Dead time thread debate: Pro Football Focus

2020 Patriots Season:
Upcoming Opponent:
Next Up: vs 49ers
Pick Results: SF: 0% at NE: 0%
Sun
Oct 25th

Current Patriots Twitter Feed:
Status
Not open for further replies.

patfanken

PatsFans.com Supporter
PatsFans.com Supporter
Because its such a dead time for the next month I though it MIGHT be interesting to revive an old debate. In this case it's about Pro Football Focus. Few topics evoke more passion from our fan base than discussing the power of analytics in general and PFF in particular.

When PFF first started showing up about a decade ago it was hard to take seriously. It was essentially a group of European hobbyist/ fans who had the temerity to grade American football players individually on each play. How could we take seriously an analysis based on the SUBJECTIVE opinion of some guy from England. :eek: Back then, it should be noted, I was among the loudest voices who mocked their results. IIRC one of the most famous of which ranked Brady as an "average" QB in a year he was tearing it up.

But PFF has come a LONG way since then. Chris Collingsworth bought a controlling interest and brought the company to Cincinnati and now employs over 500 people, has contracts with all 32 NFL teams as well as 60 NCCAA teams (and is hiring IT guys if you are interested)

While Peter King is on vacation, he has had guest writers come in to do his Monday column. This week it was 7 guys from PFF. And while some of the column smacks of self promotion, there are enough insightful observations that go beyond the debate of PFF itself, including one that helps explain the success of the Pats defense during the playoffs. Enjoy......or not. ;)

FMIA Guest: PFF On How Data Is Changing NFL’s Present And Future
 
Last edited:

203Pat

In the Starting Line-Up
All I know is one of those sites (don’t remember if it was PFF specifically) had Bradley Fletcher ranked as the number one corner in the league the week before we cut him. He never played a down in the league again. What a fall from grace.
 

Elijah

The Tom Brady Of Not Having A Gf
PatsFans.com Supporter
It does seem like they've improved; the problem is I'm too lazy to figure out which areas those are.
 

sean10mm

Third String But Playing on Special Teams
As recently as 2015, PFF's "system" produced some really nutty results. Like they gave a net negative grade to a game where Aaron Rodgers threw 333 yards 5 TD 0 INT 138.5 passer rating against a Chiefs team that went 11-5 that year and had the #3 defense in points allowed. That's just your system being completely busted right there.

It sounds like their MARKETING has improved by leaps and bounds, but I don't consider them a trustworthy source. Just because somebody puts a number on something doesn't mean it's meaningful or valid.
 

Joey007

Pro Bowl Player
I still say it’s very useful for discovering players who do not get recognized, and also identifies certain strengths and weaknesses of players that may initially go unnoticed.

But they’re ultimately not an end all be all metric. There’s simply too many factors to fairly grade every player based on their system.
 

Sicilian

Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
To be honest, I have no problem with PFF. I have way more problem with people dropping links to PFF in an argument then smugly strolling off like they're an action hero calmly walking away from an explosion. PFF has some good tools, but if your argument for or against a player is based on their metrics, your argument is flimsy at best.
 

Hyped

PatsFans.com Supporter
PatsFans.com Supporter
I like PFF's data....as well as Football Guys'...and all the other sites....

It is a good thing that people are compiling data.

The biggest thing is what results are being derived from said data....this is where I have a problem most of the time as data is derived by those with biases seeking to confirm them....

I'd pay serious money to see what Ernie Adams does....the man has been doing this for decades in the basement of Gillette Stadium, IMO.
 

patfanken

PatsFans.com Supporter
PatsFans.com Supporter
Well the actual REASON I bothered to give you the link was something that was actually IN the article. They offered the opinion that all things being equal in today's game, you'd rather have good coverage than a great pass rush and they gave the Pats as the great exemplar on both sides.

That observation not only made me feel good, it explained why the Pats, who languished at the bottom of the league in sacks during the regular season, looked like the 85 Bears as they dominated all the pass rush stats during the playoffs. It also makes me very hopeful of the Pats having a top 5 defense despite not having any "elite" defensive linemen or so called "proven" pass rushers.

Clearly the strength of the Pats defense is their secondary. It was an good secondary last year and should be even BETTER this coming season. They have a plethora of capable to great CB and whomever comes out of THAT fierce competition will form the best top to bottom group in the league (and the ones that lose out will not want for a job very long)

I believe what PFF opines is true. We all focus so much on creating the ultimate pass rush, we forget that we watch an offense that seems to mitigate ANY great pass rush 16 times a year. The Pats saw 3 of the best pass rushing DL's in the league during the playoffs, and NONE of them saw anything but very sporadic success against Tom Brady, who rarely asks his OL to provide him with anything more than 2.5 seconds of protection.

As it seems, once again, Bill was ahead of the league in determining that it was creating a great secondary would be critical to a defense's success, while the rest of league was trying to do the opposite. IF JC Jackson makes a big jump from his spectacular rise as a rookie UDFA, the Pats will have potentially 2 shut down guys with the length to take on any WR group. They will also have experienced depth in JMac, Jones, and whomever survives to take the 5th spot, to create the extreme flexibility that is needed to defend the sophisitcated passing attacks they will face.

On the rush side, while they don't have ANYONE who can win consistently one on one, they seem to be creating the personel required to create a LOT of pressure by design. "Pass rush by committee" is a real thing with the Pats. If we seen even 90% of the Micheal Bennett of the past the DL will defend the run well and have enough help from the LB's to create the percentage of pressures that will be necessary to successful compliment what the secondary can do.

Finally back to the original topic. From the posts that already been made, I wondered how many had actually read the column. There is still a lot suspicion about PFF it seems. It should be pointed out that what they do ISN'T an exact science. All that information is designed to do is give the HC an EDGE in his thought process. It's like finding a TENDENCY. Its just that...a tendency. It doesn't mean that if a team lines up in a certain formation you will get the exact play you've seen in the past. BUT more times than not....you will

Las Vegas makes BILLIONS creating games that lets them win just 52% of the time. The same thing is what groups like PFF is trying to do with analytics. Not be right all of the time or even most of the time. But to be right more times than not. When that is the case you will be wrong enough times to open yourself up to all kinds of criticism, like PFF does (and we pounce on every one. ;) )

However in the long run the information they offer can be invaluable to a staff that is capable to utilize that information effectively. Because in the end, data is data. In means little unless it can be utilized effectively.

My first reaction to all the use of this kind of data was the fear that now the rest of the league can catch up to what I assume the Pats have been doing for almost 2 decades. But the more I think about it, my previous comment hold true. UNLESS the data is effectively utilized it's worthless. And I trust the Pats braintrust to make the most of what they get. Don't forget that the Pats ALSO hired PFF.
 

BaconGrundleCandy

PatsFans.com Supporter
PatsFans.com Supporter
Well the actual REASON I bothered to give you the link was something that was actually IN the article. They offered the opinion that all things being equal in today's game, you'd rather have good coverage than a great pass rush and they gave the Pats as the great exemplar on both sides.

That observation not only made me feel good, it explained why the Pats, who languished at the bottom of the league in sacks during the regular season, looked like the 85 Bears as they dominated all the pass rush stats during the playoffs. It also makes me very hopeful of the Pats having a top 5 defense despite not having any "elite" defensive linemen or so called "proven" pass rushers.

Clearly the strength of the Pats defense is their secondary. It was an good secondary last year and should be even BETTER this coming season. They have a plethora of capable to great CB and whomever comes out of THAT fierce competition will form the best top to bottom group in the league (and the ones that lose out will not want for a job very long)

I believe what PFF opines is true. We all focus so much on creating the ultimate pass rush, we forget that we watch an offense that seems to mitigate ANY great pass rush 16 times a year. The Pats saw 3 of the best pass rushing DL's in the league during the playoffs, and NONE of them saw anything but very sporadic success against Tom Brady, who rarely asks his OL to provide him with anything more than 2.5 seconds of protection.

As it seems, once again, Bill was ahead of the league in determining that it was creating a great secondary would be critical to a defense's success, while the rest of league was trying to do the opposite. IF JC Jackson makes a big jump from his spectacular rise as a rookie UDFA, the Pats will have potentially 2 shut down guys with the length to take on any WR group. They will also have experienced depth in JMac, Jones, and whomever survives to take the 5th spot, to create the extreme flexibility that is needed to defend the sophisitcated passing attacks they will face.

On the rush side, while they don't have ANYONE who can win consistently one on one, they seem to be creating the personel required to create a LOT of pressure by design. "Pass rush by committee" is a real thing with the Pats. If we seen even 90% of the Micheal Bennett of the past the DL will defend the run well and have enough help from the LB's to create the percentage of pressures that will be necessary to successful compliment what the secondary can do.

Finally back to the original topic. From the posts that already been made, I wondered how many had actually read the column. There is still a lot suspicion about PFF it seems. It should be pointed out that what they do ISN'T an exact science. All that information is designed to do is give the HC an EDGE in his thought process. It's like finding a TENDENCY. Its just that...a tendency. It doesn't mean that if a team lines up in a certain formation you will get the exact play you've seen in the past. BUT more times than not....you will

Las Vegas makes BILLIONS creating games that lets them win just 52% of the time. The same thing is what groups like PFF is trying to do with analytics. Not be right all of the time or even most of the time. But to be right more times than not. When that is the case you will be wrong enough times to open yourself up to all kinds of criticism, like PFF does (and we pounce on every one. ;) )

However in the long run the information they offer can be invaluable to a staff that is capable to utilize that information effectively. Because in the end, data is data. In means little unless it can be utilized effectively.

My first reaction to all the use of this kind of data was the fear that now the rest of the league can catch up to what I assume the Pats have been doing for almost 2 decades. But the more I think about it, my previous comment hold true. UNLESS the data is effectively utilized it's worthless. And I trust the Pats braintrust to make the most of what they get. Don't forget that the Pats ALSO hired PFF.
Always made me laugh when people bashed pff. More info is/was never a bad thing.

Anyway, anyone that doesnt think pff is useful should look at the Pats drafts. NE & PFF have been on the same page for some time now. Definitely not random.
 

203Pat

In the Starting Line-Up
Always made me laugh when people bashed pff. More info is/was never a bad thing.

Anyway, anyone that doesnt think pff is useful should look at the Pats drafts. NE & PFF have been on the same page for some time now. Definitely not random.
More correct info is never a bad thing. How do they know some of the players assignments? They could give a guard a mark against him for giving up a sack when maybe it was the center’s job to slide over and pick up that rusher. They also will occasionally say that defensive players have more sacks than the team actually had. I don’t think they’re terrible overall but I think they shouldn’t be taken as gospel either.
 

TommyD4207

Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract
If data was the fear that now the rest of the league can catch up to what I assume the Pats have been doing for almost 2 decades. But the more I think about it, my previous comment hold true. UNLESS the data is effectively utilized it's worthless. And I trust the Pats braintrust to make the most of what they get. Don't forget that the Pats ALSO hired PFF.
They use the recordable, actual numbers, referenced against league history and trends.

They do NOT use the PFF made-up stats/rating systems.

If I didn't know QBR was made-up by ESPN, I'd think PFF did. And now with Collinsworth on-board, they've got a vested interest to draw as many fans as possible, just like ESPN did when they started making up their own stats.
 

Sfpat

In the Starting Line-Up
PFF claiming the Pats old friend Jon Halapio to be the foundation of the Giants OL because he played 50 snaps and didn't give up a pressure?
 

stinkypete

In the Starting Line-Up
I am skeptical of PFF most of the time. I kind of view it as a cash grab - the quality of the reading has declined as the number of paywall blocked articles climbs.

I give PFF credit for one thing - their pre-draft analysis. PFF consistently identifies off the radar prospects who emerge as good pro players. In 2015 they tabbed Trey Flowers and Grady Jarrett as the steals of the draft, they had Joe Thuney ranked among their top OL prior to the 2016 draft.
 

Ice_Ice_Brady

PatsFans.com Supporter
PatsFans.com Supporter
I imagine that some positions are easier to evaluate than others. Evaluating the QB position is biting off a lot to chew on.
 

slam

In the Starting Line-Up
If you unironically cite a PFF player rating to boost your argument, I mentally downgrade my assessment of you by 10%.

I don’t doubt their counting stats. If they say Team X is in nickel 43% of the time I’ll believe them until I have reason to doubt them.
 

Ivan

Hall of Fame Poster
PFF just graded Roethlisberger as the most successful player against the Patriots.

He’s 2-8 and never beaten them in a playoff game.
 

supafly

Suddenly sad and Brady-less
PatsFans.com Supporter
2019 Weekly Picks Winner
PFF just graded Roethlisberger as the most successful player against the Patriots.

He’s 2-8 and never beaten them in a playoff game.
He’s actually 4-8 against them.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Top