22 Jun 2005
My god, we are not alone! One of the frustrations we've had since starting Football Outsiders comes from the huge holes in the play-by-play data, all the information that isn't available: length on incomplete passes, yards after catch on every play, which defensive backs are covering which receivers, and so forth. We've tossed around the idea of a project to log games off videotape to track these statistics ourselves.
Well, guess what, I found out about a month ago that somebody is already doing this. Today, Dr. Z has a glowing review of a new self-published book called Scientific Football 2005 by a fan named K.C. Joyner, who has logged nearly every game from last season and developed all kinds of new metrics that measure how often defensive backs get burned, how often quarterbacks throw long (not just complete passes long), and so forth.
Yesterday I had a nice phone call with Joyner, chatting about how we each got into this and how our methods compare. His work and our work are in much the same spirit of objective analysis combined with pure love of football, but we come at things from very different (and complementary) angles. The main thrust of my analysis is "How can we filter out the biases inherent in conventional football statistics?" The main thrust of his work is "How can we measure the actions on the field that aren't measured by conventional football statistics?" We come to many of the same conclusions: That Eli Manning is overhyped, that Kurt Warner is not the answer in Arizona, that Jeff Garcia might be the answer in Detroit.
Whether we ever work together or simply pursue analysis on two separate tracks, the more the merrier. The popularity and quality of NFL analysis can only be helped by more people who do interesting work. But the Workman folks want to remind you to make sure that if you order his book, you order Pro Football Prospectus 2005 too!
64 comments, Last at 26 Jun 2005, 8:47pm by Ryan Mc
Possibly the closest Super Bowl matchup in history also poses the question: how much does it mean when certain aspects of an NFL team improve dramatically in the second half of the season?