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Improving Completion Percentage: A historical analysis and what that means for Tim Tebow

Hello folks, hope everyone is having a restful Broncos offseason. In all the talk about how much Tim Tebow needs to improve next year, one of the questions that isn't being asked is what exactly does this improvement mean? Everyone has varying opinions on what is most important for him to work on and I feel like with a lot of it, we mostly agree. What I want to examine here is an improvement in Tim Tebow's completion percentage. Quite simply, an increase in percentage equals an increase of yards and therefore an increase in favorable field position and scoring opportunities. We all know an increase is necessary and beneficial to both Tim and our team, but just exactly how much of an improvement should we expect, and what would that equate to numbers wise?

I wanted to attack this and get a better idea of these numbers by looking at any starting QB that has seen significant starting time since the year 2000. Specifically, I looked at the completion percentages of these quarterbacks from their first starting year to their second starting year. In other words, how much did they improve or digress in this specific category from year 1 to year 2 as a starter. Why do this? Well for all intents and purposes, Tim is going from a years worth of starts to his second full year. My only parameter was that each QB had to have at least 5 starts from year one to year two. Follow me after the jump and let's take a look at the results.



I've included completion and attempt numbers as well as the percentage for each year. Pay particular attention to the final column which scores the increase/decrease in completion percentage for each quarterback from year 1 to year 2:

QB COMP 1 ATT 1 % 1 COMP 2 ATT 2 %2 DIFFERENCE
M. Bulger 138 214 63.5 336 532 63.2 -0.3%
M. Schaub 192 289 66.4 251 380 66.1 -0.3%
R. Grossman 262 480 54.6 122 225 54.2 -0.4%
T. Romo 220 337 65.3 335 520 64.4 -0.9%
P. Rivers 284 460 61.7 277 460 60.2 -1.5%
T. Brady 264 413 63.9 373 601 62.1 -1.8%
M. Ryan 265 434 61.1 263 451 58.3 -2.8%
K. Kolb 115 189 60.8 146 253 57.7 -3.1%
D. Brees 320 526 60.8 205 356 57.6 -3.2%
M. Leinart 214 377 56.8 60 112 53.6 -3.2%
R. Fitzpatrick 221 372 59.4 127 227 55.9 -3.5%
C. McCoy 135 222 60.8 265 463 57.2 -3.6%
Roethlisberger 196 295 66.4 168 268 62.7 -3.7%
J. Russell 198 368 53.8 120 246 48.8 -5.0%
C. Pennington 275 399 68.9 189 297 63.6 -5.3%
D. Anderson 298 527 56.5 142 283 50.2 -5.3%
M. Moore 85 138 61.6 79 143 55.2 -5.4%
S. Bradford 354 590 60.0 191 357 53.5 -6.5%
M. Cassel 327 516 63.4 271 493 55.0 -8.4%
P. Losman 113 228 49.6 268 429 62.5 +12.9%
V. Young 184 357 51.5 238 382 62.3 +10.8%
M. Stafford 201 377 53.3 421 663 63.5 +10.2%
M. Hasselbeck 176 321 54.8 267 419 63.7 +8.9%
J. Elway 123 259 47.5 214 380 56.3 +8.8%
A. Smith 84 165 50.9 257 442 58.1 +7.2%
C. Palmer 263 432 60.9 345 509 67.8 +6.9%
K. Orton 190 368 51.6 272 465 58.5 +6.9%
J. Campbell 110 207 53.1 250 417 60.0 +6.9%
J. Freeman 158 290 54.5 291 474 61.4 +6.9%
J. Harrington 215 429 50.1 309 554 55.8 +5.7%
P. Manning 326 575 56.7 331 533 62.1 +5.4%
E. Manning 95 197 48.2 294 557 52.8 +4.6%
J. Cutler 81 137 59.1 297 467 63.6 +4.5%
D. Carr 233 444 52.5 167 295 56.6 +4.1%
K. Boller 116 224 51.8 258 464 55.6 +3.8%
B. Leftwich 239 418 57.2 267 441 60.5 +3.3%
J. Flacco 257 428 60.0 315 499 63.1 +3.1%
M. Vick 231 421 54.9 181 321 56.4 +2.5%
B. Quinn 45 89 50.6 136 256 53.1 +2.5%
D. Garrard 98 168 58.3 145 241 60.2 +2.1%
P. Ramsey 117 227 51.5 179 337 53.1 +2.1%
M. Sanchez 196 364 53.8 278 507 54.8 +1.5%
A. Rodgers 341 536 63.6 350 541 64.7 +1.1%
T. Jackson 171 294 58.2 88 149 59.1 +0.9%
C. Henne 274 451 60.8 301 490 61.4 +0.6%

There are a total of 45 quarterbacks, 44 of which have seen significant starting time since 2000. One is a historical comparison, but we'll get to that later. Of these 44 modern day QB's, a total of 19 of them showed some level of digression in completion percentage from year 1 to year 2, and 25 of them showed some level of improvement in completion percentage from year 1 to year 2.

Breaking this down further, of the QB's that digressed, 37% of them had their completion percentage decrease by 3% or less, 37% of them had their completion percentage decrease from 3-5%, and the remaining 26% percent had their completion percentage decrease from 5-8.4%. Because we expect Tebow to improve his completion percentage and not digress, let's move on from these numbers to the QB's that showed a positive improvement.

Of the 25 QB's that improved, 32% of them showed an improvement from 0.5-3%. 24% of them showed an improvement from 3-5%. Interestingly, 48% of the QB's that improved completion percentage from year 1 to year 2 improved from 5-13%.

Last year, Tim Tebow had a completion percentage of 46.5%. The only other QB's on this list that posted a sub 50 percentage in year 1 are Eli Manning and J.P. Losman. Eli Manning increased his percentage by 4.6 percent in year 2 while Losman increased his by 12.9%. Needless to say there's not a lot of data to compare QB's who started off in the 40's in year 1, so let's do this. Let's take each category of improvement and extrapolate Tim Tebow's numbers into projections for year 2. Looking back, Tebow had 261 pass attempts in 11 games, which means that he attempted about 24 passes per game. Not knowing the run/pass breakdown for the future, let's use the round number of 400 pass attempts as our baseline (this equates to 25 pass attempts per game)

Increase % COMP ATT YARDS TD INT
3% 49.5 198 400 2673 18 9
5% 51.5 206 400 2781 19 10
7% 53.5 214 400 2889 19 11
9% 55.5 222 400 2997 20 11

Here's where things get interesting. Remember earlier when I alluded to a historical reference? Well if you weren't too lazy to look through the chart, you realize I was speaking of John Elway. Now for those of you that hate comparisons across eras, tough, go whine somewhere else. For the purposes of this research, I'm only looking at numbers and the reason why I included him was because John Elway had a completion percentage of 47.5 in year 1 and increased by about 9 % to 56.3 in year 2. Why this comparison is interesting is simple: A menial increase for Tim in the 3% range isn't really an improvement, an increase of 5% gets him on the good side of 50%. The reason I think an an increase in percentage of 8-9% for Tebow is attainable is because the numbers would break down like this:

A 9% increase next year would equate to 36 more completions next year. For each game, that would mean an increase of 2.25 completions, which if you think of nothing more than about 2 more completions per game, a 9% increase doesn't seem too daunting a task for Tebow.

There's been a lot of information as well as speculation in this post. If I was asked what an acceptable expectation was for Tim Tebow in order to view his 2nd full season as a starter as a success, it would be an increase in completion percentage from 46.5%-55.5%. Using his averages from last year that means about 3000 yards passing, about 20 TD's and 11 INT's. That is a good start. There's no way of telling if he can consistently break 60%, and for Tim and all the other things he brings to the offense, might not be necessary. Time will tell, we'll all know soon. Until then, this is my story and I'm sticking to it.

This is a Fan-Created Comment on MileHighReport.com. The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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