Posts Tagged ‘Eli Manning’

Were the NFL’s record passing yards mostly due to poor tackling?

February 13, 2012

Much was made about the NFL’s “record” passing season in 2011.  Indeed, there were a number of QBs who threw for over 5,000 a pretty remarkable feat.

However, when I compared the 2011 and 2010 performances using the advanced statistics I use on this blog the relevant overall numbers put up by QBs who took at least 300 snaps in each of the two seasons were nearly identical, which suggests the record number of yards were most likely: produced by the upgrade in passers, or produced by “Yards after the Catch” which would indicate poor tackling.

Before I show the chart, here is a primer on the two main “advanced” QB statistics I use:

Forward Yards per Snap: This statistic is inspired by Brian Burke’s “Air Yards” stat.  “Forward Yards per Snap” is an attempt to calculate the number of forward yards each Quarterback produced for his team with his arm or feet for every snap he took.  The statistic discounts the number of yards produced by his receivers, and also discounts the negative yards produced by each turnover (minus 30 yards per) and each sack (minus the yards lost).  Here is the formula:

FwdYds/Snap= Rushing Yards + Passing Yards – Receiver Yards after Catch – 30xturnovers – Sack Yards Lost / Snaps taken by the Quarterback

Quarterback Efficiency Rating (“QBER”): This statistic is inspired by David Berri’s QB Score and my own observation that sacks and incomplete passes tend to be drive killers (along with penalties) and that the QBs who produce more yards per “dead play” tend to be most successful (or so it seemed to me after watching endless hours of football).  So, QBER is, simply, the number of forward yards each QB produces (including receiver yards and QB rushing yards) for every “dead” play he produces.  Once again, QB yards are discounted for turnovers (30 yards) and yards lost on sacks.   QBER Formula:

QBER= Passing Yards + QB Rushing Yards – 30xQBturnovers – Yardslostonsacks / Incompletions + Sacks

The Chart for QBs who played in 2011 and 2010

So, with that introduction, here is the chart of QBs who took at least 300 snaps in both 2011 (those are the first set of numbers, and they are in order of best Fyds/Snap average) and 2010.

Rodgers 988 2308 2.33 23.89 880 1849 2.09 19.21
Vick 787 1834 2.33 16.71 723 1823 2.52 18.58
Brees 1117 2420 2.16 23.26 1063 1603 1.51 15.79
E Manning 1028 1974 1.92 16.08 1035 1410 1.36 14.14
Brady 1082 2047 1.89 19.63 973 1758 1.81 18.68
Ryan 1022 1871 1.83 14.85 1088 1876 1.72 13.96
Romo 925 1656 1.79 17.04 383 489 1.27 19.33
Palmer 635 1003 1.58 14.68 1038 1408 1.35 12.51
Schaub 648 1020 1.57 16.77 1029 1586 1.54 15.44
Rivers 1048 1552 1.48 15.89 1036 1653 1.59 18.13
Cutler 645 957 1.48 12.35 867 998 1.15 11.18
Roethlisberger 954 1378 1.44 14.44 806 1527 1.89 16.11
A Smith 993 1368 1.38 13.82 646 584 0.91 11.84
McCoy 850 1192 1.39 10.35 430 590 1.37 11.91
Young 207 275 1.33 11.44 317 694 2.19 15.39
McNabb 308 409 1.32 11.69 785 1121 1.43 11.86
Hasselbeck 876 1104 1.26 13.85 1153 908 0.78 10.75
Freeman 918 1115 1.21 12.19 903 1746 1.93 15.87
Orton 580 681 1.17 11.95 891 1479 1.66 13.04
Flacco 1036 1193 1.15 11.32 1016 1321 1.29 13.42
Fitzpatrick 992 1141 1.15 13.23 811 1178 1.45 11.87
Kolb 587 529 1.11 10.73 342 278 0.81 9.59
Cassell 574 563 0.98 10.39 1010 1222 1.21 13.17
Bradford 658 594 0.89 7.68 1053 888 0.84 10.45
Sanchez 1030 856 0.83 9.32 1045 1424 1.36 10.96
TOTALS 19458 30184 1.4788 14.142 20278 29989 1.4812 14.1272

Numbers nearly identical for both seasons

The source for the calculations was Yahoo Sports.

As you can see, for quarterbacks who took the qualifying number of snaps in each season, FYds/Snap and QBER remained nearly identical overall.  In each season, qualifying QBs produced about 1.48 forward yards per snap, and a QBER of about 14.13 or 14.14, somewhere in that range.

Those are remarkably consistent results.  However, within those results, there is some fluctuation.  For instance, only 29% of the number of FYds/Snap gained by each quarterback in 2011 is explained by his 2010 average (corr=0.54).  When we move to QBER, the explanatory value improves somewhat (corr=.72).  Thus, a little over half of the QBs QBER average is explained by his QBER in 2010.

Some interesting observations within the numbers:

1. Donovan McNabb was deemed “washed up” when he actually outperformed Matt Hasselbeck in Fyds/Snap.  Hasselbeck, however, had the better QBER.

2. The only two QBs who produced over 2.00 forward yards per snap in each season were Aaron Rodgers of the Packers and Michael Vick of the Eagles.

3. The Jets Mark Sanchez’s Fyds/Snap went way down, but his QBER didn’t decline that badly.  This suggests he really missed WR Braylon Edwards, and was forced to dump the ball off to backs a lot more.

4. Sam Bradford flat out sucks.  He has done nothing… nothing… to justify being considered the QB of the future in St Louis.  If the Rams pass on the Quarterback from Baylor, Robert Griffin III, they are fools.  But apparently new Rams coach Jeff Fisher “loves” Bradford.  Fisher is a bad quarterback evaluator.

5. The only QBs who were above the qualifying average in both seasons and in both QBER and FwdYds/Snap were: Aaron Rodgers, Michael Vick, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Matt Schaub, Phillip Rivers, and Ben Roethlisberger.  The last two — especially Rivers — surprised me.  But, those, I would submit, are your “elite” Quarterbacks in the NFL.  You notice Eli is not on the list.  He almost made it, but his Fyds/Snap was just under average in 2010, otherwise he would have made it.


Grading the Recent “Elite” QBs, or why Tom Brady IS slightly overrated

February 7, 2012

Generally, when the media takes to agreeing on a topic, I like to disagree.

Recently, and more so in the wake of Super Bowl 46, the media has begun to suggest that Tom Brady is overrated, and perhaps that Eli Manning is an elite level Quarterback.

Based on my two ranking systems for Quarterbacks, Brady is a bit overrated, and Manning is exactly an average QB in the regular season, but he will sometimes rise to elite status in the postseason.  You might call him “situationally elite” (to use the latest en vogue sports buzzword, ie “The Patriots have a good situational defense”).

My two quarterback rating systems are “Forward Yards per Snap” and “Quarterback Efficiency Rating” (“QBER”).

Forward Yards per Snap calculates the number of forward yards each Quarterback produces by crediting him for his rushing yards plus his passing yards minus the yards produced by his receivers after the catch and minus the negative yards produced by turnovers (-30 yards) and sacks (-yards lost).   The NFL average Forward Yard Per Snap for QBs in 2011 was 1.32 yards per snap.

QBER grades the efficiency of each Quarterback by calculating the number of yards he advances the football for every “dead” or “negative” play he produces (dead or negative plays being plays on which there is no gain or there is a loss).  In the case of QBER, receiver yards are included, and turnovers and sacks are penalized in a like manner to Forward Yards per Snap.  In 2011, the average QBER for QBs who took at least 200 snaps was 12.82 yards per dead play.

QBER= Passing Yards + Rushing Yards – Yards lost on Sacks – 30xTurnovers / Incompletions + Sacks
Frwd Yards per Snap = Passing Yards – Receiver Yards after the Catch + Rushing Yards – Yards lost on Sacks – 30xTurnovers / Snaps Taken under Center

Aaron Rodgers the Top Elite:  Both Regular and Postseason Numbers

So I went back using Yahoo Sports and calculated the Forward Yards per Snap and QBERs, regular and postseason, for seven “elite” QBs:  Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Mike Vick, Brett Favre, Eli Manning, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees.  In nearly every category, Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers grades out the best in both the post and regular season, albeit on a smaller sample set than his counterparts.

Here are the numbers, in no particular order:

RODGERS Snaps Frwd Yards FYpS QBER
Career 4864 10024 2.06 17.97
Playoffs 375 820 2.18 18.22
Career (’98) 12524 16477 1.31 13.41
Playoffs (’98) 513 626 1.22 12.12
Career  12752 25204 1.98 17.24
Playoffs 1096 2002 1.82 16.59
Career 9766 15581 1.59 16.84
Playoffs 631 1282 2.03 18.49
Career 8891 13640 1.53 15.89
Playoffs 1055 1359 1.29 13.29
Career 7457 10123 1.36 12.26
Playoffs 616 986 1.59 12.64
Career 5351 10728 2.01 13.95
Playoffs 302 474 1.57 12.87

Rodgers tops in all categories but one

As you can see, Aaron Rodgers leads in every category except for one: Postseason QBER. Drew Brees is the leader in that category, but only by a slight amount.

As you can further see, most of the Quarterbacks performances decline just slightly (about 9%) in the postseason except for three: Brees, Rodgers, and Super Bowl Champion Eli Manning.  In the last three cases, performance actually ROSE in the postseason.

The True Elites: Rodgers, Peyton, and Brees (and maybe Vick)

When you combine both ratings, the ability to produce forward yards, and the ability to be an efficient Quarterback, Aaron Rodgers stands alone.  Not even Peyton Manning can equal his numbers.  Rodgers is both productive (he has now produced three seasons in a row where he averaged +2.0 forward yards per snap — a remarkable accomplishment) and efficient (this season his 23.89 QBER was the best in the NFL).

The very best Forward Yard per Snap season I have yet to calculate was the 2010 season for Michael Vick.  Vick produced an absolutely incredible 3.6 Forward Yards per Snap.  That is almost the equivalent of Wilt Chamberlain’s 50 point per game average.  The problem with Vick is two fold.  He is not very efficient, and his QB style lends itself to injury.  Otherwise, he is the ultimate weapon in the backfield.

Brady slightly overrated, and Favre was too (post 1998, at least)

Brady, on the other hand, really has never been.  The only season where he has averaged +2.0 Forward Yards per Snap was 2007, and most of those yards were produced on deep passes to Randy Moss.  Otherwise, Brady has just been slightly above average in terms of  both efficiency and production.

I threw Brett Favre in there just for fun.  Or rather, because people in Green Bay still tend to overrate him.  As you can see, past 1998 (I have no Yahoo Stats for seasons beyond that) Favre was just okay.  And in 2005, he was unbelievably brutal.  Favre accounted for 36 Packer turnovers BY HIMSELF.  You simply cannot win doing that.

Eli comes to play in the postseason, so do Brees and Rodgers (usually)

As for the Super Bowl MVP, Eli Manning, he was terrific on Sunday, producing 2.41 Forward Yards per Snap, and a QBER of 21.47.  The thing about Eli, though, is that he gets “Favrish” sometimes in the regular season, and puts balls where they should not be.  Then he’s also had some postseason stinkers (those were the years the Gmen were one and done).  But, for some reason, in two of his postseasons, he’s really stepped up his game, and the results have been great for New York.

The other guy who has been fantastic in the postseason has been New Orleans Drew Brees.  In fact, I have no idea how his team lost to Seattle or San Francisco the last two postseasons when in each instance they have had a quarterback who played at such a high level.  Your defense has to be truly crappy to overcome a great quarterbacking exhibition, and that is what Brees produced in the last two Saints postseason losses.

Rodgers, on the other hand, can fairly be blamed for what happened to the Packers in the 2011 postseason.  He was inefficient against the Giants (QBER: 11.17) and the Packers were not built to overcome such things.  However, in every other postseason game he has played in he has been spectacular (+2.0) and so he was due for a stinker, and he had one.  But by my numbers he is still the best in the business, both in the regular season and in the postseason.