Commish's Dev Blog #5: Progress Report

by Cameron Irvine

Remember as a kid when you'd get those report cards. Most of us underachievers always dreaded taking them home to whoever cared most about you only for them to worry endlessly about your degrading potential. Well, those report cards never really leave us as adults either. They can, but then you'd just be stunting your growth. 

Eight weeks into our first season of a new progression system, a new game engine, new rosters and a re-shaped vision, here are some progress reports that will validate some truths, debunk some conspiracy theories and showcase some challenges we've beaten.

PLAYER PROGRESSION

The number one goal for the SFL was to diversify its player builds and make each player's strength matter more. Below you'll see how diversity is working in some areas and how they compare to the last season of the old progression system.

SPEED




Season 20 on the left, Season 21 on the right. Look at the variety. In Season 20, nearly 200 players had the same speed. Now, top-end speed is more valuable. Stephen Hacker is the only player that sports a 96 speed, while more players have 93 than 94 and more players have 94 than 95 - as a player who specializes in speed, you know actually can.

PASS RUSH












Season 20 on the left, Season 21 on the right. Every top pass rusher a defensive end, every top pass rusher the same rating. Now this season - an outside linebacker, groomed to be an edge rusher. Tony Roberto, the highest linebacker pass rusher last season at 85, now able to become elite in a different way. Defensive tackles, outside linebackers involved.

QB LEADERSHIP

A brand new attribute for quarterbacks, look at the decision-making by players. Five players have progressed leadership to the max every week they've been able to, while six players have elected not to progress it at all in favor of other choices, with a wide variety of decision making in between. This is what we want to see: diversified builds, tough choices and the inability to have it all, so what you have matters more than it ever did before.

While some attributes will take longer to separate and break up from the old pack, we're moving in a positive direction just two months in. Players who have a full off-season of saving coming up this fall will be able to separate themselves in ways they weren't able to during the adding season.

 RUNNING GAME

It's not about broken tackles, it's not about appearance of dominance in one game, in a singular moment. It's about a complete body of work. That's what we study here at the SFL.

Above is a chart of weekly yards per carry across the entire league in comparison with professional football and your suspicions are correct: The SFL averages a higher yards per carry than the NFL. But exactly how high and how does it compare to other SFL seasons?

With only two weeks of data in, the NFL two weeks in to its current season is averaging 4.1 yards per carry. Last season, the NFL averaged 4.5 yards per carry.

This season, the SFL is averaging 4.85 yards per carry. Last week (not pictured in image), the SFL averaged a season-low 4.39 yards per carry - below the NFL average and has had three straight weeks averaging sub five yards per carry.

Here's the SFL's yards per carry over the last few years:

S21 (8 weeks in): 4.89

S20: 4.24

S19: 4.73

S18: 4.58

S17: 3.48

S16: 4.24

S15: 4.65 (last season with 2000 yd rusher)

It is indeed the strength of our league right now, in no small part due to the extreme salaries that were given to running backs in the off-season while defenses got slashed, plus the additions of a rookie class that had been waiting years for coach's ability to diversify their offense and get more than one running back involved.

Is it higher than average - absolutely. Is it so supercharged that your simulation experience is ruined? No, that's just recency bias. The next time you see a person complain about not being able to tackle someone, point them to this article. It may not stop, but at least you can have peace of mind that it's (mostly) all in their head.

We're also learning about how matchups can effect any given gameplan. While playbook can have an effect, matchups have an effect too and if you've got a great back, great blocking, a great o-line and your opponent is woefully unprepared with a light box or a lack of talent up front, you'll see more running - because that's just smart football. We're seeing more teams with this mismatch than the mismatch in the passing game with defensive backs highly developed against the pass going up against a more youthful receiving core - only four active players have an overall rating below 70 compared to 20 different WR/TE under that same metric.

UPDATES ON MOD, TEXTURES

  • Over the last few weeks, the league has updated over 100 crowd cutscene textures to replace NFL gear and fandom with SFL team marks. The league is about 80% complete through this product, having to go in and fix things teams did not voluntarily fix on their own.
  • We've recently eliminated the NFL stadium names and cities that were appearing incorrectly at the start and at halftime of broadcast presentation.
  • Once all fan textures are updated, the league will be going through and cleaning up the previously released zall folder to eliminate textures edited by teams that were shared by other teams - causing some teams to be wearing other team gear in the default mod - and adjusting some logos out of place for some teams in the presentation. That update will be available on our website as soon as it is completed.¬†