All posts by Bryan Frye

GridFe Hall of Fame Safeties

Expectations for safeties have evolved as offensive trends philosophies have evolved. The earliest pure safeties lived up to their names, acting as safety nets deep behind the rest of their defense, combating the long ball tendencies of the day. As offenses became more sophisticated, roles on defense became more complex. Safeties now had to be able to cover most all areas of the field, as well as run and pass blitz, as well as their requisite support against the rush. The position has seen several…

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GridFe Hall of Fame Cornerbacks

Cornerbacks have one of the toughest jobs in football. Usually playing in a reactionary posture, they have to rely on technique and savvy to keep some of the most athletic people in the world from catching the ball. They have to do this on every play of every game. Okay, not every play. On running plays, they have to first respect the pass and then react to much larger men coming their way to clear a path for the runner. When they do their job…

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GrideFe Hall of Fame Outside Linebackers

Even among contemporaries, outside linebackers are difficult to compare with one another. Those who excel in coverage tend to be overlooked for postseason honors in favor of pass rushers, and both (perhaps rightfully) overshadow the pure run pluggers. This problem is exacerbated when trying to assess the relative accomplishments of outside linebackers across different eras. How do you evaluate Dave Wilcox, a run stopping maven from the 1960s, against Seth Joyner, a hypertalented cover backer from the 1980s? And how do you measure either against…

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GridFe Hall of Fame Middle Linebackers

For a large portion of NFL history, middle linebackers have been referred to as quarterbacks of the defense, and they are expected to possess the football intelligence to match the title. Mike backers must have the ability to do a little bit of everything: make tackles sideline to sideline, stop runs up the gut, maintain coverage (usually on backs and tight ends), run and pass blitz, and get personnel into position and make necessary adjustments.1 With the wide array of skills needed to play at…

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Championship Leverage Update

Back in June, I wrote about Championship Leverage in the NFL. My particular interest was determining the value of a postseason game relative to that of a regular season game (and vice versa). In the original formula, I used a figure for wildcard games that was not intuitive to me. After careful consideration,1 I have tweaked the formula to change the 8.33% odds in the wildcard round to 6.25% odds. This means seasons since 1978 now have a higher weight for postseason games. Nothing else has changed…

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GridFe Hall of Fame Defensive Tackles

Manning the interior line, defensive tackles tend to be the biggest and strongest players on the field. Their lower bodies must simultaneously be powerful enough to anchor against the run and quick enough to bypass blockers. Their arms must be both mighty and precise, in order to disengage linemen to make plays (or occupy linemen to allow others to make the plays). More so than their line mates on the outside, defensive tackles tend to have higher expectations to shut down rushing attacks and lower…

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GridFe Hall of Fame Defensive Ends

The ideal defensive ends are immovable objects against the run and unstoppable forces against the pass. In reality, the best ends tend to be great at one or the other, or good at both, with a few extraordinary exceptions. As a committee, we strove to recognize those defenders who had few holes in their game, and we had an implicit preference for the guys who excelled in both areas. However,  we recognize the importance of the pass relative to the run, and we honor those…

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Championship Leverage

Over the years, I’ve given much thought to the value (Championship Leverage) of postseason games relative to regular season games. Sabermetrics guru Tom Tango invented the Leverage Index to apply a value to the gravity of a given base-out-inning situation in baseball. Later, Neil Paine used the concept for basketball and, subsequently, football. I found his application of the concept to NFL quarterbacks to be particularly interesting, and I decided to go into more detail on Neil’s methodology and expand the findings back to 1936…

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A Look at Punting Value Versus Punting Skill

Last month, I had a mini tweet storm about punting value versus punting skill, where I discussed punters, how to measure punting, and how to reconcile the apparent gap between value (as measure by expected points) and perceived skill. Then I forgot all about it and never brought it up again. Today, I want to revisit some of my ideas, expand on them, and offer them for debate among the smart readers of this site. I know punting isn’t the most exciting topic, even for…

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GridFe Hall of Fame Centers

Today’s GridFe Hall of Fame post focuses on arguably the most dangerous position in football, the center. The man in the middle: he touches the ball on every play, usually directs the line, protects against inside penetration, and serves as the pivot man in the run game. He also takes repetitive head shots on every down and doesn’t just put his body on the line; he literally puts his mind on the line for the team. We honor those men for their sacrifice on the…

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