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PFF releases new ratings system, removes the good stuff

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Pro Football Focus has made some changes to their system, and it will likely impact how much information we share moving forward. People frequently ask for certain information from PFF, and a lot of it is no longer readily available, so I wanted to give people a heads-up. Also, PFF is offering a free one-day trial of their new system. You can head over here to try it out today (Monday). I have some thoughts on the new set-up, but I encourage you to try it out and not just take my word as gospel (The Book of Fooch!).

The site still does grading, but rather than provide the + and - grades, they are normalizing them on a scale of 0-100, sort of Madden style. As I understand it, the rating is meant to reflect upwards of the last two year worth of performances. Here is a player card from PFF. There is no longer an individual game grade, but rather a flowing chart to show how his rating moves over time.

Devey PFF

Their various correspondents still provide a small sampling of the individual grades we have mentioned in the past. For Week 5, Jordan Devey graded out at -1.1 overall, while Andrew Tiller graded out at +1.1. On the above screenshot, when I scroll over the Week 5 nodes, it says Devey is 38.2 overall, with a 38.8 pass block rating and a 38.5 run block rating.

Now, I am able to inquire with PFF about specifics for individual game grades, but the information available through their subscription service does not include that moving forward. You can view these ratings, and you can view them in comparison to other players.

The bigger problem is that PFF has removed all the various analytics they used outside of grades. That includes anything from OLB/DE "Pass Rush Productivity" to CB "Passer Rating allowed while in the slot" to direction passes are thrown and the results of said passes All that stuff we could access in the premium department is no longer available to the general public. It is available for NFL teams, college teams, and select major media (and apparently others who slipped through the cracks from what I am hearing).

I can ask PFF and get certain details on specific players, but I can no longer go into the database and find the broader range of data they used to offer.

I think I sort of get what they are doing. They can likely make more money selling their information to professional teams, and really get more bang for the work they put in. And providing it for major media increases the value of the brand. There is money to be made by the founders, as well as Cris Collinsworth (he's a major investor). I get that, and won't begrudge them that right.

I am mainly just annoyed that the product they now provide to the general public is considerably worse than what it was previously. Normalizing the grades has some value, but turning these into Madden-style grades could mean more people throwing them around without remotely considering the context. PFF grades are useful when considered as part of the bigger picture. They are not gospel on their own, and should not be treated as such. But with a simplified system, I am concerned more people will treat it as gospel and completely ignore any alternative numbers offered up.

Mostly I'm just pissed they got rid of the good stuff in the premium section. Such is life. I do encourage people to take advantage of today's free trial. My opinion is not gospel, and you might find the product to be perfectly useful. Head here to try it out.