FanPost

Studying the Quarterback Position: Part Two

Opening Statement

A few days ago, I began a series on what it takes to be a successful QB in the NFL. One of the methods I suggested to fans was to incorporate the use of statistics.

The goal in this series is to address the most commonly used stats for quarterbacks to find if any of them have a significant correlation to success.

In part one, I measured 37 QBs by their winning percentage when they throw for 300+ yards in a game, between 200 and 299 yards in a game, and finally less than 200 yards in a game. You can view these charts here - http://www.milehighreport.com/2012/5/28/3045793/studying-the-quarterback-position.

As a result from my research, I found there were 3 groups - 15 veterans who through for 300+ in at least 11 games in their career, 7 potential rising stars who have totaled 6-10 such games, and finally 15 young QBs who have 5 or less such games.

With the groups the same and the strategy also the same, I conducted the research for another common statistic used when studying QBs - Yards Per Throw.

This number simply takes the gross number of passing yards by a quarterback and divides it by the number of passes a quarterback has throw. If QB A has thrown for 250 yards and goes 22-35 on all of his throws, he has an average of 7.1

Another way to measure this figure is to subtract yards lost from sacks from the gross passing yards total to get a net passing yards figure. Then you take the times sacked and add it to the passes thrown total to get a total attempts figure.

For example, if QB A throws for 250 gross passing yards and again goes for 22-35 on his throws, but is also sacked 2 times for a loss of 10 yards, he now has this stat line: 240 net passing yards, 22-35, 37 attempts. Now you can measure Yards Per Attempt and not just Yards Per Throw. This comes out to an average of 6.5 Y/A, which is significantly less than 7.1 from the example above.

Since I don't have the time to calculate this number for every game, I will use what is available to every fan without any extra work. The number after yards on NFL.com that says "Avg." or on ESPN that says "Yds/A" refer to the yards per throw figure and not the yards per attempt. Sacks are not included in the average on these sites.

However, this Yards Per Throw statistic is still good enough and worth taking a closer look at in this study. Again, the goal here is to find out if any of these numbers have a significant correlation to success so that everyone can use them in confidence when studying players.

Below are the charts for the three groups mentioned above and on the previous article as well as observations from the chart. The three categories I used to measure the Y/T average were 8.0+, 7.0-7.9 Y/T and less than 7.0 Y/T.

Here are some quick statistics with all three charts data combined:

  • The 37 players in this study recorded a 670-196 record (0.774) when totaling at least 8.0 Y/T.
  • These quarterbacks were 309-208 (0.598) when throwing between 7.0.7.9 Y/T.
  • These quarterbacks were 519-754 (0.408) when throwing less than 7.0 Y/T.
  • 14 QBs (all veterans) have recorded at least 30 8.0+ Y/T averages in their career. The only veteran QB to not reach that mark was Kyle Orton, who only has 17 such games in his career.
  • Kyle Orton is the only veteran to have a sub-.500 winning percentage in games where he throws for over 8.0 Y/T. The 14th ranked passer according to Y/T success is Matt Schaub, who is 22-12 (0.647).
  • 21 of the 26 QBs that have at least 10 8.0+ Y/T games have a winning percentage of at least 70 percent.
  • 18 of the 26 QBs that have at least 10 8.0+ Y/T games have a winning percentage of at least 75 percent.
  • 14 of the 26 QBs that have at least 10 8.0+ Y/T games have a winning percentage of at least 80 percent.
  • Only 7 of the 37 QBs have .500 winning percentage or less when throwing for at least 8.0 Y/T (4 of them are young QBs)
  • 30 out of the 37 QBs have their highest winning percentage when they throw for over 8.0 Y/T. Of the 7 that did not, 5 of the 7 had their highest winning percentage in the middle category (7.0-7.9 Y/T).
  • 23 out of the 37 QBs had an increase in their winning percentage as their yards increased from less than 7.0 Y/T to 7.0-7.9 Y/T to 8.0+ Y/T.
  • 14 of the 16 QBs that have at least 20 8.0+ Y/T games have a winning percentage of at least 70 percent.
  • 13 of the 16 QBs that have at least 20 8.0+ Y/T games have a winning percentage of at least 75 percent.
  • 10 of the 16 QBs that have at least 20 8.0+ Y/T games have a winning percentage of at least 80 percent.

The Veterans


Player W 8.0+ L 8.0+ Perc. W 7.0-7.9 L 7.0-7.9 Perc. W <7.0 L <7.0 Perc.
1 Tom Brady (NE) 53 4 0.930 34 6 0.850 35 26 0.574
2 Jay Cutler (CHI) 21 4 0.840 9 8 0.529 11 26 0.297
3 Peyton Manning (DEN) 67 13 0.838 31 17 0.646 42 34 0.553
4 Donovan McNabb (MIN) 37 8 0.822 19 9 0.679 40 46 0.465
5 Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) 46 10 0.821 19 7 0.731 16 16 0.500
6 Aaron Rodgers (GB) 30 7 0.811 4 6 0.400 7 8 0.467
7 Drew Brees (NO) 47 11 0.810 16 15 0.516 29 35 0.453
8 Tony Romo (DAL) 29 7 0.806 11 8 0.579 7 14 0.333
9 Kerry Collins (IND) 28 7 0.800 17 21 0.447 39 74 0.345
10 Matt Hasselbeck (TEN) 34 9 0.791 16 9 0.640 29 51 0.363
11 Eli Manning (NYG) 25 8 0.758 15 15 0.500 29 27 0.518
12 Philip Rivers (SD) 38 13 0.745 11 5 0.688 14 16 0.467
13 Carson Palmer (OAK) 24 13 0.649 8 13 0.381 18 30 0.375
14 Matt Schaub (HOU) 22 12 0.647 5 11 0.313 6 14 0.300
15 Kyle Orton (DEN) 8 9 0.471 9 2 0.818 17 24 0.415

Observations

  • The fact that Brady has only 4 losses in 57 games when he has an average of at least 8.0 Y/T is pretty incredible.
  • Our favorite QB in the NFL ( Jay Cutler :-) ) is the epitome of efficiency vs. volume. He has the second best winning percentage of the veteran group in the 8.0+ category. His winning percentage drops drastically by .32 percentage points in the 7.0-7.9 category and then another .23 percentage points in the sub-7.0 category. He has the lowest winning percentage in the sub-7.0 category than any other veteran.
  • For the most part, veterans win often when they have a high average. These 15 players are 509-135 (.790) when they average at least 8.0 Y/T compared to 224-152 (0.596) in the 7.0-7.9 Y/T category and finally 339-441 (0.435) in the sub-7.0 Y/T category.
  • The four HOF talents in this group (P. Manning, Brady, Brees and Rodgers) are a combined 197-35 (0.849) when throwing 8.0+ Y/T. The numbers back up what we see on the field. These are great QBs and when they are efficient, they win a lot.
  • Some people do not recognize Ben Roethlisberger for his play-making ability. He ranks 5th on this list in winning percentage and explains the reason why Tomlin allows him to scramble so much. While he does get sacked more because of his tendency to extend the play, he also makes some huge down-the-field passes on broken plays that explain his ability to tie Brees with the 3rd most 8.0+ games. He also has the third highest percentage of 8.0+ games in his career at 49.1. Only Rodgers (59.7) and Rivers (52.6) have a higher percentage .
The Potential Rising Stars

Player W 8.0+ L 8.0+ Perc. W 7.0-7.9 L 7.0-7.9 Perc. W <7.0 L <7.0 Perc.
1 Matt Ryan (ATL) 16 1 0.941 10 4 0.714 16 14 0.533
2 Joe Flacco (BAL) 19 3 0.864 9 1 0.900 16 16 0.500
3 Matt Cassel (KC) 14 3 0.824 5 2 0.714 9 22 0.290
4 Michael Vick (PHI) 21 7 0.750 11 6 0.647 21 28 0.429
5 Matthew Stafford (DET) 7 3 0.700 3 0 1.000 3 13 0.188
6 Jason Campbell (OAK) 8 8 0.500 8 1 0.889 16 29 0.356
7 Chad Henne (MIA) 3 4 0.429 2 3 0.400 9 12 0.429

Observations

  • Even in some of the younger quarterbacks, the trend hold true. 4 of the 7 QBs have a percentage over 0.750 and 5 over 0.700 when averaging 8.0+.
  • 5 of the 7 have a winning percentage of at least 0.700 when they throw between 7.0-7.9 Y/T.
  • It's no coincidence these quarterbacks have a greater percentage of games in the sub-7.0 category and perform very poorly. Only Matt Ryan has a winning percentage over 0.500 in this category.'
  • Chad Henne has been on a bad and dysfunctional team so it explains why he has struggled to win regardless of his performance. The one odd QB here is Jason Campbell. He is mediocre when having a high average, but is almost undefeated (8-1) when averaging 7.0-7.9 Y/T.
  • Matthew Stafford (34.5), Joe Flacco (34.4) and Matt Cassel (30.9) each have averaged 8.0+ over 30 percent of their games. None of the 7 QBs here are over 40 percent for their careers, while 5 of the 15 veterans have recorded over 40 percent games in their career with 8.0+ Y/T.
Young Quarterbacks

Player W 8.0+ L 8.0+ Perc. W 7.0-7.9 L 7.0-7.9 Perc. W <7.0 L <7.0 Perc.
1 Sam Bradford (STL) 1 0 1.000 2 4 0.333 5 13 0.278
2 Mark Sanchez (NYJ) 9 1 0.900 4 6 0.400 13 13 0.500
3 Rex GrossMan (WAS) 8 1 0.889 6 5 0.545 14 13 0.519
4 Tarvaris Jackson (SEA) 8 2 0.800 5 2 0.714 5 16 0.238
5 Alex Smith (SF) 10 3 0.769 6 4 0.600 15 28 0.349
6 Matt Moore (MIA) 6 2 0.750 4 2 0.667 2 10 0.167
7 Kevin Kolb (ARI) 5 2 0.714 0 3 0.000 0 6 0.000
8 Josh Freeman (TB) 7 3 0.700 5 5 0.500 5 15 0.250
9 Ryan Fitzpatrick (BUF) 7 4 0.636 3 2 0.600 10 28 0.263
10 Tim Tebow (NYJ) 3 2 0.600 1 0 1.000 4 4 0.500
11 Andy Dalton (CIN) 3 2 0.600 0 0 0.000 6 5 0.545
12 Christian Ponder (MIN) 1 1 0.500 0 1 0.000 1 6 0.143
13 Cam Newton (CAR) 3 4 0.429 1 3 0.250 2 3 0.400
14 Colt McCoy (CLE) 2 4 0.333 0 1 0.000 4 10 0.286
15 Blaine Gabbert (JAC) 0 1 0.000 0 1 0.000 4 9 0.308

Observations
  • This is where a stat truly gets tested. Is it reliable when rookies, first year-starters and second-year starters are playing quarterback? 8 out of the 15 above have a winning percentage of at least 0.700 when throwing 8.0+.
  • They combined to go 73-32 (0.695) when going 8.0+. They are 37-39 (0.487) when going 7.0-7.9 and are 90-179 (0.335) when going sub-7.0. This group must be efficient for their teams to have a chance at winning consistently.
  • The biggest knock on Sam Bradford is that he struggles to make down-field throws. In 25 career games, he has 1 game where he averaged 8.0+. This also may be due to poor receivers. Regardless, he has not played like the number one overall pick.
  • Most of the quarterbacks have struggled to have a high average in their games at this point in their careers. 4 of the 15 QBs have a percentage of 8.0+ games under 20 percent (a 5th has exactly 20 percent). 2 have less than 10 percent of these games for their career.
  • Kevin Kolb is winless (0-9) when he fails to record an 8.0+ game and 5-2 when he does.
Summary an Conclusion
  • As I noted above, this stat can be improved upon. However, simply taking the average of yards per throw seems to have a very high correlation to success. The goal with this series is to find a stat where all three groups will succeed if they perform at a high level in this area.
  • For veterans that have been in the NFL and have a lot more data, the winning percentage is 0.790 for 8.0+ games. As a whole, the 37 QBs have a winning percentage of 0.774 for 8.0+ games. Again, this stat is purely descriptive at this point, but it is almost as good as turnovers when describing why a team won or lost the game.
  • 2 QBs, Tomy Brady and Matt Ryan have a winning percentage over 0.900 when they have 8.0+ games. This shows the value of not only being able to manage the game efficiently but also the ability to make big plays in the passing game. Their teams are a combined 69-5 (0.932) in 8.0+ games.
After only 2 stats researched to compare and contrast, my overall understanding is still limited because I can't place this statistic in its proper context. While it is not as good as turnovers when describing why a team lost, it is certainly close and has a much higher correlation to success than total passing yards.
The next statistic I will research in the same manner is touchdown-turnover ratio.
As always, Go Broncos!

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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