Cam Newton is the NFL’s Most Productive QB

In a recent Slate posting, Brian Burke pointed out that the increase in QB passing yards is really an increase in YAC, or yards after the catch.  Such yards are not really produced by the Quarterback, and should not be credited to the Quarterback.  What happens to the yards produced by each QB if we ignore YAC?

Using the statistics provided by Yahoo Sports, I tabulated each NFL QBs yards produced using the following formula:

QB Yards= Yards Passing – Yards After Catch + Rushing Yards – Yards lost on Sacks – (30 * Turnovers) – (0.245 * Plays on Field)

“True” QB Yards

The formula is essentially the same as the David Berri “QB Score” formula, except I do not credit the QBs for their recievers yards after catch, and I debit the QBs 1/11th the “cost” of each play they are on the field (each play costs 2.7 yards, and I spread the cost over the entire offense).

Based on that “YAC Free” formula, I calculated the number of “QB yards” produced by each QB this season, plus the number of yards produced by the QB per play, and the number of wins the QB has produced for his team (based on the idea that a net yard produced is worth 0.002 wins).  Here are the NFL QB rankings so far:

QB Yards Yds/Play Wins
Newton 757.9 2.31 1.51
Brady 747.2 2.18 1.49
Rodgers 715.3 2.25 1.43
Vick 691.3 2.29 1.38
Brees 601.8 1.65 1.19
Hasselbeck 508.2 1.69 1.01
Stafford 453.1 1.44 0.89
Manning 431.1 1.39 0.86
Campbell 436.8 1.39 0.87
Schaub 401.9 1.19 0.79
Henne 381.3 1.46 0.76
Fitz 378.5 1.19 0.76
Freeman 355.1 1.11 0.71
Roethlis 352.1 1.09 0.71
McCoy 334.4 1.19 0.67
Smith 319.2 1.11 0.64
Ryan 309.1 0.95 0.62
McNabb 306.4 1.05 0.61
Dalton 296.6 0.94 0.59
Romo 286.7 1.12 0.57
Sanchez 281.7 0.93 0.56
Cutler 242.9 0.82 0.48
Kolb 236.1 0.81 0.47
Rivers 240.1 0.68 0.48
Jackson 233.2 0.76 0.46
Bradford 222.5 0.84 0.44
Painter 214.7 1.87 0.53
Grossman 195.8 0.71 0.39
Flacco 194.8 0.74 0.39
Orton 139.4 0.49 0.28

Newton is NFL’s most productive

If you exclude YAC, and penalize for turnovers, Cam Newton is the NFL’s most prolific quarterback so far, even on a per play basis.  He has been simply outstanding.  Based on Yards per Play, the next two most productive would be Michael Vick of the Eagles (2.29 yards per play), and Aaron Rodgers of the Packers (2.25 yards per play).  If you add Tom Brady to the mix (2.18 yards per play), you have the entire lot of NFL QBs who produce over 2 yards per play.  Those are the NFL’s elite QBs.

Some other observations based on the rankings:

1. Kolb a mistake

Arizona fans are asking why the Cardinals gave up so much to get Kolb when Matt Hasselbeck could have been signed as a free agent. They are right to gripe.  Kolb is producing only 0.81 yards per play, whereas Hasselbeck is having an outstanding season in Tennessee, producing nearly 1.69 yards per play.

2. Orton deserves the bench

Whether Tebow Mania caused it or not, Denver’s Kyle Orton deserved to be benched.  He is the least productive QB in the NFL, averaging only 0.49 yards produced per play.  Yet the Denver brass insisted on starting him, and insisted he gave them the best chance to win. 

They were dreaming about gorgonzola when it was clearly Tebow Time Baby!  Step in to my office, Orton, cause you’re f**kin fired!

3. Henne not that bad

Miami wants to run Chad Henne out of town.  He has not been that bad.  On a per play basis, he has produced a respectable 1.46 yards.  That is above the median.  Orton, the guy Dolphins fans wanted, sucks.

4. Grossman and Cutler both bad, Campbell good

Neither Rex Grossman, the ex-Bears QB, nor Jay Cutler, the current Bears QB, is producing many yards at all.  Grossman, playing on a successful Redskins team, is near the bottom of the NFL in yards per play at 0.71 yards per play.  Cutler is not much better, averaging 0.82 yards per play.  Meanwhile, former Redskin QB Jason Campbell is having a breakout season playing for the “Raid-uhs”, averaging 1.39 yards per play.

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