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Monday, January 26, 2015

I'm afraid to open this can of worms, but . . .'s Monday Morning Quarterback did an in-depth story on Pro Football Focus.

It should be noted that two summers ago, MMQB's Peter King permitted the head of Pro Football Focus to travel around with him on his bus as he toured NFL training camps, so there's definitely a relationship between King and PFF owner Neil Hornsby.

Here's the story on PFF and what it does:

As many of the followers of this blog know, I don't take what I read on PFF as the be-all, end-all of the NFL. As the story correctly notes, the guy sitting next to his computer has no idea what a certain player's responsibilities were on a given play.

That makes judging offensive linemen, defensive linemen and coverages difficult, in my opinion. It's also not always apparent when a wide receiver runs an incorrect route, etc.

Does this mean I don't look at their stats? No. They can be helpful when looking at player participation, quarterback pressures, pass defenses, etc.

But I don't use their grading to tell me whether a player had a good or bad game. I can see that with my own eyes.


Zeke R said...

I couldn't open up the link, I'll try to locate it a different route..

What are your thoughts on the "vet" combine? I think it will be interesting and I pray it doesn't turn into a circus. Does the player or agent of the player have to contact the NFL and then the NFL will sent out an invite accordingly? I understand that only a max of 100 will participate.. Any guys that didn't make the 53 man roster for the Steelers might make the cut?

Dale Lolley said...

Players have to apply for one of the 100 spots. All 32 teams will then get a chance to pick who attends.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious to hear what some of these veterans are running. I'm betting we'll be surprised how slow they are.

adamg said...

Just like a "job fair" except for unemployed football players. Frankly I'm surprised no one thought of it before now.

Dale Lolley said...

The vets were allowed to work out at various college pro days. This just brings them all to one spot/

Tim said...

I've gone through and graded every Steeler over the course of a season before. It wasn't that hard. If there was ever a question about what a player's assignment was, I didn't grade them at all for that play. (I think PFF makes guesses, but I'm not sure.) It means you're not grading every play for every player, but you're also stopping yourself from being wrong. I think it provided a pretty good evaluation of each player for the season.

I actually thought for OL and DL, it was relatively easy to figure out their assignments. And it's very easy to determine if a guy won or lost his battle, and to what degree.

DBs were where it got really hard. Unless it was very clear, I didn't mark a guy down for a blown assignment. DBs accumulated the least number of graded plays out of everyone.

kyle said...

I'd agree that DBs are the toughest to grade considering how many variables are involved in what coverage they're playing. I'd disagree about lineman though (OL at least). If a Tackle is playing inside technique because the TE is supposed to chip but the TE completely forgets, then it just looks like the T let the guy get outside. Those kinds of things happen a lot and are next to impossible to determine just from game film. I guess a guy getting bull-rushed into the QB's lap is fairly clear-cut though.

Tim said...


Even if that kind of thing happens a few times every game, that's still not that much. There are a lot of snaps in a game, and 5 linemen. If it looks controversial, I just leave it.

DBs would probably be a lot easier if we didn't run so much zone. There's a lot open to interpretation there.

It's funny, everyone says PFF is good for its stats, but its grades are too subjective. I'm inclined to agree, but there are some areas where their stats mess them up. For example, they are well-known for their dislike of Pouncey. They basically consider him an average center. (I can't even get into how stupid their "Pittsburgh Hype Machine" theory is.) But one of the reasons they cite for Pouncey being overrated is Pittsburgh's rushing stats up the middle of the field. They apparently don't take the guards into account, or Bruce Arians' lip service of a running game offense. That's the kinda thing I wish they would leave stats out of it and just focus on his play.

kyle said...

I agree it probably doesn't happen to a single player a bunch of times per game but when you consider how many snaps you could reasonably call a "stale mate" it gives each "mistake" a lot more statistical heft.

I don't know. Kudos for you and anyone willing to go through that much tape but when I played OL, the last thing I would have wanted was someone grading me or the guy next to me without knowing which one of us really screwed up.

Agreed about zone coverage, it makes grading almost useless.

I assume PFF doesn't like Pouncey for the same reason a lot of the fanbase doesn't like him. He's not gigantic and he doesn't bowl people over. They forget the either/or of OL. You can have an athletic, mobile guy like Pouncey who has trouble with bulk OR you can have a stout guy like Mangold who might have trouble getting to the second level. Pick your poison.

I hadn't heard about the "Hype Machine" theory. Just from the name it seems stupid. Maybe if I'm bored later, I'll look into it.

For whatever it's worth, I never go to PFF. If I need raw numbers, I go to Pro Football Reference. I like how they lay things out for individual players.

Tim said...

Pro-Football-Reference is excellent for stats.

PFF basically says that Pouncey was so hyped coming out of the draft that his hype stuck with him, and people act like he's good because that's what they thought of him before he actually played.

Of course, that's BS, because they simultaneously prop up Mike Iupati as a guy worthy of true hype. Not that he's not great, but they're revising history, because if you go back to 2010, Iupati was hyped more than Pouncey, and for longer. Pouncey slowly and steadily climbed draft boards and was barely talked about as a pick, and didn't start to gain real notoriety until the season started, and he was kicking ass.

Also, we've drafted guys who had much more hype coming out of college, compared to what they earned in the NFL (Mendenhall, Jarvis Jones). They're delusional.

You're right about his style of play, too. I hear fans say, "He doesn't dominate the bigger 3-4 nose tackles." Uh, yeah. Who does? That's why those guys are there, because they can't be dominated. But he can handle them, and he can do everything well.

In the next comment, I'll try posting the link to my grades from 2011. I was only working part time that season, which is how I managed. There's a detailed explanation of the point system, as well as some debates. It was only 13 games though, not 16.

Tim said...

If you're interested.

Offensive grades:

Defensive grades:

Anonymous said...

Pouncey is totally overhyped by Steelers homers. The guys a good center but he hasn't deserved all the kudos he's gotten.

Anonymous said...

Pouncey is overhyped by everyone not just steelers homers u idiot

thats why he makes the probowl and allpro team evey year

Anonymous said...

Guess I will never understand the anti-Pouncey circlejerk that exists from Steelers fans. The guy is top 3 Center annually and multiple All-Pro for a reason. People who actually have job description of voting for the top players at their position continually vote for him. Just because he's not a boy scout off the field "fans" wants to hate him and push the overrated/overpaid agenda. C'mon people, find some new material already!

Joe Jones said...

Not sure if you followed the development of the UFL or not, but would you say that there is any room for a minor-league type league if done properly.. Aka not turning to overpriced vets like Ahman Green & Dante Culpepper?
Could there ever be a league of relative unknowns, or are practice squads and degrees really eating up that many of the thousands of college football players who can't make the cut in the nfl?

Anonymous said...

If they would adopt NFL rules, I think the CFL could be that feeder league. Not sure why they're not receptive to it. Would definitely increase exposure and make it more profitable. League wants to go global, but completely ignores Canada? Weird relationship. They play during the NFLs offseason, which helps. And it's a good league for reclamations, and not quite ready for NFL players, maybe even not quite ready for college players. But, you know, that's kinda what minor league baseball is. And it could also be a trial league for rule changes, safety, equipment and things of that nature. Not sure why both leagues pretend the other doesn't exist. CFL probably doesn't want to admit it's second rate. And the NFL is just arrogant I guess. It's another one of those things that makes too much sense. The start up is already done. Just get them together and iron out schedule, rules, field, etc. League/teams could feed the CFL with a better quality of player, and marketing. CFL could feed the league with better developed players and a secondary stream of talent. As kids are drifting away from football into other sports, the NFL is going to have come to grips with either a declining talent pool or figure out a way to cast a bigger net. This helps solve part of that.