Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

14 Nov 2011

MMQB: Eagles Failure Porn

Too bad that's not the actual title of the piece. But yes, the Eagles are discussed, as are the poor pensions that pre-1993 retirees are drawing from the NFL. Oh, and Tim Tebow. But you knew that.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 14 Nov 2011

61 comments, Last at 18 Nov 2011, 10:42am by GlennW

Comments

1
by Temo :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 9:35am

Not content with QB victories, MMQB now gives us the all-important "QB victories since 10/23/2011" stat, which clearly shows Tebow is the best QB ever.

6
by justanothersteve :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 10:24am

Not to mention his 3 victories have been against Miami, an Oakland team with a QB just out of retirement, and Kansas City. It's not like he's won against the Pats, Steelers, Ravens, or Pack.

9
by Anonymous(not that one) (not verified) :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 11:38am

I don't think beating the Ravens or Pats is that difficult.

22
by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 3:08pm

Tell that to Rex Ryan.

35
by Karma Coma :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 7:37pm

I don't want to make any wild assumptions, but your statement leads me to believe that you are not an NFL team.

10
by Anonymous(not that one) (not verified) :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 11:39am

I don't think beating the Ravens or Pats is that difficult.

13
by strannix (not verified) :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 12:19pm

That doesn't seem to be what he meant. More Tebow quotes from PK in the article:

"FOX had a good stat about Drew Brees in the second half: He's completed at least 20 passes in 30 straight games. All I could think when I saw that is that Tim Tebow has a long way to go."

"Why passer rating is overrated (and maybe this should be the final straw for me to stop using it so much): When Tebow threw his fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Eric Decker, he was 2 of 8 for 69 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions. His rating: 102.6. Brady's rating for the season: 102.0."

What PK means in the quote you picked seems to be more like, "Man, things have really been crazy lately."

15
by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 1:05pm

That's how I read it, as well. And I must confess that until Tebow came along, I had no idea that 25% completions could get you a QB rating over 100. What a ridiculous measurement device. He's been around 100 in every game except one, and that was the awful Detroit game where he was in the 50s--only on the stat sheet, that one didn't look a whole lot different than his other games except for the fact he ended up with one INT. One pass being picked off appears to have swayed the rating by around 40 points.

33
by GlennW :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 6:07pm

The 100+ passer rating really isn't so crazy for this particular game. Passer rating is a rate statistic which was calculated here on a very small sample (only 8 attempts), and the small sample is the proper context in which to view Tebow's game, not the rate. Multiply all the raw numbers by 5 (yielding 40 attempts, 345 yards at 8.6 yards/attempt, 5 TDs, 0 INTs) and that's a hell of a game even with a completion percentage of only 25% (it's completion percentage that we know to be an overrated factor in the formula anyway).

Of course the sample size is important, which is one of the reasons why FO ranks QBs on a weekly basis by DYAR, not DVOA. That doesn't mean that DVOA is junk though.

52
by Temo :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 12:57pm

What PK means in the quote you picked seems to be more like, "Man, things have really been crazy lately."

I agree, and my point is that the given conditions (victories over the past few weeks) make the "crazy" less "crazy" and more "random thing that doesn't really mean anything."

30
by MatMan :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 5:52pm

I would like to point out that Joe Montana, Troy Aikman and Bart Starr have a combined zero wins in the same time period.

2
by Temo :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 9:46am

Truth is, if not for Paterno's philanthropy and moral code (until his fatal lapse of judgment)

I had to laugh. Apparently Paterno's gonna be killed over this.

8
by charles (not verified) :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 11:20am

"Fatal" is the right word.

I do not expect Paterno to live to see the bowl games. 84 years old, completely brokenhearted, nothing to live for - he may not make it to Thanksgiving.

12
by iomaxx (not verified) :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 12:13pm

well for his career it was, and i'm pretty sure that's what PK meant, that it was a fatal blow to his career..

23
by MMRHoW :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 3:46pm

Actually it wasn't PK who said this, it was the Penn State student he asked for a reaction.

32
by RichC (not verified) :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 6:06pm

I like this one:

"Paterno made a huge mistake, but that doesn't mean he's not a good man."

No, thats pretty much exactly what it means. We're talking about a guy who did nothing to stop one of his staff members from molesting kids for 15 years.

This isn't a one time lapse in judgment. Its 15 years of negligence.

34
by GlennW :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 6:21pm

Likewise this wasn't Peter King's opinion, but the student's. PK was more critical of Paterno in general, and wrote that Paterno's firing was justified under the circumstances. But he also wrote that final and complete judgment on Paterno need not be passed within 5 minutes of the initial accusations, which is a position I also agree with.

3
by RickD :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 10:17am

It's cool that Peter King runs through all of Brian Burke's math explaining that Mike Smith made the correct decision going for it on 4th and inches, and then just ignores the math and says he would have done the opposite.

20
by akn :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 3:01pm

I have some serious reservations on all those advanced statistics PK cited. Namely, we have no idea what the variance on those percentages were. If your chance of scoring on that drive by going for it was 47% vs 42% (+/- 3%) that would be one thing, but if it were +/- 15% I wouldn't put too much stock in it.

The other problem is the Bayesian considerations. Your prior and posterior probabilities of scoring/winning are not that different if you get the 1st down. On the other hand, your posterior probability of losing is huge if you fail to convert. The same stats PK cited (again, with the same variance reservation) shows that the difference in winning to be 57% vs 18%. That's some serious risk of losing.

24
by tunesmith :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 3:55pm

Your prior and posterior probabilities of scoring/winning are not that different if you get the 1st down.

Aren't they, though, since first down is so different than fourth down?

28
by akn :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 5:30pm

I was referring to getting the first down while still being at your own 30ish yard line vs punting. In the end, the change of scoring/winning is likely very similar.

31
by drobviousso :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 6:01pm

Please show your math or reasoning because I have no idea how you come to this conclusion.

4
by NotJimmy (not verified) :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 10:17am

Porn? Shouldn't that be about the Vikings?

19
by akn :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 2:52pm

That or New England tight ends.

39
by John (not verified) :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 10:09pm

I lived in Boston for a while, saw a fair number of ends, tight and otherwise, and wasn't all that impressed.

5
by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 10:19am

Wisconsin tried to run the Veer offense under Don Morton and the offense got killed by defenses.

I cannot believe that NFL coordinators will take much longer before this nonsense gets undressed.

7
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 10:46am

Exactly. When was the last time you saw a successful "wildcat" play in the NFL?

11
by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 12:13pm

All it will take is Denver playing an actually decent team. I mean, I know, TEBOW TEBOW TEBOW TEBOW, but we did all watch him do something vaguely pretending to play QB against Detroit a few weeks ago, right?

14
by Dennis :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 12:48pm

The only decent teams they have left are the Pats and the Bears. You can't include the Jets as decent right now. I can easily see the Broncos winning that division.

26
by RichC (not verified) :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 5:00pm

I wouldn't be surprised to see the Jets beat Denver by 24+.

And I say that as someone who looks for every chance to put the Jets down.

29
by Dennis :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 5:48pm

That wouldn't surprise me either. The Jets could play very well or they could stink it up.

47
by jebmak :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 9:25pm

If you think that the Jets aren't a 'decent' team, then we have wildly different definitions of decent.

16
by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 1:13pm

The Detroit game came before this current game plan. They had Tebow running their normal offense in that one. No, they're not going to win the Super Bowl this way, but without question this is the most successful the team has been in the last couple seasons. This obviously is what gives them the best chance of winning right now, and in that division it's not going to take a ton of wins to be in the race until the end. If they come anywhere close to making the playoffs, Fox should probably win coach of the year, because they have holes everywhere.

18
by akn :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 2:51pm

Kyle Orton won the first 6 games he played with Denver after the Cutler trade, and everyone thought Chicago got the short end of the stick. Those 6 victories included wins over New England and San Diego. They then proceeded to go 2-8 over the next 10 games and was lost in mediocrity or worse since then.

History has a good chance of repeating itself.

21
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 3:02pm

The thing I took away from that article is that John Fox is doing a great coaching job. He's trying to fit his system to players unlike say, Mike Shanahan who wanted to force Fat Albert to play the 3-4 ...

40
by The Hypno-Toad :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 4:48am

It's very funny, because even after all the epic bending over backwards that Fox and McCoy have done to construct an offense that Tebow can run and not throw him directly to the wolves, a large part of the commentary in Denver still is of the "The Broncos are trying to make Tebow fail!" variety. It was even ventured by two people in my hearing (at different places, who didn't know each other) that the "never, ever throw a pass offense" of this past Sunday was a scheme to make Tebow look worse.
I've been informed in no uncertain terms that a lot of my Bronco fan friends don't consider me a Bronco fan anymore... Honestly, if this is the insight that Bronco fans bring to the table, I'm fine with not being associated with that group.

17
by Jeff M. (not verified) :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 2:37pm

Oct. 9, road: Bucs lost to Niners 48-3. Nov. 13, home: Bucs lost to Texans, 37-9. Has any team ever lost two games by 28 or more and won a playoff game that same season?

Oct 31, 2010: SEA @ OAK, L 33-3
Nov 7, 2010: SEA vs. NYG, L 41-7

Jan 8, 2011: SEA vs. NO, W 41-36

42
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 2:09pm

The 2004 Falcons came really close.

They lost 56-10 to KC and 27-0 to TB. Of course, they were the #2 seed.

/looks fondly upon the time when the AFC was incredibly dominant.

44
by Jerry :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 7:15pm

As Todd Haley should have been able to tell King, the 1989 Steelers lost their first two games 51-0 and 41-10 and went on to win a wild card game.

49
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 10:19pm

I keep finding teams that were close. The '04 Rams lost games 7-31 and 17-45, so they lost by 24 and 28, and then won a playoff game. The 2002 Jets lost three straight games by 37, 27 and 25 points and won a playoff game. The 1998 Cardinals lost by 28 and 27 (lots of teams seemed to lose two games by 27) and then beat Dallas. The 2007 Giants (who of course won the Super Bowl) lost games by 22 and 24.

OK, so I finally was able to do a p-f-r search for this, and the 82 Falcons, '94 Bears, '91 Lions, '81 Jets, '86 Jets, '97 49ers, the aforementioned Steelers and Seahawks, and the '89 Oilers who lost three games by 28 or more. The Bears, Lions, '86 Jets, Seahawks and Steelers all won playoff games.

Finally, I can't believe I (and Peter King) forgot the 2008 Cardinals, who lost by 28 and 40 (and also 21 and 20 in other games) and of course went on to almost WIN THE F***ING SUPER BOWL. God, King has no memory of the NFL.

25
by JasonK :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 4:40pm

The team comment on Dallas in the "Fine Fifteen" doesn't really make much sense. King cites Dallas' superior Conference Record over the Giants (4-2 v. 3-3) as an advantage. The problem is that Conference Record is only the 4th-tier tiebreaker in determining a division champion, after Head-to-Head, Divisional Record, and Common Opponents.

Both Giants-Cowboys games are yet to be played. Both teams are currently 1-1 in the division. Against non-NFCE common opponents, NYG is 5-2 (remaining game: @NYJ), DAL is 4-2 (remaining games: MIA, @ARI).

Oddly enough, if the teams end up tied, having split their series and with identical division records, Conference Record is more of a reverse indicator, because it excludes the non-Conference common opponents (the AFCE) and includes the non-common strength-of-schedule games (NYG: @NO, GB; DAL: DET, @TB). Between tied teams with identical divisional records, the team that leads in Conference Record probably trails in Common Opponents, because a Conference Record advantage means that a greater share of that team's losses are to the other-Conference division that both teams play.

Edit: Corrected a miscount in DAL's common opponents games.

27
by RichC (not verified) :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 5:21pm

I love the guy who retired at 45 and is complaining that his NFL pension is tiny.

If I retire at 45, I'll be living in a cardboard box.

"We still have sub-poverty pensions in the NFL, and I don't just blame the league -- I blame the union too,"

Maybe they should start blaming themselves. Baseball has better pensions because back years ago, the players decided that getting pensions was important. Football players are just starting to think about that now, and is it any surprise that the guys working now don't want to hand over a bunch of their income to a bunch of guys who weren't willing to do the same, 20 years ago?

The old-timers want a hand-out; A hand-out that they weren't willing to give to the guys before them. Welcome to the real world.

37
by Mr. Guest to you (not verified) :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 7:59pm

This post is damn-near cruel.

When you retire, I assume you will retire with your knees, back and brain intact.

Why are you disappointed that long retired players didn't contribute more to their pension fund? Even today, NFL players (as part of our most popular sport) are paid far less than their MLB and NBA brethren. Only NHL players are paid less, understandably because the league seems to be always teetering on bankruptcy.

48
by Alternator :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 9:49pm

There are also more than twice as many NFL players on each team than there are MLB players on each team. Factoring in the extra teams, it's pretty close to twice as many guys splitting the pie.

There's more like what, five times as many NFL players as NBA players?

Ignoring the number of players leads to inane commentary.

50
by CuseFanInSoCal :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 12:42am

There are a little less than 4 times as mnay roster spots in the NFL than the NBA (53 * 32 in the NFL vs 15 * 30 in the NBA).

51
by Intropy :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 2:36am

How many games are in an NBA season? MLB?

57
by Mr. Guest to you (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 8:26pm

Well that was rude. Also wrong.

MLB teams split an average of $90 mil between 40 players. NFL splits an average of $115 mil between 53. It's not that big a difference. Furthermore, the majority of those moneys are split amongst the same amount of players (25~), or would you include the NFL's practice squad too?

Granted, way back when, MLB was the far more valuable sport. But not now, and not for the past 20 years or so. NFL players, or what's left of their bodies, are getting screwed. League sponsored health insurance isn't even available to them after 5 years. It's downright criminal how they're treated after they gave up their bodies for this game.

To repeat, it's not that big a difference. And with that, NFL players earn 40% less than MLB players. And I believe their careers are around 40% shorter too.

As far as the NBA: They are really getting screwed because they're not paid at all.

59
by GlennW :: Thu, 11/17/2011 - 1:30pm

It's not "criminal" when you (as a player) and your union bargain for more pay now, versus less pay now and more benefits later. It may be wrong and even a poor decision on your part, but there's nothing criminal about it (even using that word only rhetorically).

I still feel badly for the old-timers, because they didn't have much of a choice in this matter (starting in the 1970s they probably could have been more united in their bargaining/strike positions as the MLBPA was, but there were some differing obstacles to this). For at least the last 20 years though, the NFLPA has had plenty of control over these benefit calculations in negotiations.

I am somewhat bemused that it is Mike Ditka who's leading the charge in this effort on behalf of the ex-players, because when the players struck in 1987 (for example), as a head coach Ditka was one of the more active and vocal union-busters around. I still think his heart is now in the right place; it's probably more the case that he's just not the most critical thinker around the game, or maybe has had a profound change of heart.

60
by Mr. Guest to you (not verified) :: Thu, 11/17/2011 - 8:09pm

I don't think it should be a matter for their union to decide.

Simply, the sport is too dangerous (and rich) for players not be insured for life. That's what I'm addressing. A quality pension would be nice too, but really, not only is that just icing, it also has handicapped the insurance issue.

If you consider that the typical NFL player spends years trying to prove his worth on special team's, slamming his head and body into anything with the wrong colored uniform that moves, it really is almost "criminal" that once they're out (which most are after a couple of years), they're forced to sort their physical ailments out in the nickle and dime clinic down the street.

There's no need. The league makes more money than the pope.

61
by GlennW :: Fri, 11/18/2011 - 10:42am

I agree with most of this, but it still costs a substantial (and uncertain) amount of money to insure thousands of ex-players for life-- and TNSTAAFL. And if this is not a matter for the NFLPA to address, where does such a mandate come from? The government? On the contrary this is one of the most basic issues that the union should address, right upfront before dividing up the rest of the pie.

36
by PDR Vet (not verified) :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 7:53pm

@RichC

Yeah, but your life expectancy is likely to be much longer than the average football player so it's not really an apples-to-apples comparison. The fact is that these guys die much earlier than the average population and many of them also live with physical handicaps as a result of their work so this probably also limits employment opportunities after leaving football. This isn't the case for other pro sports except maybe boxing or MMA.

Occupational hazard you say? They knew the risks? Again, not clear that is exactly fair. Look at the concussion issue and how much that has changed based on new research and information.

The old timers also didn't benefit as much from the free agency system so arguably they weren't able to maximize their market enarning potential when the actually played (and thus denying them opportunities to save more for their own pensions/401ks).

Lastly, their contributions in developing the NFL into a multi-billion dollar business directly relate to the salaries that the current players receive. They helped build the brand and have a claim on furture revenues generated from that brand.

So I don't think asking for higher pension is really asking for a "hand out".

38
by Mr. Guest to you (not verified) :: Mon, 11/14/2011 - 8:05pm

Goodell talks about eliminating headshots, his opinion on the cruelest thing about his sport, but he's wrong. The cruelest thing about his sport is how many once concussed, now semi-retarded players don't have proper medical coverage after 5 years of retirement.

his is a barbaric policy.

41
by Anonymous(not that one) (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 9:17am

Did you get an e-mail from FIDEL Goodell who explained how the retired players went from getting pissed on to still qualifying for food stamps?

45
by Bill Walsh's Holy Ghost (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 8:33pm

Do you have any data that they live shorter lives than a non-football player?

I'm presuming that as part of their contracts they are exempt from filing worker's compensation claims. Otherwise, they would be covered for any injuries resulting from or exacerbated by their jobs.

I wish the retirees well and hope the current players are more generous. However, ultimately the responsibility for funding a retirement falls to that individual.

53
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 6:30pm

When I left school I went to work in a big bank - yes, one of those with the huge profits now. They made some pension contributions for the 12 years I was an employee.

Then I left and have since been doing other work.

If come my retirement the banks are making even bigger profits do you think I should petition them to give me an even more generous pension for my 12 years of hard effort?

Will I be right to complain if the shareholders keeping taking bigger dividends at the expense of my pension even though my hard work and efforts in the 1990s has led to the mass profits of one of the largest banks in the world?

54
by tuluse :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 6:58pm

Well, let's see. When you finished school and entered the work force, were you allowed to choose what bank you wanted to work for? Were you allowed to quit your job and go work for another bank? Did the bank you worked for have an anti-trust exemption which allowed it to artificially lower your salary from what a free-er market would provide?

55
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 7:37pm

Good question. There was only one American bank in my local area of England, so I guess I didn't have much freedom of choice over which one to work for. And in fact, despite doing the same job as university graduates I got paid about 7/12ths of their salary so I'd say I did have an artificially lower salary. I could obviously have gone to work in a different industry.

58
by tuluse :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 10:00pm

So you weren't asked to pick up your whole life and move up to 3000 miles? And you had to work for an American bank?

56
by Anonymous Person (not verified) :: Wed, 11/16/2011 - 8:05pm

Yes.

43
by Nevic (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 2:38pm

So Peter thinks that the 49ers run defense forcing Rodgers to have to trhow 45 times against them is a GOOD thing for the 49ers? Rodgers might end up with 6 TDs if GETS to throw that much.

46
by Bill Walsh's Holy Ghost (not verified) :: Tue, 11/15/2011 - 8:34pm

Niner fans (such as myself) can only hope that those 45 attempts are made while Rodgers is on his back.