Category: player evaluation


Evaluating QBs: Peyton Manning is a Better Playoff Quarterback than Tom Brady

February 3rd, 2013 — 2:27pm

Based on their respective records this might sound crazy. Brady has three rings, five total Super Bowl appearances, and a record 17 playoff victories. Manning on the other hand: a below .500 playoff record, just one Super Bowl ring, and a record eight “one-and-outs”. How could anybody in their right mind choose the latter over the former? It’s amazing what a little perspective can do. Let’s start from the beginning.

(If you haven’t read the first three parts of this series, they introduce and explain all of the concepts used here: Part I, Part II, and Part III.) Continue reading »

28 comments » | descriptive, Evaluating QBs Series, Football, offense versus defense, player evaluation, talent distribution, team evaluation

Evaluating QBs: The Truth Behind QB Records

February 1st, 2013 — 1:08am

*UPDATE: I’ve temporarily changed the blog theme so that the tables in this post will be sortable and searchable.*

With the tedious boring stuff out of the way (if you missed the boring parts, here is boring part 1 and part 2), it’s time for the payoff. I’ll post some results and comment on some of the more interesting findings.

First, the caveats, the fine print. All games from 2000-2012 are included, regular season is assumed unless otherwise noted. From last post, we defined the “QB of record” for each game; that is instead of the starting QB we’ll use the QB who had the most dropbacks for his team in each game (dropbacks = pass attempts + sacks). Again from the previous posts, we defined different phases of the game, which we’ll measure by Expected Points Added (EPA)–despite having my own expected points model, I decided to borrow Brian Burke’s more well-known EP model for this series. Those phases are defense, special teams and offense; most of the time here we’ll be dividing offense into two parts: QB EPA, which are plays where the QB is the passer or rusher, and Non-QB EPA which is all other offensive plays. While part 1 showed that QBs have control over QB EPA but little to no influence over Non-QB EPA, Defensive EPA, or Special Teams EPA that should not be confused with QBs having all control over QB EPA. While that is heavily influenced by the quarterback, receivers, lineman, running backs, the opposing defense, etc. all have some impact as well on these plays.

With the disclaimers out of the way, let’s dive right in. Continue reading »

1 comment » | descriptive, Evaluating QBs Series, Football, offense versus defense, player evaluation, talent distribution, team evaluation

Evaluating QBs: It’s All About Context

January 31st, 2013 — 12:13am

In part 1 of my Evaluating QBs series, we looked at what makes teams win and which of those things quarterbacks have control over. While wins can be useful to separate quarterbacks, that is only because they are correlated with the underlying factors that explain wins. Once we separate out and control for those factors, QB wins provide no further information.

Now that we have shown that QBs have some control over the plays they are directly involved in but no influence over other facets of the game–defense, special teams, and other offensive plays–we can now look at how many wins we’d expect each player to have based only on what they have control over.

We can get at this two ways: directly and indirectly. The direct way is to look at how often quarterbacks win based on their EPA (again, using Brian Burke’s Expected Points from Advanced NFL Stats). The indirect way is to look at how often quarterbacks win based on the EPA of everything else, what I’ll call “support”. That is, the sum of the EPA of the quarterback’s team defense, special teams, and non-QB offensive EPA. Continue reading »

2 comments » | descriptive, Evaluating QBs Series, Football, offense versus defense, player evaluation, talent distribution, team evaluation

Evaluating QBs: Why Not Wins?

January 27th, 2013 — 12:35am

Full disclosure: I’m a Peyton Manning fan. If you can’t get past that, stop reading now. Still there? Good, welcome.

Following the Broncos recent loss to the Ravens (and the subsequent Patriots loss), there has been a new wave of the old Manning vs. Brady argument. Clutch vs. choke. Winner vs. can’t-win-the-big-one. Add in another playoff loss for Matt Ryan and a couple big wins for Joe Flacco, and the debate is raging like never before.

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably at least touched on the subject this January. I have. The debate always seems to deteriorate into emotional arguments filled with snarky retorts and anecdotal “evidence”. Tuck Rule game is countered with the Helmet Catch. The Flacco Prayer is answered with the Tracy Porter pick six. And on and on. And on. Every quarterback has been lucky, and every quarterback has been unlucky. Everyone can bring up some argument to support their claim. Without looking at the entire picture, we’ll never reach a valid conclusion. There has to be a better way.

A Clean Slate Continue reading »

Comment » | descriptive, Evaluating QBs Series, Football, offense versus defense, player evaluation, predictive, talent distribution, team evaluation

The Colts Decision

January 5th, 2012 — 10:25pm

As a Colts fan since the Harbaugh days, I remember the last time the Colts had the number 1 pick. The decision then, however, was much different. Indianapolis was definitely drafting and keeping a QB, it was just a matter of who: Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf. Bill Polian made the right choice and the Colts have benefited with one of the best sustained runs of excellence in NFL history.

Now, the Polian era has ended and his replacement will decide if the Manning era has ended as well. It’s a much different decision than the one 14 years ago. Let’s lay out the particulars of this Colts decision:

  1. Peyton Manning–arguably the best QB in NFL history–has missed the season after his 2nd and 3rd neck surgeries in 2 years and will be 36 next season.
  2. Manning is due a large bonus before next season, so the Colts have a decision to make this offseason about cutting or keeping him.
  3. The Colts have the #1 pick, and this year’s draft features Andrew Luck who many consider the best QB prospect since Peyton Manning himself or John Elway.
  4. The NFL instituted a slotting system for the draft starting last year. Cam Newton, the 2011 top overall pick, made less than half of 2010 #1 pick Sam Bradford. This makes the #1 pick even more valuable.

As I see it, the Colts have three choices: (1) keep Peyton Manning and trade the pick, (2) draft Andrew Luck and trade or cut Peyton Manning, or (3) keep both Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck. Let’s start with #3: Continue reading »

4 comments » | decision making, Football, player evaluation, team evaluation

Quick Slant: QBR versus Current Metrics

August 7th, 2011 — 10:32pm

Neil Paine over at the PFR blog wrote basically what I was going to follow up with  (albeit much better than I would have). I just wanted to add in a couple other correlations with current metrics that I looked at (correlations are for all stats from 2008-2010).

STATr
EPA per Play0.924
EPA0.900
WPA per Play0.899
WPA per Game0.892
WPA0.886
Passer Rating0.878

All the EPA and WPA metrics are from Advanced NFL Stats (leaderboard here, if you don’t know what they mean check out my last post). As you can tell, EPA per Play correlates best with Total QBR, and is on par with VOA according to Neil’s article. This makes sense: the way QBR handles Clutch Index–first multiplying by it, then dividing by the sum of it–essentially cancels it out, leaving us with EPA per play and the division of credit. The Clutch Index serves to reward QBs who make their best plays in relatively clutch situations, but this appears to be minimal.

Whether or not QBR turns out to be more useful than EPA per Play or VOA probably lies in how well the division of credit is handled. At one extreme, it could be the next step in advancing QB metrics, rewarding those QBs who can get the ball downfield and put the ball on the money while punishing those who don’t. On the other end of the spectrum, if not handled correctly, it could end up adding unneeded complexity and throwing out useful information. As of now, we have no way of assessing which it will be as ESPN has yet to release any details on how their division of credit is handled. Let’s hope we can get a peek inside at some point and see exactly what’s going on.

1 comment » | Football, player evaluation, Quick Slant, review

An Assessment of Total Quarterback Rating

August 4th, 2011 — 11:27pm

Earlier today, ESPN released (some) details of their brand new rating system for quarterbacks dubbed Total Quarterback Rating, or Total QBR (or even further abbreviated, just QBR), aimed at replacing the popular yet flawed Passer Rating. So what is it? And is it a worthy replacement?

To answer that question, let’s first take a look at what is currently out there, which will let us compare Total QBR and pinpoint the major differences.

Continue reading »

Comment » | descriptive, Football, player evaluation, review

What do QBs control?

July 2nd, 2011 — 4:42pm

*UPDATE: Dan in the comments correctly points out that the numbers I listed are actually double what they should be. All the attempt numbers should be cut in half. Thanks, Dan.*

On September 7, 2008, rookie Matt Ryan made his debut, launching a 62-yard touchdown strike to Michael Jenkins on his first ever NFL pass. It was quite the start for the 3rd overall pick, but while the future was bright for the young signal-caller, nobody expected him to average 62 yards per attempt. He would most certainly come back to earth.

So we can all agree that one pass attempt is not enough data to draw conclusions about a player’s true ability. In his debut, Ryan went on to complete 9 of his 13 passes (69.2%) without an interception; in his second start, he completed just 39.4% of his passes with no TDs and 2 INTs. Again, most of us will accept that a game or two is still too small of a sample. So, what is the point at which we can start to accept the results as indicative of a player’s true talent?

Continue reading »

9 comments » | Football, player evaluation, talent distribution

The Championship Myth

January 22nd, 2011 — 4:19pm

Full disclosure: I’m a huge Colts fan. I love Peyton Manning. Conversely, I’m not particularly fond of the Patriots or Tom Brady.

Because of this, I thought that this would be a good time to discuss what I call “The Championship Myth”, essentially the fact that many people overrate the act of winning a championship when evaluating players, especially quarterbacks. Last weekend, the Patriots–who finished the regular season 14-2 and as the top seed in the AFC thanks in large part to likely-MVP Tom Brady and the NFL’s #1 offense–were upset at home by the Jets. Following the game, there were numerous articles written about how Brady choked or was otherwise blamed for the disappointing loss. Let’s look at why this is an over-exaggeration at best and downright wrong at worst.

Continue reading »

10 comments » | Football, player evaluation, randomness

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