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Old 09-12-2013, 12:34 AM    (permalink
The Alex
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Default Advanced Statistics For Dummies

I've been a fan of sabermetrics in baseball for years and although I'm aware of some of the advanced football stats out there, in particular the stuff on cornerbacks, I'm still in the dark for the most part. I think most people are in the same boat as me. Hopefully, some of the statheads on here can enlighten the rest of us. Some basic questions to get the ball rolling:

Football Outsiders or Pro Football Focus, which site is better?

Does anyone in the NFL use any advanced stats?

What are the best stats to evaluate cornerbacks?
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I heard that Sylvester Stallone wrote The Expendables with The Alex in mind. He had to keep it realistic though and split The Alex's abilities into multiple characters. Stallone thought that critics would pan it for being too far-fetched if he just had one character effing everyone up.
The end. Cut to black. Audience goes ****ing ape****.
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Old 09-12-2013, 04:47 AM    (permalink
WCH
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Off the top of my head, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Green Bay, New England, San Francisco, Baltimore, Buffalo, and Philadelphia are known to use analytics to varying degrees. There are probably others that I'm either forgetting or don't know about.

Jacksonville is probably the one to watch in the immediate future, because the owners son is in charge of their Football Technology and Analytics Department. The Browns are also interesting. Joe Banner was in Philadelphia when their scouting department began using advanced statistics, and Alec Scheiner previously oversaw the Cowboys analytics department.

Bill Belichick was an Economics major at Wesleyan University and he's long been known to have an interest in this stuff. Robert Kraft is a regular at the annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. They employ Ernie Adams as Football Research Director. He's very highly regarded, and it's been alleged that the Patriots never make an important football decision without his input. Between stints in the NFL, Adams has held lucrative positions on Wall Street. Of all the NFL teams, the Patriots are probably most blatant in their use of "moneyball" strategies.

The Packers have Mark Eayrs (Director of Research and Development) who "manages databases and develops research reports for coaches, player personnel and management based on the analysis of statistical and tactical trends." Eayrs is considered something of a pioneer in the field. He's spent 29 years developing computer applications within the NFL.

The 49ers were probably the first team to openly begin using statistical analysis in their personnel decisions when Paraag Marathe joined the staff. As I recall, Marathe had no previous football experience and was originally brought in as a business consultant, but he quickly began sitting in on Football Operations meetings.

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Old 09-12-2013, 05:56 AM    (permalink
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I've been a fan of sabermetrics in baseball for years and although I'm aware of some of the advanced football stats out there, in particular the stuff on cornerbacks, I'm still in the dark for the most part. I think most people are in the same boat as me. Hopefully, some of the statheads on here can enlighten the rest of us. Some basic questions to get the ball rolling:

Football Outsiders or Pro Football Focus, which site is better?

Does anyone in the NFL use any advanced stats?

What are the best stats to evaluate cornerbacks?
This post exemplifies why you know nothing about football. Football is the worst game for evaluating statistics. You're one of those clueless folks who thinks football is just like baseball and you can just look at the numbers to evaluate players.

Explains why you think Barry Sanders was a God in pads.
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Old 09-12-2013, 10:31 AM    (permalink
WCH
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I've read interviews where both Mark Eayers and Mark Cuban (the Dallas Maverick's were on the cutting edge of this stuff in the NBA) have mentioned the value of keeping statistics of officials. This is something that I haven't seen fans/writers/hobbyists track in any sport, but it's something that pro teams value. It makes a tactical difference to know "this officiating team is more likely to call this penalty, that team is more likely to call that penalty."
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Old 09-12-2013, 10:36 AM    (permalink
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The only way to correctly evaluate DBs is to watch the film.

You can measure picks and PFF metrics, but those don't take into account them doing their job - covering.
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Old 09-12-2013, 11:02 AM    (permalink
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Jim Schwartz (who, like Belichick, majored in Economics) has worked with Aaron Schatz on ways to use statistical analysis in film study.
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Old 09-12-2013, 12:11 PM    (permalink
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Matthew Jones is big on these, he's posted them about our DB's in the Pats board a lot. I honestly don't know too much about them.
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Old 09-12-2013, 12:54 PM    (permalink
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This post exemplifies why you know nothing about football. Football is the worst game for evaluating statistics. You're one of those clueless folks who thinks football is just like baseball and you can just look at the numbers to evaluate players.

Explains why you think Barry Sanders was a God in pads.
you do realize that sentence makes no sense right? I think what you are trying to say is that in football there are so many moving parts and so many things going on that it is hard to single out particular players with stats, whereaas baseball is the opppsite, and it is mostly a 1v1 battle b/w pitcher w/ much less going on than football and much simpler to judge with stats.

But stats have their place. They are only a complement to film study, but they do have their value.

Personally, Im not a big fan of some of the really complicated stats that a lot of these sites put out..DVOA and total team efficiency and all of that...But I do think there is value in having someone break down film and chart their findings statistically.

The OP was talking about stats to evaluate cornerbacks...I find stats like thrown at/completed, avg yards allowed after catch, QB rating when thrown at, % missed tackles, % of snaps lined up in slot, % of snaps in man/zone coverage....etc...I think these stats can be useful in evaluation. Only a fool would go solely off them, but they do give some info and make you realize something that you may not otherwise pick up on. You still have to watch the games and check the film and check the technique of the player, the passion the player plays with, the circumstances of games, and how players respond to situations, etc...But you can't watch every snap from every player, and it is useful as a coach or an analyst or a GM or a scout, to be able to look up players and see detailed stats of their performances. For instance, if youre a coach trying to scheme against a linebacker, or a scout trying to evaluate a linebacker, and maybe you hear someone tell you "hes a tackling machine, he had 150 tackles last season", but then wouldnt it be nice to have a chart of how many tackles came in what part of the field, and in what down and distance, and how many of the tackles were against the run and how many were against the pass, and things of that nature? Wont that give you some extra insight on the player and what they bring to the table and how they are being used? You cant evaluate solely off it, but it sure does gives you a lot more to work with as you try to evaluate.

and there are a lot of good stats out there that do isolate players' performance. for instane, % of catchable passes caught by a WR, % of on-target throws by a QB, % of passing downs a DL creates pressure, % of tackles missed by a defender.....and plenty more. And I find these to be useful. And I've had it happen where I see something very unexpected when Im looking at these stats, and it makes me go back and watch tape on a player, and I end up realizing that the stats were right and I learned something about a player that wouldnt have otherwise jumped out at me.

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Old 09-12-2013, 01:12 PM    (permalink
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I think the DB stats are very misleading. The people who create them have to guess what the protection scheme is. A corner can get beat deep. But what if the safety was supposed to help out over the top? Should the corner be penalized.

There is also the pass rushing efficiency statistic that Acheten loves to spout that says Brandon Graham is a top-50 player in the NFL (depite not benig able to crack the starting lineup consistently and now in his 4th season).

Lastly, Jacksonville uses it hugely. One of the reasons they stupidly went with a RT at number 2 overall rather than a pass rusher is because some advanced statistic said that Blaine Gabbert was a top-15 QB when given a certain amount of time in the pocket.

tl/dr I don't put any stock in advanced statistics in the NFL (not really a fan of sabermetrics either).
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Old 09-12-2013, 01:31 PM    (permalink
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Advanced stats in football are still pretty young so they aren't perfect yet. It is a useful tool to supplement what you actually see, but it will never be better than the eyeball test. If you get too focused in you end up with saying Brandon Graham is a top pass rusher instead of saying he is a pretty good situational guy.
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Old 09-12-2013, 01:39 PM    (permalink
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Statistics have to pass the laugh test. If your argument is that Brandon Graham is a top-50 player or Alex Smith is a top-10 QB or the 76ers were somehow worse because of Iverson, then you're doing something wrong.

Likewise, scouting has to pass the laugh test. If you think Gerry Ellis was better than Barry Sanders, you're doing it wrong.

Right now, football analytics is best suited to in-game decisions (IMO). Is it stupid to punt in this situation? What does my opponent tend to do in this situation, when they're in this formation? Should my DBs be less aggressive because this officiating team throw a lot of DPI flags? If I give Shady McCoy 30 carries a game, will I break him before December? That sort of thing. This is a draft-oriented site, so we tend to focus on individual players. Advanced statistics, in my opinion, aren't well suited for that just yet. The right data isn't being collected. Hell, we have five guys on the field for whom we keep exactly zero stats. And we don't just need more data, we need more good data.

That's not to say that we can't use stats to flag players as potential risks, in the draft or in free agency, based on their past performance. AcheTen is wrong about a lot of things, but he's absolutely correct that you should be worried about a pass rusher who doesn't get very many sacks in college (it's a bit more complicated than that, actually). That's a huge red flag. That's where you go back to look at the film or talk to his coaches and try to figure out what the deal was. Maybe the guy just doesn't have the instincts to rush the passer, or maybe he wasn't allowed to pin his ears back and get after the QB.

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Old 09-12-2013, 02:45 PM    (permalink
The Alex
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This post exemplifies why you know nothing about football. Football is the worst game for evaluating statistics. You're one of those clueless folks who thinks football is just like baseball and you can just look at the numbers to evaluate players.

Explains why you think Barry Sanders was a God in pads.
Cedric Benson is the greatest running back of all-time. I offer no factual evidence or empirical proof to back up this claim. If you use any to debunk it, it proves you know nothing about football.
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I heard that Sylvester Stallone wrote The Expendables with The Alex in mind. He had to keep it realistic though and split The Alex's abilities into multiple characters. Stallone thought that critics would pan it for being too far-fetched if he just had one character effing everyone up.
The end. Cut to black. Audience goes ****ing ape****.
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Old 09-12-2013, 11:10 PM    (permalink
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The 49ers were probably the first team to openly begin using statistical analysis in their personnel decisions when Paraag Marathe joined the staff. As I recall, Marathe had no previous football experience and was originally brought in as a business consultant, but he quickly began sitting in on Football Operations meetings.
From what I can recall, Marathe is primarily the numbers guy for contract extensions, and a lot of the money the Niners dole out is based on his work there.

At the most recent MIT Sloan football talk, Pioli and Marathe were talking about how analytics/sabermetrics should be used as a supplement to film study. Using analytics on its own isn't a guarantee of success. The analytics can provide hints as to a players potential, but that potential doesn't mean anything if the player doesn't have the mental character to reach that ceiling.

TL;DR - Combine numbers vs film.
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Old 09-12-2013, 11:58 PM    (permalink
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I think an overlooked portion of the analytics isn't just about performance, but in determining a player's value in comparison to others. The draft, free-agency, etc. You can use all of the analysis you can compile in every conceivable aspect in order to make your decisions.
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Old 09-13-2013, 12:11 AM    (permalink
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I think an overlooked portion of the analytics isn't just about performance, but in determining a player's value in comparison to others. The draft, free-agency, etc. You can use all of the analysis you can compile in every conceivable aspect in order to make your decisions.
That's all stats are though. Without context, stats mean nothing. Stats can really only be valuable in two ways, comparing a player to a past version of the same player & comparing a player to another player.

If someone says "Wow! Wes Welker caught 130 passes this season" there is an implication that he is being compared to 1) Other receivers from this season. 2) The best volume catchers in history. and / or 3) himself from previous seasons.
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Old 09-13-2013, 12:15 AM    (permalink
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That's all stats are though. Without context, stats mean nothing. Stats can really only be valuable in two ways, comparing a player to a past version of the same player & comparing a player to another player.

If someone says "Wow! Wes Welker caught 130 passes this season" there is an implication that he is being compared to 1) Other receivers from this season. 2) The best volume catchers in history. and / or 3) himself from previous seasons.
Absolutely. But I'm not just referring to analysis of performance statistics. I'm speaking of all variation of analysis that can be measured. Age, demographics, snaps, positions, diet, measureables, heck even left or right handed.

These guys analyze everything. They might be quacks but some of them get results.
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Old 09-13-2013, 08:04 AM    (permalink
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From what I can recall, Marathe is primarily the numbers guy for contract extensions, and a lot of the money the Niners dole out is based on his work there.

At the most recent MIT Sloan football talk, Pioli and Marathe were talking about how analytics/sabermetrics should be used as a supplement to film study. Using analytics on its own isn't a guarantee of success. The analytics can provide hints as to a players potential, but that potential doesn't mean anything if the player doesn't have the mental character to reach that ceiling.

TL;DR - Combine numbers vs film.
I know he's primarily a salary cap guy and I'm not up to speed on what Marathe's precise role currently is, but this is from an article that was published around the time Nolan was hired:

Quote:
In fact, personnel only consumes a quarter of his duties, Marathe said. Most of his time is spent on salary-cap analysis.

Nevertheless, Marathe was asked by York to lead the head-coaching research, and his profile skyrocketed.

Marathe studied 120 coaches to determine where the most successful NFL coaches come from, and what makes them excel once they have the job. Along with other factors, Marathe discovered that coaches who were with successful teams and worked with winning coaches made the best future coach.

The 49ers' short list of candidates was determined partly by Marathe's criteria. The interview process included a meal with John and Jed York, and then a sit-down with John York, Marathe and Tumey. York ultimately determined the next man to lead the 49ers.

York said Marathe was involved in the head-coaching interviews because York trusted him. Marathe had helped billion-dollar corporations hire CEO's when he was at Bain, and like it or not, an NFL head coach must have CEO characteristics in today's NFL.

http://www.sfgate.com/sports/article...to-2703495.php
So, at that time perhaps a quarter of his duties consisted of personnel-related issues and he was very much involved in the Nolan hiring. You have to remember, this was almost a decade ago. Footballoutsiders.com and Moneyball (the book) were only two years old. Today we wouldn't give it much thought; but at the time, it was a big deal that an MBA without previous NFL experience was even being involved in the hiring process.

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Old 09-13-2013, 08:08 AM    (permalink
JordanTaber
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Originally Posted by The Alex View Post
Cedric Benson is the greatest running back of all-time. I offer no factual evidence or empirical proof to back up this claim. If you use any to debunk it, it proves you know nothing about football.
Only in your world is a video breakdown not "factual evidence."

Barry Sanders had huge averagezzzz, gimme gimme. Oh, all the dancing and lousy carries he had in order to break the big one? Well, we'll just blame it on the offensive line.

Totally empirical right there and stuff.
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Old 09-13-2013, 01:34 PM    (permalink
Eazy Picks
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Originally Posted by JordanTaber View Post
Only in your world is a video breakdown not "factual evidence."

Barry Sanders had huge averagezzzz, gimme gimme. Oh, all the dancing and lousy carries he had in order to break the big one? Well, we'll just blame it on the offensive line.

Totally empirical right there and stuff.
how on earth can you watch barry sanders film and not walk away in awe? I think you are the first person I have ever encountered with this viewpoint.
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Old 09-13-2013, 04:55 PM    (permalink
JordanTaber
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how on earth can you watch barry sanders film and not walk away in awe? I think you are the first person I have ever encountered with this viewpoint.
Has nothing to do with walking away in awe or not. I've never denied he was elusive. My problem with him is that he was purely a freelance runner, danced on every carry, and was soft between the tackles. He was a home run hitter, and I'm not a fan of guys who sacrifice quality carries in an effort to break the big one. If you're going to do that, we might as well throw the football every down.
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Old 09-13-2013, 05:09 PM    (permalink
Raiderz4Life
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Well ****....I'd take that gimmicky home run only 3rd all time rushing leader on my team all day
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that's because we're the only animal capable of getting it from other animals. the day a goat can milk cows, it will.
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Old 09-13-2013, 05:51 PM    (permalink
The Alex
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OFFICIAL LIST OF RUNNING BACKS JORDANTABER SAID WERE BETTER THAN BARRY

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Originally Posted by JordanTaber View Post
William Andrews
Gerald Riggs
Jamal Anderson
George Rogers
Dalton Hilliard
Ricky Williams
Wendell Tyler
Roger Craig
Ricky Watters
Garrison Hearst
Frank Gore
Eric Dickerson
Greg Bell
Jerome Bettis
Curt Warner
Edgerrin James
Ahman Green
Gerry Ellis
Chuck Foreman
Robert Smith
Walter Payton
Billy Sims
Warrick Dunn
James Wilder
DeAngelo Williams
Jonathan Stewart
Stephen Davis
Tony Dorsett
Emmitt Smith
John Riggins
Wilbert Montgomery
Herschel Walker
Charlie Garner
Joe Morris
Tiki Barber
Marcus Allen
Darren McFadden
Joe Delaney
Christian Okoye
LaDainian Tomlinson
Earl Campbell
Corey Dillon
Ickey Woods
James Brooks
Fred Taylor
Maurice Jones-Drew
Barry Foster
Ray Rice
Freeman McNeil
Curtis Martin
Thurman Thomas
Joe Cribbs
O.J. Simpson
Just so you have an idea of the intellect we're dealing with here.
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I heard that Sylvester Stallone wrote The Expendables with The Alex in mind. He had to keep it realistic though and split The Alex's abilities into multiple characters. Stallone thought that critics would pan it for being too far-fetched if he just had one character effing everyone up.
The end. Cut to black. Audience goes ****ing ape****.
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Old 09-13-2013, 07:02 PM    (permalink
jth1331
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Originally Posted by The Alex View Post
OFFICIAL LIST OF RUNNING BACKS JORDANTABER SAID WERE BETTER THAN BARRY



Just so you have an idea of the intellect we're dealing with here.
This post needs to be locked, archived, framed, stored forever. It must never be allowed to be edited, changed, deleted, etc. This is like...the best post I have ever seen.

As for these advanced stats, I believe it is more difficult in football because you have so many more unknowns than you do in say baseball. And anything that says freakin Brandon Graham is a top 50 player, well, yeah. I guess I need something to read while I'm on the can.
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Old 09-13-2013, 07:32 PM    (permalink
JordanTaber
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Alex View Post
OFFICIAL LIST OF RUNNING BACKS JORDANTABER SAID WERE BETTER THAN BARRY



Just so you have an idea of the intellect we're dealing with here.
Official List of Running Backs On the List "The Alex" has never even seen play before:

William Andrews
Gerald Riggs
George Rogers
Dalton Hilliard
Wendell Tyler
Roger Craig
Eric Dickerson
Greg Bell
Curt Warner
Gerry Ellis
Chuck Foreman
Walter Payton
Billy Sims
James Wilder
Tony Dorsett
John Riggins
Wilbert Montgomery
Joe Morris
Joe Delaney
Christian Okoye
Earl Campbell
Ickey Woods
James Brooks
Barry Foster
Freeman McNeil
Joe Cribbs
O.J. Simpson

You thought that Buddy Ryan killed Randall Cunningham's career, and he could have been a great passer based on having one good year with Randy Moss, Cris Carter, Jake Reed, and Robert Smith...the same nucleus that made Jeff George look good.

Just so we have an idea of the intellect we're dealing with here.

Come back to me when you could even pass Football 101.
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Old 09-13-2013, 08:26 PM    (permalink
Raiderz4Life
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Bro you couldn't even pass Football 52.
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that's because we're the only animal capable of getting it from other animals. the day a goat can milk cows, it will.
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