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Statistical quarterback comparison, part 2: Directional prowess

Following up part 1 that covered throwing distances with this one covering throwing direction for quarterbacks in 2016.

Two things occurred to me after I wrote the first part about quarterbacks and throwing distance. I completely left Joe Flacco out of the the first part - not intentionally (I have a soft spot for him as Joe’s from Delaware). I have added Flacco back into this analysis.

Secondly, I didn’t use the numbers vs the blitz in the first part, but I am going to do that in this part as they are informative. As before all of the numbers are from ESPN.com and there are some inaccuracies in their numbers (credit Mike Renner of PFF for pointing out some of these errors in the ESPN data).

Performance vs the Blitz

QB CMP ATT % Blitzed YDS CMP% AVG TD INT SACK Sack% RAT
Tannehill 56 90 23.1% 934 62.2 10.4 6 1 8 8.2% 114.8
Ryan 84 139 26.0% 1,257 60.4 9.0 12 2 17 10.9% 112.9
Brady 53 88 20.4% 686 60.2 7.8 7 0 2 2.2% 111.3
Stafford 92 142 23.9% 1,102 64.8 7.8 8 0 11 7.2% 107.2
Brees 93 141 21.0% 1,184 66.0 8.4 11 4 6 4.1% 106.2
Prescott 84 133 29.0% 1,069 63.2 8.0 6 0 9 6.3% 103.2
Siemian 68 125 25.7% 1,113 54.4 8.9 9 2 5 3.8% 101.9
Rodgers 90 147 24.1% 1,003 61.2 6.8 11 2 11 7.0% 100.8
Bradford 93 136 24.6% 1,051 68.4 7.7 5 1 12 8.1% 100.5
Rivers 95 149 25.8% 1,333 63.8 9.0 6 2 11 6.9% 100.3
Flacco 101 167 24.9% 1,382 60.5 8.3 9 2 8 4.6% 99.9
Cousins 79 129 21.3% 1,223 61.2 9.5 6 3 9 6.5% 98.4
Carr 82 137 24.5% 989 59.9 7.2 9 2 6 4.2% 97.9
Smith 71 115 23.5% 890 61.7 7.7 6 2 5 4.2% 95.9
Winston 95 159 28.0% 1,182 59.7 7.4 10 3 13 7.6% 95.9
Kaepernick 44 84 25.4% 534 52.4 6.4 8 2 16 16.0% 94.0
Palmer 96 163 27.3% 1,165 58.9 7.2 7 1 13 7.4% 92.7
Mariota 66 124 27.5% 831 53.2 6.7 10 3 7 5.3% 91.2
Goff 31 50 24.4% 380 62.0 7.6 2 1 5 9.1% 90.4
Wilson 85 154 28.2% 1,103 55.2 7.2 9 3 11 6.7% 89.3
Luck 98 167 30.6% 1,313 58.7 7.9 8 5 16 8.7% 87.2
Taylor 68 130 29.8% 885 52.3 6.8 6 1 24 15.6% 86.2
Manning 66 108 18.1% 743 61.1 6.9 5 4 8 6.9% 81.7
Wentz 86 141 23.2% 843 61.0 6.0 4 3 11 7.2% 78.4
Dalton 76 138 24.5% 1,015 55.1 7.4 4 4 19 12.1% 76.2
Keenum 52 92 28.6% 551 56.5 6.0 3 2 6 6.1% 76.0
Newton 90 184 36.1% 1,149 48.9 6.3 7 4 15 7.5% 72.5
Roethlisberger 52 93 18.3% 773 55.9 8.3 1 4 2 2.1% 69.0
Osweiler 67 129 25.3% 624 51.9 4.8 5 4 9 6.5% 65.5
Lynch 8 19 22.9% 117 42.1 6.2 0 0 2 9.5% 62.8
Fitzpatrick 41 78 19.4% 540 52.6 6.9 2 5 6 7.1% 56.6

One of the pieces of data that I had to generate from the ESPN data was the % blitzed (blitzed throws/total passing attempts). It was interesting to see that Eli Manning was the least blitzed QB on a percentage basis (with Ben Roethlisberger close) while Cam Newton was far and away the most blitzed QB. Trevor Siemian did fairly well against the blitz from a TD:INT (rating) standpoint, but his completion % was significantly lower than the rest of the QBs who flourished against the blitz.

Paxton Lynch was one of the worst QBs in the league when blitzed although he was only blitzed 19 times in his limited playing time. The sack% stat was also one that I generated (sacks/ sacks+attempts when blitzed). Note that Big Ben was the hardest guy to sack when blitzed (2.1%) while Tom Brady was close and that Colin Kaepernick and Tyrod Taylor were the most likely to be sacked if you blitzed them.

Directionally, ESPN break the field down into 5 unequal slices. Below is a picture to help visual the sections of the field. The field is 53.33 yards wide (160 feet)

The sideline area is the region from the sideline to the numbers (12 yards wide). The left and right areas are the regions from the numbers to the hashmarks (~11 yards wide). The middle is the region between the hashmarks which is 18 feet 6 inches wide (a little more than 6 yards). Remember for all of this data, Paxton Lynch had a very small sample size.

Overall % of Throws in each Direction by QB

QB LS% L% M% R% RS%
Flacco 16.9% 17.7% 18.9% 22.3% 24.2%
Manning 21.9% 16.6% 17.5% 18.4% 25.6%
Fitzpatrick 22.5% 19.8% 17.2% 16.1% 24.4%
Luck 21.4% 21.4% 17.0% 17.8% 22.4%
Lynch 19.3% 12.0% 16.9% 19.3% 32.5%
Roethlisberger 21.4% 17.5% 16.7% 22.4% 22.0%
Goff 22.7% 17.3% 15.1% 16.8% 28.1%
Brady 26.1% 17.0% 15.0% 16.3% 25.6%
Bortles 28.2% 17.6% 15.0% 15.4% 23.9%
A. Smith 20.6% 16.9% 14.5% 18.7% 29.3%
Rivers 23.9% 18.3% 13.9% 20.0% 23.9%
Wentz 25.7% 17.4% 13.7% 16.3% 27.0%
Ryan 18.3% 24.5% 13.5% 19.9% 23.9%
Cousins 25.9% 12.3% 12.4% 17.9% 31.5%
Osweiler 18.7% 18.7% 12.3% 17.0% 33.2%
Brees 26.6% 20.4% 12.2% 17.0% 23.8%
Carr 26.5% 13.1% 12.0% 17.4% 31.1%
Palmer 27.0% 19.1% 11.8% 17.5% 24.5%
Prescott 26.2% 12.0% 11.8% 20.4% 29.7%
Stafford 26.4% 18.3% 11.6% 15.2% 28.6%
Newton 23.6% 14.0% 11.3% 18.2% 32.8%
Dalton 23.2% 14.4% 11.0% 19.1% 32.3%
Mariota 27.7% 17.7% 10.6% 17.7% 26.2%
Bradford 21.6% 17.1% 10.4% 20.6% 30.3%
Winston 22.7% 17.7% 10.3% 22.6% 26.7%
Tannehill 27.2% 15.9% 10.3% 17.0% 29.6%
Rodgers 30.6% 14.0% 10.0% 15.6% 29.8%
Siemian 31.8% 18.5% 9.4% 14.6% 25.7%
Wilson 32.5% 15.4% 8.9% 15.6% 27.6%
Taylor 30.0% 13.3% 7.3% 12.2% 37.2%
LS% L% M% R% RS%
Average 24.4% 17.0% 13.1% 18.0% 27.4%

Trevor Siemian did not use the middle of the field at all, while Paxton Lynch did quite a bit. Joe Flacco threw to the left sideline about half as often as Russell Wilson and Trevor Siemian. Tyrod Taylor had 67% of this throws going to one sideline or the other. Trevor Siemian had the second highest percentage of left sideline throws in the league.

Throws to the Left Sideline

Name Pass Condition Comp Att Yds COMP% YPA TD INT RATING
Ryan LEFT SIDELINE 51 91 746 56.0 8.2 10 0 119.6
Brees LEFT SIDELINE 121 166 1,409 72.9 8.5 11 3 112.8
Prescott LEFT SIDELINE 75 118 899 63.6 7.6 8 1 105.9
Wilson LEFT SIDELINE 105 167 1,379 62.9 8.3 11 3 103.4
A. Smith LEFT SIDELINE 57 95 583 60.0 6.1 7 0 102.2
Tannehill LEFT SIDELINE 71 106 1,107 67.0 10.4 5 4 101.4
Mariota LEFT SIDELINE 79 125 1,116 63.2 8.9 6 2 101.3
Cousins LEFT SIDELINE 95 148 1,100 64.2 7.4 7 1 99.5
Carr LEFT SIDELINE 96 148 1,122 64.9 7.6 6 1 98.4
Bradford LEFT SIDELINE 78 112 901 69.6 8.1 1 0 96.6
Roethlisberger LEFT SIDELINE 65 109 810 59.6 7.4 7 2 96.5
Stafford LEFT SIDELINE 89 146 1,106 61.0 7.6 8 3 94.1
Siemian LEFT SIDELINE 86 146 1,201 58.9 8.2 7 3 92.9
Rodgers LEFT SIDELINE 103 175 1,140 58.9 6.5 8 1 91.1
Goff LEFT SIDELINE 21 42 303 50.0 7.2 2 0 89.7
Luck LEFT SIDELINE 67 108 808 62.0 7.5 8 6 86.5
Osweiler LEFT SIDELINE 58 88 647 65.9 7.4 2 2 85.7
Brady LEFT SIDELINE 63 104 745 60.6 7.2 3 2 84.0
Winston LEFT SIDELINE 75 121 930 62.0 7.7 8 7 83.7
Dalton LEFT SIDELINE 72 124 866 58.1 7.0 5 3 82.9
Palmer LEFT SIDELINE 88 151 983 58.3 6.5 7 4 82.2
Wentz LEFT SIDELINE 81 145 824 55.9 5.7 4 0 81.5
Rivers LEFT SIDELINE 65 129 776 50.4 6.0 10 5 78.8
Manning LEFT SIDELINE 77 125 739 61.6 5.9 3 3 76.0
Taylor LEFT SIDELINE 75 131 717 57.3 5.5 5 3 75.8
Flacco LEFT SIDELINE 62 105 548 59.0 5.2 2 1 75.4
Newton LEFT SIDELINE 61 113 642 54.0 5.7 3 2 72.2
Bortles LEFT SIDELINE 88 165 942 53.3 5.7 3 4 66.3
Fitzpatrick LEFT SIDELINE 42 84 455 50.0 5.4 3 4 58.4
Lynch LEFT SIDELINE 10 16 91 62.5 5.7 0 1 51.8

Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Trevor Siemain and Blake Bortles all love throwing to the left sideline. In 2016 only Brees and Wilson were very good at it. Siemian's completion % of mediocre but 38% of his passing yards came on throws to the left sideline. His 1201 passing yards here ranked him 3rd in the league behind Russell Wilson and Drew Brees.

Throws to the Left

Name Pass Condition Comp Att Yds COMP% YPA TD INT RATING
Dalton LEFT SIDE 53 77 691 68.8 9.0 6 1 117.4
Rodgers LEFT SIDE 60 80 546 75.0 6.8 7 1 117.0
Prescott LEFT SIDE 45 54 490 83.3 9.1 2 0 116.8
Ryan LEFT SIDE 91 122 1,101 74.6 9.0 7 3 110.7
Mariota LEFT SIDE 52 80 629 65.0 7.9 7 2 107.8
Brady LEFT SIDE 48 68 444 70.6 6.5 4 0 107.7
Stafford LEFT SIDE 76 101 758 75.2 7.5 4 1 105.1
Wilson LEFT SIDE 57 79 734 72.2 9.3 1 0 105.1
Carr LEFT SIDE 51 73 574 69.9 7.9 2 0 102.2
Cousins LEFT SIDE 51 70 681 72.9 9.7 2 2 101.0
Brees LEFT SIDE 93 127 948 73.2 7.5 5 2 100.8
Tannehill LEFT SIDE 43 62 487 69.4 7.9 4 2 100.7
Rivers LEFT SIDE 70 99 849 70.7 8.6 6 4 100.1
Palmer LEFT SIDE 77 107 940 72.0 8.8 4 3 99.4
Taylor LEFT SIDE 39 58 384 67.2 6.6 2 0 97.2
Winston LEFT SIDE 54 94 681 57.4 7.3 7 2 96.1
Lynch LEFT SIDE 7 10 78 70.0 7.8 0 0 92.9
Luck LEFT SIDE 70 108 880 64.8 8.2 2 1 92.4
A. Smith LEFT SIDE 58 78 626 74.4 8.0 3 4 88.9
Siemian LEFT SIDE 58 85 720 68.2 8.5 2 3 87.4
Newton LEFT SIDE 38 67 571 56.7 8.5 3 2 87.3
Flacco LEFT SIDE 80 110 781 72.7 7.1 2 3 87.0
Wentz LEFT SIDE 71 98 713 72.4 7.3 2 3 86.8
Manning LEFT SIDE 63 95 593 66.3 6.2 4 3 84.2
Roethlisberger LEFT SIDE 56 89 519 62.9 5.8 4 3 79.7
Bradford LEFT SIDE 65 89 452 73.0 5.1 1 2 78.5
Fitzpatrick LEFT SIDE 47 74 618 63.5 8.4 1 3 77.4
Osweiler LEFT SIDE 56 88 576 63.6 6.6 3 4 74.8
Bortles LEFT SIDE 61 103 629 59.2 6.1 3 3 74.5
Goff LEFT SIDE 19 32 147 59.4 4.6 1 1 68.1


By completion %, the left side was Siemian's best direction although his completion % was still middle of the pack. Dak Prescott was phenomenal throwing in this area of the field, completing 83.3% of his throws here. At 56.7% Cam Newton's completion % here was worst in the league (among qualifiers).

Throws to the Middle

Name Pass Condition Comp Att Yds COMP% YPA TD INT RATING
Ryan MIDDLE 48 67 690 71.6 10.3 7 1 133.3
Brady MIDDLE 42 60 646 70.0 10.8 3 0 121.9
Brees MIDDLE 49 76 643 64.5 8.5 7 1 116.3
Luck MIDDLE 53 86 635 61.6 7.4 6 0 107.5
Dalton MIDDLE 42 59 496 71.2 8.4 4 2 104.9
Mariota MIDDLE 32 48 390 66.7 8.1 3 1 103.6
Taylor MIDDLE 25 32 279 78.1 8.7 0 0 103.0
Cousins MIDDLE 53 71 737 74.6 10.4 4 4 102.8
Winston MIDDLE 40 55 452 72.7 8.2 2 1 101.5
Flacco MIDDLE 80 118 1,007 67.8 8.5 6 3 100.5
Carr MIDDLE 45 67 579 67.2 8.6 5 3 100.3
Newton MIDDLE 32 54 463 59.3 8.6 3 1 98.0
Bradford MIDDLE 43 54 404 79.6 7.5 0 0 97.8
Roethlisberger MIDDLE 53 85 541 62.4 6.4 6 2 94.3
Bortles MIDDLE 55 88 604 62.5 6.9 8 4 94.1
Lynch MIDDLE 10 14 109 71.4 7.8 0 0 94.0
Stafford MIDDLE 45 64 508 70.3 7.9 0 0 93.8
Fitzpatrick MIDDLE 39 64 541 60.9 8.5 1 0 93.3
Rivers MIDDLE 49 75 660 65.3 8.8 4 4 88.8
Manning MIDDLE 65 100 723 65.0 7.2 5 4 86.4
Wilson MIDDLE 30 46 343 65.2 7.5 2 2 83.9
A. Smith MIDDLE 45 67 458 67.2 6.8 0 1 80.3
Prescott MIDDLE 36 53 347 67.9 6.6 0 1 78.1
Tannehill MIDDLE 28 40 252 70.0 6.3 0 1 76.3
Siemian MIDDLE 24 43 305 55.8 7.1 1 1 76.2
Palmer MIDDLE 37 66 319 56.1 4.8 3 2 71.5
Rodgers MIDDLE 33 57 430 57.9 7.5 0 2 67.1
Goff MIDDLE 19 28 154 67.9 5.5 0 1 66.7
Osweiler MIDDLE 30 58 243 51.7 4.2 2 2 59.8
Wentz MIDDLE 47 77 495 61.0 6.4 1 6 51.6

Siemian didn't throw here very often and for good reason, he wasn't very successful when he did. His 55.8% completion % was 2nd worst - only Brock Osweiler was worse at 51.7%. Interestingly, many of the QBs who were who NFL starters for the first time (Prescott, Siemian, Oz, Carson Wentz and Jared Goff) struggled with middle of the field throws. The only long-term veteran starters who show up on the very bottom of this list are Carson Palmer and Aaron Rodgers.

Throws to the Right

Name Pass Condition Comp Att Yds COMP% YPA TD INT RATING
Brady RIGHT SIDE 46 65 597 70.8 9.2 6 0 130.1
Luck RIGHT SIDE 64 90 834 71.1 9.3 8 0 129.6
Cousins RIGHT SIDE 79 102 997 77.5 9.8 6 1 122.9
Ryan RIGHT SIDE 74 99 929 74.7 9.4 7 2 118.6
Bradford RIGHT SIDE 82 107 855 76.6 8.0 6 0 117.9
Mariota RIGHT SIDE 57 80 598 71.3 7.5 7 1 116.6
Rodgers RIGHT SIDE 61 89 650 68.5 7.3 9 2 114.0
Palmer RIGHT SIDE 67 98 945 68.4 9.6 5 1 112.0
Taylor RIGHT SIDE 39 53 364 73.6 6.9 3 0 110.9
Dalton RIGHT SIDE 79 102 976 77.5 9.6 0 1 102.4
Manning RIGHT SIDE 75 105 829 71.4 7.9 5 2 102.4
Brees RIGHT SIDE 78 106 852 73.6 8.0 6 4 100.0
Lynch RIGHT SIDE 10 16 96 62.5 6.0 1 0 100.0
Flacco RIGHT SIDE 100 139 989 71.9 7.1 6 3 97.1
Prescott RIGHT SIDE 61 92 814 66.3 8.9 3 2 96.0
Stafford RIGHT SIDE 58 84 569 69.0 6.8 3 1 94.8
Roethlisberger RIGHT SIDE 80 114 884 70.2 7.8 3 2 94.3
Wentz RIGHT SIDE 66 92 580 71.7 6.3 4 2 93.6
Newton RIGHT SIDE 46 87 698 52.9 8.0 6 2 93.0
Rivers RIGHT SIDE 78 108 861 72.2 8.0 4 4 92.4
Winston RIGHT SIDE 80 120 980 66.7 8.2 4 3 92.4
Wilson RIGHT SIDE 61 80 735 76.3 9.2 1 4 87.2
A. Smith RIGHT SIDE 61 86 655 70.9 7.6 1 2 87.1
Tannehill RIGHT SIDE 45 66 483 68.2 7.3 2 2 86.9
Siemian RIGHT SIDE 41 67 375 61.2 5.6 2 0 86.3
Bortles RIGHT SIDE 55 90 649 61.1 7.2 3 3 80.3
Carr RIGHT SIDE 61 97 533 62.9 5.5 2 1 80.0
Osweiler RIGHT SIDE 53 80 451 66.3 5.6 2 4 68.3
Goff RIGHT SIDE 19 31 143 61.3 4.6 1 4 43.5
Fitzpatrick RIGHT SIDE 33 60 341 55.0 5.7 2 6 43.1

Lynch had has highest rating when throwing to the right. Siemian had one of the lowest YPA in the league when throwing in this area. It is interesting to note the Siemian had similar numbers to Derek Carr in this area of the field. Brady, Andrew Luck and Kurt Cousins were all deadly in this part of the field. Goff and Ryan Fitzpatrick were horrible when throwing to this part of the field. The 40-something QB ratings here are the only 40-something numbers for any QB in any area of the field this season (among qualifiers).

Throws to the Right Sideline

Name Pass Condition Comp Att Yds COMP% YPA TD INT RATING
Brady RIGHT SIDELINE 67 102 846 65.7 8.3 9 0 120.8
Prescott RIGHT SIDELINE 90 134 1,080 67.2 8.1 10 0 116.5
Rodgers RIGHT SIDELINE 117 170 1,362 68.8 8.0 12 1 113.9
Roethlisberger RIGHT SIDELINE 74 112 1,065 66.1 9.5 9 4 108.7
Ryan RIGHT SIDELINE 82 119 1,147 68.9 9.6 3 1 104.6
Carr RIGHT SIDELINE 103 174 1,119 59.2 6.4 13 1 100.7
Bradford RIGHT SIDELINE 102 157 1,015 65.0 6.5 9 2 97.0
Tannehill RIGHT SIDELINE 74 115 666 64.3 5.8 8 3 92.2
Brees RIGHT SIDELINE 101 148 1,006 68.2 6.8 6 4 89.5
Taylor RIGHT SIDELINE 91 162 1,279 56.2 7.9 7 3 88.5
A. Smith RIGHT SIDELINE 86 135 916 63.7 6.8 2 0 88.4
Rivers RIGHT SIDELINE 65 129 971 50.4 7.5 7 2 87.1
Manning RIGHT SIDELINE 80 146 963 54.8 6.6 9 4 84.4
Stafford RIGHT SIDELINE 94 158 1,039 59.5 6.6 7 4 83.3
Cousins RIGHT SIDELINE 106 180 1,115 58.9 6.2 5 2 81.6
Bortles RIGHT SIDELINE 84 140 780 60.0 5.6 5 2 81.2
Wilson RIGHT SIDELINE 81 142 770 57.0 5.4 5 2 78.1
Luck RIGHT SIDELINE 68 113 762 60.2 6.7 5 5 76.6
Dalton RIGHT SIDELINE 100 173 951 57.8 5.5 2 1 74.6
Winston RIGHT SIDELINE 76 142 845 53.5 6.0 6 4 73.8
Wentz RIGHT SIDELINE 87 152 925 57.2 6.1 3 3 73.5
Palmer RIGHT SIDELINE 75 137 791 54.7 5.8 4 3 72.4
Siemian RIGHT SIDELINE 63 118 594 53.4 5.0 4 2 71.8
Lynch RIGHT SIDELINE 12 27 123 44.4 4.6 1 0 70.5
Osweiler RIGHT SIDELINE 83 156 787 53.2 5.1 5 4 67.4
Flacco RIGHT SIDELINE 82 151 725 54.3 4.8 4 4 65.1
Mariota RIGHT SIDELINE 56 118 693 47.5 5.9 3 3 64.0
Fitzpatrick RIGHT SIDELINE 47 91 545 51.6 6.0 3 4 62.8
Newton RIGHT SIDELINE 75 157 898 47.8 5.7 3 4 61.5
Goff RIGHT SIDELINE 21 52 222 40.4 4.3 1 1 51.9

This was Siemian's worst area of the field by rating despite directing more than one quarter of his throws here. His 5.0 YPA was one of the worst in the league, of course, Lynch was worse with 4.6. I don't know where to place the blame (OL?, coaching?, QB?), but when our QBs combined to go 75/145 (51.7%) for 717 yards, 5 TDs and 2 INTs in this area something is rotten in Den(mark)ver.

Contrast that with some of the numbers for the QBs at the top of the list. Brady, Rodgers, Prescott and Carr combined to throw 44 TDs and 2 INTs in this area. This is where Prescott really separated himself from the other first year starting QBs in the league.