Benny Friedman NPR, and a word on statistical completeness

Re: Benny Friedman NPR, and a word on statistical completene

Postby Bob Gill » Wed Nov 24, 2021 11:30 am

JameisLoseston wrote:Ha, Lewellen actually had a higher PR in 29 than Dunn, in one of the latter's worst years. Both were about league average... wait, hold up. How did this particular team manage to hand Benny Friedman at the absolute height of his powers his only loss of the season, thereby directly denying him a championship?! I swear "any given Sunday" is a fundamental law of the universe that began with the Big Bang.

I would assume Lambeau was calling the plays, would that not be accurate? Either way, Lewellen's unnecessarily high passing frequency certainly falls on playcalling ...


I don't think it was possible at all for Lambeau to call the plays, because he wasn't playing by 1929 and there was no way to call plays unless you were in the game. I'd presume it was Dunn, since he was the longest-tenured Packer back at the time and was also called the quarterback.

As for how the Packers could beat the Giants, the game in 1929 (and after that, too) wasn't nearly as quarterback-driven as it has been for the last 60 or 70 years. The Packers had a better team than the Giants, with "inner circle" Hall of Famers Mike Michalske and Cal Hubbard in the line -- plus Dilweg, who should have been in years ago -- and a backfield of Blood, Lewellen, Dunn and Bo Molenda. I think all of those seven guys were better than almost anybody on the Giants aside from Friedman.
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Re: Benny Friedman NPR, and a word on statistical completene

Postby TanksAndSpartans » Wed Nov 24, 2021 1:10 pm

Bob makes a good point - '29 Packers look really good on paper and it held up on the field. They went 12-0-1 having added Hubbard, Michaleske, and Blood that year, not a bad offseason. They only allowed 3 TDs. Not only was the defense excellent, but they also had Verne Lewellen punting to keep the opponents in poor field position.

On 11-24-29, the teams met: (Polo Grounds): Packers (9-0) 20 Giants (8-0-1) 6

Here is the box score (Dunn must have been hurt):

29-Pack-Giants-Box.png
29-Pack-Giants-Box.png (117.59 KiB) Viewed 1402 times
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Re: Benny Friedman NPR, and a word on statistical completene

Postby JeffreyMiller » Wed Nov 24, 2021 1:12 pm

You cant make out the players on the film. Cantvreally tell who is playing in what position in the Green Bay backfield with all the shifting and no numbers on their jerseys
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Re: Benny Friedman NPR, and a word on statistical completene

Postby TanksAndSpartans » Wed Nov 24, 2021 1:16 pm

@JeffreyMiller, if that's the one I saw, I think it mostly shows the Giants on offense, right?
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Re: Benny Friedman NPR, and a word on statistical completene

Postby JeffreyMiller » Wed Nov 24, 2021 1:27 pm

No, there is good footage of both
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Re: Benny Friedman NPR, and a word on statistical completene

Postby TanksAndSpartans » Wed Nov 24, 2021 1:39 pm

JeffreyMiller wrote:No, there is good footage of both


Thanks - I must be thinking of a different one. I remember I saw one once that was mostly Friedman taking the snap and running.
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Re: Benny Friedman NPR, and a word on statistical completene

Postby Bob Gill » Wed Nov 24, 2021 3:29 pm

JeffreyMiller wrote:You cant make out the players on the film. Cantvreally tell who is playing in what position in the Green Bay backfield with all the shifting and no numbers on their jerseys


I remember seeing that film a couple of years ago after somebody posted a link here. Does anybody still have that link? I'd like to watch it again, now that the game is back in the discussion.
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Re: Benny Friedman NPR, and a word on statistical completene

Postby JeffreyMiller » Wed Nov 24, 2021 5:07 pm

Bob Gill wrote:I remember seeing that film a couple of years ago after somebody posted a link here. Does anybody still have that link? I'd like to watch it again, now that the game is back in the discussion.


Not sure about a link. I have the film.
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Re: Benny Friedman NPR, and a word on statistical completene

Postby JameisLoseston » Wed Nov 24, 2021 5:55 pm

The Packers had a better team than the Giants, with "inner circle" Hall of Famers Mike Michalske and Cal Hubbard in the line -- plus Dilweg, who should have been in years ago -- and a backfield of Blood, Lewellen, Dunn and Bo Molenda. I think all of those seven guys were better than almost anybody on the Giants aside from Friedman.


Yeah, that's an unbelievable team. Guess it is another bellwether of how powerful Friedman was, that he won so much with teams full of JAGs and it took 5-6 actual or deserving Hall of Famers to stop him.

About that Giants game - interesting that they won with Dunn out, definitely corroborate the notion that the QB didn't carry the team. McCrary, the backup, only had 8 recorded attempts that game, but he wasn't bad and led the team in passer rating that year. He was a rookie, and ended up being a solid player, but that was the only time in his career he would start at QB. Also, LOL at "Michaleskie"... and is that a "Lewallen" I see?!

In light of the directions this discussion has taken, I'm going to incorporate more than just the Friedman work in my final project; I'll include the same NPR calculations, and additional discussion of their meaning, for other early QBs we've mentioned like Dunn and Herber. I think Rupert's benchmark of 1500 attempts is sufficient for most of NFL history, but he should have set it lower for the earlier eras, because he doesn't really attempt to cover the first 20 years as a result of it. That's what this article's going to do, on the whole. I've ordered my Neft Football Encyclopedia 1994 edition hardcover (for just $7!), and will probably start writing when I've extracted what I need from it.
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Re: Benny Friedman NPR, and a word on statistical completene

Postby rhickok1109 » Thu Nov 25, 2021 12:20 pm

Bob Gill wrote:
JameisLoseston wrote:Ha, Lewellen actually had a higher PR in 29 than Dunn, in one of the latter's worst years. Both were about league average... wait, hold up. How did this particular team manage to hand Benny Friedman at the absolute height of his powers his only loss of the season, thereby directly denying him a championship?! I swear "any given Sunday" is a fundamental law of the universe that began with the Big Bang.

I would assume Lambeau was calling the plays, would that not be accurate? Either way, Lewellen's unnecessarily high passing frequency certainly falls on playcalling ...


I don't think it was possible at all for Lambeau to call the plays, because he wasn't playing by 1929 and there was no way to call plays unless you were in the game. I'd presume it was Dunn, since he was the longest-tenured Packer back at the time and was also called the quarterback.

As for how the Packers could beat the Giants, the game in 1929 (and after that, too) wasn't nearly as quarterback-driven as it has been for the last 60 or 70 years. The Packers had a better team than the Giants, with "inner circle" Hall of Famers Mike Michalske and Cal Hubbard in the line -- plus Dilweg, who should have been in years ago -- and a backfield of Blood, Lewellen, Dunn and Bo Molenda. I think all of those seven guys were better than almost anybody on the Giants aside from Friedman.

Johnny Blood called the plays when he was in the game. If Blood wasn't in the game, Dunn (or whoever else was playing quarterback, did the playcalling.

Here are several paragraphs from my Johnny Blood book that explaIn how the Packer offense worked in those days:

Packer backs were expected to be versatile in those years, because the team used the Notre Dame shift that Lambeau had learned in his one season of playing for Rockne. Designed by Jess Harper, Rockne’s coach, and refined by Rockne after he replaced Harper in 1918, the shift started with the backs lined up in the T formation behind a balanced line.
Occasionally, a play would be run directly from the T, but usually the backs shifted into any of several forma¬tions. Sometimes they would shift two or even three times before running the play. In the single wing, with its unbalanced line, the strength of the formation was on the side where both guards were positioned. In the Notre Dame shift, the final posi¬tion of the backs determined the strength of the formation.
Rockne called his three basic formations the square, the Z, and the V. The most commonly used was the square, which became better known as the Notre Dame box. It was similar to the single wing except for the balanced line and the fact that the “wingback” was actually a slotback, lined up between the tackle and the end, rather than outside the end. To give the wingback a path down the field, the end on that side was usually split out somewhat—”flexed,” in Rockne’s terminology.
Another important difference was that, because of the balanced line, the quarterback was stationed much closer to the center, so he could take a direct snap—not a hand to hand snap, as in the modern T, but a short pass of about a yard and a half. In one series of plays, the quarterback could hand off to any of the other backs. Or he could fake a handoff or two and fade back to pass.
And, because the quarterback didn’t have to throw on the run, as the single wing tailback usually did, the formation could set up strong to either side without losing the passing threat.
The positions in which the backs lined up could, and often did, change from one play to the next. Since the fullback was usually the power runner, he might line up at quarterback and then shift into the blocking back position, either to take a snap and plunge directly into the line or to lead one of the deep backs on a running play. The quarterback was usually the best passer on the team, so he might end up as the tailback in a passing situation.
Harper and Rockne designed the system to confuse defenses and to make use of the special skills of the backs. But it also called for a variety of skills. A back might be a passer in one set, a runner in another, a blocker in another, and a pass receiver in another, on four consecutive plays. With the Notre Dame shift, there might be three or four double-threats and two or even three triple threat backs.
The versatility required by the system is shown by the Packers’ statis¬tics for the 1929 season. John led the team in rushing with 406 yards. He was also third in passing with 16 com¬pletions in 30 attempts for 271 yards; second in receiving; second to Lewellen in punting; second to Dilweg in intercep-tions; and second to McCrary in punt returns. Eleven Packer backs carried the ball at least once, ten of them attempted passes, seven of them caught passes, four of them punted, six of them attempted extra points or field goals, and eight of them returned punts that season.
The only real constant was the man who called the plays, usually the quarterback. During the Packers’ three straight champion¬ship seasons, Johnny Blood, although he played right halfback, was the signal caller whenever he was in the game. Curly Lambeau once said, “I never fig¬ured out how somebody who seemed so erratic could call plays the way he did. But he did it like a master.”
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