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Finding a cure for insufficient statistics

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; NFL needs a better measuring stick for quarterbacks, and players at other positions too By RON POLLACK, Editor-in-chief I’ve got passer ratings on my mind. You know, the complicated formula to rate passers that can only be figured out if ...

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Old 04-09-2005, 01:57 PM   #1
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Finding a cure for insufficient statistics

NFL needs a better measuring stick for quarterbacks, and players at other positions too

By RON POLLACK, Editor-in-chief

I’ve got passer ratings on my mind. You know, the complicated formula to rate passers that can only be figured out if you have a Univac 9000 computer or by those who possess a Ph.D in mathematics.

Broken down as simply as possible, passer ratings are based on four categories: percentage of touchdown passes per attempt, percentage of completions per attempt, percentage of interceptions per attempt and average yards gained per attempt.

The final results are the passer ratings. Not quarterback ratings. The system acknowledges that it does not factor in leadership, play-calling and other very pertinent qualities that make a quarterback successful. Given this, I find it peculiar that the passer rating is the statistic that is used as the measuring stick for quarterbacks. For the most part, passer ratings are what most people look at when they try to decide who the best quarterbacks in the NFL are and who deserves to go to the Pro Bowl.

Why? I find it folly to allow this rating system to be the be-all and end-all for quarterbacks when it merely lists Johnny Unitas, arguably the best quarterback in the history of the game, 38th on its all-time list. Neil Lomax, on the other hand is ranked 10th all-time. Neil Lomax?

Now, you can argue that this merely proves that the passer rating rewards the style of play of more modern quarterbacks rather than the way the game was played in a previous era. This doesn’t hold up, though, since Jeff George is ranked 29th all-time, while Phil Simms is ranked 36th. Both played in the same era. George is all arm without the nuances that make for a great quarterback. Simms may not have been a golden-armed quarterback, but he personified all the subtleties of the position that make for a winning quarterback. Yet George ranks higher. Something is wrong.

It seems to me that, as complicated as the passer-rating system is, it is not complicated enough. I would argue that it does not look at enough statistics. The following are additional statistics that I think should be added to the passer-rating system to give us a quarterback-rating system that gives an even better idea of who is a top quarterback:
# Percentage of passes completed for a first down on third-down pass plays. After all, the ability to convert on third downs is what makes a successful quarterback.

# Fourth-quarter passing statistics should be weighted more heavily than those from the first three quarters, since, after all, the fourth quarter is when big-time quarterbacks deliver and frauds shrink from the moment. The one potential flaw in this statistic is that a quarterback on a dominant team may not play a lot in the fourth quarter of some games, but it’s not like he’ll have bad stats in this quarter, so I don’t think he would be hurt by this.

# I think a quarterback should get points in the quarterback rating for leading scoring drives in the final two minutes of each half. The longer the drive at the end of the half, the more his quarterback rating should benefit.

# Touchdowns thrown when the score is close should carry more weight than those thrown at the time of a blowout. This will place less emphasis on touchdowns thrown in garbage time against backup defensive players.
Other positions

As long as I am on the subject of ways to make statistics more pertinent, let’s take a look at other positions:

Receivers — I’ve never understood why the number of catches is what defines the best receivers. It should be yardage. We don’t declare the rushing champion to be the guy with the most carries, so why is the receiving champ the guy with the most catches? It makes no sense to me. If you want to go one step further and develop a receiver ratings system, the categories I would include are total yardage, TD catches, number of catches for a first down, number of catches for a first down on third-down plays and yardage after the catch. Plus, points should be deducted for each dropped pass, although I admit that the subjectivity of determining a drop vs. a broken-up pass might be too difficult at times, making this category unwieldy.

Defensive linemen — I’ve never understood why sacks are the measuring stick at this position. If a guy has one good play a game that results in a sack but is otherwise completely dominated by his opponent, he will still have 16 sacks and be hailed as a great player even though he got his own team killed. My DL ratings system would include sacks, QB hurries, total tackles, fumbles forced and fumbles recovered.

Defensive backs — Interceptions are the popular statistic, but they are a lot like quarterback sacks. If a defensive back picks off one pass every other game but is otherwise getting torched by receivers, he will still be among the league leaders in interceptions. My DB ratings system would include interceptions, passes defensed, tackles and percentage of passes the player they defend catches per overall pass attempt. I would weight the last category especially heavily since it will reward star players such as Deion Sanders who totally shut down their man yet do not show up on the stats sheet much since their is no stat for shutting out a receiver.

Running backs — I think this position is fine, since, above all else, what really matters is rushing yardage. Yeah, yeah, pass receiving and blocking are nice, but star running backs are almost always made on rushing yardage alone. I have no problem with running backs being rated solely on their rushing yards.

Linebackers — This is a tough one since some linebackers’ job is to stop the run, some linebackers’ job is to rush the passer and some linebackers’ job is to drop back in coverage. I’m not sure there is a one-size-fits-all rating system for this position. To do so would have to include an inordinate number of stats to factor all of these types of responsibilities into the equation. I’m not sure you’d want to do this because some defensive schemes don’t want an outside linebacker to rush the passer, while others don’t ask the OLB to drop into pass coverage a lot. I see no point in penalizing a player who doesn’t do one of these things if he is not asked to do so by his defensive scheme.

Offensive linemen — This is a position that is not conducive to statistics. Even if you tried to credit individual linemen for rushing yardage on plays that are run over them or penalize them for allowing sacks (both of which would be very difficult to compute), you have problems. Which offensive lineman do you credit with the yards on one of Terrell Davis’ patented cut-back runs? Which offensive lineman do you credit with yards when Barry Sanders does one of his superhuman, reverse-the-field, Houdini-type runs? Plus, why should a lineman be penalized for a sack allowed when the quarterback holds on to the ball too long or when another lineman gets beaten and causes the quarterback to get flushed into another lineman’s man?

http://archive.profootballweekly.com...ily_031599.asp

[Edited on 9/4/2005 by GumboBC]
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Old 04-09-2005, 02:46 PM   #2
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Finding a cure for insufficient statistics

The final results are the passer ratings. Not quarterback ratings. The system acknowledges that it does not factor in leadership, play-calling and other very pertinent qualities that make a quarterback successful.
So imagine how bad it COULD be for our guy if it did. Yikes.

# Percentage of passes completed for a first down on third-down pass plays. After all, the ability to convert on third downs is what makes a successful quarterback.
The rating of our QB will be even worse then. With the number of 3 and outs we had in the first half this year?

# Fourth-quarter passing statistics should be weighted more heavily than those from the first three quarters, since, after all, the fourth quarter is when big-time quarterbacks deliver and frauds shrink from the moment
Our boy will definitely rebound here, since he sleeps for 3 quarters then the light usually goes on in the 4th. This could raise his number.

# I think a quarterback should get points in the quarterback rating for leading scoring drives in the final two minutes of each half. The longer the drive at the end of the half, the more his quarterback rating should benefit.
Hurt in the first half, help in the second.

# Touchdowns thrown when the score is close should carry more weight than those thrown at the time of a blowout. This will place less emphasis on touchdowns thrown in garbage time against backup defensive players.
Whoops, sorry AB. This will drop your glorious rating back down. So from this guy\'s suggestion, our QB would be down in 2 categories, neutral in one, and up in one(possibly). Let\'s get this system in place ASAP.
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Old 04-09-2005, 02:50 PM   #3
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Finding a cure for insufficient statistics

saintwhodi --

Okay ... fine. Have your fun.

But what do you think about the QB Rating System?

Jeff George is ranked 29th all-time!

Neil Lomax is ranked 10th all-time!

That kinda makes the QB Rating System a fraud? Doesn\'t it?


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Old 04-09-2005, 02:56 PM   #4
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Finding a cure for insufficient statistics

I\'ve always thought of passer rating as one measure, especially since it doesn\'t take into account total turnovers as opposed to just INTs. Case in point, AB\'s best rater year was 2003 because he only had 8 INTs, yet he had 11 lost fumbles. A high number like that should drop passer rating. Like the red zone turnovers this year. A red zone INT or fumble should lower the rating MUCH more than one at the 50, cause the red zone is generally automatic for at least 3 point. Just as well as turnovers that give up points to the opposing defense or give the opposing O the ball in their own red zone, stats our QB is very bad at. But all in al, the passer rating system does need to be modified, I agree.
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Old 04-09-2005, 03:00 PM   #5
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Finding a cure for insufficient statistics

I\'ve never really looked into exactly how the QB Rating System works.

But, I just found out that the single most important \"stat\" that goes into determining the \"Passer\" rating is: Yards per Attempt!!

That would mean that receivers who excel at YAC greatly influence a QBs passer rating. That makes very little sense to me.

The more I find out about the QB Rating System, the more I\'m convinced it\'s a total fraud.

This really isn\'t about Brooks for me. Though, I\'m not opposed to bringing Brooks in on the debate ...
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Old 04-09-2005, 03:12 PM   #6
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Finding a cure for insufficient statistics

No need for that, AB is just the example I know best, and arguing about him showed me how flawed the passer rating system is after his high rating in 2003. Like I said, it is ONE measure of a QB, and has some validity, although it may be minimal. No need to bring him in, he is just the best example I know.

ESPN\'s rating system is better, and I have posted it here a couple of times.
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Old 04-09-2005, 03:48 PM   #7
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Finding a cure for insufficient statistics

troy aikman came up with his own formula last year on nfl.com or cbssporstline. i dont feel like looking it up but it was definitely better.

i have been a fanatical beisbol fan at times, into the bill james radical stat stuff etc. beisbol is a great game for stats. football just isnt. it is too much of a team game for very many stats at all to stand alone. some after several years can build a case about a player. passer rating over 5+ years can start have some meaning. it is a sucky overallnumber tho. red zone, stats from behind or ahead, and red zone numbers are effectice but also are very complex to forward as simple equations. yds per carry is much more valuable than total yards when comparing full time runners. whether a incomplete pass is a drop or not is subjective but still vital to evaluating a receiver. there are no solid numbers either for missed blocks that lead directly to a sack or a run for a loss. the list goes on...

i do not indulge in many statistical arguments for that reason. not to get on any AB thing but just to use him as an example: there are all sorts of numbers you can find. i think what most would agree on not matter your esteem of him though is that he is erratic. this week i looked and saw in wins his passer rating was 92 i think and in losses 68. doesnt mean a lot but it does show that erraticness. concerning him the single flaw that has shown no improvement is the fumbles. he has gone 3 consecutive games without a fumble only once since in NO. that is a definite issue. they recovered a lot more last year (and i joke about that) but that is really a luck issue of someone being at the right place at that moment. anyhoo, no AB thing as said but those were two things i noticed when looking earlier this week.

for football i think you have to go with your eyes and collective memory. i gave a long speil when asked about the saints last year. the AB fumble at the goal line against the lowly cardinals was a back breaker to me last year. not just for that game but for the whole team. those moments in football are what differentiates great players from just someone who accumulated numbers over a career. as that article mentioned johnny U 38th? i was old enough to see and appreciate him in his heyday and is the greatest imo. clutch, tough as nails, pinpoint accurate, and a winner. there is the factor of different rules and 12 game schedules for his numbers but far beyond that is what i saw with my eyes without examining any boxscore. i have lived mostly far from the south and have many fans from other parts of the country say to me \"poor archie manning. if he wasn\'t on those %#@& teams there he would have gone down as great as elway.\" it was that obvious, his leadership and talent regardless of any numbers.

i find dialogue here beyond snipping over who did what statistically much more satisfying. i think there would be a lot more commongroud found if that was done more. sure, it is necessary sometimes. and the longer the basis the more substantial they become as well. one that i cite most frequently is that this team has gone 32-32 for four years but my eyes see deteriorating performance. offense and defense have both fluctuated but the trend in overall rank is down from 10th off/11th def in 2000 to 16th/32nd last year.

nuff said, hoping in any thread where whodi n billy find a little common ground is worth sharing a few lines in too.
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Old 04-09-2005, 05:21 PM   #8
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Finding a cure for insufficient statistics

Timeline of Methods Used by the NFL to Determine Passing Leaders

Since the NFL first started keeping official statistics in 1932, the following are the different ways in which the passing champions were determined.

1932-1937
Total yards passing
1938-1940
Percentage of completions
1941-1948
Inverse ranking system of the following categories: completions, percentage of completions, total yards, total TD passes, number of interceptions, and percentage of interceptions.
1949
The same formula used from 1941-148 except the number of interceptions was dropped from the equation.
1950-1959
Average yards gained per pass with a minimum of 100 attempts needed to qualify.
1960-1961
Inverse ranking system based on six categories: total completions, total yards, total TD passes, percentage of completions, percentage of interceptions, average gain per attempt with the principle established of at least 10 attempts per game to qualify.
1962-1971
Inverse ranking system based on four categories: Percentage of completions, total touchdown passes, percentage of interceptions, average gain per attempt.
1972
Same system used from 1962 to 1971 except that the percentage of touchdown passes was substituted for total touchdown passes.
1973-present
Rating system described below.

The four calculations would be:

Percentage of Completions-324 of 461 is 70.28 percent. Subtract 30 from the completion percentage (40.28) and multiply the result by 0.05. The result is a point rating of 2.014.
Note: If the result is less than zero (Comp. Pct. less than 30.0), award zero points. If the results are greater than 2.375 (Comp. Pct. greater than 77.5), award 2.375.

Average Yards Gained Per Attempt-3,969 yards divided by 461 attempts is 8.61. Subtract three yards from yards-per-attempt (5.61) and multiply the result by 0.25. The result is 1.403.
Note: If the result is less than zero (yards per attempt less than 3.0), award zero points. If the result is greater than 2.375 (yards per attempt greater than 12.5), award 2.375 points.

Percentage of Touchdown Passes-35 touchdowns in 461 attempts is 7.59 percent. Multiply the touchdown percentage by 0.2. The result is 1.518.
Note: If the result is greater than 2.375 (touchdown percentage greater than 11.875), award 2.375.

Percentage of Interceptions-10 interceptions in 461 attempts is 2.17 percent. Multiply the interception percentage by 0.25 (0.542) and subtract the number from 2.375. The result is 1.833.
Note: If the result is less than zero (interception percentage greater than 9.5), award zero points.

The sum of the four steps is (2.014 + 1.403 + 1.518 + 1.833) 6.768. The sum is then divided by six (1.128) and multiplied by 100. In this case, the result is 112.8. This same formula can be used to determine a passer rating for any player who attempts at least one pass.

The Best :

Peyton Manning, Indianapolis 2004 121.1
Steve Young, San Francisco 1994 112.8
Joe Montana, San Francisco 1989 112.4
Daunte Culpepper, Minnesota 2004 110.9
Milt Plum, Cleveland 1960 110.4
Sammy Baugh, Washington 1945 109.9
Kurt Warner, St. Louis 1999 109.2
Dan Marino, Miami 1984 108.9
Sid Luckman, Chicago Bears 1943 107.5
Steve Young, San Francisco 1992 107.0
Randall Cunningham, Minnesota 1998 106.0
Bart Starr, Green Bay 1966 105.0
Drew Brees, San Diego 2004 104.8
Roger Staubach, Dallas 1971 104.8
Y.A. Tittle, N.Y. Giants 1963 104.8
Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia 2004 104.7
Steve Young, San Francisco 1997 104.7
Bart Starr, Green Bay 1968 104.3
Chad Pennington, N.Y. Jets 2002 104.2
Ken Stabler, Oakland 1976 103.4
Brian Griese, Denver 2000 102.9
Joe Montana, San Francisco 1984 102.9
Charlie Conerly, N.Y. Giants 1959 102.7
Bert Jones, Baltimore 1976 102.5
Joe Montana, San Francisco 1987 102.1
Trent Green, St. Louis 2000 101.8
Steve Young, San Francisco 1991 101.8
Len Dawson, Kansas City 1966 101.7
Vinny Testaverde, N.Y. Jets 1998 101.6
Steve Young, San Francisco 1993 101.5
Kurt Warner, St. Louis 2001 101.4
Jim Kelly, Buffalo 1990 101.2
Steve Young, San Francisco 1998 101.1
Chris Chandler, Atlanta 1998 100.9
Jim Harbaugh, Indianapolis 1995 100.7
Steve McNair, Tennessee 2003 100.4

\"Americans play to win at all times. I wouldn\'t give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed.\" - George S. Patton
On another note, I\'ll take a bite of that crow 08. - Saintfan
Brooks is a moron!! - Halo
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Old 04-09-2005, 06:26 PM   #9
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..but no one likes the BCS...
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Old 04-09-2005, 11:56 PM   #10
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..but no one likes the BCS...
xrotflmao:
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