The Disappointment Zone

Musings from a Cleveland sports fan

Archive for the ‘statistics’ Category

Terrelle Pryor and Statistical Modeling

Posted by disappointmentzone on 11 February 2008

According to a statistical model created by economists at Mercer University’s Stetson School of Business and Economics highly touted high school quarterback Terrelle Pryor is most likely to attend Penn State. This after Pryor appeared ready to commit to Ohio State in the days leading up to National Signing Day.

What can a statistical model tell us about the likelihood of a high school player attending a particular university? That’s a good question. Turns out the biggest factors affecting a player’s decision are:

1) Whether the player visited the school

2) The distance from the player’s hometown

3) The size of the school’s football stadium

With Penn State now officially on Pryor’s short list it’s easy to see why PSU would be the likely choice according to the statistical model. Michigan still trails Ohio State (not surprisingly).

This year the model had an accuracy rate of 73%. Whatever your thoughts are about using economics to predict where high school football players attend college, you can’t argue with 73% accuracy. That seems quite high.

OSU fans probably should be rooting for a slightly lower accuracy rate in the coming weeks.

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Posted in Ohio State Buckeyes, statistics | 4 Comments »

Cleveland Browns: QB Score: Week 15

Posted by disappointmentzone on 16 December 2007

It’s hard to throw a football with cold hands. It’s hard to throw a football in precipitation. It’s hard to throw a football in wind. So with 40 mph winds, heavy snow, and freezing temperatures the only way Sunday’s game would have been less suitable for quarterback evaluation would be if the receivers were forced to wear boxing gloves and there were sharks floating through the air.

Still, let’s give it a shot.

To put it in NFL terms, Anderson needed to manage the game in order for the Browns to win. On Sunday, he did just that.

This was just the second time in the last seven weeks — and the first in the last five — that Anderson didn’t throw an interception. Whether this is due to dumb luck or skill is a matter for debate, but any Browns fan who remembers what Charlie Frye’s arm looked like throwing in that nasty lake effect wind knows that we should all be thankful to finally have a quarterback with a rocket arm. Sure, that rocket arm went 9-23 but this was one of those games where his completion percentage to the other team was going to be far more crucial to the outcome of the game than his completion percentage to his own teammates. Four of the nine completions came on third down and went for first downs, and two of those four completions came on the two scoring drives of the game. On the whole the nine completions meant more than any of the 14 incompletions. That might be the definition of managing a game.

Not that you can knock Anderson for all those incomplete passes. After all, the day’s biggest pass play came when a pass ricocheted off Braylon Edwards’s chest and, rather than falling incomplete, fell into the hands of Joe Jurevicius, who promptly scampered 25 yards before tumbling over into a pile of snow. (1) This was one of a number of passes thrown by Anderson and Trent Edwards that hit their receivers but were not caught (at least by the intended receiver). In those conditions seeing receivers drop passes is not surprising. What is surprising in those conditions is seeing receivers actually get hit by passes. It was like watching someone hit a bumble bee with a grain of rice in the middle of a hurricane.

An element of luck was undeniably a part of Anderson’s success on Sunday, but that should not diminish the amount of skill that went into his performance. He never put the Browns in jeopardy by taking big risks on long throws down the field or by throwing into double or triple coverage — which have both been ignoble hallmarks of Anderson’s worst tendencies. Against the Bills he made a lot of smart decisions and relied upon his strong arm to do the rest (i.e., overcome the conditions). Perhaps his most glaring lapse in judgment came late in the first quarter when on third down he took a seven yard sack. Prior to this week Anderson has been insanely good at throwing the ball away and avoiding negative plays. The sack against the Bills was the result of holding the ball for too long.

Which brings me about to the play off the offensive line. They allowed one sack (and even then I’d put the fault more on Anderson than the line) and blocked for 174 yards rushing. Jamal Lewis is getting a lot of credit for his performance — and rightfully so — but in the biggest game of the season the Browns won thanks in large part to decisions made last spring, when they shored up the line through free agency and the draft. Can anyone name the last time the Browns won a game due to decisions made by the front office in the spring?

On any list of reasons why the Browns beat the Bills one final name needs mentioning: Phil Dawson. Without Dawson the Browns don’t win. It was great to see the only remaining member of the 1999 Browns team have yet another day in the sun (or overcast sky). Though it came on a smaller stage, Dawon’s 49-yard field goal in the second quarter was ever bit as impressive as Adam Vinatieri’s field goal against the Raiders a few years ago. Amazing. And the reaction of both the crowd and the team — Anderson rushing the field with an oven mitt on his hand was priceless — served as a powerful emotional punch to the extraordinary physical display Dawson put on with his field goal kicking. In a game where small things made big differences it was fitting that Dawson’s leg prove to be the ultimate difference in the game.

And so the Browns playoff juggernaut keeps rolling. Even the Associate Press has hopped aboard, as evidenced by this little ditty from their post-game wrap up:

Cleveland needed a win and a loss by Tennessee to secure at least a wild-card berth. Only half of that scenario happened, but the Browns will clinch their first playoff appearance since 2002 with a win at Cincinnati next week.

The operative word is will. It’s not “the Browns could clinch” it’s “the Browns will clinch”. (2) Even the supposedly impartial gaze of the AP has been moved to Browns homerism thanks to a grizzly, snowy, altogether Clevelandy win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. Awesome.

QB Score: 52
QB Score per play: 2.00

fn 1: Is there a receiver in the NFL with a more baffling set of hands than Edwards? The guy drops the easiest passes and then bails his quarterback out with catches on throws that should otherwise be incomplete. On the whole this all probably evens out in the end, but just think of the things he could do if he didn’t let the ball fly off his chest.

fn 2: I realize that this line in the AP story does not necessarily read how I’m implying it does. It’s just ambiguous writing that allows me to spin the sentence to be something it’s not. A clearer phrasing would be “with a win at Cincinnati next week the Browns would clinch their first playoff appearance since 2002.”

Posted in Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Sports, statistics | 6 Comments »

Cavs: Wins Produced

Posted by disappointmentzone on 14 December 2007

David Berri at the Wages of Wins Journal is going through the NBA by division and posting how the teams are doing. Today’s division is the Central. With a hat tip in his direction I have reproduced his findings for the Cavaliers below. If you want to know how the rest of the teams are doing, you’ll have to check out his site. cavs.jpg

A few notes:

* Average WP48 is .100.

* Thanks to injuries and holdouts the projected Wins Produced is off by quite a bit. Varejao’s WP48 is .333, just a tick below LeBron’s. Yet Varejao is only projected to produce .06 wins. This is because the projection is based on him playing in one of every 20-odd games, which will clearly no longer be the case.

* Meanwhile LeBron is projected to miss roughly 5.5 games for every twenty games of the season. As long as this doesn’t happen his projected WP should increase substantially.

* Gooden might be the most disappointing player on the roster. He’s putting up good scoring and rebounding numbers, but he’s also averaging 2.1 turnovers per game, which is really bad. This is also his worst shooting season in his Cavs tenure, both from the field and from the line. The obvious hope is that with LBJ back, Marshall on the mend, and Varejao ready to spell him, that the offensive load will be lifted from his shoulders. Gooden is not the guy you want carrying your team’s offense. He’s not the guy you want as your team’s second option either. He’s probably not the guy you want as your team’s third option. Yet too often this season that’s been the case. This is no fault of Gooden’s. Necessity has forced him into that role. With the Cavs getting healthy Gooden should be able to fall back into a role for which he’s better suited.

* Even though Daniel Gibson’s WP48 is below average, his production is a marked increase from last season, when he posted a regular season WP48 of .046. This is great news for the Cavs. I wouldn’t be surprised to see his WP48 climb above average this season. If it does it would represent the first time in years that the Cavs were getting above average production from their starting point guard.

Posted in Cleveland Cavaliers, statistics | 1 Comment »

Derek Anderson: Where He Ranks

Posted by disappointmentzone on 13 December 2007

Each week The Disappointment Zone gives the QB Score and QB Score per play statistics of the Browns’ quarterbacks, which since week two has been Derek Anderson. During that time Derek Anderson’s performance has rarely been put in the larger context of how he compares to his peers. With discussions cropping up about what the Browns should do re: Anderson after the season now seems like a good time to provide that context.

Of the 34 qualifying quarterbacks, Anderson has been the 8th best quarterback this season, as measured by QB Score per play. He’s played better than a number of highly regarded quarterbacks, including Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer, Drew Brees and Cleo Lemon. Take from this what you will, but do not view this list as an unassailable hierarchy of NFL quarterbacks. It’s a good jumping off point for further discussion, though.

Historical Average is 1.85
qbscore.jpg

QB Score = All Yards – 3*All Plays – 30*All Turnovers

All Yards = Passing Yards + Rushing Yards – Yards Lost from Sacks

All Plays = Pass Attempts + Rushing Attempts + Sacks

All Turnovers = Interceptions + Fumbles Lost

Posted in Cleveland Browns, statistics | 12 Comments »

Cleveland Browns: QB Score: Week 12

Posted by disappointmentzone on 26 November 2007

The Browns’ 27-17 victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday was the team’s most complete and dominating game of the season. The offense was methodical and the defense actually showed up. To that end, it’s worth saying…

Someone buy Brandon McDonald a beer!

With starting cornerback Eric Wright out with a knee injury, rookie Brandon McDonald came up with the game of his life, which might not be saying much since he’s about twelve years old (actual age: 22). All game long McDonald lined up across from Andre Johnson, one of the best receivers in the NFL, and he held him to three receptions for 37 yards. McDonald had three pass defenses, a game-clinching interception, and three tackles, or one more tackle than three of the four starting linebackers, who are remain missing, presumably still somewhere in Pittsburgh, having missed the bus to the Steelers game three weeks ago.

The defense held the Texans to 17 points, which is phenomenally good considering that the Texans a) were given a short field after a Derek Anderson interception and b) scored a meaningless touchdown with about three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. The Texans were held to a scant 77 yards rushing and only had 237 yards passing, which includes about 70 yards on the Texans’ final drive of the game, when the Browns were playing prevent defense and were more interested in the game ending than shutting down Matt Schaub. Until that point the Texans had gained only 15 yards of net offense in the second half. And how’s this: from 7:00 to go in the second quarter until 2:34 to go in the fourth quarter the Texans didn’t score. The Texans can consider themselves thoroughly dominated.

The Browns’ offense was equally as impressive. They had three drives of 60+ yards, two ending with touchdowns, the other ending with a field goal. Jamal Lewis shook off a slow start to finish with 134 yards rushing on 29 carries, his first 100 yard game since the third week of the season. And once again the Browns scored 27 points only to see their scoring average go down. That’s actually kinda cool, right?

As for Derek Anderson, he played fairly well. He was markedly better than he had been in the previous two games, but he didn’t play at that All Pro level many have come to expect from him against much weaker defenses. This should make that idiot Bill Livingston happy.

Early in the game the ball was sailing on Anderson, which led to a number of incomplete passes. He suffered from a few bad drops and then on the one pass when he needed to overthrow his receiver he threw it off his back foot only to see it come up short and in the arms of Texans CB Fred Bennett. After that INT, though, Anderson calmed down and went on to blitz the Texans with a string of short and intermediate passes that essentially crippled their morale. Many people will point to Jamal Lewis as the delivering the decisive blow, but it really was the passing attack that did in the Texans. They came into the game wanting to take the deep ball away from the Browns — and they did. Unfortunately for the Texans they had nothing to stop the shorter routes. When your defensive strategy goes according to plan and you still give up 27 points you know you’ve been whooped by a good offense.

Dominating on defense + dominating on offense = quality victory.

So now the Browns find themselves in the novel position of controlling their own playoff destiny. If they win out they’ll earn a Wild Card berth and go to the playoffs for the first time in five years. The limping Arizona Cardinals, losers of a disgraceful game against the 49ers, are up next for the Browns. If the Browns play next week how they played this week they’ll win easily. Of course, if the Browns play how they did this week they can beat pretty much anybody.

One final note: The Browns have now scored more points (315) than they’ve allowed (311). This is the first time all season this is the case, which is kinda amazing when you consider that the Browns very easily could be 9-2.

QB Score: 111
QB Score per play: 3.17

(Historical average: 1.85)

Posted in Cleveland Browns, statistics | 8 Comments »

Derek Anderson: Midseason Review

Posted by disappointmentzone on 15 November 2007

Derek Anderson has now started eight games in 2007. According to the numbers he’s had four outstanding games, one very good game, one average game, and two bad games. His cumulative QB Score in those games is 940, for a QB Score per play of 3.35. Where do these numbers fit in among his peers?

Well, Tom Brady has been the best quarterback in the league. No surprise there. He’s the prohibitive favorite for MVP and barring some extraordinary circumstances there is a very real chance he’ll lead his team to a 16-0 regular season record. There is no standard of success by which his performance this season would be considered anything less than an unholy triumph. Brady’s QB Score per play is 4.52. That’s the best in the NFL. That’s extraordinarily outstanding.

Entering Week 10 Tony Romo was second in the league in QB Score per play, at 3.73. At that point his team had suffered only one loss (which is still true) and he had just signed a huge multi-year contract extension. He’s the Cowboys’ quarterback of the future.

The third best quarterback was Peyton Manning, whose QB Score per play was 3.70 (Sunday’s game will lower this number). Entering Week 10 the Colts had also only suffered one loss and that was to the Patriots.

To recap: The top three quarterbacks in the league — Brady, Romo, Manning — had led their respective teams to a combined record of 27-2. Since the Colts played the Patriots the best possible record for these QBs was 28-1. That’s one loss less than perfect. That’s also extraordinarily outstanding.

The fourth best quarterback in the league: Derek Anderson.

Just think about that for a moment. Brady and Manning are Hall of Fame quarterbacks. Hell, they might go down as the two best quarterbacks of all time. Right now, they’re also the peers of Derek Anderson. So far this season, he’s pretty much in their class. He’s in the upper tier. He’s elite. He’s outstanding.

To wit: In the games Anderson starts the Browns’ offense averages 31 points. Only New England and Indianapolis are better. New England, Indy, Cleveland. Now there’s an unlikely trio.

Unfortunately the Browns have also given up 264 points — the worst in the league. The Browns were whooped by Pittsburgh in Week 1 and New England in Week 5, but otherwise the offense has played well enough in each game that were Browns’ defense league-average it stands to reason that the team’s record would be somewhere closer to 7-2. A league-average defense wouldn’t give up 26 points to the Raiders and a league-average defense would have allowed probably allowed fewer than 28 points to the Steelers on Sunday.

5-4 ain’t half bad. Were it not for Anderson the team might be closer to 1-8. The defense has been that bad. That their record isn’t so terrible is because Derek Anderson has been that good.

Grade: A

Posted in Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Sports, statistics | 2 Comments »

Cleveland Browns: QB Score: Week 10

Posted by disappointmentzone on 11 November 2007

As I wrote earlier, Jim Tressel made two costly mistakes with timeouts. Well, the evil spirit infecting Tressel worked its way into the head of Romeo Crennel, who in the fourth quarter against the Steelers called a timeout to ponder whether to risk another timeout by challenging a play.

This was a colossal, unexplainable error. Crennel stacked the deck against himself, placed a huge bet, and — surprise! — lost: two timeouts and the challenge. It was a spectacular failure late in a tight game where the Browns were going to need all their timeouts.

This was a monumentally frustrating loss. Throughout the second half the Steelers would inch their way down the field on the first two downs, thus putting themselves right where they wanted: third and long. Third and ten? How about a 30 touchdown run! Third and 18? How about a 18 yard completion! Third and eight? How about a touchdown pass!

The defense was atrocious on all fronts. The defensive line could neither pressure nor contain Ben Roethlisberger, who either sat in the pocket for hours at a time or broke containment for big scrambles and completions. Meanwhile the secondary played something resembling a soft prevent defense. And if anyone spots a corp of linebackers wondering around the streets of Pittsburgh aimlessly — please contact local authorities. The Browns are looking for them. They apparently missed the team bus to the game this morning.

As for the offense, the first drive of the game was the most impressive drive I’ve seen this season. It was methodical, relentless, long, and successful. Derek Anderson tossed the ball around well and the running game even showed up for a play or two. How quickly things went downhill, though. Pittsburgh stepped up its defense to be sure, but the Browns just looked lost on offense. Never once did they attempt to stretch the field, Anderson had about 82 incompletions, and Lewis decided to crap the bed with heartless runs and a costly fumble. When they were finally able to move the ball — on the last drive of the game — the drive ended prematurely because the Browns were out of timeouts. Instead of third and 3 from the Steelers’ 38 yard line with about 20 seconds remaining the Browns had to spike the ball to stop the clock so they could attempt a longer-than-it-sounds 53 yard field goal into a slight wind.

Though a victory over the Steelers would have put the Browns in a commanding position to earn a playoff berth, the loss probably won’t do major damage to the Browns’ playoff hopes. The Browns remain tied for the Wild Card, although they do not hold the tie-breaker. The Browns do have a favorable schedule for hereon out and they just went to the wire against one of the best teams in football on the road. All in all it wasn’t a complete failure. The Browns had no offense, no defense, no home field advantage, and still almost won.

Josh Cribbs out-gained the entire offense, 204 yards to 163 yards. He touched the ball four times.

As for Anderson, he didn’t play well. This was his worst game of the season. Still, his worst games have come against Pittsburgh (twice) and New England. Few quarterbacks are going to have good games against those two teams and he won’t face another defense nearly as good as either of those two the rest of the regular season.

QB Score: 17
QB Score per play: .46

Posted in Cleveland Browns, statistics | 9 Comments »

New season, same Hughes

Posted by disappointmentzone on 6 November 2007

The season is only three days old but Larry Hughes is already in mid-season form. He is 9-33 from the field for a whopping 27% shooting percentage. This is dismally low, but when you look closely at the numbers the picture is even bleaker.

Here are the shooting charts for Hughes from each game of the season, courtesy of CBS Sportsline.com.

Game 1: Dallas

v-dallas.jpg

Game 2: New York

v-new-york.jpg

Game 3: Phoenix

v-phoenix.jpg

Here is are the real numbers to focus on: 4, 22.

4: The number of jump shots Hughes has made.

22: The number of jump shots Hughes has attempted.

4-22.

18%.

Yikes.

Quick. Which is more depressing: the fact that 67% of Hughes’s attempts have been from a distance at which he shoots only 18% or the fact that on dunks and lay-ups he’s only shooting 45%?

Not only is Hughes not shooting well, but he keeps insisting upon shooting! Not only does he keep insisting upon shooting, but he keeps insisting upon shooting from a distance at which he’s a monumentally bad shooter! When he does go inside he converts at a rate far below the league average, which means that even at his best Hughes is still completely, utterly inefficient. Factor in the lack of assists, the number of turnovers, the number of fouls, the lack of rebound, the lack of blocks, the lack of pretty much anything positive whatsoever — what you get is a player who is not good.

This is one cloud that has no silver lining. Larry Hughes is not a good basketball player.

Oh, and he’s hurt himself yet again. His minutes will be limited tonight due to a contusion.

Hooray!

Posted in Cleveland Cavaliers, statistics | 2 Comments »

Cleveland Browns: QB Score: Week 9

Posted by disappointmentzone on 4 November 2007

This weekly blog post is usually reserved for touting the abilities of Derek Anderson, which has been happening since Week 13 of last season and has not let up since. Once again Anderson played well. He got off to a slow start, with a number of incomplete passes and an interception, but finished strong (to say the least), leading the team back with 21 points in the second half and the game-winning drive in OT. All told he threw for 364 yards on 48 attempts. Both were career highs, but it’s a small number that needs a little attention: 0. As in the number of times Anderson was sacked.

After allowing five sacks to Charlie Frye in a little over a quarter in the first game of the season the Browns’ offensive line has given up only eight sacks since. That’s eight sacks in 257 pass attempts. That’s one sack every 32.1 passes. That’s one sack per game. That’s phenomenal.

The rushing attack still leaves a bit to be desired — entering OT the team had rushed for all of 50 yards — and a lot of credit has to go to Anderson, who’s quick to get rid of the ball and apt to wisely throw it away when there’s nothing available. None of this, however, takes away from the incredible job the offensive line has done this season. It is one of the best in the NFL in terms of pass protection. It is no coincidence that the team is one of the league leaders in scoring. It is also no coincidence that the Browns are suddenly playing for a playoff spot.

Now, about the defensive line….

QB Score: 205
QB Score per play: 4.10

Posted in Cleveland Browns, statistics | 8 Comments »

Cleveland Browns: QB Score: Week 6

Posted by disappointmentzone on 15 October 2007

Before last week it had been quite some time since the Browns were last favored in a game. After this weekend it’s pretty clear that the Browns should count on being favored at least a few more times this season. After the bye comes an away game against the impotent Rams. Plan on the Browns being slight favorites in that game. From there, anything is possible, especially if Derek Anderson keeps playing like he did this week.

Simply put, Anderson was efficient. No interceptions. No sacks. Few incomplete pases. Multiple touchdown passes. A running TD (?!!?). It was the sort of performance that inspires confidence. Quinn might as well get used to the bench. Short of an injury I do not see him starting until at least late November, if then.

QB Score: 164
QB Score per play: 5.47

Posted in Cleveland Browns, statistics | Leave a Comment »