Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

21 Nov 2016

Week 11 Quick Reads

by Bryan Knowles

(A huge and belated thanks to Bryan Knowles for helping out with Quick Reads this week, as I am busy taking care of my wife after her surgery. Everything is going fine at home, and also at work, thanks to Bryan. --Vincent Verhei)

Quick Reads doesn't normally cover the kicking game -- but this wasn't precisely a normal week in the NFL.

Blair Walsh was cut from the Minnesota Vikings this past week, after missing his fourth extra point of the season. In homage to their fallen comrade, the other kickers in the NFL apparently decided to take the week off, setting a new single-week record with 12 missed extra points.

It's not a one-week aberration, either; the league missed six extra points last week, setting a two-week record for missed extra points, as well. After setting a 35-year low with a 94.2 percent conversion rate last year, the NFL is now on a 93.6 percent pace.

Obviously, missing 12 extra points in one week is more a fluke than anything particularly special about this week. While it was windy up and down the east coast, you can't blame the weather for everything; unless the air conditioner was cranked a bit too high in Ford Field or U.S. Bank Stadium, it seems unlikely that the misses by Minnesota's Kai Forbath, Jacksonville's Jason Myers, or Detroit's Matt Prater were blown off course.

While the dirty dozen represented a high point of failure, it's just part of a two-year trend. After all, there were two days with eight missed extra points last year. The odds of teams missing 12 out of 59 attempts is exceptionally unlikely, even with the reduced rate of success kickers have had this season, but it was only a matter of time before the old record fell.

Moving the extra point back to the 15-yard line has been an unqualified success, as far as the league is concerned -- what was once a gimme play now demands at least a bit of thought. Whether games being significantly impacted by botched extra points is strategically interesting or exceptionally frustrating is left as an exercise for the reader.

However, this week's extra-point shenanigans were far from the only odd thing about the kicking game this year. 2016 has been a very strange year for field goals in general. Kickers have already missed 103 field goals this year, and we're just now getting into the part of the season where weather begins to play a major factor.

Kickers have historically gotten better and better each season, but 2016 has been a very strange year so far. Even ignoring weather factors, the league is on pace for 165 missed field goals, which would be the highest total since 2011. Factor in how field goal percentage goes down as winter sets in, however, and things look even bleaker.


NFL Field Goal Accuracy By Month, 2010-2016
Year Sept Oct Nov Dec/Jan Overall
2010 79.2% 82.8% 80.3% 85.6% 82.4%
2011 85.5% 86.0% 80.0% 80.7% 82.9%
2012 89.5% 86.0% 77.6% 82.1% 83.9%
2013 82.7% 89.3% 85.5% 88.1% 86.5%
2014 84.7% 87.6% 83.5% 80.8% 84.0%
2015 84.9% 84.2% 86.7% 82.0% 84.5%
2010-15 AVG 84.4% 86.0% 82.3% 83.2% 84.0%
2016 83.8% 83.7% 84.7% N/A 84.0%

Noisy? Yes. But it certainly doesn't bode well for kickers going forward -- and it's backed up by advanced stats.

Aaron has already talked about this somewhat in Week 8's DVOA commentary, but it's worth taking another dive into things.

Normally, you can't compare our advanced special teams stats on a one-to-one basis from season to season, because we adjust the baseline from year to year to try to set the league average close to zero. But what if we didn't do that?

We re-ran 2016's field goal numbers with 2015's baseline, to see just how much of a difference our advanced stats could find, and, well… the numbers weren't pretty.

We measure field goals in terms of expected points above average -- i.e, comparing each field goal to the average number of points scored on field goals of that distance, adjusted for weather and altitude. Here's the league-wide FG Pts+ over the past five seasons, if we were to use last year's baseline for field goals:

2012: -33.2 FG Pts+
2013: +19.7 FG Pts+
2014: -23.6 FG Pts+
2015: +2.5 FG Pts+
2016: -61.2 FG Pts+

Now, it should be noted that we are planning on re-doing late-season weather adjustments in the near future. Theoretically, the total value of field goals and the weather-adjusted total value of field goals should both be close to zero. However, since 2012, the league's combined value of field goals has been much higher than the weather-adjusted value. This suggests that the weather adjustments, figured based on the era of roughly 2004-2010, are too strong at this point.

Even if you remove the weather adjustments entirely, however, 2016 would still come in at minus-23.4 FG Pts+, league-wide. That's a disastrous total.

We have been assuming that this will eventually correct itself; there's no clear on-field reason why the kicking game has suddenly gone south. We've lowered the baselines some since 2015, but not enough to even the league out at zero; we keep waiting for kickers to get back to business as usual, but it's yet to happen.

Here are the league-wide numbers by week for 2016, with both the non-adjusted and weather adjusted totals. The numbers for Week 11 do not include the Monday night game between Houston and Oakland, but all the other games are accounted for:


NFL FG Pts+ By Week, 2016
Week Non-Adj Wea. Adj
1 1.0 -5.9
2 3.9 -3.3
3 1.6 -4.6
4 13.1 10.3
5 3.5 0.1
6 4.3 1.9
7 -2.6 -6.7
8 -4.4 -7.2
9 0.8 1.2
10 9.1 7.1
11 -7.0 -7.1
TOTAL 23.5 -14.4

The windy conditions much of the NFL experienced this last week kept it from being the absolute worst week for field goals and extra points this season, even with the 12 missed extra points. Instead, Week 8 just barely squeaks out as the bottom of the barrel so far -- only four missed extra points, but nine missed field goals, including Cairo Santos' 28-yard doink indoors at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The issue is compounded because there have been so many clutch field goals missed this season. If someone hooks a 42-yarder wide left in the middle of the first quarter, we're much less likely to remember it compared to a kick at the end of the game or in overtime -- and that's where a significant chunk of the falloff has occurred.

From 2010 to 2015, teams made 77.1 percent of their field goals in the most crucial situations -- five minutes or less in the fourth quarter or in overtime, with their team either tied or losing by three or fewer points. In 2016 so far, that number has fallen to 71.1 percent, and it feels that an unusually high number of the misses came in nationally televised games, like the debacle that was the Seattle-Arizona tie back in Week 7. There definitely has been a drop off in field goal efficiency this season, but that drop off is exaggerated by the clutch nature of the failures.

But the drop off in those "clutch" kicks isn't the biggest change from recent years. Looking at the numbers, one thing immediately off the page: the NFL has forgotten how to kick long field goals.

Throw out all field goals of 50 yards or more, and 2016 suddenly looks a lot better. Kickers are making 89.4 percent of field goals shorter than that, more than they did in either of the last two seasons. Cross that 50-yard mark, however, and the kicking game regresses by a decade. The NFL has made just 53.6 percent of those long field goals this year -- well short of last year's 65.0 percent total, and the lowest total since 2009.

While still well above historical baselines, long field goal accuracy hasn't hit this much of a valley since the mid-'90s, and these numbers are likely to only get worse as the weather gets less favorable. Five kickers -- Sebastian Janikowski, Wil Lutz, Jason Myers, Nick Novak, and Mike Nugent -- have already missed three or more 50-plus-yard field goals this season. That wouldn't be particularly shocking if we were talking about full-season numbers; 2014 saw nine kickers whiff that much from distance. However, as far as I can tell from PFR's play database, there have never before in league history been more than three such players in the first 10 weeks of a season.

The last time kickers were this inaccurate from distance, coaches simply didn't attempt as many long field goals. As accuracy has steadily gone up over time, coaches have become more and more comfortable trotting out their kickers to boom long distance tries. In the 1990s and 2000s, teams averaged about 2.8 long field goal attempts per season. In the 2010s so far, teams are averaging 4.5 attempts per year, and that number continues to go up.

It's a testament to the incredibly consistent progression of kicking skill that these long-distance shots have become consistent enough to be worth the risk; more 50-plus-yard field goals were made last season than were even attempted as recently as 2007. This year, however, the trend has reversed itself, and coaches haven't adjusted their strategy accordingly.

The record for missed 50-plus-yard field goals in a season is 60, set in 1986 and tied in 2014. Kickers have already missed 45 this year and are on pace to obliterate that record. Coaches keep trotting their kickers out there, expecting to see the same sorts of results we have seen the last five years or so, and they keep being unpleasantly surprised.

What does this mean for the rest of the season? Should teams eschew longer field goals and try to convert fourth downs from that part of the field, in the same way two-point conversion attempts have gone up as extra point accuracy has gone down? Well, yes, they should, but that's more because NFL coaches are overly conservative in those situations in general, as opposed to something about this spate of missed field goals being predictive going forward.

It looks like just a confluence of bad luck and bad decisions all happening at once. Perhaps Oakland should stop treating the 38-year-old Janikowski as if he's the same player who once attempted a 76-yard field goal and had it only seem a little ridiculous. Perhaps New Orleans should trust their future Hall of Fame quarterback to pick up fourth-and-5 rather than having their rookie kicker try to boot the ball 50-plus yards. Perhaps teams, in general, should stop assuming 50-yard field goals are a sure thing and actually attempt to move the ball closer at the end of games.

And perhaps next time you're screaming at the TV as your team misses another clutch, long-range kick, you'll be somewhat comforted to know that, this year at least, you're not alone.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
1.
Dak Prescott DAL
27/36
301
3
0
1
252
241
10
BAL
From the 1:04 mark of the second quarter to the end of the game, Prescott went 18-of-19 for 200 yards and two touchdowns. A 20th pass resulted in a DPI for 33 more yards.
2.
Kirk Cousins WAS
21/30
375
3
0
2
174
172
2
GB
No, Cousins didn't produce an explosive play every time he threw the ball -- it just felt that way. He threw four deep passes against Green Bay, all in the second half, and he completed all four of them for 195 yards and two touchdowns.
3.
Russell Wilson SEA
18/31
272
1
0
1
161
145
-4
PHI
That's 145 DYAR passing, minus-4 DYAR rushing, and 20 DYAR receiving for his 15-yard touchdown grab. Wilson's passing DYAR is nearly doubled due to opponent adjustments -- including sacks, Wilson averaged 8.50 yards per dropback against Philadelphia. That's three-quarters of a yard better than the next-best quarterback against the Eagles this year (Kirk Cousins averaged 7.74 in Week 6), and Wilson joins Matt Stafford as the only quarterbacks to start against Philadelphia this year and not throw an interception.
4.
Derek Carr OAK
20/30
300
3
1
0
156
156
0
HOU
Carr started off great (7-of-7 for 58 yards, plus a 33-yard DPI), and he finished even better (6-of-9 for 192 yards and two touchdowns, plus a 24-yard DPI). But he had a rough go of things in between, going 8-of-15 for 45 yards with an interception.
5.
Aaron Rodgers GB
26/41
351
3
0
2
133
120
13
WAS
This ranking is kind of amazing considering Rodgers started out 1-of-5 for zero yards, that his longest completion of the first half gained only 15 yards, and that he ended the half on back-to-back sacks. In the second half, though, while always trailing by at least six points, he went 13-of-19 for 251 yards and two touchdowns, with six completions of 20 yards or more.
6.
Jameis Winston TB
24/39
331
1
0
1
111
127
-16
KC
Third downs: 12-of-14 for 133 yards and ten conversions, including a touchdown.
7.
Tom Brady NE
25/39
280
4
0
1
103
105
-2
SF
The slick conditions in San Francisco may have dulled Brady's deep ball a bit; he was just 2-for-9 for 77 yards on passes thrown more than 15 yards downfield, including missing Julian Edelman six times.
8.
Alex Smith KC
24/31
272
1
1
0
96
83
13
TB
Smith added a rushing touchdown late in the second quarter. This was the first game in Smith's career where he ran for a touchdown yet still lost; he had been 10-0 (including the playoffs) entering this week.
9.
Matthew Stafford DET
24/33
278
0
0
3
66
75
-9
JAC
10.
Eli Manning NYG
21/36
227
2
0
0
63
62
2
CHI
Manning's 15-yard touchdown to Sterling Shepard put the Giants up 22-16 in the third quarter, a score the New York defense held until the end. And it's a good thing too, because they got no help from Manning after that as Giants quarterback completed only two of his seven passes after the Shepard touchdown, and those two completions were both third-down plays that came up short of the sticks.
11.
Drew Brees NO
35/44
287
2
1
3
58
56
3
CAR
With Atlanta on a bye this week, Brees passed Matt Ryan for the league lead in passing DYAR, 1,140 to 1,117. Should he maintain that lead, he would win this third DYAR crown -- he also finished first in 2008 and 2011.
12.
Andrew Luck IND
15/28
262
2
1
2
55
50
5
TEN
Luck was put under more pressure than normal this week, with the Titans getting pressure on him on 47 percent of his dropbacks. Luck thrived, though, going 9-for-13 for 129 yards and two touchdowns against the blitz.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
13.
Joe Flacco BAL
23/35
269
1
0
1
45
40
5
DAL
The Cowboys sat back and gave Flacco plenty of time, daring him to beat them with the deep ball. Flacco completed just three of his eight deep pass targets, none of them thrown farther than 19 yards downfield.
14.
Sam Bradford MIN
20/28
169
1
0
2
41
41
0
ARI
15.
Jay Cutler CHI
17/30
252
1
1
4
14
14
0
NYG
Cutler struggled badly after crossing midfield. On the Giants' side of the 50, he went 7-of-12 for 70 yards with an interception, two sacks, and a fumble. And that's overstating his accomplishments, because four of those seven completions were failed plays, including gains of 4, 11, and 12 yards on plays with at least 19 yards to go for a first down.
16.
Jared Goff LARM
17/31
134
0
0
1
-7
0
-7
MIA
So THAT'S why Jeff Fisher stuck with Case Keenum for so long. Goff went 0-for-4 on deep passes. He converted only three third downs, going 7-of-11 for 45 yards with a sack and a DPI in the process. On Miami's half of the field, he went 6-of-10 for 48 yards, including zero passes thrown in the red zone.
17.
Marcus Mariota TEN
25/38
290
2
0
5
-8
-11
4
IND
Mariota has now thrown two or more touchdown passes in seven consecutive games. That's the longest streak in franchise history.
18.
Brock Osweiler HOU
26/39
243
1
1
2
-16
-21
5
OAK
19.
Ryan Tannehill MIA
24/34
172
2
1
4
-22
-34
12
LARM
Tannehill in the first three quarters: 11-for-18 for 56 yards and one interception. Tannehill in the fourth quarter: 13-for-16 for 116 yards and two touchdowns.
20.
Cody Kessler CLE
7/14
128
0
1
4
-29
-25
-4
PIT
Neither Browns quarterback performed very well under pressure; they took a combined eight sacks against a Steelers defense which had recorded only 13 sacks on the year.
21.
Carson Wentz PHI
23/45
218
2
2
2
-30
-32
3
SEA
Wentz had one streak in this game of four incompletions and a sack, and another when he went 5-of-15 for 20 yards with a sack, an interception, and two fumbles. He played his best in the fourth quarter, when the game was realistically out of reach: 12-of-21 for 132 yards and a touchdown.
22.
Cam Newton CAR
14/33
192
1
0
2
-38
-29
-9
NO
Newton's final pass in this game resulted in a completion for 18 yards. That broke a string where he had gone 1-of-8 for minus-2 yards. That is how you, as a quarterback, turn a 23-3 lead into a 23-20 win.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
23.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
23/36
167
0
0
0
-38
-38
0
CLE
QB wins are not actually a stat worth paying much attention to, but Big Ben now has 10 wins in Cleveland Browns Stadium. That's tied for most all-time, despite the fact Roethlisberger gets just one game per year in Cleveland.
24.
Colin Kaepernick SF
16/30
206
2
0
5
-45
-55
10
NE
Kaepernick's play-by-play in this game is just silly. He threw only one incomplete pass in the first half, going 8-of-9 for 116 yards. That grossly overestimates his value, though, because he was also sacked five times and fumbled twice. Then he made up for things in the second half by throwing 13 incompletions, including NINE incomplete passes in a row. You will find eight quarterbacks in this table who only threw nine incompletions each in entire games.
25.
Carson Palmer ARI
21/38
198
2
2
4
-52
-58
6
MIN
After his 4-yard touchdown to David Johnson left the Cardinals trailing 30-24, Palmer had three drives with a chance to take the lead. On those three drives, he went 2-of-5 for 4 yards with three sacks and an intentional grounding.
26.
Tyrod Taylor BUF
19/27
166
0
1
2
-69
-58
-11
CIN
With no Sammy Watkins and no Robert Woods, Taylor led a dink-and-dunk offense down the field for Buffalo. It worked; Taylor became the first Buffalo quarterback to lead 15-plus-play scoring drives in back-to-back weeks since Drew Bledsoe in 2002.
27.
Andy Dalton CIN
24/42
207
1
2
1
-71
-78
7
BUF
Losing A.J. Green early put a damper on Cincinnati's game plan. Dalton threw just three passes further than 20 yards downfield and finished with 4.81 yards per attempt, his lowest since the loss to Indianapolis in 2014's wild card game.
28.
Blake Bortles JAC
22/35
202
2
2
0
-74
-72
-2
DET
Bortles now has as many interceptions bounced off a player's foot (two) as he has wins (two).
29.
Josh McCown CLE
14/27
118
1
0
4
-111
-113
1
PIT
Despite playing eight more snaps than Cody Kessler and completing seven more passes, McCown still finished short of Kessler's passing yards on the day.


Five Best Running Backs by DYAR (Total)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Ezekiel Elliott DAL
25
97
0
4/5
30
0
79
75
4
BAL
A pretty mundane day, until you remember that Baltimore came into the week with the NFL's best run defense by a huge margin. Elliott had three runs of 10 or more yards against the Ravens, while getting stuffed for no gain or a loss five times. All other runners against the Ravens this season have combined for 12 runs of 10 yards or more, while getting hit for no gain or a loss 41 times.
2.
Tim Hightower NO
12
69
0
8/9
57
0
57
32
25
CAR
Eleven of Hightower's carries gained at least 2 yards, seven gained at least 4 yards, and his longest two runs went for 11 and 27 yards. Five of his receptions led to first downs.
3.
David Johnson ARI
22
103
1
7/11
57
1
55
39
16
MIN
Though his longest run went for just 11 yards, four went for 10 yards or more, while only two resulted in no gain or a loss. Five of his receptions went for first downs, including three third-down conversions.
4.
Rob Kelley WAS
24
137
3
0/2
0
0
43
52
-8
GB
Though he was hit for no gain or a loss four times, the undrafted rookie out of Tulane had three runs for 10 yards or more, including a 66-yarder.
5.
Le'Veon Bell PIT
28
146
1
8/9
55
0
40
36
4
CLE
Five runs of 10 yards or more, while getting hit for no gain just twice. Five of his receptions went for first downs (I seem to be typing that a lot this week).


Five Best Running Backs by DYAR (Rushing)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Ezekiel Elliott DAL
25
97
0
4/5
30
0
79
75
4
BAL
2.
Rob Kelley WAS
24
137
3
0/2
0
0
43
52
-8
GB
3.
David Johnson ARI
22
103
1
7/11
57
1
55
39
16
MIN
4.
Le'Veon Bell PIT
28
146
1
8/9
55
0
40
36
4
CLE
5.
Tim Hightower NO
12
69
0
8/9
57
0
57
32
25
CAR


Worst Running Back by DYAR (Total)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Jonathan Stewart CAR
18
31
1
1/4
8
0
-55
-36
-19
NO
Stewart's longest run gained only 10 yards, while he was hit for no gain or a loss seven times. He had only two first downs on the day, while converting only one of his four carries with 1 or 2 yards to go for a first down.


Worst Running Back by DYAR (Rushing)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Chris Ivory JAC
17
39
0
6/6
75
0
-16
-44
28
DET
Ivory had no first downs on the ground, and only three successful plays. His longest run gained only 8 yards, he was hit for no gain or a loss three times, and he lost a fumble.


Five Best Wide Receivers and Tight Ends by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Doug Baldwin SEA
4
5
104
26.0
0
73
PHI
That's 47 DYAR receiving, 26 passing for his 15-yard touchdown strike to Russell Wilson. All of his catches went for first downs, including gains of 44, 34, and 17 yards.
2.
Steve Smith BAL
8
9
99
12.4
1
53
DAL
Five of Smith's catches went for first downs, including a pair of 22-yarders, plus a 13-yard gain on third-and-12.
3.
Adam Thielen MIN
5
5
65
13.0
1
49
ARI
Three of Thielen's catches went for first downs; the other two were a pair of 10-yard gains on third-and-13 or more. He also gained 29 yards on a DPI.
4.
Jamison Crowder WAS
3
3
102
34.0
1
48
GB
A 5-yard gain on first-and-10, a 44-yard touchdown on third-and-11, and a 53-yard gain on third-and-7.
5.
Dez Bryant DAL
6
8
80
13.3
2
46
BAL
Yes, another player with exactly five catches that went for first downs. His longest gain went for 26 yards.


Worst Wide Receiver or Tight End by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Chris Conley KC
4
8
28
7.0
0
-47
TB
No gain of more than 9 yards, only two first downs, and a fumble.

Posted by: Bryan Knowles on 21 Nov 2016

59 comments, Last at 24 Nov 2016, 12:53am by Dan

Comments

1
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 8:28am

-38 DYAR against this ?
30 CLE 40.4% 31

We do what we do.

--------------------------------------
The standard is the standard!

11
by LyleNM :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 12:31pm

Opponent adjustments giveth and opponent adjustments taketh away.

34
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 5:02pm

Absolutely. My comment was I expected WORSE.
--------------------------------------
The standard is the standard!

2
by Dr. Mooch :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 8:56am

Viewing the FG table graphically is somewhat revealing. The general pattern over the beginning of the decade was moderate kicking in September, a slight increase in October, and then a decline in November. In most cases Dec bounced back from a Nov low. Exceptions: 2012 deviated with a particularly high Sept, 2010 with a particularly low one, and 2014 with a low Dec. Otherwise pattern is up-down-up, like the Overall.

But mostly you see just noise. All values fall between 89.5 and 77.6 (both 2012), and no year has all of its values trending higher or lower, nor is any month clearly the highest or lowest. The only thing that would probably pass statistical tests is that Oct clearly trends higher and Nov clearly trends lower. And the last two years defy that trend.

3
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 9:39am

What were Bortles' numbers before adjusting for the Lions?

4
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 10:51am

Jared Goff winds up being middle of the pack; that says something about the quality of QB play this week.

When I noticed how close the Lions-Jaguars game was, one of my very first thoughts was how Bortles wasn't going to get the opportunity for his garbage-time stats, and he was going to wind up having terrible DYAR this week.

5
by PatsFan :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 11:04am

What is PAT percentage vs. FG percentage from the PAT distance? Just curious about the supposition I've seen (with no data offered for or against it) in some parts that the longer PAT is playing with kickers' minds and they're doing worse on PATs than on FGs from the same place.

16
by jmaron :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 1:05pm

I read somewhere yesterday that kickers are 44/45 on 32 and 33 yard FGs - which would be 97.8%. XPs - 93.6%

20
by The Powers That Be :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 1:33pm

Well, 42/45 would be 93.3%, so this doesn't seem like much of a discrepancy.

6
by Paul R :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 11:58am

Quote:
Big Ben now has 10 wins in Cleveland Browns Stadium. That's tied for most all-time, despite the fact Roethlisberger gets just one game per year in Cleveland.

In case you missed it the first time (like I did) that stat includes all of Cleveland's quarterbacks, too. Derek Anderson is the only Cleveland QB with 10 victories in Cleveland since the team reformed in 1999.

Does anybody remember Brian Sipe? Browns games used to be fun to watch.

10
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 12:23pm

The late 80's Browns being on of the AFC's dominant teams is still within my living memory. Heck, even Bill Belicheck's 1994 squad that finished 11-5 and made it to the divisional round made me think they were going to regain their glory years. That seems like eons ago, now.

13
by RoninX :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 1:01pm

Browns games can still be fun to watch, as long as you are a fan of the opposing team.

15
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 1:02pm

Josh McCown is generally pretty entertaining, though admittedly in a usually accidental, tragic sort of way.

29
by jtr :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 2:55pm
53
by medelste :: Wed, 11/23/2016 - 11:25am
35
by Bjorn Nittmo :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 5:06pm

"That's tied for most all-time, despite the fact Roethlisberger gets just one game per year in Cleveland."

That can't really be all-time, as in franchise history (aka, all-time)? Only Cleveland Browns 2.0 I assume? Surely Kosar, Sipe, Ryan, and probably Testaverde have more.

38
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 5:14pm

keyword is stadium, (even if the wrong name is given)

--------------------------------------
The standard is the standard!

42
by Bryan Knowles :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 6:47pm

Yeah, it's for their new stadium -- and I still mentally think of it as Cleveland Browns Stadium, just as 3Com/Monster/San Francisco Stadium was always Candlestick, even after it had long-stopped being called Candlestick.

Give it a few more years of FirstEnergy; that'll get my brain to switch over.

7
by Sixknots :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 12:05pm

What was C.J. Procise's DYAR for Seattle? Had to be top 6-8.

14
by RoninX :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 1:02pm

Probably just off the table, those were probably the strongest cluster of RB performance to date this year.

8
by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 12:14pm

NFL kickers are currently 52/97 on 50+ attempts - if you prorate for the number of games last year they were 65/100 (no attempt to adjust for weather/month/etc). That's pretty drastic. If the weather adjustments are right - it's even worse than it initially looks.

I can't help but think that moving the kickoffs and having kickers trying to loft kicks is screwing with their mechanics - which isn't necessarily a bad thing in my mind - it's another thing for teams to try to min-max - do you focus on kickoffs knowing it's gonna cost you a couple of field goals, or do you say screw it and boot em all through the endzone knowing it's gonna cost you field position.

9
by Eddo :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 12:21pm

"Here's the league-wide FG Pts+ over the past five seasons, if we were to use last year's baseline for field goals:
2012: -33.2 FG Pts+
2013: +19.7 FG Pts+
2014: -23.6 FG Pts+
2015: +2.5 FG Pts+
2016: -61.2 FG Pts+"

Question: if last year is the baseline, why does it come out to +2.5 instead of 0.0?

40
by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 6:13pm

I try to get it close to zero, but it doesn't usually end up at zero because I don't want to get away too much from the general historical curve of how often kickers hit from each distance.

12
by LyleNM :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 12:35pm

With the new PAT distance, it seems as though last year and this year have also seen a pretty significant increase in blocked kicks (both PATs and FGs). I expect that number to regress next year as teams figure out new line blocking and snap count strategies to try to eliminate blocked kicks. Question for Bryan then: How many of the placement misses this year are coming from blocks relative to recent years?

19
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 1:32pm

If, in the offseason, they decide that kickoffs are still too dangerous, I really hope they have enough sense to get rid of the kickoff completely, and tie what happens on the change of possession after a td to the PAT attempt. Make a kick from the current spot? Opponent gets the ball on the 30. Make a kick when it is snapped from the 25? Opponent gets the ball on the 20. Make a 2 point conversion from the current two point line? Opponent gets the ball on the 15. Make a 2 point coversion from the 15? Get the ball back on your own 40. If a team wants to keep possession after a field goal, let them run a play from the 15, if they cross the goal line, they don't get points, but keep the ball.

More red zone plays of real importance, eliminating touchbacks. What's not to like?

22
by justanothersteve :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 1:42pm

It would be the end of the surprise onside kick

23
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 1:46pm

I would gladly trade the very infrequent surprise onside kick, in return for a lot more significamt plays from scrimmage in the red zone, and zero touchbacks.

33
by RoninX :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 4:22pm

This is an interesting idea, but let's also remember that it would impact roster construction in ways that might not be immediately obvious. Right now special teams remains an typically underrated strength of regularly competitive teams. I'm not sure how I feel about removing more special teams plays from the game.

37
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 5:11pm

Oh, there is no doubt tht if you no longer need guys to sprint downfield to cover kicks, roster construction changes. I think teams would likely start to carry more depth on the offensive lines, and perhaps defensive lines as well.

I think touchbacks are the least interesting plays in football. I think red zone offense and red zone defense the most interesting plays. Getting rid of the former, while incentivizing the latter, seems like a good trade to me.

39
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 5:15pm

I think you might see a +1 in line depth, but you'd still need a lot of those guys to take scout team reps

--------------------------------------
The standard is the standard!

24
by BlueStarDude :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 1:50pm

Kickoffs should probably just be got rid of at this point. The onside kick as the way to retain possession holds no special place for me, though I suppose the possible surprise factor will be missed a bit.

In general, would like to see the NFL take a more minimal approach to rules (except where player safety and long-term health are concerned), so while I like your suggestions above, I think something simpler would be better.

So maybe something like: 2pt conversion as it is from the 2. PAT as it is from the 15. 1pt conversion + regain possession from the 15.

45
by RickD :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 7:20pm

I don't understand the hate of kickoffs. I feel like this is something the NFL is playing up as a risk to distract people from the real risks that happen every play.

Meanwhile, yet another star linebacker is having concussion issues...

28
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 2:52pm

What happens after a safety?

31
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 3:02pm

Just give the team that scored the safety the ball on their own 40.

27
by Bryan Knowles :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 2:24pm

It's a good question!

It's hard to compare blocked extra points to previous seasons (there just aren't enough missed extra points before 2015 to really make a difference), but you're right that the number of blocks are way up on extra points. The longer distance -- plus the added incentive of the possibility of a return for points -- have teams playing much more aggressively on the extra points. A quick glance at the stats shows that about 19% of the extra point misses over the last two years have been a result of blocks.

As for overall field goals, however, there's not been much difference. About 11% of missed field goals this year comes from blocks, compared to about 13% from 2012-14. I haven't had time to really go into that data, so it's possible there's a trend with regards to distance of blocked kicks or something, but a quick glance implies that it's mostly noise, there.

17
by BlueStarDude :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 1:23pm

Spam filter got me, like it so often does, so trying again.

Hey guys, I know opponent adjustments aren't final (the season not being over and all), but this would have been a good week for an update as to the Top Games by Rookie QBs (http://www.footballoutsiders.com/quick-reads/2012/week-13-quick-reads).

Site idea (because I probably won't remember come survey time) - would love to see a drop-down menu for Top 10's: top 10 QB games, RB, games, WR games, rookie QB games, QB seasons, etc.

Anyway, great piece on the FG kicking. Carry on!

43
by Bryan Knowles :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 6:49pm

It's a good point -- most of the essay portion of the article was written before the stats came in thanks to our continued transition to the new NFL stat collection method, but Prescott definitely put up a day worth remembering.

18
by agauntpanda :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 1:24pm

Are you guys going to do a longer piece on Dak Prescott? He's certainly one of the huge stories of the season; can advanced statistics shed more light on his story? Is what he's doing less (or more) amazing than it seems?

25
by Temo :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 2:09pm

He's got pretty much the same personnel that Romo had in his 2014 MVP-caliber season, with the exception of Elliott instead of Murray. Same O-line, TEs, WRs. And yet he's got a higher DVOA than Romo did that year. Crazy.

26
by Will Allen :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 2:17pm

Elliott is much, much, much, better than Murray. I think the o-linemen are better now than 2 years ago.

30
by JIPanick :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 2:56pm

Agreed on both. Remember that for years the hype for the line has been "Look at how great these guys are, and how young they are". Well, they are continuing to improve as they grow up.

32
by The Powers That Be :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 3:03pm

Agreed. I'll also mention Geoff Swaim, the blocking tight end who was playing just great until he got hurt and put on IR a couple weeks ago. He's a better blocker than anyone they put out there (mostly James Hanna, also hurt right now) in 2014. We'll see how much of an effect that has on the running game in particular.

49
by agauntpanda :: Wed, 11/23/2016 - 12:11am

That's just what I'm interested in - how have other QBs done when surrounded by similar offensive talent, and what does that imply for Prescott's DYAR projections and ceiling?

50
by gomer_rs :: Wed, 11/23/2016 - 12:34am

The closest example and comparison would probably Russel Wilson coming into all the talent in Seattle.
_______

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

54
by mrt1212 :: Wed, 11/23/2016 - 1:42pm

Outside of Lynch, where are the similarities?

58
by gomer_rs :: Wed, 11/23/2016 - 3:42pm

Coming into a loaded run first team which doesn't require him to win outside the system.
_______

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

21
by justanothersteve :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 1:40pm

Packers-Squirrels observations

1. Play every QB, WR, and TE you have against the Packers in FFL.
2. Rodgers statistics have gone into full-bortle mode.

36
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 5:08pm

It would be interesting to see the stats with Janikowski excluded from the dataset.

--------------------------------------
The standard is the standard!

41
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 6:19pm

There's nothing really notable about Janikowski as a kicker outside of draft position; while he's got a huge leg, he's not particularly accurate with it on long FGs. Checked PFR, and he's got a career success rate of 55/100 (ooh, easy math) from 50+. Doing some spot checking of other kickers who've been around for a long time, that seems not too far off average; Vinatieri is 32/51, Matt Bryant 22/38. Janikowski's given all sorts of opportunities to kick long FGs, he's just not notably good at it.

I long for the pre-Aguayo days, when I knew less about kicking stats.

44
by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 7:16pm

He may not be terribly "good" at it, but if his 55% success rate (assuming constant every year) translates to a significant fraction of the kicks each year, he could have been inflating it early , and deflating it now (it meaning the yearly success rate).
I guess that was my thought...

--------------------------------------
The standard is the standard!

47
by Bryan Knowles :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 9:11pm

It's not a bad thought at all! It just happens to not be correct. It's actually the other way around.

From 2000-now (the "Janikowski era"), kickers have made 57.2% of their 50+ yard field goals.

Exclude Janikowski, and it goes up to 57.4%. Not a ton, by any means, but SeaBass is actually slightly below average when it comes to kicking 50+ yarders.

Now, some of that is because he's 2-for-9 on 60+ yard field goals--no one else has even attempted more than five (since 2000)

He's also 0-for-1 on 70+ yard field goals, and I believe he's the only player in NFL history to have even attempted one of those.

48
by Travis :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 10:36pm

He's also 0-for-1 on 70+ yard field goals, and I believe he's the only player in NFL history to have even attempted one of those.

Mark Moseley's 0 of 2, and Fred Steinfort, Joe Danelo, and Phil Dawson are 0 of 1. (Three of these were fair catch kicks, so long run-ups made the distance theoretically reachable.). Weirdly, half of those attempts happened during the 1979 season, and another came in 1980.

51
by jonsilver :: Wed, 11/23/2016 - 1:59am

That doesn't sound particularly weird...monkey see...

59
by Dan :: Thu, 11/24/2016 - 12:53am

Simpson's paradox. Since 2000:

Janikowski is better than the rest of the league at 50-54 yard field goals (62.7% vs. 61.2%; he has attempted 1 out of every 23 such FGs, 67/1525).

Janikowski is better than the rest of the league at 55-59 yard field goals (45.8% vs. 44.2%; he has attempted 1 out of every 11 such FGs, 24/255).

Janikowski is better than the rest of the league at 60-64 yard field goals (33.3% vs. 22.2%; he has attempted 1 out of every 9 such FGs, 6/51).

Janikowski is as good as the rest of the league at 65+ yard field goals (0% vs. 0%; he has attempted 1 out of every 5 such FGs, 3/15).

Data from PFR's Field Goal Finder.

52
by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 11/23/2016 - 10:11am

Mr. Knowles put it in more detail, but, not really; Janikowski's renown as a "big leg kicker" is about ESPN sound bites and assumptions, and he's never been particularly good:

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/J/janikseb01.htm

If Janikowski had been a UDFA, he probably doesn't last vaguely this long in Oakland. He's never been particularly good, just average at best, and, typically, those players get cycled out. You wind up keeping a highly-drafted player around longer, kicker or no, just so you can mentally justify their draft position, whether or not they deserve it.

OH HAI ROBERTO I DIDN'T SEE YOU THERE.

56
by Nahoj :: Wed, 11/23/2016 - 2:07pm

I'm pretty sure his renown as a "big leg kicker" was because, well, he had a really big leg. Still does actually, though his accuracy has headed downhill. If the guy had been signed by Denver, there's no doubt in my mind he would have a 70 yarder in the books.

I agree with you that he shouldn't have been drafted in the first round (and his first season was garbage when he clearly gave in to the pressure and bad lifestyle choices), but I really think you're not just underselling him, I think you're completely wrong on how good he has been over his whole career. First, I'm going to cherry pick some top seasons; looking at the link you gave, his 03 and 04 seasons were really good and he had a strong stretch from 08-12 as well.

For those 7 seasons, compared to the top 5 averages for kickers in 2014 (a general year for kickers I randomly picked):
20-29 yds - JKow 52/52 100% Top5 53/53 100%
30-39 yds - JKow 57/59 97% Top5 53/57 93%
40-49 yds - JKow 51/62 83% Top5 41/53 78%
50-59 yds - JKow 29/46 63% Top5 16/23 70%

I'm confident his leg is a double edged sword with regards to the long distance percentage. In other words, it's lower than it would be because he got some attempts coaches wouldn't have given other kickers. He only has one season where his longest make was under 50 yards. Meanwhile, meet a kicker who has a sub 50 long in 7 different seasons.

That's right, a career comparison to the be-ringed, ageless one himself, Adam Vinatieri:
20-29 yds - JKow 109/112 98% AV 175/181 97%
30-39 yds - JKow 117/130 90% AV 158/186 85%
40-49 yds - JKow 115/155 75% AV 148/191 78%
50-59 yds - JKow 55/100 55% AV 32/51 63%

With 115 more career field goal attempts on his resume, Vinatieri has had 49 fewer attempts from deep than SeaBass. Now I'm sure one reason is that he obviously had two decent QBs that scored more touchdowns than settling for long figgies, but that still strikes me as a notable difference.

Well, that turned into a deeper rabbit hole than I anticipated, but my point remains: I think Janikowski has a been a good kicker throughout his career with several seasons of what I would consider top notch kicking. Maybe if you're lucky Aguayo will follow the same trajectory!

46
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 11/22/2016 - 7:42pm

What were Bortles' numbers before adjusting for the Lions?

Minus-8 YAR.

What was C.J. Procise's DYAR for Seattle? Had to be top 6-8.

Um, no. He only had eight plays. One was outstanding. One was good. The other six were all bad. He had 16 DYAR rushing, minus-13 DYAR receiving, 2 DYAR total. Yes, he had a 72-yard touchdown, and an 8-yard gain on first-and-10, but his other three carries went for a 6-yard loss on second-and-5, a zero-yard gain on first-and-goal from the 3, and a 2-yard gain on first-and-25. His three targets resulted in a zero-yard completion on first-and-10, a 5-yard gain on second-and-23, and an incomplete pass on first-and-10.

Hey guys, I know opponent adjustments aren't final (the season not being over and all), but this would have been a good week for an update as to the Top Games by Rookie QBs (http://www.footballoutsiders.com/quick-reads/2012/week-13-quick-reads).

Are you guys going to do a longer piece on Dak Prescott? He's certainly one of the huge stories of the season; can advanced statistics shed more light on his story? Is what he's doing less (or more) amazing than it seems?

Bryan noted that for now, we have to write the QR essay before we even get the numbers, which can make things problematic. But you are correct on Prescott. Barring something truly wacky (like five straight interceptions and then a season-ending broken leg), he is going to obliterate all rookie quarterback records we have. He has 1,056 passing DYAR right now. The rookie record for passing DYAR is 1,012 by Matt Ryan in 2008, and the record for total DYAR is 1,019 by Russell Wilson in 2012. And Prescott's DVOA of 38.6% is way ahead of Ben Roethlisberger's rookie record of 31.7% in 2004. I have been waiting all year for Prescott to turn back into a pumpkin and for an epic turnover fest to occur, but it's looking more and more like that's not going to happen.

55
by eggwasp :: Wed, 11/23/2016 - 1:50pm

Are all 50+ FGs the same though? Janikowski has consistently been trotted out for "long" 50+ yarders. I'll bet he's attempted a greater proportion of 52+ 55+ in that dataset than most kickers, who might have scraped a 50+yarder or two but wouldn't even be asked to kick a 54 yarder.

57
by Nahoj :: Wed, 11/23/2016 - 2:13pm

Exactly! See my response to Milkman Danimal if you want more details than I ever intended of putting together on a slow work day.