Monday, November 02, 2009

It's not an Age thing

OK. Here are the stats for the average age of NFL teams. Hey, guess who's the oldest?

Average Age Birth Date Team
28.1 10/03/81 WASHINGTON
28.06 10/19/81 NEW ORLEANS
27.84 01/05/82 ARIZONA
27.84 01/06/82 DETROIT
27.77 01/31/82 SEATTLE
27.74 02/12/82 CLEVELAND
27.69 03/01/82 DENVER
27.63 03/25/82 NEW ENGLAND
27.62 03/28/82 SAN FRANCISCO
27.61 03/30/82 PITTSBURGH
27.59 04/08/82 MINNESOTA
27.58 04/10/82 ATLANTA
27.53 04/29/82 TENNESSEE
27.51 05/06/82 NEW YORK JETS
27.24 08/14/82 Average
27.18 09/04/82 SAN DIEGO
27.16 09/12/82 OAKLAND
27.12 09/25/82 Median
27.09 10/07/82 PHILADELPHIA
27.08 10/11/82 CHICAGO
27.02 11/03/82 INDIANAPOLIS
27.01 11/05/82 HOUSTON
26.98 11/17/82 BUFFALO
26.97 11/19/82 BALTIMORE
26.95 11/26/82 NEW YORK GIANTS
26.9 12/14/82 DALLAS
26.86 12/28/82 CAROLINA
26.77 02/02/83 JACKSONVILLE
26.75 02/10/83 CINCINNATI
26.68 03/06/83 MIAMA
26.66 03/14/83 TAMPA BAY
26.52 05/03/83 KANSAS CITY
26.5 05/09/83 GREEN BAY
26.43 06/05/83 ST. LOUIS


Couple observations:

1) There's only an 18 month difference between the oldest and the youngest teams. And the standard deviation is 6 months. These are pretty small numbers if you ask me. Is there a material difference between a 26 1/2 year old and a 28 year old? Um, not in my opinion.

2) Philly's about as close to the middle (median) as you can get.

3) Giants and Cowboys are only 2 months younger than the Eagles so for all basically the same age.

I started to look at wins per age group but didn't see much correlation outside of the bottom 4. Also tough to make material judgments considering some teams have had byes and others have not. Oh, and we're not even halfway through the season.

I considered looking at these numbers only on a starting or skill position basis but thought it might be too much work vs. benefit for the following reasons:
a) A material portion of any game is special teams, which are all the young guys.
b) Only looking at skill positions leaves off the O and D lines (which win games if you believe the talking heads).

So I guess my take away from this information is that age is not a determining factor.

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7 Comments:

Blogger David said...

18 months is a lifetime in certain positions. While QB, OL, even WR can age gracefully, RB, DL, DB, and even LB lose steam pretty quickly-look at B Wes. I think it shows how slim the margin is.

11:40 PM EST  
Blogger The Happy Apologist said...

I'm not sold on that. First off, the average career for most professional football players is only 2-4 years which is less than all these average ages. Second, most of the 53 man roster is special teams and backups, so that's a huge weighting on that average age. How meaningful is the Redskins' average age when 60% of that number is made up of non-starters?

The better question is how does age measure skill? Would you rather have a young Vince Young or an old Brett Favre? Matt Ryan or Kerry Collins? I don't think it does.

6:41 PM EST  
Blogger David said...

My point is that DB, RB, and DL get long in the tooth quickly. QB, like baseball pitchers, actually get better with age unless their whole game is running. Vince Young has already peaked and is on the down swing. You sort of make my point for me when you say the average career is 2-4 years (which incidentally is incorrect. The average RB life span is 2-4 years). That's a tiny window, so you better get the most out of your team while they're younger or you better have a plan B to get younger quickly. Personally, I think older OL and QB, young everywhere else, 1 old leader on D=winning team.

11:15 PM EST  
Blogger The Happy Apologist said...

Bumble,

According to the NFLPA, the average NFL career is 3.5 seasons:

http://nflplayers.com/user/template.aspx?fmid=181&lmid=349&pid=0&type=l#a3

So if the NFL is filled with average players (27 years, 3 months) then they wouldn't start playing in the league until they were 23 years 9 months old. Now obviously that doesn't happen because the averages are lifted up by the star players that last 10+ years.

Basically, my point is that these average ages don't mean anything because they're weighted down by the scrubs who wash out of the league before we ever learn their names.

8:01 PM EST  
Blogger The Happy Apologist said...

The primary question is whether skill level is correlated to age. The best way of showing this is probably looking at ages of Pro Bowl players, however I don't have the time to do that.

I think we'd probably see a positive correlation up to a certain age (and different by position) and then a drop off after their "peak". My gut tells me the peak is 28-32 for most positions, which is well above the "average" age of NFL teams.

I think at the end of the day, all else being equal, you'd rather have a team that's of average age. You don't want too young of a team that is still inexperienced or too old a team that's past their prime and/or subject to injuries.

8:07 PM EST  
Blogger David said...

Fair.

Thoughts on Dallas this week? Will it be Dr. Jekyll offense (last week), Mr. Hyde offense (Oakland) or some amalgamation of the two?

12:20 AM EST  
Blogger The Happy Apologist said...

An equally valid question is which DAL team comes to town. They've got swings in performance that dwarf's the Eagles. I don't know the answer to either question though.

6:33 PM EST  

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