College of Quarterback Origin

From time to time, I like to take a look at data I’ve collected about quarterbacking in the NFL. Examining these statistics is like a history lesson. You can view league totals and averages and see exactly how play-calling has evolved over the years.

I’ve put a lot of that work into a spreadsheet that has bits and pieces of demographic information. I haven’t proofed it against the major databases, but it is a fairly complete list of every game played in the NFL (regular season and playoffs) since 1974, when the rules were changed to open up the passing game.

This post is just a piece of that data – an attempt to show the last college attended by quarterbacks who have won games as starters in the NFL. This includes 144 colleges and more than 11,000 wins. No analysis here – it’s just a list, heavily skewed by the Hall-of-Fame level quarterbacks who add the most to the totals. I thought it would be interesting as discussion continues as to whether there will be a 2020 college football season.

QB Wins, by College
** – Quarterback had a significant portion of his career prior to 1974, which is not included in the total

I know people will ask, but I have no news regarding the future of Front Office Football. I believe I am close to a decision, and will post this information soon. If I don’t have anything to update by the end of September, I will post again at that point regardless.

Changes Ahead

“The only certainty is that nothing is certain,” – translated from Pliny the Elder.

Roman author Gaius Plinius Secundus was a noted philosopher of his time. One of the reasons so many of us endured Latin in high school was so we would have the pleasure of reading various motes of philosophy in their original form, then struggle to make sense of them since it has been a long time since anyone has actually said anything in Latin.

This quote of his, and I lost whatever meager ability I ever had to translate Latin about ten minutes after tenth grade ended, has endured, often accompanied by Benjamin Franklin’s exceptions of death and taxes, which he was far from the first to notice.

It endures because the older you get, the more you understand that even when you make decisions based on solid reasoning and expectations, life often throws you a proverbial curve-ball. All you can do is embrace the uncertainty of being and do your best to find a new path, not get into ruts, not dwell over things you can’t control.

I find it interesting that Pliny the Elder died at the same age I am now. Would he have found certainty if the Romans had better health care available?

“Carpe Diem,” – Horace.

Roman poet Horace is best known for this simple, two-word phrase that doesn’t require high-school Latin to translate. Seize the Day (though carpe is not exactly Latin for seizing). When opportunity arrives, recognize it and go for it, because you don’t have that many genuine opportunities in life.

Twenty-three years ago, I was sitting in a restaurant on Bourbon Street in New Orleans with a few of my co-workers, enjoying the French Quarter’s signature drink – the Hurricane. It’s often served in a Mason jar stamped with the name of the restaurant, which you can take home as a souvenir to prove you have experienced a significant milestone in the life of a well-traveled tourist.

Faded lettering, still inspirational?

I enjoyed spending time with my co-workers. It was a good group of people. Our office was in Bellevue, Washington – I believe Steam, today, is headquartered in the same building, though I could be off by one high-rise. The 1990s was a great time to be a computer programmer, and the “Eastside” of King County was programmer central. But the work was uninteresting and this was my third job in the field after graduating college.

I remember musing about how nice it would be to try something new and original. Many of us were attaching ourselves to new opportunities. That summer, about half of our office left to join a tiny start-up in a Seattle warehouse. Some guy named Jeff was trying to build an on-line bookstore and was hiring almost anyone who could code. Many of those start-ups failed, but some of them didn’t. That one didn’t.

The previous day, we had gone through our routines demonstrating our company’s products in the New Orleans convention center. Dressed in identical logo-stamped tee-shirts, showing off technology that did nothing more than allow our customers to connect their computers and handle their businesses seamlessly. From time to time, the company CEO, impeccably clad in a designer suit and sunglasses, would travel the center’s halls in a golf cart with a personal driver, flanked by security guards on foot. I have no idea how they handled escalators or elevators.

Was he the Rock Star we all wanted to be? He was rumored to be in the process of purchasing an NHL franchise, of all things. I didn’t particularly like the image, but I appreciated the display of primacy. That night, the highlight of the experience – he brought in Penn and Teller to perform their routine for the thousands of employees who had flown in for the conference.

As we sipped our Hurricanes and waited for our Blackened Redfish, we complained about the routine. Someone had heard a story about the CEO noticing an employee sitting by the pool at their hotel when he should have been on the convention floor. Allegedly, fired on the spot. Stories like these are often twisted or invented to keep the rank-and-file scared and focused. It’s not an approach that works well with programmers, so it was having the opposite effect on our group. I remember talking about sports gaming and my side-work at the time, which was reviewing games for Computer Gaming World. It may have been the first time I spoke aloud about wanting to leave the cubicle world. At least not in Latin.

The Redfish was spicy and a bit uncomfortable, but new and delicious.

A few months later, after discussing my ideas with editors at CGW, I decided to take the plunge and got a business license for Solecismic Software. I left that job on February 20, 1998. Freedom Day. I carpe-d. It worked out well.

Obviously, the gaming industry has changed a lot since 1998. I have been saying for years that the days when a single person could do everything for one product are over. There were several of us who got into sports gaming in the ’90s. We all had different approaches, and some of us were able to sell enough games to do this for a living. I’ve been lucky to be one of that group. Markus Heinsohn and Andreas Raht have done the same with OOTP Developments.

One thing that might surprise you is that we don’t really view each other as competitors. We’re all people who have had similar dreams, interests and abilities. The success of one of us only helps the genre. It’s not an either-or. Our products are, and remain, different enough that those of you out there who enjoy the simulating side of sports gaming have many options.

Markus and Andreas have focused their efforts more on growth. I have tried to avoid growth. But their vision fits more into today’s reality than mine. We’ve all remained friendly over the years. In early 2017, I contacted Markus and asked if he had any interest in joining forces. My initial thought was to write the sequel to TCY. But the timing was right for OOTP to start over with pro football, and a new FOF would be the better choice for the marketplace. A few months later, we formed a partnership to produce FOF9. I would re-write my game with expansion in mind and to fit an entirely new GUI system. They would provide graphics, a framework and marketing.

Any good business arrangement requires timing, opportunity and hard work. In 2017, we had all of that and were making great progress. We felt it likely we would have a great new product out in the fall of 2018. We felt good enough about it that we announced the partnership – not coincidentally on the 20th anniversary of Freedom Day.

Fast forward to today, as we announce that we’re ending the partnership. What happened?

The opportunity remains. The game we were creating would be a good fit for the current marketplace. Certainly, we’ve put a lot of hard work into it. What we lost was timing.

I can’t speak for Markus or Andreas. What I can say is that after OOTP 19 came out, with the promise of the Perfect Team 1.0 beta a few months later, OOTP had to carpe diem. We tried to continue with the football, but once momentum is lost with a project, it’s hard to find a new rhythm. We still hoped that 2019 was a possibility, but we didn’t do a good job redefining responsibilities. That was straightened out, and we had a good road map for 2020. We only needed more resources. And when it comes down to it, this is OOTP’s opportunity, with their primary product, to become a much bigger player in the sports gaming business. What made perfect sense in 2017 no longer fits their company.

I understand and respect their decision. It’s tough. I can’t lie about that. I have most of FOF8 and a good number of exciting new features completed and a new framework in place. Almost all of the UI is completed. But we don’t have anything in the way of graphics, so it’s not something I can show off or finish in time for a 2020 release. I’m still using place-holders, mostly from FHM as the UI is the same base as theirs, not OOTP’s.

Markus and Andreas remain friends. We are not ending this out of anger or because we’re not making progress. It simply doesn’t make sense for OOTP to have a new football product right now and they have to seize the opportunity they have now, without distraction. They are letting me use what we’ve created without restriction, and that is because all of us in this business root for and try and support each other. I’m genuine in my hopes that OOTP and Perfect Team and the upcoming mobile product help their company reach new heights. I’m sure they will feel the same way if I return to FOF development and am able to get that project together.

Will that happen? I don’t know. I am taking the time right now to evaluate Solecismic Software. Does growth make sense? Is it feasible to continue work within this new framework or would I need to start over? Do I leave the business entirely and get a “real” job. Everything is on the table right now and I honestly don’t know what the future holds.

Thanks for reading. I will post again once I have a better idea of what form Solecismic Software will take.

Drafting Quarterbacks

Inspired by a brief discussion and some trash-talking among friends over the Jordan Love selection, I’ve been taking a long look at quarterbacks in the NFL draft. How are these selections made? When do you take a quarterback and what should you expect?

I haven’t learned anything earth-shattering. I thought I’d share my process and use this to potentially define future discussions, should a new way of looking at the data come to light.

The scope of this study is quarterbacks who were drafted or came into the league and played from 1998 onward. Dividing the NFL into time periods is somewhat arbitrary. I generally don’t study data before 1978. That was the first year of the 16-game schedule. It was also the year a major adjustment was made to the 1974 rule change defining pass interference/defensive holding. The game was completely different before 1974.

The NFL gradually evolved in adjustment. I often choose 1998 out of convenience as the beginning of the modern NFL. Peyton Manning was drafted, signalling the impact of having a true franchise quarterback. Statistical analysis was gaining sophistication, so the importance of keeping turnovers down and the chains moving was no longer a secret. It was also the year I released Front Office Football, so my own collection of data is more robust.

The game has continued to evolve, and game-planning is giving way to play-planning with the prevalence of quarterback/receiver reads and the impact of the run-read/pass option. In the future, I’m guessing I’ll use 2021, if it’s the start of the 17-game schedule, as the definitive mark of a new era. Then again, predicting the future is often a losing proposition.

I have 322 quarterbacks in this list. This constitutes the entire set of quarterbacks who entered the player pool from 1998-2019 and were either drafted or have attempted a pass in a game. For statistics, I’m primarily using wins in games they’ve started, with a look at losses for those who have a higher number of starts. It’s hardly a perfect measure, but game planning and team philosophies lead to far more variation when using numbers like passing yards or yards per attempt. Those are more useful when evaluating impact across tighter periods or in specific comparisons between players. But for something this broad, they would only be a distraction.

Since this is a draft study, I’ve tried to collect information about college experiences. I found total college passing attempts and passer rating for 305 of the 322 quarterbacks. This includes anyone drafted in the fourth round or higher and anyone from what we call the FBS today. Only two quarterbacks who started games (each with four) were not included – Quinn Gray, undrafted from Florida A&M in 2002 and Keith Null, a sixth-rounder from West Texas A&M in 2009.

One piece of data I would have liked to include is number of wins in college. But that would have taken too much time to calculate, and with less inclusion. So I broke colleges down into four categories – power-five (194 of 305), mid-major (88), non-FBS (23) and a subset of arbitrarily the 16 most successful programs within the power-five (77 of the 194). Is the expectation of winning a good substitute for winning?

The next step was to define expectations for quarterbacks drafted at a certain level. Of the first-round picks (63), all of them have started and won at least one game and 16 of the 63 have won more than 50 games. Second round: 16 of the 22 have won a game (two more than 50). Third round: 20 of the 32 have won a game (one more than 50). Fourth round: 14 of 30, 0. Fifth round: 13 of 35, 0. Sixth round: 14 of 48, 2. Seventh round: 8 of 42, 1. And undrafted, inclusion being dependent on having thrown a pass rather than being drafted, 22 of 50, 1.

A legitimate question you can ask at this point… do quarterbacks start because higher draft picks were invested, or because they are better quarterbacks? I’m not certain how to answer this question. Exceptions exist – there have been three true franchise quarterbacks in the last 22 years who were not taken before the fourth round. Those include Tom Brady (sixth round, 2000), Matt Hasselbeck (sixth round, 1998) and Tony Romo (undrafted, 2003). The seventh-rounder with 50-plus wins is Ryan Fitzpatrick (seventh round, 2005).

Calling Fitzpatrick a franchise quarterback, since he has a 55-83 career record, is difficult. But he’s also the only Ivy Leaguer in the study and had the best Wonderlic test score (48). Which brings up other interesting questions. I found Wonderlic scores for 191 of the 305 quarterbacks. There is no correlation between score and either college pass attempts or when a player was drafted. Coaches at both levels don’t seem interested in Wonderlic-type mental abilities. But there was a 6% correlation between Wonderlic score and college passer rating and a 13% correlation between Wonderlic score and NFL wins. This is probably the most interesting piece of data I found. But beware of applying trends to individuals: Blaine Gabbert (13-35 career record as a starter) scored a 42 on the Wonderlic.

For passer rating, I found that draft position held a strong correlation, and that increased with each tier of quarterback. There was a 38% correlation between rating and draft position for the 77 elite-college quarterbacks. Did that translate to performance? At the mid-major level, yes. But at the major level and the elite level, correlation was only 5% between wins and passer rating. This suggests that coaches are perhaps over-estimating the value of good statistical performance in college when looking at those chosen to lead the top programs.

Some analysts suggest that the most important college statistic is simply experience. Pass attempts do not correlate at all with draft position for mid-major and lower-level quarterbacks, but at 16% for both elite and power-five quarterbacks. Did that translate to more wins? Unfortunately, the correlations with wins are a little bit lower, hardly significant at all.

This is not to say that experience or statistical excellence are irrelevant. The pool of players studied does not include undrafted quarterbacks who never played in the NFL. With about 20-30 quarterbacks eligible from power-five conferences every year, most don’t even get an invite to the Combine. A more extensive study could add those quarterbacks to the pool and draw out more information.

Without that extension, basic scouting has to be trusted. The lists we see from the draft experts invariably include any quarterback who is going to be selected in the top four rounds. How much can you trust scouting? How much room is there to give someone a chance who might otherwise be overlooked. The late Joel Buchsbaum was Pro Football Weekly’s draft expert. He had connections throughout the league and watched a ton of film himself. Every year, he put out a book that I’m sure was even used in some war rooms, at least for reference. This is what he had to say about the number-six rated quarterback in one draft (who ended up being the seventh selected, about where he was graded as a mid sixth-round pick).

“Summary: Is not what you’re looking for in terms of physical stature, strength, arm strength and mobility, but has the intangibles and production and showed great Griese-like improvement as a senior. Could make it in the right system but will not be for everyone.” Griese refers to the Hall-of-Famer’s son, Brian, who had a nice career for a third-rounder, starting just a couple of years earlier.

One could say that this player’s coach had some inkling that he would be more than the system-limited career backup the scouts projected, but any other coach potentially having that inkling would warrant a much higher selection. As we all know, 198 players were selected before Tom Brady, who turns 43 in August and will get his first look at a completely new system in 20 years as he suits up for “Tompa Bay.”

Brady was a draft boom, probably the largest one in NFL history. I also selected booms and busts from the pool. A boom being a player who produced much more than what teams would reasonably expect from his place in the draft and a bust being someone who didn’t produce nearly as much. For quarterbacks, since even expecting a starter in the second round is ambitious, there are fewer busts.

Conversely, you expect an eventual franchise quarterback at the top of the draft. However, over the draft period, those 63 first-round picks break down in a very interesting manner. Picks 15-32 are a lot like second-rounders. Only two have gone on to win 50+ games. A franchise quarterback is so valuable that teams either trade up to the top of the draft or they have suffered so much without a good quarterback that they end up drafting there anyway. Of the 68, 16 were #1 picks, 6 #2 picks and 6 #3 picks. Eight of the 16 top picks have won 50+ games, along with one second pick and one third pick. There are a few more quarterbacks who are clearly on their way to 50 wins and quite a few that are not. Picks 4-12 are less certain, with 4 of the 17 in that group with 50+ wins.

As it turns out, picks 4-6, with more attention on this range given this year’s draft, are more part of the top of the draft. Only one player has been selected for each pick from 1998-2019. Philip Rivers fourth in 2004, Mark Sanchez fifth in 2009 and Daniel Jones sixth last year. Rivers has been a great success, Sanchez not so great, but with a 40-38 record as a starter I wouldn’t call him a bust and Jones is still developing. I’m sure Miami and the Chargers are hoping for franchise talents in Tua Tagovailoa (5th this year) and Justin Herbert (6th). But is it reasonable to expect three franchise-type quarterbacks in one year when only 31 quarterbacks were selected in the top six picks in the previous 22 drafts?

The odds are much worse for Green Bay, which took Jordan Love with the 26th pick. If he ends up being a great quarterback, that’s 25 opportunities to grab him missed. The Packers may be the one franchise that believes most in that story. Aaron Rodgers, well on his way to Canton, was selected 24th in 2005. The other major success from picks 15-32 is Joe Flacco (18th in 2008). Lamar Jackson (32nd in 2018) seems on his way as well. You can also include Drew Brees (32nd in 2001, but in the second round since there were only 31 teams then) in this group, though the Chargers let him go because of an early arm injury.

What about busts, then? If you’re expecting a second- or third-round pick to become a dependable starter and he doesn’t, you’re not being realistic. But you should have someone who can hold a roster spot and play a bit in case of injury. I found 13 of the 54 quarterbacks drafted in rounds 2-3 didn’t reach that level. For the 15-32 picks in round 1, you’re hoping for a starter, but should at least have a solid backup who can hold up a bit longer. Six of the 18 quarterbacks drafted in those positions didn’t fit that category, though by varying degrees. Only Johnny Manziel (22nd pick in 2014) completely failed. The others had more experience as backups. Only Tim Tebow (25th in 2010) was out of the league quickly and the jury is still out as to whether Paxton Lynch (26th in 2016) will be able to get his career going.

With picks 7-12, five of the 14 picks warrant bust consideration. Jake Locker (8th in 2011), Matt Leinart (10th in 2006) and Cade McNown (12th in 1999) were never able to stick as starters. Christian Ponder (12th in 2011) and Gabbert (10th in 2011) saw more starting time, but settled into backup roles. In all, that’s about a 1-in-3 bust rate for first-round picks after number 6. These hurt, because you should be able to find a solid starter at any other position with a pick that high.

The 1-in-3 bust ratio holds true for the top picks, as well. Though these should be franchise quarterbacks because you’re missing out on a true impact player otherwise. Some, like Sam Bradford (1st in 2010), David Carr (1st in 2002), Tim Couch (1st in 1999), Robert Griffin (2nd in 2012), Blake Bortles (3rd in 2014) and Joey Harrington (3rd in 2002), saw a lot of the field, but simply failed to win much. Griffin and Bradford even had a good season or two, and calling them busts may be too harsh.

But the other three on the list were much bigger failures, and are usually mentioned among the biggest draft failures in league history. Ryan Leaf (2nd in 1998, 4-17 career record), JaMarcus Russell (1st in 2007, 7-18 career record) and Akili Smith (3rd in 1999, 3-14 career record) were all out of the league quickly, and those misses had huge impacts on their teams.

Taken as a whole, are there any common links connecting the bust list? They seem very close to the average in terms of college pass attempts and quarterback rating. I found a little over-representation from the elite programs (10 of 33) while there was under-representation from elite programs in the surprise boom list (6 of 44). At these sample sizes, hardly conclusive. Wonderlic scores? Interestingly, for those with scores reported, the overall average for quarterbacks is 27 and both the boom list and the bust list have averages of 28.

This is all meant to be more the start of a discussion than deep analysis. I didn’t come away from this study feeling that I had discovered anything important. Perhaps coaches are a bit too impressed with the quarterbacks of very successful college teams, but, then again, the most impressive boom pick in the history of the league is probably a quarterback with a mediocre scouting report from an elite program. Maybe there’s too much emphasis on impressive college stats at top programs, but that’s not a huge factor. And maybe you should take a flier on an otherwise unimpressive guy who has an great Wonderlic score.

I come away from this brief study, most of all, thinking that taking a quarterback between pick 7 and the end of the second round is almost never a good idea. But understandably, the Ravens and the Packers feel very differently.

The bottom line is this is all about scouting, and whatever Indianapolis did in 1998 when choosing Peyton Manning over Ryan Leaf is what this is all about. You’re not going to make that decision based on numbers alone and you’re not going make a smart choice without spending a lot of time looking at the decision from many angles. The Colts did, and it changed their future.

The League QB Situation Going into the Amateur Draft

We’ve seen a lot of quarterback movement during this most unusual of off-seasons. I can’t remember when so many of the most sought-after free agents were quarterbacks. It has probably never happened before. General Managers are well aware of the value and rarity of a true franchise quarterback and many teams now operate well under the salary cap, which makes this all the more unusual.

My theory is that today’s quarterbacks are asked to be one of two things: deadly accurate, experienced and able to make a good decision within one second or able to excel with a package that includes some run/pass option. Anyone who sits in the pocket and can’t make good decisions quickly isn’t going to win. Anyone who runs first and can’t pick apart a defense if it frees a linebacker solely to track the quarterback isn’t going to win.

That has produced a shake-out. That, combined with the “old guard” of excellent pocket passers now past their prime, has made 2020 an unusually volatile quarterback market.

One thing remains consistent: quarterbacks are measured primarily by wins. You can produce huge passing numbers, but if they come primarily when you’re playing catch-up and forced to throw, it’s meaningless.

Prime free agency is now over. There are two big names still on the board: Cam Newton (71-59-1 as a starter) and Jameis Winston (28-42). They will land somewhere. The question with Newton, heading into his 10th season, is durability. With Winston, it’s the turnovers that have been written about so frequently that each one has its own entry on Goodreads, along with a star rating, reviews and a link to purchase the video on Amazon. Newton is likely to be signed to start. Winston might have to serve as a backup until he shows he can win.

Other names on the list include Joe Flacco (108-78, serious injury concerns), Blake Bortles (26-50, not in The Good Place due to persistent losing) and Trevor Siemian (13-12, a record that commands some attention, but he’s likely best suited for the Ryan Fitzpatrick honorary Dude You’d Like at Backup, but Please Don’t Start the Season as My Starter role).

Breaking down each team’s quarterback situation:

I Have My Young Franchise Quarterback, and Odds are Good I’m Locking him Up for Years

Arizona, Baltimore, Buffalo, Houston, Kansas City, New York Giants, New York Jets

Not all of these guys are as dead certain as Patrick Mahomes (28-8), but the investment is clear. Mahomes and Deshaun Watson (25-15) will receive huge contracts going into 2021. Rumors abound that the Texans will look to deal Watson. This seems like the type of insanity that, um, produced the DeAndre Hopkins trade. So maybe the Texans will do it. Buffalo’s Josh Allen (15-13) is as much in the next category as this one.

Rumors at press time indicate the Jets might sign Colin Kaepernick (32-32) to back up Sam Darnold (11-15). No idea what to make of this, other than that earlier rumors that the Jets have never much embraced the idea of Darnold would likely be true if this were to happen.

I Have a Young Maybe-Franchise Quarterback, Let’s Give Him 2020 to Make His Case

Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Jacksonville, Washington

Each of these cases is a bit different. Baker Mayfield (12-17) has been up and down, and the Browns signed Case Keenum (28-36) to a prime backup/maybe starter contract as insurance. Drew Lock (4-1) and Dwayne Haskins (2-5) were high picks last year and deserve a look. Gardner Minshew (6-6) is in the right place at the right time. Makes you wonder if there are a lot of sixth-round picks out there who could be great if they only had the opportunity. It has happened before (Matt Hasselbeck and another example that might come to me later).

Dallas is the most interesting case. Dak Prescott (41-26) was drafted in the fourth round, which means far more failure than success. But he has performed very well. Ordinarily, that means he would have received the big money this off-season. But the Cowboys seem uncertain here. So they franchised him, which means they’re paying him more than $30 million and probably making him quite angry for one more season to make that case. That’s very unusual at the quarterback position and I suspect he will play elsewhere in 2021.

I’ve Recently Signed or Re-Signed a Guy to a Big Franchise Contract

Atlanta, Carolina, Detroit, Green Bay, Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Seattle, San Francisco, Tennessee

Varying degrees of certainty here, but they’re all locked up for three or more years and it’s unlikely any of these teams is interested in more than making sure there’s a backup around who knows the system. Aaron Rodgers (123-68-1) is the oldest in this group (36). The Packers might well be interested in drafting a potential replacement if they see a second-tier guy they believe in. Carolina has invested $20-million plus per season in Teddy Bridgewater (22-13). If anyone deserves well wishes for perseverance coming off a serious injury, it’s Bridgewater. He looked poised to become a star in Minnesota after two seasons. Believe it or not, that was four years ago.

I’ve Got a Franchise Quarterback, but He’s Old

Indianapolis, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay

Three of these guys are certain Hall of Famers and the fourth, Philip Rivers (127-108), would be if he only had some playoff success. All four teams want to develop a young quarterback, but probably don’t want to invest in one of the big names in the upcoming draft because you have a guy who can win now and that pick could bring in the last piece they need. Pittsburgh has collected several interesting young backups, not sure any of them will ever emerge. Rivers’ signing in Indianapolis is an indication that Jacoby Brissett (12-20) is considered more a career backup heading into his contract year.

I Had Someone, Invested a Lot, Now I’m Not Sure and I Brought in a Top-Tier Backup to Compete

Chicago, Las Vegas

In Chicago, former number-two pick Mitch Trubisky (23-19) will compete with Nick Foles (30-24). Both have starter credentials and both have impressed considerably at times. Chicago’s just a bad place to be a quarterback, and I’m not sure why. Great fan base, but they seem to hate their quarterback no matter what. Trubisky is in the last year of his contract. Foles was signed for three years and $24 million. If one steps forward, he’ll get the big contract for 2021. If neither does, Foles keeps the job, but the Bears are looking to the 2021 draft for help.

In Las Vegas, Derek Carr (39-55) received that big-money contract, but underperformed. The move means the team wants very badly to build up the fan base. If Carr continues to struggle, that would cause a lot of damage. So the Raiders signed Marcus Mariota (30-33) for two years and fringe starter money. Mariota has looked great at times and 30 wins is usually enough to cement your rep as a solid starter, but that hasn’t happened. Maybe he just hasn’t had the right opportunity.

I Have Someone, but We Need to Make it All Nice and Legal

Cincinnati

That would be Joe Burrow, who will be the first pick in the upcoming draft. Andy Dalton (70-65-2) is likely headed elsewhere, though if there isn’t a good opportunity (apparently New England isn’t interested) he might become an expensive trainer for Burrow. Though it’s not what Dalton or the Bengals want and these situations rarely work well.

I’m Thinking Very Hard about the Draft

Miami, Los Angeles Chargers

For Miami, drafting fifth, Ryan Fitzpatrick (55-83-1) and Josh Rosen (3-13) already fill the quarterback room. I think the Dolphins would be happy choosing between them for a backup. Neither is going to take a team to the next level.

Tyrod Taylor (24-22-1) is the only quarterback with experience on the Charger roster. Taylor was a sixth-round pick in 2011, and has done well in some stints as a starter. He’s got one more year on a fringe starter deal. The Chargers might be OK with him, and didn’t feel the need to pay Rivers a lot of money for another year or two. But they are likely quite interested in drafting a quarterback. They have the sixth pick. They’ve also been mentioned as the landing spot for Newton, though coach Anthony Lynn has already said he’s happy to go into the season behind Taylor.

The two names associated with the first round, after Burrow, are Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert. Tagovailoa comes with the requisite injury warnings, and the weird off-season means teams will have to rely on the physicals from the Combine, which were extensive. He’ll still be drafted early in the first round. I don’t see another team trying to trade into this competition, but if the Chargers and Dolphins both prefer one over the other and are willing to invest in that pick, they could end up trading up just to outdo the other team. Hollywood makes bad movies about stuff like this, but it’s a decision that will affect these franchises for years.

The Chargers were heavily involved in the Peyton Manning/Ryan Leaf saga, though they were more unlucky than anything else with how that played out. Then Eli Manning and his big refusal. So I’m sure the fan base is gearing up for the draft with more than a little bit of anxiety.

I’m Bill Belichick, and You Don’t Know What I’m Thinking

Owner Robert Kraft wanted Tom Brady (249-75) to play his entire career in New England. Belichick and Brady had other ideas. Thus an amicable divorce. I believe them when they say they still have enormous respect and affection for each other.

New England signed Brian Hoyer (16-23) for his third different stint with the Patriots. He hasn’t started a game there and has attempted only 51 passes in five years as a backup. More importantly in this league, he was signed to a veteran minimum contract, which means they don’t think of him as the starter.

Last year’s fourth-round pick, Jarrett Stidham (2-for-4 with a pick-six in his career) is first on the depth chart. Will that remain the case? Your guess is as good as mine.

Would it be a lot of fun to see what Belichick could do with Newton? Absolutely. And I’m sure Newton would be game. It’s all up to Belichick – can he clear the cap space? Does he believe in Newton? No idea. Belichick isn’t going to share his thoughts outside of the organization.

Some analysts like Jake Fromm, who carries a second-round or third-round grade, as a good fit for New England. Other quarterbacks you might be hearing about in the early draft rounds include Jordan Love, Jacob Eason and Jalen Hurts.

Eli Manning is Retiring

With any good Hall of Fame discussion, the benchmarks for inclusion are critical. In the next few years, we will see those benchmarks defined quite clearly for NFL quarterbacks. Eli Manning will retire this week, having spent his entire career with the New York Giants. Philip Rivers is nearing the end of his career, spent entirely with the Chargers.

If you remember the 2004 draft, Manning had decided he wanted no part of the Chargers, selecting first in the draft. San Diego picked him anyway. The Giants, selecting fourth, picked Rivers. They were immediately exchanged for each other, along with three more picks going to the Chargers.

The two quarterbacks will always be linked in many ways, and this discussion only adds one more link.

Both currently have 125 wins, including playoffs, as quarterbacks, tied for ninth among signal-callers since 1974. That 125 figure alone would likely be enough to satisfy the Hall. Except for two notable benchmarks. Manning has two Super Bowl wins, and was the MVP in both games. But when it comes to statistical achievements, you’d have a hard time understanding how he kept his starting job for so long. His TD/Int ratio is 384/253 and his yardage per pass attempt is 7.04. You can look up other Hall inclusions and candidates and see that his numbers aren’t exceptional in any way.

Rivers has those numbers (411/208, 7.81). But try and remember the last time the Chargers did anything worth celebrating in the playoffs. Only a couple of modern Hall of Fame quarterbacks never played in a Super Bowl. Warren Moon, whose NFL career would have been much longer if not for the absurd idea that quarterbacks must be white (thankfully, long since discarded) and Dan Fouts, who played a major role in defining the modern quarterback.

Manning is on a very short list of players owning two Rozelle trophies: Tom Brady, Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Bart Starr, and Manning. Does that defeat the statistical argument against him? Does Rivers, 0-1 in Conference Championship appearances, get in on statistics alone?

With a set of exceptional automatic enshrinees approaching in Peyton Manning, Brady, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers, have the sticks moved far enough forward that neither will make it? Or do we celebrate the quarterback enough that there’s room for both extremes?

Patriots and Dynasties

The media seems quite anxious to provide an epitaph for the Patriot dynasty after last night’s 20-13 wild-card loss to Tennessee. Understandable. In today’s click-bait virtual world, it’s harder and harder to make money off of advertising. Declaring that the world is not “on fire” after all is not a hot take that’s going to pay the bills.

Since this site has no advertising (I assume WordPress, which provides the code for this blog, gets some minuscule value out of the metrics generated here – who knows – I don’t track anything myself), I can afford to keep my takes at room temperature. So I’ll start off by writing that the Patriot dynasty could be over. Or maybe it isn’t. It’s not possible, I think, to know.

I’ll pay some homage to the concept that the Patriots have a dynasty. What Bill Belichick and the Patriots have done is perhaps the biggest achievement in American sports history (I don’t know enough about soccer or cricket history to extend the claim). The NFL has a salary cap that prevents the type of talent stockpiling prevalent in other sports, or, for example, the 49ers in the ’80s and early ’90s. It’s not a soft cap, like the NBA’s. It forces teams to make hard decisions.

How would you define a dynasty? I think it requires more than one league title under a specific coach. It requires a year-to-year playoff presence. I could come up with other ideas there, but the most obvious almost-candidate is the Bears, circa 1985. They won only the one title, but had that playoff presence, and a whole host of notable players and dominating performances. If we’re trying to come up with the best single team of all-time, that team is definitely on the short list. But was it a dynasty? Five years in the playoffs, 1-for-3 in the conference championship. A remarkable run and a signature defense, but I’m hesitant to include it in a dynasty list.

What about Indianapolis, before Manning’s injury? That was nine straight playoff appearances, 2-for-3 in the conference championship, at least 10 wins in every season, one title. I’m not sure two dynasties can exist at the same time, and the Patriots beat the Colts in some of those deciding games. Does Manning and the Colts offense belong on a list of great offenses in history? Yes. But, again, I’m hesitant to include it on the dynasty list.

Long story short, here’s a list of considerations:

Broncos, 1996-98, the last team to win two straight Super Bowls – is that enough, given that the team wasn’t nearly as good in the surrounding years?
Cowboys, 1991-96, three Super Bowls – though under two different coaches.
49ers, 1981-90, four Super Bowls.
Steelers, 1972-79, four Super Bowls.
Dolphins, 1970-74, two Super Bowls and appeared in a third, including the undefeated season.
Packers, 1960-67, five championships, including the first two Super Bowls.
Browns, 1946-55, 7-for-10 in league championships (3-for-6 after joining the NFL).

What’s interesting about this list is that, more-or-less, it’s continuous. When one team’s playoff run ends, another begins the following year. That may be coincidence. After the Broncos, the Rams would be next, but that Super Bowl loss after the 2001 season means they fell a little short. Or that could be the post-cap adjustment period (it was instituted in 1994) when teams struggled to understand the new rules.

Now, the Patriots:

2001-2019, 6-3 in Super Bowls, which amounts to more appearances than any other franchise, total. They appeared in the playoffs 17-of-19 seasons. They had a winning record all 19 seasons. Since becoming, in 2008, the only team in the eight-division format ever to go 11-5 and not make the playoffs (this was the season Brady missed with a knee injury), they have won 11 straight division titles. Until this season, they had reached nine straight conference championship games, winning five. Essentially, it’s two dynasties, broken up by the season Brady missed.

If it weren’t for the facts that A) Tom Brady is 42 years old and B) Brady had one of his worst seasons statistically, no one would be all that anxious to write that epitaph.

Can we assume Brady is done? That’s a complicated question. He won’t answer it right now, even if he has a definite idea. The reason is quite simple – Belichick is known for gathering his key staff members the day after the team is eliminated and holding a long meeting. During that meeting, each position group is analyzed thoroughly and a plan is put in place to make that position group a little bit better. Often, the answer is draft priority. Sometimes (like this past draft’s first-round miss on wide receiver N’Keal Harry and subsequent drama with Antonio Brown) the plan fails. But there’s no sentimentality about the meeting. Drew Bledsoe was traded to division rival Buffalo when it was determined that Brady was the best option for the future. Bledsoe isn’t a Hall-of-Famer, but for a long time he wasn’t that far off the pace.

Brady knows that he’ll be discussed in that meeting, and he might not like hearing the results. Belichick will move on if he thinks Brady isn’t going to give the Patriots their best chance of winning a seventh Super Bowl. And I doubt Brady would have it any other way. I think (I don’t know – it’s just my assessment of the man’s insanely competitive nature) if Belichick calls him in a few days and asks him to give it one more year, he’d be delighted. And if not, a very difficult decision about whether to try his arm in another city. His physical skills may be diminished, but there are plenty of teams that would love to have him for a year or two. All the talk about franchise tags and opt-out contracts is immaterial. If he wants to play and Belichick wants him to play, he’ll play.

As for Belichick, he’d laugh at the question. Well, he wouldn’t laugh because he has too much self-control to give you the satisfaction of any kind of reaction. He is both head coach and has full control and authority from owner Robert Kraft to make personnel decisions. He has never been one of those coaches so focused on one side of the ball that he ignores any group of players. He cares just as much about the special team groupings as he cares about the quarterback position. His legacy and eventual enshrinement in Canton are both quite secure. We no longer talk about best ever, we just wonder when he’ll decide he’s had enough. At 67 years old, that may come soon. Or it may not.

Can he win without Brady? Of course he can. Some of the defenses he has put together have been best in the league. He designed an offensive system fit to Brady that worked exceptionally well. When Randy Moss became available, and Belichick realized that Moss had both the talent and the brains to expand that system, all of a sudden that system had that big-play element it lacked before and mostly afterward. He’s designed that offense to use multiple pass-catching tight ends and often none. Sometimes the running backs play a bigger role in the passing game. Sometimes the Patriots are run-first and sometimes they aren’t – often alternating from game to game. It does not belittle Brady’s accomplishments one bit to say that Belichick would still be as good without Brady. Maybe without as many titles. Both men understand that.

There’s no burning desire in Belichick to prove anything other than to approach 2020 as a new season with new challenges. It’s no secret how much he liked Jimmy Garoppolo, and hated having to trade him – holding on as long as he possibly could even though he got less in trade as a result. But that was only because he knew he could adapt his system to Garoppolo’s skills, and that Garoppolo had many of the same qualities that made Brady a great quarterback. Does he have the same in Jarrett Stidham? Probably not, but if he does, that would likely be the end of Brady’s run in New England. Regardless of what happens with Brady, I would be surprised if the Patriots don’t select a quarterback in the upcoming draft. But if you’ve watched New England over the years, it’s exactly when you most expect something that they turn around and go in a different direction.

Crisis Behind the Center?

Much has been made of the sudden influx of new starting quarterbacks in the NFL. In week 3, unfamiliar names of Gardner Minshew, Jacoby Brissett, Luke Falk, Kyle Allen, Teddy Bridgewater and Mason Rudoph headlined depth charts rather than the quarterbacks who were expected to start this season.

Andrew Luck’s sudden retirement, injuries to Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger and Cam Newton, Sam Darnold’s bout with mononucleosis – is this a sign of crisis?

I came up with a simple metric to take a look at this situation, since detailed injury data is very hard to find going back in time. I took the draft position of a team’s starting quarterback in every game and divided it by the number of games played in a season. For undrafted quarterbacks, I used the number 275 as an estimate. Just to use something – there’s no analysis behind the number.

I started the analysis with 1994, the first year of the salary cap.

Average draft position by year

What this graph shows, first and foremost, is that drafting a franchise quarterback became a big priority in the first decade of the new century. Going into this season, 13 of the 32 teams planned to start a quarterback who was drafted in the top four of the first round (Darnold is sick now and Eli Manning lost his job to this year’s sixth overall pick). Twenty teams planned to use a first-rounder. Only one team (and this may well change after last night’s performance), planned to start an undrafted quarterback.

This season’s average draft position of 55.0 is representative of the last eight seasons. But the question remains whether jump from 63.4 to 51.5 from 2017 to 2018 was an indication that the trend is continuing? Or did the shift effectively end around 2010 and this is just the new normal?

For now, I don’t think there’s a crisis. NFL coaches have complained about the lack of NFL quality quarterbacks for as long as I’ve been watching the game. Some of the new ones impress, some don’t. There have been highly drafted quarterback busts seemingly since the beginning of time itself.

High-profile injuries always seem to arrive in bunches (again, no analysis behind the comment). With Hall of Fame names like Roethlisberger and Brees going down in a space of hours and a third (I could write volumes on his candidacy, pro or con) losing his starting job a week later, there’s a lot of attention on young quarterbacks right now.

Fitzpatrick is Starting… Again

The Miami Dolphins have named their starting quarterback for the 2019 opener – the new face of the franchise – and it’s… Ryan Fitzpatrick.

The 36-year-old, drafted 250th overall in 2005 by St. Louis (in a distant past when St. Louis had an NFL franchise) has started games with seven different teams. He has been on the winning end with six different teams – Cincinnati, Buffalo, Tennessee, Houston, the Jets and Tampa Bay. He was 0-3 with the team that drafted him.

Generally, quarterbacks who lose more than they win aren’t in the league very long. But a few of them bounce around a lot, earning backup role and sometimes capturing a bit of Fitzmagic. Fitzpatrick’s career record as a starter is 50-75-1. He’s also known for having scored 48 on the 50-question Wonderlic test given at the NFL Scouting Combine. The test rewards speed and ability to assess problems and make calculations. That might make him an ideal candidate for gaining competency with a complex game plan on short notice. Once you’re on a roster, you never know.

But his record as a starter is unusual. From 1974-2018, ten different quarterbacks were -25 or worse and 29 were +25 or better.

Another member of that group is Josh McCown, who has also started (and won) with six different teams and is now suiting up with his ninth different franchise. He was coaxed out of retirement at age 40 when the Eagles lost their backups to injury. McCown probably won’t be starting with Carson Wentz still the franchise quarterback and Cody Kessler likely able to play soon. McCown’s career record is 23-53.

As far as I can tell, no quarterback has ever won games with seven different teams. That probably changes soon.

Luck of the Draw

Andrew Luck shocked the NFL world by retiring yesterday. In 15 days, the Indianapolis Colts will begin the 2019 season. In 19 days, Luck will reach the age of 30.

Luck has had more than his share of injuries, most notably missing the entire 2017 season after shoulder surgery. Much has been written about this injury, suffered two years earlier. Was it mismanaged? Luck certainly played through pain, and there are legitimate questions as to whether the Colts handled this responsibly. Faced with another painful injury, this time to his lower leg, and perhaps realizing that surgery and another rehabilitation was likely, Luck chose retirement.

Much has been written about the Indianapolis fans and their reaction to the announcement, made late in yesterday’s exhibition game. In today’s era of interpretive (a.k.a. lazy) journalism, where a journalist reacts and molds rather than reports, Indianapolis fans “savagely” booed Luck off of the field. I wonder if this was the case. Luck is/was a franchise quarterback. Franchise quarterbacks seemingly live forever. They don’t, on the eve of a new season at the age of 29, suddenly walk off into the sunset. If I were in the crowd, I’d probably think it was an elaborate prank, and not a funny one at all. The trajectory of the Colts has changed, and true fans, looking forward to a brand new season, suddenly face the unknown. I’d boo the messenger, assuming, maybe hoping as much as assuming, that this wasn’t happening. Instead, the media, desperate for relevance they’ve long since discarded, chooses to try and make a story out of the reaction itself.

The real story is in what led to Luck’s decision in the first place. It’s not a story that can be told in a sound byte or a hot take. It may never be told properly.

Has this happened before? Surely there’s a similar story from the past. I came up with Jake Plummer immediately. Plummer, a free spirit and a remarkably talented quarterback, made news in 2007 when, at the age of 32, healthy, he chose retirement over playing for Tampa Bay after a trade. But that doesn’t hold up. Plummer said he would retire after losing his starting job in Denver the previous season. The Buccaneers traded for him anyway. He wasn’t in training camp.

Overwhelmingly, quarterbacks play until they’re told they will no longer receive playing time. Some don’t want to retire holding a clipboard, some don’t mind. Searching my spreadsheets of quarterback data, I couldn’t find a situation similar to Luck’s. Bert Jones had a similar career trajectory, but a neck injury forced his retirement, under his doctor’s orders, in the spring following missing most of his tenth season. Neil Lomax? Tried to come back for a year from a severely arthritic hip. The Cardinals had plenty of warning, and brought in a free agent replacement a full year before Lomax finally retired. Maybe I’m missing someone, but I don’t think I am. This is the biggest story in the NFL in a long time.

The best comparison I could find was the mysterious and sudden retirement of Barry Sanders as training camp began in 1999. But Sanders played running back and ten seasons accumulating more than 15,000 rushing yards is not only a full career, but a no-thought-about-it Hall of Fame career. Players at most positions age much faster than quarterbacks. The Sanders story is odd, but only because he chose not to tell his coach or announce his retirement a couple of months earlier.

We’re in new territory here. On its surface, the unwillingness to go through another cycle of surgery, rehab, missing games, pain… it’s understandable. But successful quarterbacks Luck’s age have always done it anyway. Today’s quarterbacks are more protected by the rules and surgical techniques are more advanced than they were when Jones was young and we have the recent and notable example of 42-year-old Tom Brady, who seemingly wants to play forever. Brady outlasted the other true legend of his generation, and has now outlasted his first-round, first-pick successor as well.

It’s easy to speculate as to why Luck chose to retire rather than go through the injury recovery cycle. Plenty of hot takes to be had here. Too much money in today’s game? Millennials are spoiled? He never had what it takes? The victim of incessant Twitter trolls? These days, we don’t even have to listen to the guy to think we have all the answers.

But I don’t have an answer here. Quarterbacks are obsessive, crazy people with great leadership skills. They say the most difficult skill in sports is learning to hit a curve ball. I doubt it. It’s becoming a franchise NFL quarterback. Making good decisions within two seconds 95% of the time. Having an arm that would make most Major League pitchers jealous. Digesting playbooks more complicated than the entire works of Shakespeare. Tough enough to take hits from 300-pound linemen, over and over, without flinching. An NFL quarterback has proven himself beyond normal human benchmarks. It has to be part of their DNA.

The older I get, the more I understand that not only is there always more to learn but that I’m comfortable not knowing all the answers, reinventing and challenging my beliefs. Luck’s decision requires some adjustment. Maybe he comes back next year, maybe he doesn’t. Maybe the game of football has fundamentally changed in the last few years, and maybe it hasn’t. Listen and learn.

A Non-Update Update

In the interest of providing accurate headlines and in my personal dislike of click-bait, I’m providing an update that tells you perhaps everything you want to hear except what you really want to hear.

A couple of years ago, I joined a partnership with OOTP. This was for the specific purpose of publishing a football game. OOTP is the publisher, and is providing a publishing platform, a GUI platform and GUI programming, custom graphics, marketing and dozens of other valuable insights and functions that are well beyond the scope of a solo developer. On my end, I’m providing the FOF8 base, adapting it to this new GUI, and adding a host of new FOF9 functions.

We’re calling the new project Front Office Football 9. We’re all fairly certain it will have that name upon release. The goal was to have this finished last fall. You might have noticed, however, that there is no new product on the market. That’s why I spent a couple of months last fall adding some features to FOF8 that I was saving for FOF9 – primarily with game planning. I also provided a 2018 player file. All this is work valuable to the FOF9 effort, but our delay meant that it was appropriate to spend extra time putting it into FOF8 as well.

The biggest question you have right now is, I’m sure, whether OOTP still plans to put out FOF9. That answer is a definite yes. We’re still making progress and we’re still expending resources.

The second-biggest question you have right now is, “well, then when the #^$%& are you releasing it?” I just don’t have that answer. None of us do. We would all like to get it out this fall, but we’re not in a position right now to make that determination.

A common theme on the OOTP board these days is discussing and speculating about my own feelings about publicity and marketing. I am the lead developer, after all, and I haven’t said much about the game. Why is that?

Going back to 2001 and the release of The College Years (still, to date, by far my most successful game), I’ve tried very hard to avoid talking a lot about my work. Before 2001, I loved the attention. I knew most of the major reviewers out there and it was fun to talk about my work. I was a reviewer for Computer Gaming World before I started Solecismic Software. That gave me a huge advantage in starting out because I knew who to talk to and we all had a lot in common. That works great when you keep to a specific schedule. I was lucky in that I had a good sense how long everything would take and the market was different back then.

However, soon after I started work on TCY and soon after I hyped it a bit with reviewers, EA Sports wanted more from me with FOF. Wonderful. That was my ticket to “making it big” in this business. I was all-in. And for those of you who know me personally, the most profound disappointment in my career was when a group of lawyers for the NFL and a group of lawyers for AOL could not settle a very simple question for EA that would have allowed us to put FOF3 on the Madden CD, for free, giving people an interface for joining a managed FOF multi-player world. Tiberon (the Madden development group) was terrific. Holding that space for us until they just about had to stamp the gold images. But the lawyers were not making progress and after we missed that window, EA lost interest in FOF. No more “making it big.”

Meanwhile, I was a year behind with TCY and customers were frustrated. The game was a lot bigger than FOF2, and it had a few bugs to work out on release. All was fine within a month, but I was very well aware that the hype had caused significant harm and the initial reviews of TCY suffered from it specifically. For future FOF releases, I adopted a “no-hype” policy. Then, one year, for reasons having nothing to do with the game or the community, I decided to hold back a release announcement until the day before the actual release.

Frankly, I thought I was being quite obnoxious with that. But people seemed to find it refreshing back then, so I decided to let it become part of my community ethos, so to speak. Just shut up and let the work speak for itself. I think that approach works well for solo development. Sure, there’s less excitement during the release, but word of mouth spreads and you end up with more sales in the long run than you would have with the alternate approach.

Am I taking this approach with FOF9, then? No. Not at all. I’m silent about development because I’m part of a bigger whole today. OOTP has professional marketing in place and several teams to help with the release process. It’s not my place to speak for them and set this process in motion. And they will set this process in motion once we have a strong idea about when we will release FOF9.

Naturally, that brings up a lot of questions. Where are we in development? Why are we delayed? Why can’t we at least show screen shots? What new features will be in place when the game is released? I can only answer some of these questions, and the rest, as I am part of a team now, will be handled by OOTP in the proper time frame.

Where are we in development? OOTP has provided a nice new framework for the game. I have learned this framework, and ported the AI and FOF8 engine to a new set of structures that will support it long into the future. In doing so, I focused on elements that will make expansion easier – FOF9 may not support that many different-sized leagues, but it will support a few – and new formats will be easier to add. That was a huge issue for me with my solo framework because of decisions I made maybe ten years ago to save disk space. I took the time to evaluate the new design and remove those limitations when designing the port itself. I’ve also added a few new bells and whistles here and there (providing details about that is part of the pre-release process). We have yet to implement some of the key “show-off” screens, like the in-game module and the piece I’ve designed to replace Solevision. We aren’t showing screen shots because that’s more for the build-up process and because the graphics touches come late in development.

Why are we delayed? Andreas recently posted on the OOTP forum that OOTP has a lot on its plate right now. Those OOTP improvements took precedence over the FOF development. And I have to shoulder some blame, too. There’s more I could be doing related to the GUI and just getting elements on to pages. But I’ve had some personal issues to take care of recently, and my wife and I are completing a move to Canton, Ohio (of all places – we’re just six minutes from the HOF now). An older home that needs some TLC, and we just moved to Ohio.

The positive side is that the delay means I’ve been able to get more, what should we call it… FOF10 function… into FOF9 than we had originally planned. More league formats, more new ideas on how to implement functions, little AI things. FOF9 was originally going to be FOF8 with a new coat of paint. We’re already beyond that.

For me, and for the good people at OOTP, this is a calling rather than just a job. We’re in it for the right reasons. If anything changes with development or we commit to a release schedule, we’ll tell everyone right away. Until then, it’s probably best to keep relatively quiet. When it’s time to set this in motion, there will be plenty of time for a proper marketing plan and we’ll be available to answer as many questions as we can.

Thanks for your patience.