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The Argument Against PFF


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I've seen and heard a number of people express a dislike for PFF. However, they rarely explain why they dislike them. Occasionally, someone will say something like 'I don't agree with their process' but it's not at all clear what that actually means.

 

Post your best argument against PFF here in as much detail as possible please.

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13 hours ago, PrincetonTiger said:

PFF contradicts everything I learned from while sitting at the feet of coaches

 

How so? 

 

13 hours ago, lollygagger8 said:

Oh, you mean the site that argues with themselves? :lol:

 

 

 

One of those articles is by the Washington Post?

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I posted some thoughts on PFF a few days ago, link below. I don't dislike them at all, but I think their work and its value is misrepresented quite often.

 

 

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On 5/12/2021 at 10:32 AM, lollygagger8 said:

Oh, you mean the site that argues with themselves? :lol:

 

 

Seriously?   All they’ve done is show they’re willing to present both sides of an argument.   And you think it’s a bad thing?

 

And the second article, wasn’t even written by PFF,  it was written by the Washington Post.   PFF just re-printed it.

 

Showing both sides is viewed as a good thing, not a bad thing.   You might want to reconsider. 

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On 5/12/2021 at 9:49 AM, Mackrel829 said:

I've seen and heard a number of people express a dislike for PFF. However, they rarely explain why they dislike them. Occasionally, someone will say something like 'I don't agree with their process' but it's not at all clear what that actually means.

 

Post your best argument against PFF here in as much detail as possible please.

People here don’t complain about the process, because people here don’t know the process.   Almost no one here does. 
 

People here complain about the outcome, especially if it disagrees with their opinion.  
 

So, for example, people here hated LaRaven Clark.   A few seasons back, Clarke had to play a fair amount for the Colts in the first month.   PFF gave him a passing grade, I think in the 60’s after the first quarter.  People here went nuts.   The team was struggling and Clarke was the designated person to blame.   By the end of the season, Clarke’s grade was lower, but that didn’t matter.  Once people here decide something is bad, it’s incredibly hard to change hearts and minds. 
 

When Chip Kelly was the Eagles coach for two years, he HATED pff.   When he got fired, he accepted an invitation to visit and see what they do.   Kelly was so impressed that he became an investor.  Cris Collinsworth too. 
 

It’s my understanding each game, is graded three different times by three different people and none of them knows what the others have done.  
 

They’re not perfect.   I think their NFL grading is better than some of their college work.  But overall, I think they’re helpful.  Very helpful. 

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12 hours ago, Superman said:

I posted some thoughts on PFF a few days ago, link below. I don't dislike them at all, but I think their work and its value is misrepresented quite often.

 

 

 

Correct me if I'm wrong but I'm fairly sure plays get throw out if they can't tell what was going on. I vaguely remember hearing someone from PFF explaining this process. I don't think they just guess.

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10 hours ago, Mackrel829 said:

 

Correct me if I'm wrong but I'm fairly sure plays get throw out if they can't tell what was going on. I vaguely remember hearing someone from PFF explaining this process. I don't think they just guess.

 

That's possible, and sounds familiar. So how many plays might that happen on in a given game, and how many players are affected by it? Ultimately, what kind of impact could it have on a player grade if PFF throws out 5-10 plays a game?

 

Also, if a player was nursing a left leg injury, and used a different technique than usual to try to mitigate that injury, in turn taking a loss on a few plays, PFF grades them negatively. Which is fine. But that might result in a player having a month of lower grading than usual, with PFF not acknowledging the injury in their grading. They publish those lower grades, and fans/media say 'this player had a bad month at the end of last season, he's not a hot free agent.' Team X says 'he's outstanding when he's healthy, and he battled through injury, let's give him a huge contract,' and the response is 'PFF says he's not that good, that's a bad contract.' 

 

Nothing wrong with PFF's grade, he did have a bad month. But they have a blind spot to context in their raw grading. And people who consume their grades have a tendency to quote them as if they are definitive. That's my overall point about their grading, and why it's not as valuable to me as it seems to be to others.

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  It is my understanding the Colts grade every player on every pay.
 Their has to be a method.
 It was my understanding, i don't KNOW, that more teams than not subscribe to PFF, for their own reasons. Perhaps they too snark at their numbers.
 
 The story i recently read/heard about a fumble recovery for a touchdown turned one DE's weekly grade from the 60's to near 90, well, that is very concerning if true.
 The best way to see if someone is any good was back when i watched every Colts play in super slow-mo, sometimes frame by frame to see what really happened. Unfortunately i couldn't compliment that with all-22.
 AC looked BAD for his 1st 3 seasons in pass-pro, and Andrew was terrible with timing and accuracy in the short game. Based on Harbaugh's pre-draft hype, and others of course "not since Elway," that part of his game disgusted me.
 PFF can't reflect how much benefit or damage is done by the overall effectiveness of those around you, or good or bad coaching.
Ras isn't everything but is a very solid place to start.

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40 minutes ago, Superman said:

Nothing wrong with PFF's grade, he did have a bad month. But they have a blind spot to context in their raw grading. And people who consume their grades have a tendency to quote them as if they are definitive. That's my overall point about their grading, and why it's not as valuable to me as it seems to be to others.

 

I agree with this completely. No one piece of information or datum is definitive, PFF grades included. The grades tell you (reasonably) exactly how a guy played, but they can't possibly provide context to indicate why he played that way.

 

I do think that you can apply context to contextless PFF grades though. To take your example: you see a guy getting a low PFF grade over the course of a month, or even a season, and you can take it with a pinch of salt because you know he was banged up all month or all year.

 

For me, I watch every snap of every Colts game every year. The number of full games I watch per season beyond that is probably in the single digits though. I imagine this applies to most fans and most fan bases. PFF watch every snap of every game every year but a lot of people still seem to value their own opinions on players over PFF's. For the reasons you stated, PFF's grades aren't perfect or definitive, but they're a hell of a lot more representative than the average fan's opinion.

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1 minute ago, Mackrel829 said:

 

I agree with this completely. No one piece of information or datum is definitive, PFF grades included. The grades tell you (reasonably) exactly how a guy played, but they can't possibly provide context to indicate why he played that way.

 

I do think that you can apply context to contextless PFF grades though. To take your example: you see a guy getting a low PFF grade over the course of a month, or even a season, and you can take it with a pinch of salt because you know he was banged up all month or all year.

 

For me, I watch every snap of every Colts game every year. The number of full games I watch per season beyond that is probably in the single digits though. I imagine this applies to most fans and most fan bases. PFF watch every snap of every game every year but a lot of people still seem to value their own opinions on players over PFF's. For the reasons you stated, PFF's grades aren't perfect or definitive, but they're a hell of a lot more representative than the average fan's opinion.

 

Absolutely agree. 

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40 minutes ago, throwing BBZ said:

 

  It is my understanding the Colts grade every player on every pay.
 Their has to be a method.
 It was my understanding, i don't KNOW, that more teams than not subscribe to PFF, for their own reasons. Perhaps they too snark at their numbers.
 
 The story i recently read/heard about a fumble recovery for a touchdown turned one DE's weekly grade from the 60's to near 90, well, that is very concerning if true.
 The best way to see if someone is any good was back when i watched every Colts play in super slow-mo, sometimes frame by frame to see what really happened. Unfortunately i couldn't compliment that with all-22.
 AC looked BAD for his 1st 3 seasons in pass-pro, and Andrew was terrible with timing and accuracy in the short game. Based on Harbaugh's pre-draft hype, and others of course "not since Elway," that part of his game disgusted me.
 PFF can't reflect how much benefit or damage is done by the overall effectiveness of those around you, or good or bad coaching.
Ras isn't everything but is a very solid place to start.

 

1. PFF themselves state that a number of NFL teams use their data, but they don't specify who.

 

2. I'm fairly confident that the only way a player's grade could have jumped from 60something to 90something is if that player played very limited snaps. I don't think it's possible to see a jump like that if he'd played 60 snaps.

 

3. The data itself doesn't directly illustrate the impact of other players, coaching, etc. but you can't absolutely use the data and context to make reasonable inferences about those things.

 

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I always find it funny that people will absolutely swear by a volume stat being a prime indicator of player performance but will poo poo PFF. 

 

Data is data, without correct interpretation (and context), it's valueless. What provides value is the analysis to provide you with intelligence. Even then, is that going to give you the 'answer'. Nope, it just helps you ask right questions, or gives you the right idea about what you need to triangulate against. 

 

In this example, in my shoes, I'd still go and watch the film of the players. But PFF might help narrow down which players' film I should be watching. 

 

*Source - I spend my life having to fight people who misuse data... 

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