Monday, December 22, 2008

Open Thread

This post is just for coordination and communication purposes. If anyone has any suggestions, ideas, or just want to chime in, please use this post. To be notified every time someone leaves a message, subscribe either by email or by RSS feed to the comments below.


Brian Burke said...

Jarhead and Jason Winter, please email me at my address. Jason-I need your email address. Jarhead-I can't post directly from attachments.

Jason said...

Has anyone done an analysis on the effectiveness of an NFL running back after a certain amount of carries? All I hear on sports talk lately is about LT and his diminishing effect because of his carries and age. I was thinking about doing a regression analysis based upon increasing career carries and ypc/ypg. Any thoughts?

Brian Burke said...


There has been some controversial research hyped by Football Outsiders about the fall-off in performance in years after RBs have a high number of carries. I think it's bunk, but you can make up your own mind. Just Google "curse of 370" and you'll see some stuff, including my own take.


Derek said...

I've been trying to think of a new way to rate team performance and my mind has been taking me along these tracks:

One thing that has always bothered me about Football Outsiders' DVOA ratings is that field position is taken into consideration of the play's value. Certainly, a red zone play is more "valuable" than a play at your own 30. But sustaining a 80-yard drive is more impressive and more indicative of talent than getting it at the opponents' 30 and scoring a TD. A first down is a first down, and I don't know that field position has any real effect on the probability of getting a first down.

Take Daunte Culpepper's 5-TD game against the Dolphins last year. He was 5-12 for 75 yards. His passing was worth jack all game, but he kept getting 3-yard scrambles for the score. He ended up with a high DPAR rating as a result. A good analogy may be RBI in baseball. #1 hitters have a high on-base percentage, but they typically have fewer RBI because they don't get as many opportunities hitting behind the worst hitters in the lineup.

Would percentage of sets of downs converted be a good equivalent to on-base percentage? Could that be broken down to a player level to see how much they increased the probability of getting a first down on average? What would the equivalent of slugging be? And would these OBP, SLG, and OPS stats be more predictive than yards per play or DVOA? Would it just be a better way of separating or seeing the influence of defense and special teams performance on offense via field position?

Unknown said...

I've been reading lately on Body Mass Index (BMI) as a possible method of predicting NFL WR & RB success.

Brian have you ever looked at a player's physical attributes (height/weight) and measurables (strength/speed/agility) as it pertains to career stats?

Brian Burke said...

No I haven't done anything like that.

Brian Burke said...

I am conducting research on how/why NFL organizations make radical and incremental strategic changes to improve their performance. One of the factors I am investigating is coaching changes. Most books and sites with historical information only provide head coaching information for prior years.

Do you know where it be possible (other than directly from each team) to get a list of prior coaches and general managers for your team? My investigation ranges from 1977 to the current year (as applicable). If possible, I would like to collect offensive and defensive coordinators, general managers, and other assistant coaches by year for the range of dates.

Thanks for your help!

Steven W. Bradley, Ph.D.
Department of Management & Entrepreneurship

steve_bradley a-t baylor dot edu

grandson said...

Brian, I have a simple question for you that i've come up blank from my research. What percentage of teams that start out 6-2 make the playoffs, win division, conference champ, superbowl?

I'm looking for a quantitative way to describe the way the redskins 08 season started and ended.

help/suggestions appreciated

Brian Burke said...

Interesting question. The data I have only goes back a few years, and I don't have midseason W-L records.

Is this the Chase from PFR? Gosh, that's where I'd start. I'd tally the W-L data from the team pages, like this one:

But I don't know of anywhere with those percentages already calculated.

Derek said...

Hey Brian,

How hard would it be to get the data presented in the chart in a table format with specific numbers instead?

I'm interested in using this data to pursue my "on-base percentage" idea.

jay said...

can you guys help?

whats the percentage of TDs scored when starting inside your own 15 yard line (league average)

thanks so much if this gets answered

Brian Burke said...


Check out:

jay said...

wow, google got me here and within 2 hours my question was answered...and then some !!

couldn't have asked for more, amazing stuff.

thank you very much, keep up the great work

neverlie said...

I am wondering the right way to calculate a team's won/loss record with a given refereeing crew. Example: What is the Packers' won/loss record in games officiated by Ed Hochuli? I feel like I have seen these for NBA teams, but never the NFL. Do they exist?

Anonymous said...

Where can I find advanced stats for players and teams? I would like to be able to find a site where I could click on the team or player and get all the stat information available.

Brian Burke said...

neverlie-I've never seen that before, but there is a blog devoted exclusively to NFL refs. I can't remember the url but I'm sure you'll find it quick on google.

Anon-You might want to look at Pro-Football-Reference. They have some innovated stuff, such as Approximate Value, and some advanced passing metrics. You might like Football Outsiders, but the stats they tout are "proprietary," so take them with a grain of salt.

Red said...

Brian - Where do you get your QB YAC data? I tried your link to, but it only has 2008 numbers. Is this stat even publicly available for other years, or is it strictly a Stats Inc deal?

Eric B. said...


There was a situation earlier this year that Charlie Weis was faced with, and he was crucified for making the media's view of a bad decision. On a 3rd and long late in a game he was ahead, he attempted to throw for a first down instead of running the ball, taking the time off the clock and punting.

I am wondering if there would be a way to quantify whether or not Weis actually made the right decision. How much did the opposing team's chance of winning increase because of the loss of a hypothetical 4 yards and 40 seconds? What would have been their chance of winning had they achieved the first down?

Bob Weber said...


There was a rule change this year outlawing 'wedges' during kickoff. This was put in to place to minimize injuries during kickoff returns.

Have you done any analysis on this change? Has it impacted the return yardage? Has there been any indication that it has reduced injuries?

Brian Burke said...

No. Not enough data yet, but it would be interesting.

Anonymous said...

Hi Brian,
Have you done any work on late game situations to see if it would ever make sense for the defending team to allow the offense to score (i.e. if the opponent is deep in the red zone, and close to scoring, but also running out the clock), so that the defending team could then get the ball back and try to score themselves?

David B. said...

Does anyone know where I can find QUARTERLY STATS for single games? I would like to see single game splits (per team, not player) to compare early rush/pass differentials vs. late rush/pass differentials. Let me know!

Anonymous said...

I recently heard on an ESPN radio talk show that statistically, teams that play OT games tend to lose the following weeks games ( winners & losers). I can't seem to find any stat to back this up. Any help here?? Thanks, Marty

Anonymous said...

I have a very simple request: Where can I find stats for pass completion percentage as a function of the distance of the pass?

I'm looking for generic numbers, not stats for a particular player.


Anonymous said...

can you guys post Which NFL Team is saving the Enviroment Most?


Anonymous said...


Have you ever thought about analyzing the value of a kick returner running the ball out of the endzone on a kickoff? You always hear announcers saying the returner made a "bad choice" when he gets tackled at the 17, but they never seem to say that when they return it for a TD. My hypothesis is that it's always better to come out of the end zone as a kick returner. Even if the avg starting field position is slightly worse than the 20, the times you score make up for the loss of EP.

I'm not sure if the NFL play by play data divulges whether a kick was fielded in the EZ or not, but you could make some assumptions using average kick return yardage.

Anonymous said...

Have you looked into win ev of late game situations ie....

Going for 2 or kicking the EP up 7.


I would contend (without math, empirical evidence only intuition) that from a sheer win ev outlook going for two is by far the optimal play.

Anonymous said...

I would love to know what the record is for a team following an overtime game, win or lose. I found it interesting that there were 2 games that went into OT in week 2. All 4 teams lost the following week. And all 4 teams were the favorite. What kind of toll does OT take on a team?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know a source for finding out the percent of drives in the NFL that are, say...only 5 plays, 10 play drives, 20 play drives, etc. on scoring drives?

im4unc23 said...

Just really wanted to thank you for your service. I guess you know how much we (Army) appreciate the fast movers. Blue skies forever. Thanks again.

Scott Murphy

Anonymous said...

I was wondering what anyone thought fair trade value would be for Brian Dawkins if he was traded in the off season (assuming he doesn't retire). What draft pick would be fair? A 4th rounder?

cooper said...

Has anyone done any work on the value of timeouts? It would be very useful not only in evaluating the use of timeouts, but also in evaluating challenge decisions.

The expected value of challenging a call is: P(challenge success) * WP of the game state after call is overturned - P(challenge fail) * WP of current game state but with 1 less timeout.

If you know the value of the timeout you are risking, you can say something like "I need this call to be overturned 75% of the time for this challenge to be breakeven" or similar.

Anonymous said...

How do I find out stats on number of penalties called on which downs... or even which kinds of plays. What types of plays are most likely to incur a penalty? Is there a chart that shows which downs have the highest percentage of penalties called?

Flanksteak said...

How do I find stats on number of onside kicks, % converted, time kicked, score spread, etc.?

If anyone could help that's be awesome!
Thanks, Kevin

JC said...

It seems to me that many stats are highly unreliable predictors of performance:
> yards gained and/or yielded (some teams average a touchdown per less than 100 yards, others over 150)
> points or even net points (the Packers are the leaders by far on net points, but not even leading their division.
As winning is ultimately what matters, I started putting together a spreadsheet of teams' records, along with the records of their opponents, and created an index of Qualitibility = team record * aggregate average of their opponents. Obviously, this was meaningless in the early weeks, but has become impressively accurate in latest weeks. With some major mistakes, such as Bears vs. Eagles. The present index of some teams (mainly NFC, but also most leaders):
NYJ: .352
NE: .385
PHI: .332
NYG: .268
CHI: .294
GB: .310
ATL: .423
NO: .292
TB: .276
SF: .155
Note: the Jets and Patriots have the same records, but the Patriots have played "winnier" teams. Atlanta is on top. The Packers should be above the Bears, and might still be.
I am aware that midseason changes, as in coaching changes, loss of QB or major players will not be reflected in this statistic (until the season is infinitely long).
But in its simplicity, it seems to be beating most predictions/bookies at this moment.

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