two words that, when entered together into the search bar of the eponymous Google, matched just a single result on the entire internet.

For instance, there was once a time when searching the words “ambidextrous scallywags” (but without the quotation marks) would return just a single match. This was then a successful Googlewhack. Googlewhacks were, by their very nature, ephemeral constructs, since the very act of publishing a Googlewhack would cause the published result to show up on Google and would therefore cause the words to lose their Googlewhack status. [click to continue…]

  1. I assume. []
  2. Obviously. []
  3. On second thought, I doubt luck played any role. []

Last Sunday, I asked you about the head coaches who won playoff games with the most quarterbacks. Today, per wiesengrund’s request, the reverse: quarterbacks who won playoff games with multiple coaches.

There is one quarterback who won playoff games with four different head coaches. Can you name him? [click to continue…]


There are three head coaches who have won playoff games with five different quarterbacks. Can you name them?

Trivia hint 1 Show

Trivia hint 2 Show

Trivia hint 3 Show
[click to continue…]


Three years ago on Father’s Day, I posted a trivia question about the first quarterback to get to 100 losses. I won’t spoil that for new readers, and older readers have bad memories so you can try your hand at that trivia question again.

Today, a different trivia question: Who was the first quarterback to get to 100 wins?

Trivia hint 1 Show

Trivia hint 2 Show

Trivia hint 3 Show

Click 'Show' for the Answer Show

Unitas was the career record holder for about nine years. Then, on October 1st, 1978, Fran Tarkenton and the Vikings beat the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay. That marked the 119th victory of Tarkenton’s career, breaking the tie with Unitas set one week earlier. Tarkenton would win five more games in ’78, his final season in the NFL.

Tarkenton was the NFL’s winningest quarterback for 18 years. On December 1st, 1996, John Elway and the Broncos crushed the Seahawks, 34-7. In the process, Elway picked up his 125th career victory. When he set the record, Elway held only a narrow lead in the wins department over Dan Marino. But the ’97 and ’98 seasons were good to him, and Elway retired with 148 career wins. Marino played for one more year, but retired one shy, with 147 career wins.

Elway held the record for just over ten years. That was until Brett Favre, in a 35-13 win over the Giants, won his 149th career game.

Favre retired with 186 wins. And right now, Peyton Manning enters the 2015 season with 178 wins. It would be a surprise if Manning doesn’t edge out Favre this season, which would make Favre — at 8 years — the man who held the title of ‘winningest quarterback’ for the shortest amount of time. How long will Manning hold the record? That will depend on Tom Brady, who has 160 wins. Will Brady play long enough to eclipse Manning? Whichever of the two winds up on top will hold the record for the foreseeable future, especially if they extend it out to 200 wins.


Weekend Trivia: Yards per Reception Leaders

Do you know who led the NFL in yards per reception last year?  Or in any season?  Unlike certain rate stats, YPR tends to fly under the radar, at least with respect to questions like who led the league in a given season.

One reason for that is the leader is often a part-time player.  Last year, DeSean Jackson had the top YPR average in the league at 20.9, and he also ranked a respectable 13th in receiving yards. But in 2013, that honor went to New Orleans rookie Kenny Stills, who averaged 20 yards per catch but ranked just 61st with 641 receiving yards.

That leads us to today’s trivia question: Can you name the last player to lead the league in both yards per reception and in receiving yards? [click to continue…]


In 2014, Julio Jones led the NFL with 31 catches of at least 20+ yards. He also was tied for 3rd with 25 receptions on either 3rd or 4th down that picked up a first down for his team. Those are two pretty different skill sets, but Jones fared well in both areas.

I thought it would be fun to try to see which wide receivers were big outliers in one of those two metrics relative to the other.1 There were 56 players with at least 10 receptions of at least 20+ yards last season. I ran a simple linear regression using “20+ Yard Receptions” as my input and “1st down receptions on 3rd/4th down” as my output. The best-fit formula was:

1st down receptions on 3rd/4th down = 6.77 + 0.63 * 20+ Yard receptions

Let’s use Jones as an example. With 31 big play catches, he’d be “expected” to pull in 26.3 first downs on either 3rd or 4th down; as noted above, he came pretty close to hitting that exact number.

Then there are players like Washington’s DeSean Jackson. He had 16 “big play catches” last year, which means we’d “project” him to have about 16.8 first down grabs on 3rd/4th down. In reality, he had just five, falling 11.8 catches short of expectation. As it turns out, that’s the most extreme player in that direction from the 2014 season. The narrative meets the numbers: Jackson is a great deep threat, but not a move-the-chains receiver (or, at least, he’s not being used like one).

In the other corner, we have Anquan Boldin. The crafty veteran had 14 receptions of at least 20+ yards, which means we’d expect him to have recorded about 15.6 first down catches on 3rd or 4th down. In reality, he had 27, giving him 11.4 more than expected. That makes him the most extreme “possession receiver” by this methodology.

The full list, below: [click to continue…]

  1. The original inspiration for this post came from this Mike Tanier article. []

Quarterback Committees Trivia

This week, WorstQBCommiteesEver became a trending topic on twitter. There are lots of ways go about answering that question — using Relative ANY/A would be a good start — but that’s also kind of boring.

You know what was a really bad committee? The 2011 Colts. Curtis Painter started 8 games, Dan Orlovsky started 5, and Kerry Collins even chipped in with 3. You know all the numbers, but how’s this for a drive-it-home bullet: none of those three ever started another game again in the NFL.

Some really bad quarterback committees would fail this test, with the ’05 49ers being one of the more egregious examples. That team saw Cody Pickett started two games (0 future starts), Ken Dorsey started 3 (3 future starts), Tim Rattay start 4 (2 future starts), and Alex Smith start 7 (98-and-counting). The fact that Smith continued to get work and eventually turned into a competent starter shows the drawback of this method, but it doesn’t make it any less fun.

Less extreme would be the 1974 Falcons, with Bob Lee (8 starts, 5 future), Pat Sullivan (4, 1), and Kim McQuilken (2, and somehow 5). That team had an ANY/A of -0.02, yet McQuilken and Sullivan were back with Atlanta in ’75 (Lee’s future starts came during his general time as a backup with the Vikings). Or even the ’92 Seahawks, where Stan Gelbaugh (8 starts, 1 future), Kelly Stouffer (7, 0), and Dan McGwire (1 start, 3) split the duties for one of the worst offenses ever. But both Gelbaugh and McGwire would start for the Seahawks in future seasons.

I looked at all NFL teams from 1970 to 20121 where the main quarterback started less than 11 games. And, believe it or not, just four teams had a quarterback committee situation where none of those players ever started another game.

One, of course, is the 2011 Colts. The other 3? [click to continue…]

  1. For example, the 2013 Rams would technically qualify as of today, but that doesn’t mean they meet the spirit of this post. Some cushion here is needed. []

There have been 49 Super Bowl champions. But only one of those teams managed to win it all with a quarterback that was in his first season with the team. Can you name that team?

Trivia hint 1 Show

Trivia hint 2 Show

Trivia hint 3 Show

Click 'Show' for the Answer Show

There have been seven other quarterbacks who have won Super Bowls in their second season with a team. How many can you name? [click to continue…]


Weekend Trivia: Elite Passing Offenses

Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt starts with Yards per Attempt, but is also influenced by things such as sack rate, interception rate, and touchdown rate. There is, arguably, a negative relationship between some of these variables: for example, some quarterbacks deliberately trade interceptions for sacks, so it’s difficult to be excellent in all four metrics.

Since 1950, there have been just seven teams to rank in the top 3 in Y/A, Sack Rate, Touchdown Rate, and Interception Rate in the same season. Can you name them? [click to continue…]

Previous Posts