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07 Oct 2005

FO Mailbag

Time for another look at the Football Outsiders mailbag; we'll be trying to run these every week during the 2005 season. We're still running a bit behind on e-mail from August and September so there are some older questions in here, but there also some recent ones.

Don't forget that we have a new contact form which you can use to e-mail any of the writers. This mailbag is not just for DVOA questions, but for any question you might have about any FO article. While we will answer questions posed in discussion threads, we are much more likely to answer a question asked through the contact form. When those discussions get filled up with comments, they get hard to follow.

Be aware that we reference plenty of our innovative FO stats here, not to mention their unfamiliar terminology, so if you are a recent addition to the readership you might want to read this first.

Bob Mangino: How the heck does Indy's D (illusory quality or otherwise) go from # 6 to #12 after holding Tennessee to 10 points, a FG through 55 minutes and a garbage-time TD? (I am certain the game clock does not factor into it, but maybe it should.) Was it that, despite holding the leading rusher--a QB--to 40 yards, he got those on 4 rushes, totally killing their yardage per rush stat? Lack of TOs? Was it that the teams behind them had such superior games last week?

Aaron Schatz: A statistically-based formula is going to oscillate wildly early in the season because the sample is small. But with DVOA, you also have the issue of the opponent adjustments, which not only swing back and forth each week in the early going, but get stronger each week. The reason why we don't use full adjustments early on should make sense: three or four games isn't a big enough sample to definitely say "the Bengals really have the top defense in the league this year, and their opponents should get adjusted for that," or "The Rams running game has fallen apart, and their opponents should get adjusted for that," and so on.

So the main reason why the Colts dropped six places was not their game against Tennessee but the fact that their first three opponents (Baltimore, Jacksonville, and Cleveland) are three of the worst offenses in the league, and as each week goes by we can have more confidence that those teams didn't suddenly figure out how to score during the past off-season.

In addition, DVOA says the Titans game was Indy's worst defensive performance of the year so far. The Colts did give up lots of yards, but not so many points for two reasons: Bironas missed a field goal, and Tennessee's offense never really started out in good field position because of poor performance by the defense (the Titans never started a drive past their own 40-yard line). Those McNair runs of which you speak included three first downs, two of which were important third down conversions.

Geoff: A Loser League question: With penalty points for RBs, do receptions count as carries to get you over the eight carry threshold?

Pat Laverty: Pass receptions do not count toward the eight carry threshold for RBs. They need eight true running plays.

ferretboy: What happens if a player refuses to sign his qualifying offer? Is that the same thing as a holdout? What if he refuses to sign the contract but shows up and wants to get dressed for practice?

Tim Gerheim: If a player refuses to sign the tender, it's not exactly the same as holding out. When a player under contract holds out, the club can fine him and otherwise discipline him. (It's sort of the same concept as the right the Browns have to reclaim some of Kellen Winslow's bonus money for breach of contract.) A player who hasn't signed his tender is sort of like any free agent who hasn't signed a contract. In fact he is a free agent, he's just either a restricted free agent (like Brian Westbrook was this year) or an exclusive rights free agent (like Antonio Gates -- he had a 2-year rookie contract which expired, and the Chargers were only required to tender him a 1-year minimum salary contract), and either way he can't go and sign with another team.

So it's basically a poor man's holdout, because the player has no bargaining power. If he continues refusing to sign the tender (and the team doesn't rescind it), then after the 10th week of the regular season he is forbidden from playing in the NFL that season. Then the next year he would still be a restricted free agent, and if the team offered him another tender, the whole thing would start over. So the player gains nothing by "holding out" into the regular season, but he loses game checks.

If he wanted to showed up to practice, I don't think the team could let him. I couldn't find anything on it looking quickly in the CBA, but if players not under contract were allowed to practice, 1) teams might "force" their unsigned RFA's to practice, and 2) teams would be able to get around roster maximums, especially in the preseason. Plus, realistically, no player would ever want to practice without being under contract. If he got hurt, the team would definitely not sign him, and they wouldn't owe him anything like they do if he's under contract (either an injury settlement or to be put on IR and get paid his salary for the season).

Eisman: You are fuckiing moron. The biggest homer on earth could make better rankings than this garbage. You lost all credibility when you put the 1-3 Bills ahead of a 3-0 team. And the stelers #1? THe seahawks #11? Whatever gay mathmatical system your using does not work.

Aaron Schatz: That was the Oddly Misspelled Hate Mail of the Week. I asked our new statistical consultant Carson Kressley, and he's never seen that word spelled with two "I"s before either.

NF: A hypothetical, but how many DPAR points would Marcus Pollard be worth if the TD had been good?

Aaron Schatz: This is a question about the Quick Reads column at FOXSports.com on Monday. Pollard had -2.9 DPAR this week. Had he caught that touchdown, he would have been worth -0.9 DPAR. Yes, still below replacement. I was surprised too. But the baseline for 2nd-and-1 from the 12-yard line is actually pretty high, and fumbling away the ball is a big penalty. (That fumble penalty works out over the course of the season, but it may be too influential when it comes to figuring out the five worst single-game DPAR ratings of the week for Quick Reads. I'm going to have to watch for that over the next couple weeks.)

Ralph Heinrich: I've been wondering for a while why quarterback arm strength is not being measured (at least not officially)? I think it should be because:

(1) It CAN be measured (they measure pitchers' fastballs and tennis players' serves; in addition to velocity, they could also measure how far a quarterback can throw it).

(2) It is a lot more important for quarterbacks than any of the things that ARE being officially measured (we know exactly how long it would take Alex Smith to haul HIMSELF 40 yards downfield (something he will hardly ever need to do), but we have no idea how long it will take him to throw the BALL 40 yards downfield).

(3) Everyone cares about it and talks about it all the time, even though nobody has any hard data on it (e.g. ESPN Insider this summer had a team-by-team camp preview starting with the quarterback position, and they were commenting on arm strength or lack thereof all the time).

(4) Nothing seems to cause as much confusion and disagreement in discussions as quarterback arm strength (examples: when Jeff Hostetler went to the Raiders, some pundit wrote that he had the strongest arm in the league (i.e. stronger than Elway, Marino, Esiason, Simms, Testaverde, George, Favre, etc.); when David Woodley had died, a former Dolphins receiver claimed that he had had "the strongest arm I've ever seen"; conversely, there were recently two articles on ESPN, one listing arm strength as one of the fortes of Rex Grossman, and the other listing it as one of his weaknesses. It also seems to be quite common for a quarterback's arm strength to "deteriorate" from "howitzer" or "canon" in scouting reports when he enters the draft to "average" or "only adequate" when he has been in the league a few years).

So why is quarterback arm strength not measured at the combine or at pro days?

Will Carroll: Because arm strength in and of itself isn't valuable.

Sure, all else being equal, we'd all take the guy who can throw the ball harder or farther, but a velocity reading or max flight measurement wouldn't tell us anything about the ability of a QB to have touch, timing, or a "catchable ball." Having been at the combine (can't wait for next year!) I can say that I've never seen so many thing measured, so if anyone had any sense that this type of measurement was valuable, it would be taken.

Mike Tanier: There's no reason that a radar gun couldn't be hooked up to measure arm strength. There's also no reason that quarterbacks simply couldn't line up at the goal line and throw the ball as far as they can to measure their ability to throw for distance.

The reason there are no empirical tests is because there is no agreement as to what scouts and coaches actually want to see in this sort of test.

Measuring velocity seems simple enough: have the QB aim at a target and fire. But how far away should the target be? 20 yards? 30 yards? Should the QB have to throw over a clear wall to represent the outstretched arms of the defensive line? Should he be ordered to throw from a five step drop? And of course, if a QB throws at 60 mph and misses the bullseye by eight inches, is it better than throwing at 55 mph and hitting it dead center?

As for "length of throw" arm strength, prospects throw dozens and dozens of deep balls in front of scouts. They perform these drills the way scouts want to see them: with a live receiver running and catching the ball in a certain spot on the field or over a certain shoulder. A QB who cannot throw the ball accurately 40 yards wouldn't last long under these conditions. The difference between being able to heave it 70 yards or 72 yards under Hail Mary conditions wouldn't mean much to most coaches.

It does seem that in the world of 10-yard dashes and three-cone drills, someone would put a radar gun up to the quarterback's throws. But the only way to evaluate QB play in drills is to simulate game conditions as closely as possible. If a QB can hit a receiver 20 yards away on a crossing route with two defenders converging, no one cares how fast the ball got there.

Finally, we all know that WRs who run a 4.4 forty don't automatically succeed, nor do linemen who bench 700 pounds or whatever. The last thing we need in football is another number that sounds scientific but doesn't have a lot of bearing on the quality of the player.

Imari: How does home field advantage play into DVOA for teams (if at all)? That is, if two teams have similar DVOAs and they were playing each other, would it be right to add in some arbitrary premium to the home team if trying to project a winner ... or is that somehow already incorporated into DVOA formula?

Aaron Schatz: This is on my "more study" list and I was hoping to get to it in the off-season and just didn't have time. I believe based on initial study that the home field advantage is about 17% -- home team on average will have about 8.5% better DVOA than its full-season total while road team puts up 8.5% worse DVOA compared to its full-season total, after you've corrected for the strength of the opposition. But that doesn't include the fact that certain types of teams have different home field advantages -- for example, cold-weather teams have a stronger home field advantage against warm-weather and dome teams in the last two months of the season. The St. Louis Rams, to give another example, have an absurd split between home and road performance (since 2002, they are 21-4 in regular season home games, but 8-19 on the road) which is why, DVOA be damned, they should be favored over Seattle this weekend.

Posted by: admin on 07 Oct 2005

51 comments, Last at 07 Dec 2007, 6:21pm by Karl Berthold


by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 10/07/2005 - 6:38pm

I believe based on initial study that the home field advantage is about 17%

For the mathematically challenged, that's ~3.6 points.

by Goldbach (not verified) :: Fri, 10/07/2005 - 6:46pm

I think my new goal in life is to submit the Oddly Misspelled Hate Mail of the Week. :-)

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Fri, 10/07/2005 - 6:52pm

Apparently switching from ESPN to FOX lets us use certain previously-forbidden words (albeit misspelled). Go FOX!

For QB arm strength, wouldn't it be most useful to have a radar gun that converts football speed to equivalent baseball speed?

Is Will going to the combine this year? There's so much potentially interesting off-season stuff there...

by Goldbach (not verified) :: Fri, 10/07/2005 - 6:55pm

In baseball, a drop in velocity is used as an indicator of a pitcher's health, or lack therof. Even if it's not useful for much else, couldn't it be useful for this purpose in evaluating a QB's health?

Or do teams already do this and just not tell anybody?

by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 10/07/2005 - 6:57pm

I dunno, Goldbach, but certain QBs could actually stand to have a bit of dropoff in speed. Favre, for instance, seems to be throwing much more difficult to catch passes as his accuracy is a little off and his velocity is still there.

by B (not verified) :: Fri, 10/07/2005 - 7:13pm

I'm going to start sending Aaron & other FO writers bizarrely spelled and punctuated hate mails in the hopes that I can get quoted in the mailbag, too.

by K (not verified) :: Fri, 10/07/2005 - 7:17pm

I love you guys and you're mostly right about important vs redundant quantification. But, it's a good thing Will and Mike weren't in charge of organizing the first combine:

Will: "How can we measure speed of players?"
Mike: "Should the distance to run be 5, 20, or 40 meters? And why use metric system, how about 8 fathoms? Why can't we use fathoms?"
Will: "Running speed in and of itself isn't valuable anyway."

My point: it may be arbitrary, but if its consistent I think measuring armstrength might be useful. Maybe for coaches, but at least it will give FO another metric to plug into DPAR. And us something to boast about our team's QB.

by Joey (not verified) :: Fri, 10/07/2005 - 8:35pm

Good #@&%% article all the way around. (And that's with 3 "I"s for extra emphasis!)

It does seem strange that the scouts who love to test everything would draw the line at arm strength. That doesn't seem any less relevant than how many times a guy can bench press 225.

by VarlosZ (not verified) :: Fri, 10/07/2005 - 8:46pm

As one of the (I assume) many people who are toying with the use of DVOA to pick games against the spread, a definitive home-field advantage number would make a world of difference.

I didn't try betting with DVOA last year, and this season is too young to do anything but mess around with numbers, but I do have one encouraging tale. Last year I was in a Yahoo "Pick'em" league, with about 30 active members, that used confidence points -- that is, if there were 16 games that week, the game that you felt to be your biggest lock would be worth 16 points, your next biggest lock 15 points, and so on.

About seven weeks into the season I was in the middle of the pack and going nowhere fast. From that point on, I made picks and assigned confidence points based solely on DVOA discrepancy between teams (shading the numbers somewhat for home field or other factors). Over the last 10 weeks, I had the highest weekly total a ridiculous seven times, along with two 2nd place finishes. Needless to say, I won the league in a walk.

by Yakuza Rich (not verified) :: Fri, 10/07/2005 - 9:13pm

Teams measure QB velocity all of the time and it WAS measured at the last combine. I'm pretty sure McPherson was either 1st or 2nd in MPH at this year's combine.

Typically teams measure velocity from 20 yards out and then see how far they can throw the ball.

I'm not sure why it's something that teams are secretive about unlike the 40 yard dash.

When Browning Nagle played for the Jets, he could throw it 60mph from 20 yards out and throw it 85 yards long. That's a cannon.

by Ron Mexico (not verified) :: Fri, 10/07/2005 - 9:48pm

It does seem strange that the scouts who love to test everything would draw the line at arm strength. That doesn’t seem any less relevant than how many times a guy can bench press 225.

I know of an ex-USFL player who can bench 225 10 times.

by Raul Allegre's Revenge (not verified) :: Fri, 10/07/2005 - 10:37pm

Velocity isn't all that important in baseball without command, doesn't mean scouts don't drool over high 90's readings. I'd be surprised if football teams aren't measuring it; wouldn't it influence the types of recievers you acquire, and the playbook you put together?

by Dan (not verified) :: Fri, 10/07/2005 - 11:10pm

Google turned up 87,000 hits for fuckiing (most to sites which it would not be appropriate to link from here), which is nearly .5% of the number for the correct spelling. Maybe Eisman was just trying to slip one past the censors. Although given the rest of his comment, I suppose that is not the most parsimonious explanation.

by noahpoah (not verified) :: Fri, 10/07/2005 - 11:57pm

Whatever gay mathmatical system your using does not work.

Hey, some of my favorite mathematical systems happen to be attracted to other mathematical systems of the same gender.

This kind of thing isn't a choice you know - it's axiomatic.

by noahpoah (not verified) :: Sat, 10/08/2005 - 1:06am

Although given the rest of his comment, I suppose that is not the most parsimonious explanation.

Indeed, the double-i expletive and the erroneously capitalized 'h' in 'THe' suggest, I believe, very angry typing.

Throw in "your" in place of "you're" and "mathmatical" in place of "mathematical" and you've got strong evidence for a near total lack, on Eisman's part, of careful consideration of his ideas prior to clicking 'send' (or 'GO! GO! GO!' if he heeded Aaron's suggestion to use the new contact form to ensure that his message get through).

by Jim A (not verified) :: Sat, 10/08/2005 - 1:23am

certain types of teams have different home field advantages

I previously questioned whether the result in the linked FO article was statistically significant. Other more rigorous research has been inconclusive on whether teams differ significantly in their degree of home field advantage. A good survey of HFA research can be found in the book Group Performance and Interaction by Parks and Sanna. If you follow the Amazon.com link on my name, sign in and search inside the book for "home field advantage" to read details. Lots of studies have been done on HFA and while the effect exists across many sports and levels of competition, there is no real consensus among researchers on its underyling cause nor on the factors that might vary it.

by Melish (not verified) :: Sat, 10/08/2005 - 1:37am

Re: fuckiing: I really hope people don't start faking these. It's more fun when I know that these morons are real.
That said, ever go to a sportsline, or yahoo fantasy board and start typing gibberish like this and have people take it seriously?

I have. It's fun. And no less effective than a thoughtful, well-supported argument.

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Sat, 10/08/2005 - 1:51am

For those who are curious about arm strength... Frisman Jackson has one of the strongest arms in the entire NFL. Who? Exactly.

That said, I thought there *was* a standard test for arm strength. Isn't there a drill where QBs kneel at the 40 yard line and chuck it as far as they can? I remember reading how Kyle Boller performed on that test when he was coming out of college. I also remember reading about John Elway doing it, once. Apparently, he could hit the uprights.

by Eric (not verified) :: Sat, 10/08/2005 - 2:07am

Home field advanage will effect different teams differently. The level of noise when the visiting team offense is trying to work seems to be the primary cited reason why there is a homefield advantage. Yet, does it effect by increasing penalties, or some other measure. Is the turf/grass dichotomy the principal reason for an advantage for the Rams and Colts?

by james (not verified) :: Sat, 10/08/2005 - 2:45am

back to the drawing board....

Always assumed home field advantage was already considered in DVOA...

another stong mental showing on my part

by VarlosZ (not verified) :: Sat, 10/08/2005 - 7:17am

Home field advanage will effect different teams differently. The level of noise when the visiting team offense is trying to work seems to be the primary cited reason why there is a homefield advantage.

I doubt that. Comparable home-field advantages exist in the other major sports, where crowd noise doesn't directly interefere with anything that the visiting team is trying to do. I think a more likely explanation would be that teams just have better morale when the crowd cheers for them than when it cheers against them. Also, of course, the visiting team has to travel, which can throw off their routines.

by the K (not verified) :: Sat, 10/08/2005 - 1:05pm

Re: Pat at #1. Very very interesting, since I believe I heard somewhere that home field is worth 3 points when figuring the lines.

by Adam H (not verified) :: Sat, 10/08/2005 - 1:49pm

Hey Rich Eisen was so mad he even spelled his name wrong. What a Jaakas peice of krap.

by Bruce Dickinson (not verified) :: Sat, 10/08/2005 - 2:28pm

As a football fan, i'd like to see MPH listed for QB throws. They alreay put so much other junk on the screen, i think something like that might be interesting. You could see how hard a ball has to be thrown to thread two defenders, or maybe see that an interception was the result of a throw way under normal velocity. i guess the reason this doesn't happen is because every throw is made from a different spot (as opposed to all throws made from the pitcher's mound. i think most fans would pay attention to it at least as much as they do to the MPH in baseball.

by JMM (not verified) :: Sat, 10/08/2005 - 2:45pm

Personally, I am not aware of any “gay mathematical systems.� I do know of several bi(nomial) systems. Isn't DVOA hermaphroditic?

by princeton73 (not verified) :: Sat, 10/08/2005 - 3:23pm

Aaron Schatz: That was the Oddly Misspelled Hate Mail of the Week

I think Bill O'Reilly sent it

by James Gibson (not verified) :: Sat, 10/08/2005 - 7:16pm

I didn't realize the Rams had that much of a split, but as a four-year Seattle resident, I did realize that the Seahwaks had some absurd home-road split, although I can't remember the exact numbers. Combine the two, and the Rams should definitely be favored. This is also one reason I don't put a lot of faith into Washington after a narrow home win over the Hawks.

by Jim A (not verified) :: Sat, 10/08/2005 - 7:55pm

Re: #21, actually crowd noise is one of the possible mechanisms for HFA. The main evidence for this is that basketball and hockey have the greatest home field advantages, supposedly because their arenas are smaller and enclosed, with the fans closer to the action than in other sports. Baseball has the weakest HFA, and it tends to have larger open-air stadiums with relatively sparser crowds. It's often been surmised, thus, that NFL dome teams have a stronger HFA, but apparently the studies haven't necessarily borne that out.

by Goldbach (not verified) :: Sat, 10/08/2005 - 8:19pm

Baseball's weak HFA is even more interesting when you consider that it's also the only sport with a built-in advantage for the home team, namely the chance to bat last.

by peachy (not verified) :: Sat, 10/08/2005 - 8:22pm

I'm actually surprised that baseball has the weakest HFA, since the variance between stadiums is so significant - certainly each football stadium has its quirks (like the windtunnel effect at Heinz that foils kickers not named Vinatieri), but at least their fields are all the same dimensions...

I wonder if the number of games in the season might be a factor as well - with 162 games, the importance of each individual contest is much reduced (especially since all but the very best teams will lose at least sixty whatever they do.)

by Walt Pohl (not verified) :: Sat, 10/08/2005 - 8:39pm

Noahpoah: Were you intentionally making a pun about the axiom of choice in set theory?

by Josh (not verified) :: Sat, 10/08/2005 - 10:37pm

Re HFA: interesting comments about open-air making less noise. Watching Brave-Astros right now, and they said that the Astros closed their roof because they want more of a crowd noise effect. That and they hate baseball being played the way it's meant to be played.

by Aaron (not verified) :: Sun, 10/09/2005 - 12:23am

Re: Seattle Home Field Advantage. Actually, Seattle isn't any worse on the road than the NFL average. This is a stat from this week's New York Sun previews (which I flaked on, and forgot to post on the site this morning, sorry about that): since switching to the NFC in 2002, Seattle is 10-16 on the road during the regular season, a .385 winning percentage. The NFL average for road teams is .410. Over 26 games, the difference is less than one win.

Re: HFA in general. Every NFL field has the same dimensions, but there are a number of differences: grass vs. turf, air temperature, precipitation, altitude. One team may be used to one temperature, and play poorly in another. A different team may build around fast players and not play as well on the road on grass. And I believe that Denver has a stronger than usual home field advantage in all four major sports.

by Basilicus (not verified) :: Sun, 10/09/2005 - 3:15am

Also, is a QB who can throw the ball at 65 mph in the first quarter and 45 mph by the fourth more valuable than a QB who can throw 55 mph the entire game? And how do you then measure arm stamina? Radar gun 40 of each QB's throws at the combine?

by ammek (not verified) :: Sun, 10/09/2005 - 11:57am

Aaron: "since switching to the NFC in 2002, Seattle is 10-16 on the road during the regular season, a .385 winning percentage. The NFL average for road teams is .410. Over 26 games, the difference is less than one win."

Yes, but its home record is 18-8, or .692, well above the NFL average of .590. The imbalance between home and road performance is among the most significant in the league. Mike Holmgren's Packers were also much better at home than on their travels. Don't give that man the charge of the Saints!

by Stevi (not verified) :: Sun, 10/09/2005 - 12:12pm

Hockey also has a built-in home ice advantage--you get to make the last personnel change after a faceoff, the better to play the matchup game. It's done less obsessively in the regular season than the playoffs, but it's there.

by Tim (not verified) :: Sun, 10/09/2005 - 12:25pm

Hockey? What's hockey? Oh... that minor league sport that's broadcast on OLN now. Actually I say this not as a typical hockey hater basking in schadenfreude but as a disappointed hockey fan who doesn't get OLN on his cable.

by Aaron (not verified) :: Sun, 10/09/2005 - 12:53pm

Ammek, ah yes, you are correct, good point. Let nobody say I don't acknowledge a good point.

by Jim A (not verified) :: Sun, 10/09/2005 - 1:39pm

Re: 33, the book I cited does mention Denver as having a stronger HFA across all four major pro sports, at least in the limited sample size studied.

by Paul (not verified) :: Sun, 10/09/2005 - 4:15pm

Question on the NFL blackout policy:

I was looking ahead to next week to see if I had to go to a sports bar to watch the Steelers. I am in the Cocoa Beach region in Florida, CBS station in Orlando. Jax at Pit on CBS at 1pm and Mia at TB on CBS at 1pm. So I figured I would have to go the sports bar.
Just after I make this decision, on the CBS station (Mia/Buf game) an executive for the station comes on and states that according to the NFL policy they have to show the Jax game next weekend since it is a road game. Apparently they tried to get it waived, talking with the Jax folks and no such luck. The executive came on specially to apologize to his viewers about the NFL's messed up policies. I thought that this area was a primary market for TB and secondary for both Jax and Mia. If true, then wouldn't they also have to show the Mia game, since it is a road game? Or is Mia a tertiary market in this area? NFL should scrap the policy. Though CBS and Fox should have insisted on it disappearing when they gave them all that money.

by Zac (not verified) :: Mon, 10/10/2005 - 2:54am

Paul, doing a Google search, I came up with this link from FootballOutsiders. (click my name) That must have been where I heard about this originally.

So I guess how it works is if it is a station that can be received within 75 miles of the stadium, that station is forced to air the game. I can't verify whether that is the case (the station's range), but it must be (if the affiliates say it is).

As to both teams being on the road, I guess you're close to Jacksonville than you are to Miami (if I am reading Google Maps correctly).

by Zac (not verified) :: Mon, 10/10/2005 - 4:05am

Alright, after more research here's what I've found. WKMG, the CBS station out of Orlando, is part of Tampa and Jacksonville's markets. To prove it, click my name that shows what the FCC considers to be its signal range (hopefully that link still works).

The signal is received as far north as Palm Coast, which according to this site is 59 miles from Jacksonville. It is received as far west as Zephyrhills, which again that site tells me is 27 miles from Tampa. It goes as far south as Sebastian, which is still 130 miles from Miami.

So what this means is that station has to show the away games for Tampa Bay or Jacksonville which air on CBS (of which I don't think Tampa Bay has any, since intraconference games air on the away team's normal channel). When they don't have that, they can choose to air any game.

by paul (not verified) :: Mon, 10/10/2005 - 10:58am

Thanks for the info Zac. I did not realize that we are not officially part of the Miami market. I personally live almost equidistant between Miami, Tampa Bay and Jacksonville which for the NFL, means absolutely nothing. Unfortunately for many people who grew up in this area (and most of Florida), the Dolphins are who they grew up with. Those who have been long time fans of Tampa probably still have LSD and/or Vietnam style flashbacks.
The local channels play the Florida teams before any others, and since I am a transplant like so many others in Florida, I spend football season at the sports bars.

by ChrisS (not verified) :: Mon, 10/10/2005 - 11:33am

The best test for isolating fans versus travel as the determinant of home field advantage would be Jets v Giants. The NFL would just have to make them play about 25 times and we could get some significant statistical information.

by NYCowboy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/10/2005 - 12:49pm

During commercials of last night's Yankee game I was flipping to the CIN/JAX game. After one of Leftwich's throws, Theisman narrated over a graphic highlight thingy that said the throw was 98 mph, so if ESPN has this technology I would assume NFL teams do too.

by Parker (not verified) :: Mon, 10/10/2005 - 1:14pm


I didn't see it last night but I have seen the MPH graphic other times. My understanding is that they are trying to translate it to pitch speed in baseball, but they do it stupidly.

Here's how I think they are looking at it: They take the amount of time it takes for the ball to get from the QBs hand to the REC, and then using that time to find out how fast a pitch from 60 feet 6 inches away would need to be to match that time. The problem is that they are not measuring the actual ball speed, they are measuring the time it takes the ball to arrive, regardless of distance traveled.

Here's a bad example. Lets say that it takes .5 seconds for a 90 mph pitch to reach home plate at the regulation distance, 60 feet, 6 inches. Now, lets say I stood 20 feet from you and threw a ball that arrived in .5 seconds. By ESPNs standards, I just threw a ball at you that was equivalent of throwing a 90 mph pitch in baseball, even though it's clearly not the same thing.

That ESPN or ABC (I've seen Madden talk up this stat) would use this in any way shows near contempt for their audience. I'm more of a lover than a fighter, but if I met the bozo that thought this up, I might do violence on him.

by AnandaG (not verified) :: Mon, 10/10/2005 - 2:14pm

Any chance you guys could post links to the Fox Sports columns when they come out? It seems like they get front-paged there for a very short time.

by James Gibson (not verified) :: Mon, 10/10/2005 - 4:14pm

I've been in home-field/home court discussions like the one mentioned in #44 before. I surmised in basketball, it was largely court familiarity due to my stay in college where Claremont-Mudd-Scripps was 4-0 vs. Pomona-Pitzer at home at 0-4 on the road during my 4 years in college. All schools are in Claremont, CA and we used to walk to both games. However, I tend to think both that and crowd noise are factors.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2005 - 4:41pm

Parker #46:

I think the ESPN/ABC mph measurement isn't based on what you are saying.

Rather, it is based on the fact that a person who can throw a baseball at a certain velocity would throw a football at a certain lesser velocity given its greater size and different shape.

Our local Science Museum - the Franklin Institute has an exhibit on this. I can pitch a baseball at around 60 mph (and its surprising how difficult it is to pitch faster than around that for an ordinary guy - I watched a lot of others there!). When I move on to a softball, the velocity drops to around 50 mph, because the ball is bigger. A volleyball is even less, as are footballs and soccer balls.

I've listened to the ABC/ESPN stuff enough to note that occasionally they'll slip out about Vick or Farve (both of whom have bigtime arm strength) that they just threw a pass that was at 60 mph, and that was equivalent to throwing a 98 mph fastball. I believe the equivelancy they use is based on the arm strength ability I note above, i.e., had they made the same throw with a baseball, it would have been a 98 mph fastball, instead of a 60 mph pass.

by clonmullin (not verified) :: Sat, 10/15/2005 - 2:45pm

Re #1 Long post ago I know ... but how did you come to 17% = 3.6 points. Is it listed somewhere on the site/in the book that 5% = 1 point ( approx )

by Karl Berthold (not verified) :: Fri, 12/07/2007 - 6:21pm

I just bought the prospectus of 2006 and 2007. Very good inside information. But one thing you are all dead wrong: Ball Speed and/or arm strength IS VERY IMPORTANT for QBS. Take a 20 yd. (in the air) pass from Kanell (weakest arm i´ve ever seen)that travels 0,3 seconds slower then let´s say Rohan Davey´s (threw ball from one knee 75 yards!!!!!!!!!). The difference is an INT or completion and defenses have to prepare for deeper routes, leaving more room for underneath passes. Why then Davey didn´t made it? Because he never was allowed to play out his strength.