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The Haters Are Losing The War On Kickers

The differences here are pretty depressingly drastic for punt haters. In the 2002 and 2003 seasons, the average punt from 60 to 90 yards out (the part of the field where end zone locations don’t come into play) netted 37.3 yards, while in the 2014 and 2015 seasons those punts netted an average of 42.7 yards. That’s a 5-plus-yard difference on every punt!So perhaps punt coverage has gotten worse? Nope. If you look at raw punt distance, punts have gotten 4.7 yards longer on average (47.8 vs. 43.1). Although 2015 punters set records at virtually every distance, the absolute margins are smaller when you get closer to the goal. For kicks 30 to 60 yards from the end zone, the gain has been 2.4 yards — but those yards may mean more if they help trap an opponent in dangerous territory. (The value of a single yard only really spikes at both end zones and the outer reaches of field-goal range.)Note that I have not fully modeled punting improvement’s impact on fourth-down decisions as I have with kicking8Mostly because it’s more complicated. When you’re at the 40, the difference between 30 net yards and 32 net yards is greater because trapping an opponent close to its goal line is valuable (which, of course, is yet another reason why kicking a field goal and fourth and goal at the 1 is one of the worst plays in sports). Expected points models may help clear this up, but in some ways using the current models begs the question, since these models make assumptions about punting. — yet — but it’s bound to be significant. Factoring in 10 years of kicking improvement was enough to swing many borderline fourth-down decisions in favor of kicking. Of the 40 situations I looked at, 11 had differences of less than two-tenths of a point — which is probably about the amount that midfield punts have improved. If a fourth-down model doesn’t adequately account for these highly predictable improvements, it could be getting many “go or no” calls wrong.The punting expectation curve is relatively easy to model with a polynomial linear regression, which means we can find the expected distance of each punt and then compare a punter’s results with that expectation.The punter of the year isn’t even a close call. The 6-foot-5, 236-pound Johnny Hekker of the St. Louis Rams led the league with a 47.9-yard average punt and netted his team 271 yards relative to expectation in the process.On the other end of the spectrum, the Jets’ Ryan Quigley averaged 43.8 yards per kick and lost his team 297 yards relative to expectation.Football player of the year (who actually uses feet)If we convert those punting yards into points as we did with kickoffs above, we can get down to business and calculate each kicker’s complete value added from kicks.Note that some punters also kick off and some kickers kick off, but there are (presently) no kickers who also punt. So for this chart I’ve plotted value gained from kickoffs vs. value gained from punting and kicking combined. Bubble sizes correspond to the total value the player added or cost his team, in expected points: The average attempt distance has seen a steady increase, which might logically result in a decrease in efficiency, but the continued improvement of kickers has outpaced the increase in distance.This includes them making 65 percent of their kicks from 50+ yards — second only to the 2013 kickers — despite taking a record 160 such attempts. Here’s how they performed over each distance category:The 2015 kickers struggled a little bit from middle distances of 40 to 50 yards. And by “struggled,” I mean they had top-five all-time seasons but didn’t set records.From 55 to 59 yards, they made 13 of 19 attempts, or 68 percent — the best rate of all time for that range. In the four seasons from 2002 through 2005 (the first four years of the data shown above) they made 13 of 42 such attempts, or 31 percent.To better compare seasons, I’ve created an adjusted field-goal percentage that accounts for the distances of each kick and gives us that season’s expected make percentage for a baseline kick from the 30-yard line (about a 48-yard attempt):4The average kick is much shorter than that, but that’s about the sweet spot for a distance with lots of attempts where performance over time varies the most. It’s also a spot that requires both distance and accuracy and is around the area of the field where kicker improvement has the biggest impact on fourth-down decisions. Over time, athletes get stronger and faster, come from a broader talent pool, are better trained, and benefit from ever-growing institutional knowledge of their chosen art. This is most readily apparent with such individual skills as swimming, running and jumping — or kicking a football.One of the biggest stories of the 2016 NFL wild-card round is how the Minnesota Vikings almost toppled the two-time defending NFC champion Seattle Seahawks, only to see their hopes dashed when kicker Blair Walsh shanked an easy 27-yard field-goal attempt that would have given the Vikings the lead with 22 seconds left in the game. The aftermath was dramatic, and once again, the NFL kicking game was thrust into the spotlight for pretty much the only reason it ever is: A kicker screwed up. Perhaps lost in the hubbub is that this was the only field goal missed all weekend.1Kickers made 24 of 26 attempts, including extra points (which are no longer gimmes). Such is the plight of the NFL kicker: They do their jobs remarkably well week in and week out, but get attention for it only when something goes horribly wrong.But not at FiveThirtyEight! We will acknowledge greatness in its many forms.Last year around this time, we published “Kickers Are Forever,” my ode to NFL kickers and the eerily steady progress they have made over the past 80-plus years. In that article, I showed how the kicking improvement has been reliable and has changed things like the fourth-down math. In the offseason, the NFL decided to make kickers’ jobs harder by moving the extra point back from the 2-yard line to the 15-yard line.Predictably, this led to some missed extra points. This combined with a down week or two early in the season, and the notion started to emerge that kickers were having a bad year, sucking in some prominent commentators. We debunked the idea of a “Kick-pocalypse” at the time, but given my interest in everything kickers, I’ve once again taken a dive into the numbers to see if the kicking train has actually been in reverse, or stopped, or even slowed.Spoiler: It has not. Indeed, not only was field-goal kicking in the 2015 regular season almost exactly as good as we said it would be, but kickers were the best they’ve ever been at kicking off and punting — with dramatic effects on the game.2These are not as athletically “pure” as field-goal attempts — meaning the results of a kickoff or punt will also depend on a number of factors not in the kicker’s control (such as special teams units). One thing that I mentioned in my previous article is that — with no natural offset like defense to offense — the improvement in kicking has played a central role in the offensive increase we’ve seen over the past decades. However, it seems like the natural offsets are actually kickoffs and punts, which have somewhat counterbalanced the improvement in kickoffs by giving offenses longer fields. I’ve also identified the best players at the different aspects of the kicking game, and I have some awards to hand out to the best of the best.Field-goal kickers have improved almost exactly as predictedYes, field-goal kickers missed 71 extra points this season, after missing only eight last season. This 94.2 percent is the lowest since 1979. No, this is in no way bad or unexpected. Historically, it is quite high for 33-yard attempts — though for kicking, “historical” is not always a good frame for comparison. So to be clear, it is perfectly in line with projections for 2015 kickers.Kickers also made 84.5 percent of their non-extra-point kick attempts — essentially tied for the second-best all time.3This season finishes a hair behind 2008, when kickers made 84.5 percent exactly; in 2015 they made 84.4985 percent — about 1/100th of a single made kick behind. This, despite the fact that they attempted longer kicks than ever. Here’s a plot of field-goal percentage vs. attempt distance over the past 14 seasons: The rate of touchbacks has been increasing pretty steadily, both before and after the rule change, reaching an all-time high of 57.4 percent in 2015 (not counting onside kick attempts). The average starting field position has clearly flattened, as we would expect, though 2015 still set a record: The average opponent starting position was 21.7 yards from the team’s own end zone, beating last season’s previous best of 22.0.Still, those couple of yards here and there on kickoffs add up. For example, the Colts��� Pat McAfee (aka “The Boomstick”) had touchbacks on 67 of 74 (non-onside kick) kickoffs (91 percent). That’s close to 25 more touchbacks than we would expect from an average kicker. As a rule of thumb, a typical touchback is worth about 4 yards,5This season, the average non-touchback return came out to the 24-yard line. meaning McAfee’s touchbacks alone were likely worth in the neighborhood of 100 yards, or the equivalent of 6 to 8 points over the season. That may not sound like much, but any player (especially a non-QB) who can get his team half a point or so above average per game is doing great.To get a clearer picture of which kickers are most valuable, we can compare each kickoff to league expectation to find total yards saved and then convert those yards saved to point equivalents.6Using a rough conversion of 15 yards per point. (The full results are in the table below.) If you combine kickoff value with field-goal value, Gostkowski’s lead as place-kicking champion widens: Add in the 11.6 points the Patriots earned on kickoffs (not counting onside attempts, which would help Gostkowski even more as the Patriots recovered both of their attempts this season), and Gostkowski earned 23.8 points for them above expectation. Second place is Buffalo kickoff specialist Jordan Gay with 10.8 points above expectation (all from kickoffs).Don’t look now, but punters are also changing the gameFinally, let’s turn to the most reviled of all football plays: the punt. Why teams voluntarily give up possession all the time instead of fighting tooth and nail to keep the ball — particularly with good field position — is an ongoing mystery. But they are getting better at it. Indeed, in recent years, the improvement in punting is perhaps even more marked and consistent than it has been with kicking.7Unlike with field-goal kicking, this rate of improvement seems to be more recent. The average yards per punt appears to have hovered around 40 from the ’50s through the ’80s. In a big surprise to me — and a big loss for those of us who despise the punting game — punters and kickers seem to affect the game similarly. They each claim five of the 10 players with the highest value added this season,9Gay has been both a punter and kicker (and is identified as both by Pro-Football-Reference.com) but handles only kickoffs in the NFL. with punters taking four of the top five spots. Although most coaches are probably costing their teams points by punting too much instead of going for it, the ones with better punters are costing their teams less.That doesn’t mean punters have quite caught up to their place-kicking counterparts, at least at the very top. Johnny Hekker — the league’s most valuable punter, as well as a guy who admits he’s more comfortable with his Pokémon deck than he is tackling people — falls 3.3 points short of Gostkowski as the most valuable overall. Therefore Stephen Gostkowski of the New England Patriots is our 2015 NFL Football Player10Who actually uses his feet. of the Year.Finally, here, for your perusal, is a sortable table of value added by all punters and kickers this season: By this metric, kickers had their second-best season of all time (trailing only their miraculous 2013 campaign) and were within a fraction of a percentage point of their projections — well within the margin of error.Using our field goal expected value model, we can see what kickers scored the most and fewest points relative to expectation. I’ve included the results for all players below. Our champion for 2015 was the New England Patriots’ Stephen Gostkowski, who ran 12.2 points above expectation by making 33 of 36 field-goal tries (for 9.2 points above expectation) and all 52 extra points (for 3.0 points above expectation). Under the new rules this year, 30 NFL kickers missed extra points; Gostkowski still hasn’t missed one since 2006 — his rookie season.The worst kicker was Tampa Bay rookie Kyle Brindza, who missed six of 12 field-goal attempts and two of eight extra points before being cut in October. He ran 12.0 points below expectation on just 20 kicks overall.Touchbacks are the new blackAnother area where kickers can provide significant value, and where we also see creepily constant improvement, is in kickoffs. Of course, kickoff results depend somewhat on special teams kick coverage (though hang time and location matter as well), but one mostly objective metric we can track is frequency of touchbacks (note that the large shift from 2010 to 2011 is a result of the NFL moving the kickoff spot up to the 35): Source: ESPNCORRECTION (Jan. 13, 7 p.m.): The original version of this post contained several points that were based on a critical calculation error discovered by a reader, Jason Hahn. In determining the best kickers of 2015, we attempted to exclude onside kicks, but because of an error in how we filtered our data, onside kick recoveries by the kicking team were treated as a touchdown instead of being ignored. After a recalculation, Stephen Gostkowski of the Patriots becomes the most valuable kicker, not Johnny Hekker of the Rams, who moves to second place. In earning kickoff points above expectation, Jordan Gay of the Bills takes second place, not Mike Nugent of the Bengals. The touchbacks kicked by Pat McAfee of the Colts were worth 6 to 8 points over the season, not 8 to 10 points. The rate of all touchbacks reached a high of 57.4 percent in 2015, not 56 percent. The Patriots earned 11.6 points on kickoffs, not 7.7 points. These and other smaller errors have been corrected in the text of the article and in the charts and tables. read more

Fire again in Grand Turk Sand Bar gone

first_imgFacebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp UPDATE: Police confirm 14 homeless after Grand Turk fire Recommended for you Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsAppTurks and Caicos, May 15, 2017 – Grand Turk – There is little information coming on a fire in Grand Turk which completely burned down the Sand Bar.  It is said that Police are investigating the blaze which took place overnight Saturday into Mother’s Day.    The fire once again has residents calling for a domestic fire unit; the PDM Administration in response to questions about full time fire crew for the Capital said it is not budgeted for this fiscal year.#MagneticMediaNews#fireagaininGrandTurk#SandBardestroyedbyfireinGT Related Items:#fireagaininGrandTurk, #magneticmedianews, #SandBardestroyedbyfireinGTlast_img read more

Harbour Islands Romora Bay Resort Marina Reports Best Holiday Season Ever 2nd

first_imgFacebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp#Bahamas, January 8, 2017 – Harbour Island – Romora Bay Resort and Marina in tony Harbour Island, the exclusive isle known for its pink sand beaches and multi-million dollar dollhouse cottages, broke its own record with back-to-back record holiday capacity.   The marina and boutique hotel located on a sprawling four and a half acres of waterfront just reported its best holiday season ever, topping its own record year of 2016.“Last year, we were absolutely packed and I thought it can’t get any better than this – and then it did,” said Joe Dargavage, General Manager of the Harbour Island hotspot with its popular marina, two restaurants and family friendly atmosphere.   “We had more superyachts than we have ever had in our history along with sportsfish and smaller pleasure craft. We had vessels that came from all over the U.S., the Caribbean and the Med.  Folks, many of whom had been here before and some for the first time, had a ball.   I don’t think there was anyone who did not know nearly everyone by the time they left.   It was just a lot of fun throughout the holidays.”   That “lot of fun,” as Dargavage put it, culminated in a New Year’s Eve party that was kid- and boater-friendly with a five-course meal, live music, a festival atmosphere and Junkanoo.   And, said Dargavage, it “ended early enough for everyone to go into town for the New Year’s party that Harbour Island is famous for.”While the holiday season was marked by good times, good cheer and good friends, Dargavage says there is greater reason for celebration ahead. He called the response particularly reassuring after weather events in the region.“After an active hurricane season, yachts, megayachts and superyachts have been filling the marinas throughout The Bahamas,” he said.   “That is a very good sign for all of us in the industry as well as the businesses that serve the boating and marina industry.   For us at Romora Bay, the holiday season was a great springboard for the coming year and with our new restaurant offerings and still being the only place with live music three times a week, 2018 is off to a great start and looks like an exciting year.”According to Dargavage, an uptick in the economy, growing confidence in The Bahamas and the increasing desirability of Family Islands represent a trend that is also impacting property values.“Last year, 2017, was one of the best years in the island’s history for property sales in number of transactions and in property value.”   That, he said, despite property values on the tiny 3-mile long island already being among the highest in the region with a 2-bedroom, 1,200-foot cottage easily commanding a $1.5 million price tag.“There is a trickle-down effect psychologically.   As places like Albany and BahaMar come on stream, there is a perception The Bahamas is the place for the well-to-do and those who want to be where the well-to-do who could afford anything,” said Dargavage.   “Harbour Island has something for everyone.   It’s friendly, it’s quaint and it has an understated luxury so it really appeals to A-listers who want the exclusivity knowing it is an island where no one gawks and no one talks.” Related Items:last_img read more

Madrid keen on snapping up Diaz

first_imgReal Madrid are keen on completing a deal to sign Brahim Diaz from Manchester City, according to Sky Sports News.Diaz, 19, is due in Madrid over the next 24 hours to wrap up a move with the European Champions after turning down Man City’s offer.The young Spaniard joined the Premier League champions in 2015 from Malaga for an initial £200,000, but he has found his first-team opportunities limited under Pep Guardiola.Guardiola was adamant last month that City would “do absolutely everything” to keep Diaz, but both parties have since failed to make a breakthrough in contract negotiations.Diaz’s current deal is due to expire at the end of the season, so City have made the decision to cash in now.Sergio Ramos, Real MadridZidane reveals Sergio Ramos injury concern for Real Madrid Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Zinedine Zidane has put Sergio Ramos’ availability for Real Madrid’s trip to Sevilla next weekend in doubt after withdrawing him against Levante.With the likes of Sancho enjoying a successful stint at Dortmund, many pundits are predicting a bright future for Diaz in Spain.Brahim Diaz is set to sign for Real Madrid 🇪🇸⚽️ pic.twitter.com/sPRX3FkOuc— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) January 4, 2019last_img read more

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