Tag Archives: NFL

Evaluating NFL rookie classes based on performance

The 2017 NFL Draft is completed and the over-analysis of how each team did in selecting their new players continues.

If you are a fan, you have no doubt read some of the analysis and the “grades” handed out on the various teams. One problem: Giving a grade to each team based on how each team drafted is absolutely no way to evaluate the success of the draft. Sure it makes for good reading, but none of these so-called experts has a clue how these rookies will perform next season or in any of the seasons thereafter, so a grade for the draft seems a little premature

Giving teams grades before any of those drafted players sets foot on an NFL field is crazy. The best analysis, in my opinion, is years after the fact, say, five or 10 years after a draft class. At that time you have a much clearer picture of how these players did on the NFL fields.

Let’s take a look at a couple of stats-based performance evaluators on NFL rookies. In the first stat, we see that 256 rookies over the past three NFL seasons played in all 16 games their first season in the league. Below are the number of rookies from 2014-16 that played in all 16 games for the team that first season in the NFL. Topping the list as you might expect are the Cleveland Browns with 14.

(Note: It’s important to keep in mind that just because a team had a lot of rookies play all 16 games in the first season does not mean the team did a great job in the draft; it could mean that team had a lot of holes to fill in their roster and depended on rookies to fill them. Conversely, a team with few rookies that played all 16 games does not mean they did a poor job in the draft; it could mean they had veterans who played before these rookies.)

Rookies that played all 16 games in their first season… 2014-16
14: Cleveland
13: Kansas City
11: Denver, Jacksonville, Miami
10: Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit
9: Indianapolis, New Orleans, Oakland, Tampa Bay
8: Arizona, Dallas, Green Bay, NY Jets, Pittsburgh, Rams, Tennessee
7: Atlanta, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, Washington
6: Baltimore, Houston, NY Giants
5: Buffalo, Minnesota, New England
3: Carolina, Seattle

The second stat focuses on points. Last season 26 of the 32 NFL teams had rookies score points for their team. The six teams that did not have a rookie score a point in 2016: Arizona, Carolina, Detroit, Indianapolis, Minnesota and San Francisco.

Leading the way were the New Orleans Saints with 187. Of course it helps that they used a rookie kicker, Wil Lutz, who tallied 133 of those 187 points scored by Saints rookies in 2016. The Cowboys were second with 132 points, those scored by their rookie duo of quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Here is the total number of points scored in 2016 by rookies for each team.

187: New Orleans
132: Dallas
110: Tampa Bay
72: Kansas City
66: NY Giants
56: Chicago
50: Denver
48: Baltimore, Cleveland, San Diego, Washington
42: Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Tennessee
36: New England
32: NY Jets, Philadelphia
30: Houston, Miami, Oakland
24: Seattle
18: Green Bay
12: Jacksonville, LA Rams
6: Buffalo, Cincinnati
0: Arizona, Carolina, Detroit, Indianapolis, Minnesota, San Francisco

NFL Draft: Offensive or defense… first-round choices in the last 10 years

This year’s NFL Draft begins on Thursday. Every team will be looking to fill some spots on their roster with young players… either potential starters or players who can add depth to their team.

Does your team need a playmaker? A defensive specialist? The first round in the draft is always an interesting time when teams try to fill their most immediate need. Some teams, however, seem to have a pattern in how they select that first-round player. Case in point: Since 2007, the New York Jets have made 12 first-round selections, 10 defensive players and only two offensive players. That +8 is the biggest discrepancy of any of the 32 NFL teams.

Let’s look at the last 10 years and see which side of the ball each team has focused on in the first round. There have been 318 players chosen in the first round over the last 10 drafts. A total of 163 of those players (51%) were defensive players while 155 (49%) were offensive players. During that 10-year period, 14 NFL teams have chosen more defensive players than offensive, while there were 12 teams that have chosen more offensive players in the first round than defensive players. Six teams chose the same number of offensive players and defensive players in the first round over the past 10 NFL drafts.

Here’s the breakdown of each team over the last 10 drafts when they have made their first-round selection.

More offensive players than defensive players
Baltimore +2 (5 offensive, 3 defensive)
Chicago +2 (5 and 3)
Cincinnati +1 (6 and 5)
Cleveland +3 (8 and 5)
Dallas +2 (6 and 4)
Detroit +6 (9 and 3)
Indianapolis +4 (6 and 2)
Miami +4 (7 and 3)
Minnesota +2 (7 and 5)
Philadelphia +2 (5 and 3)
Tennessee +6 (8 and 2)
Washington +1 (4 and 3)

More defensive players than offensive players
Atlanta +2 (6 defensive players, 4 offensive players)
Carolina +1 (5 and 4)
Denver +1 (6 and 5)
Green Bay +6 (8 and 2)
Houston +4 (7 and 3)
Kansas City +2 (6 and 4)
New England +6 (7 and 1)
New Orleans +3 (7 and 4)
New York Jets +8 (10 and 2)
Pittsburgh +4 (7 and 3)
San Diego +2 (6 and 4)
San Francisco +1 (7 and 6)
Seattle +1 (4 and 3)
Tampa Bay +2 (6 and 4)

Same number of offensive players and defensive players
Arizona (5 offensive players, 5 defensive players)
Buffalo (5 and 5)
Jacksonville (5 and 5)
Los Angeles Rams (6 and 6)
New York Giants (5 and 5)
Oakland (4 and 4)

NFL Stats: The importance of the second half of the season


The 2016 NFL season is in the books, but how about one more stat from last season… (For those of you going through football withdrawals, maybe this will help!)

Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers fans will remember the ’16 season for many reasons including how their teams put together long winning streaks to finish the season. Both teams ended up in their respective conference championship games, although both lost in an attempt to make the Super Bowl.

How important is finishing strong in an NFL season? How important is the second half of the season?

Let’s take a look at the records of each of the 32 NFL teams in the second half of 2016… some very distinct numbers pop out.

Here’s the record of each NFL team in the second half of 2016 (Games #9 through #16).
*=Playoff team

7-1: New England*, Pittsburgh*

6-2: Atlanta*, Dallas*, Green Bay*, Kansas City*, Miami*, New York Giants*, Oakland*, Tampa Bay

5-3: Detroit*, Indianapolis, Seattle*, Tennessee

4-4: Arizona, Baltimore, Houston*, Washington

3-5: Buffalo, Carolina, Cincinnati, Denver, Minnesota, New Orleans, Philadelphia

2-6: New York Jets, San Diego

1-7: Chicago, Cleveland, Jacksonville, L.A. Rams, San Francisco

Did you notice the very clear stats that emerge from these records:

  • The 12 playoff teams had a combined record of 76-26 (.745) in the second half of the season. The teams that did not make the playoffs last season were a combined 52-102 in the second half (.338).
  • Twelve of the 18 teams that won at least four of their last eight games made the playoffs in 2016.
  • Eleven of the 14 teams that won five or more of their last eight games made the playoffs last season.
  • Teams that won their division (New England, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Green Bay, Dallas, Kansas City, Seattle and Houston) were 47-17 (.734) in the second half of the season.
  • The two Super Bowl teams (New England and Atlanta) were a combined 13-3 (.813) in their last eight games of the season.
  • The four teams that played in the conference championship games (New England, Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Green Bay) were a combined 26-6 (.813) in the second half of the season.
  • The best second half by a non-playoff team last season was Tampa Bay at 6-2. Since 1988, the best second half of the season by a team that did not make the playoffs were the 1991 Philadelphia Eagles who went 7-1 in their last eight games but did not make the post-season.
  • Both Seattle and Houston finished the year 4-4 in 2016, but each made the playoffs. The 1999 Miami Dolphins and 2006 New York Giants both finished those seasons 2-6, but each made the playoffs that year. It was the worst finish in their last eight games by a playoff team since 1988.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

Green Bay Packers: A couple of playoff stats to ponder


The Green Bay Packers begin the 2016 playoffs with a home game against the New York Giants, a team they defeated in the regular season… a Week #5 contest in Green Bay won by the Packers, 23-16.

Of the 12 playoff teams this year, the Packers played the most regular season games in 2016 against teams that eventually made the playoffs, seven. The Pack defeated division foes Detroit twice this season, and beat fellow playoff teams Houston, the Giants and Seattle. They lost to the NFC’s #1 and #2 seeded teams, the Cowboys and Falcons.

Let’s look at the records of this year’s 12 playoff team in games against teams that also made the playoffs.

Green Bay 5-2
New England 4-1
Seattle 3-1
Dallas 3-2
Kansas City 3-2
New York Giants 3-2
Atlanta 2-2
Houston 2-3
Pittsburgh 2-3
Miami 1-3
Oakland 1-3
Detroit 0-5

Here’s another stat to consider… In each of the last four post-seasons, the Packers were knocked out of the playoffs by a team they had lost to in the regular season. In 2015, the Packers lost in the playoffs to Arizona, a team they lost to in the regular season. In 2014, the Seattle Seahawks defeated Green Bay in the post-season and beat the Packers in the ’14 regular season. And, in both 2012 and 2013, the Packers were eliminated in the playoffs by the San Francisco, and were beaten in the regular season by the 49ers in each of those years.

Might this “trend” again hold for 2016? Well, the 2016 playoff teams the Packers lost to in the 2016 regular season were Dallas and Atlanta. The Packers, if they win this Sunday against the Giants, will face either one of these teams (Cowboys or Falcons) in the next round. If they get by one of those teams in the second round, there’s a good chance the Packers could face the other of the two (Cowboys or Falcons) for the NFC Championship.

Just something to think about!

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

10 Stats You May Not Know: NFL playoff games in extreme weather conditions


The playoffs for the 2016 NFL season will begin next weekend. While some games will be held in domed stadiums and weather will not be a factor, there will be games where weather conditions could affect play and potentially the outcome of the game.

Let’s take a look at the history of NFL playoff games in the Super Bowl era (since 1966). Specifically, we’ll note the NFL playoff games since 1966 that were played in “extreme” temperatures… those under 20 degrees, and those games that were played in temperatures above 70 degrees.

  1. There have been 28 NFL playoff games that have been played since 1966 in temperature under 20 degrees.
  2. The last playoff game played under 20 degrees was last season when the Minnesota Vikings hosted the Seattle Seahawks in a games that was played with a temperature of six below. The game was played on January 10, 2016.
  3. There have been four games played in temperatures below zero. In addition to the aforementioned Vikings-Seahawks battle last season, the other three: 1967, Dallas at Green Bay (13 degrees below zero); 1981, San Diego @ Cleveland (nine degrees below zero); and 2007, New York Giants @ Green Bay (one degree below zero).
  4. Of the 28 games, three teams hosted more than half of those games. The Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers have each hosted five playoff games under 20 degrees since 1966. Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Kansas City and Philadelphia have each hosted two of those games, while Buffalo, Cincinnati and New England have each hosted one game.
  5. The home team is 19-9 in these games, although in the eight playoff games played since 2000 that were played in temperatures under 20 degrees, the home team is only 3-5.
  6. There have been 14 NFL playoff games that have been played since 1966 in temperatures of 70 degrees and above.
  7. The last playoff game played at 70 degrees or above was after the 2008 season when on January 4, 2009 the Baltimore Ravens played in Miami. Temperature for that game was 78 degrees.
  8. The home team is 9-5 in these “warm” games.
  9. Thirteen of the 14 NFL playoff games since 1966 played in temperatures 70 degrees and above have been hosted by the Miami Dolphins. The other game was hosted by the Tampa Bay Bucs.
  10. Five of these games were played in temperatures of 75 degrees and above. The highest was previously-mentioned games between the Dolphins and Ravens (78 degrees). The others: 1978, Houston @ Miami (77 degrees); San Diego @ Miami (76 degrees); Buffalo @ Miami (75 degrees); and 1990, Kansas City @ Miami (75 degrees).

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp