For a "meta stat" post, this is very light on data.  Instead of debating the merits of EV vs SR, why not just show some data on which one is more predictive of wins?

I'm looking forward to the case study.

upvoted as soon as I saw meta: stat nerd :-D

Mathlete, if I had 1/10 as much talent as Pat Stansik I would write you your own love song!

Look forward to the followup posts.  Need Moar Mathlete posts.

I agree that the "staying ahead of the chains" adage is like "establish the ground game", "win between the tackles", or any number of meaningless announcer-isms. Staying ahead of the chains is only meaningful based on your offensive strategy. If you're playing Three Yards and a Cloud of Dust, then you're expecting 3 plays of 3 or so yards to move the ball. If you're playing Mike Leach's Air Raid, you're expecting 1 play of 10 yards. West Coast/Spread/Run and Shoot fall in between, say, 2 plays of 5 yards to keep moving. I guess it's a way to try and quantify offensive efficiency, but not much else.

Imagine an offense where all you do is throw Hail Mary's. Your success rate would be terrible, but your effectiveness would probably be reasonable (complete 2 or 3 a game, and you've got a shot).

Looking forward to some numbers.

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Actually, your argument seems to suggest football is EXACTLY like baseball.

Football's success rate is just like batting average - a useful, but limited data, because it only measures Success. What you need is OPS something that measures both Success and Magnitude.

I would think and augmented Success Rate with Yards Gained would do it.

hit or out, success or no. There is no partial or extra credit. It's more like W/L on a smaller scale: adequate for a quick glance, but not as descriptive as a "weighted" stat (which is not as descriptive as a set of stats).

If you're looking at FO stats for more detail, at the "individual" level (because nothing, as of yet, is actually individual), then it would be DYAR or DVOA, depending on whether you want counting or rate. At the team level, you'd have DVOA.

And that's still only one way of looking at things. There are other sites that do similar work, and as with other sports, you'll get the best picture by looking at them collectively and matching that with your own observations.

... when establishing their numbers, afaik.  [That is, if everyone scores on first-and-goal, then scoring isn't really a big play over average, but failure is a big play under average.  And so forth.]

The biggest criticism I have of the FO methods is that while they claim to be descriptive and predictive, there are numerous examples where they cannot be descriptive of a single game - most notably long returns and other big plays.  In brief, FO has found two things about 40+ yard plays.  First, past a certain point it's more about where you started than what you did e.g. Denard going for 45 against tOSU; he would have scored from 90, too, so a 90-yard run shouldn't be twice as much as a 45-yard run.  Second, long returns in particular are non-repeatable events e.g. James Harrison returning an interception 100 yards in the Super Bowl; if he picks that ball 100 times, how many does he get all the way to the end zone?  Discounting this play improves future prediction accuracy at the cost of present-game descriptiveness.

A descriptive methodology would assign that play (or Brandon Herron's TD returns) a much higher value (perhaps as much as 9 points - 3 for taking away the almost-certain field goal and 6 for the TD itself), and likely conclude it was the single biggest point swing in the game (even over the TD catch at the end to win it).

I too look forward to the numbers.

It's probably not useful as a team evaluation but does seem informative for individual players. None of these are perfect measures of course, but they're better than just looking at the conventional numbers (mainly TDs and yards per whatever.) Maybe not success rate per se but individual QB get measured by completion percentage and individual WRs can be measured by the ratio of catches vs targets (or something better like Brian's UFR metric).

I've only noticed success rate being used for RB - where it seems useful for comparing two running backs (like Vincent Smith vs Mike Shaw before that debate became irrelevant).  I'd love to see more success rate data for running-backs, not just for pro-style/traditional offenses, but as a way to compare situational role players like 3rd down backs (Vincent Smith) and short-yardage backs (Hopkins).  YPC just doesn't cut it for these guys.  It would also be great to see how someone like Darren Sproles does in comparison to other backs with similar roles (e.g., 3rd down success rate).

FO based their work on "The Hidden Game of Football."  Per the FO Almanac, on 1st down you need to gain 40% of yards for another 1st down; on 2nd down 60% of remaining yards; and on 3rd or 4th down 100%.

They're not only rating offense, but skill players.  Beyond success rate, they also have DVOA.

I don't know where someone brought this up, but I have bookmarked this Advanced NFL Stats post on First Down Probability, that says that FO is too low on required 1st & 2nd down yards.

If the probability of getting another 1st down is 66%, for 2nd down to be the same, you need to get to 2nd and 5.5 yds, which is .5 yds more than FO (at minimal needed gain).  And you need to get to 3rd and 1.5 yds, which is .9 yds more.

It would be ineresting to see a re-evaluation of 1st down probability to see if it's changed.  Also I wonder how college differs from NFL.

Of course, if you're more interested in the probability of an offense scoring points, then these differences are moot.

In brief, FO has found two things about 40+ yard plays. Staying ahead of the chains is only meaningful based on your offensive strategy. If you're playing Three Yards and a Cloud of Dust, then you're expecting 3 plays of 3 or so yards to move the ball.http://www.cooking-game.com

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