All posts by Adam Steele

2019 Predictions

Adam’s picks, made by pulling opinions out of his rear end: NFC West Rams (11-5): Last year’s losses to the Bears and Patriots appeared to expose Sean McVay and Jared Goff, although I’m pretty confident McVay will add new wrinkles to his offense that will keep defenses guessing. I don’t believe in Goff, but there’s enough pieces around him to maintain a high powered offense. In 2018 the Rams defense severely underachieved relative to their talent, so I really have no idea what to expect from…

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The Surprising Utility of QB Touchdown Stats

In the analytics community, using touchdowns to measure player performance is generally looked down upon; touchdowns are great for fantasy football but don’t matter in real football. I agree with this line of thinking for running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends. But I think touchdowns can be a very useful took for evaluating quarterbacks if done in the right context. I’ll start by saying that using touchdowns to measure single game performance is a terrible idea. If QB A tosses three goal line TD…

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QB Defensive Support: Part 2

Last week I outlined my methodology for measuring QB defensive support, and looked at the best and worst seasons using that metric. Today’s post will explore the career numbers for the 107 quarterbacks in my study. I originally planned to simply tally the seasonal numbers without adjustment, but that presented a problem: The top of the support leaderboard was disproportionately filled with QB’s who were exceptional at avoiding interceptions. This makes sense because throwing picks generally makes it harder to prevent the opponent from scoring,…

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QB Defensive Support: Part 1

I’ll start by stating the obvious: QB wins is a terrible metric for evaluating the performance of quarterbacks. But since this criteria remains at the forefront of the public discourse about NFL signal callers, I figured it would be worthwhile to provide some important context. The game of football is won and lost in three phases, two of which have very little to do with the QB. In this post I’m going to present a cursory analysis of which QB’s benefited the most and least…

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Surplus Yards: QB Seasons

Earlier this month, I introduced a new stat called Surplus Yards over at Football Perspective. If you haven’t read that post, please do so before perusing the data I’m presenting today. The intro article looked back at the 2017 season, and this post will cover the 24 years for which I have appropriate data. I calculated and archived every 40+ yard completion since 1994. The chart below shows the league average Surplus % for each of the last 24 seasons: The overall average from 1994-2017…

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Greatest QB of All Time: Consensus (2018)

Last year I attempted to distill the public opinion of quarterback greatness into a mathematical formula, but I left out active players which made the ranking feel incomplete (ok, it was incomplete). In this post I’m going to update the list with a new formula and active QB’s included. I have two main purposes for this exercise: 1) To provide a baseline of the general consensus to measure other ranking systems against, and 2) I love to create rankings and look for any excuse to…

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Greatest QB of All Time: 10,000 Careers

Imagine if every QB throughout history could play his career out 10,000 times. Each signal caller would be subjected to the full spectrum of circumstances, ranging from the good fortune of being drafted onto a ready-made dynasty, to the rotten luck of being stuck with a talent starved, mismanaged franchise. In some careers he would manage to play 15+ years without a significant injury, in others he’d spend half of his days on IR or watch his career end suddenly with one unlucky hit. The…

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Positive Yards Per Attempt: Update

If I could only share one thing from my time doing football analytics, it would be the following principle: Positive plays carry more weight than negative plays in determining the winner of a football game. I’ve already written a couple of articles on this subject and hope to further the cause with this update. Overview For those of you who don’t feel like reading the previous two posts, I’ll give you the basic gist. Since passing has a far greater impact on winning than running, I’ve…

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Passing First Downs: Career Rankings

Yesterday I detailed the best and worst QB seasons as measured by first down percentage. Today’s post will reveal how these signal callers stack up over the course of their careers. I chose to exclude any QB who totaled at least 100 dropbacks in any season prior to 1991, because incomplete data can often be worse than no data at all. From there, I’m including QB’s who took a significant numbers of snaps in at least two seasons (a  judgment call). This gives us a…

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Passing First Downs: Best and Worst Seasons

I’m a huge fan of using first downs to measure quarterback performance. Despite ignoring yards, touchdowns, and interceptions, the simple operation of dividing passing 1D by dropbacks does a terrific job of telling us how well a QB has played. Like all statistics, passing 1D% has its flaws, but in my opinion it harbors less distortion than any other simple input passing stat. I place 1D% slightly ahead of NY/A in terms of relevance for making solid evaluations, and miles ahead of everything else. Setting…

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