## Roundup 11/20/10

How does David Garrard have the second highest passer rating in the league?

After reading this, I don't think Bill Belichick really understands statistics the way many people thinks he does. He knows that most stats are junk trivia, but still seems unsure which ones are worthwhile. He appears to grasp that the bottom line goal is net point differential.

How to use PFR's 'Play Index' to search for player and team milestones.

How good are the 2010 Jets?

How unlucky are the 2010 Lions? (My 2 cents: Lions are not very good, but they're improving. I've got them 28th in terms of efficiency. They're lucky in terms of points scored, considering their ability to move the ball, but they're unlucky in terms of converting points into wins.)

What are statistics, anyway? As Tango put it: "If a blogger does it it's crap; If a coach does it it's great."

Playoff projections from NFL-Forecast.com. In the AFC, there are the haves and have-nots. There are 9 teams with a 44% chance or greater, and the other seven have a 5% chance or less.

Statistics vs. subjective observation. Helmet-knock: Tango

Using Win Probability to find baseball's most exciting games. H/K: Tango again. This is basically the same thing that Excitement Index (EI) and Comeback Factor (CBF) do. EI calculates the total travel of a game's WP graph, indicating how exciting the game was. CBF is based on the winning team's lowest WP at any point in a game. One of the under-used features around here is the exciting games finder. You can find the most exciting games and biggest comebacks by year or by team.

Brian Billick has a clue: "We can admit quarterback rating is useless...I’ve never seen a more useless number than quarterback rating.” Amen. But this article is a confused defense of the worst football statistic ever contrived. Of course passer rating will correlate with success on the field. It counts touchdowns and interceptions! That doesn't mean a stat is useful. Why don't we just count those instead of adding all kinds of arbitrary lard to create unit-less, non-predictive nonsense? This is the kind of stuff that gives stats a bad name. Billick is right.

How to win at H-O-R-S-E.

How much do garbage-time yards affect a QB's stats? That's one reason I like WPA as part of the picture.

Question: Why are Yards Per Attempt on the decline in 2010? Answer: They're not.

The NFL appears to be the most competitive pro sports league.

Thank God for Sean Penn. H/K-Toni Monkovic.

### 12 Responses to “Roundup 11/20/10”

1. Anonymous says:

2. TBD says:

I think BB understands things pretty well, he even specifically mentions correlation with scoring, which is really the heart of the matter.

3. Jim Glass says:

NFL passing rating so over-weights completion pct that as long as the QB completes passes even that *lose* yards -- in any amount! -- he gets a rating of 79.2. For instance, if a QB hits 10 of 10 for minus 990 yards his rating is 79.2. How useless is that? See for yourself.

Last year 79.2 would have been #21 of the NFL rating list. That QB who lost 99 yards per play would have been rated ahead of Cutler, Sanchez, Henne, Hasselbeck, Cassel, Delhomme ... all right, maybe it's not entirely useless but you get my point.

4. Probable Picks says:

Passer Rating and the Hollinger Efficiency Ratings for basketball are both pretty arbitrary.

Also, did we ever determine whether the Skins-Eagles game was the least exciting in your database?

5. Brian Burke says:

The lowest EI I have is 0.7 for last year's CIN-NYJ game. It was week 17, and CIN did not need the game but NYJ did.

6. Jim Glass says:

I don't think Bill Belichick really understands statistics the way many people thinks he does...

I think BB is dissembling to the press about stats he understands that they and the public don't. Coaches do this a lot. But what else can they do?

E.g. Rex Ryan this week got challenged by the press on my favorite junk stat of the moment, "red zone efficiency". The Jets are last in the AFC in it, and frustrated fans and pundits are searching around for who to blame for why they've been winning on luck in close games, instead of blowing teams out. (Rex still being golden, they haven't yet hit on how his pass D has plunged from a dominating #1 last year to 20-something this year, and are blaming the OC for the offense and Sanchez not improving enough.)

So the Jets being last at red zone effiency became this week's reason, the press hitting Rex on why it's so and what the OC should be doing about it. Rex's response was: Yes, yes, we all know how really important red zone efficiency is, and we are working very hard to improve it.

Though if you look at the red zone efficiency rankings you'll see the two best teams are Buffalo and Detroit, at a combined 3-15, while the OC fighting for Jets' OC for worst play calling in the red zone is SB-winning Bruce Arians of the Steelers. That's how important the "red zone efficiency" stat is to winning. (The obvious reason would be sample size. Of the Jets' 611 plays 76 have been in the red zone.)

Now I am reasonably sure that Rex knows the true value of this stat. And Rex is certainly the most candid NFL coach I've seen since his daddy expressed his opinion of Kevin Gilbride's play calling by punching him out in the middle of a game. But what else could Rex say?

Imagine what the reaction would have been if Rex had said: "You morons think that stat matters just because every poser hack TV commentator, sports reporter and sports radio pundit tells you over and over that it does, to be able to have something to say? Do any of you press geniuses know who is leading the league in that stat?..." It would probably have been pretty much like the reaction to BB's decision to go for it on 4th-and-2 against the Colts last year, maybe x 20.

He could never say such a thing. Even politely. (I couldn't say it in a Jets discussion group this week without getting hit with a flood of, "Jackbutt, you'd make any lame excuse to defend Sch*tty Schott as he destroys our O in what should be our championship year. Are you his bastard kid by goat?")

So the HCs say what they have to say. I'm sure they do this all the time. Consider it "mob management".

7. Ian Simcox says:

Couldn't agree more on passer rating. Why not have it in real units (points added, perhaps), rather than combining touchdowns, interceptions etc in some random way?

I always hate the way they trot out stats like 'Cutler is 17-0 when he has a 100+ passer rating'. Well of course he has, it's like those 'Steelers are 100-1 when leading by 10', it's implied by the condition. When Cutler throws TDs and no INTs, he wins - big shock.

8. Anonymous says:

Is anyone else seriously disgusted by the Cold, Hard Football Facts website? I was half expecting to find an article that, after careful statistical analysis, discovered W-L record correlates perfectly with how many wins a team has.

9. JD Mathewson says:

10. Brett says:

The Jets are 10th in my power ratings (6th in the AFC). They have an impressive +6.1 average margin of victory, but they have been fortunate to recover 22 of 31 fumbles this year. Fumble recoveries seem to be completely random with offense and defense each recovering 50%, and there is no game-to-game, team-to-team, or season-to-season correlation for this stat. In terms of fumble recoveries, the luckiest team is the Raiders with a +19 margin, which equates to about +38 EP, or +3.8 ppg, since the average fumble recovery equals +2 EP (not accounting for situation). On the other end of the spectrum is the Chargers who have -2.2 ppg by this measure of luck. The Chargers seem to be "unlucky" in just about every way imaginable.

11. Brett says:

I should add that at least 2 of the Chargers lost fumbles were the result of pure bone-headed stupidity, but that is probably no more predictable than luck.

12. Anonymous says:

Brian Billick may be right, but I think it's a wild exaggeration to say he "has a clue".

Even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes.