Thursday, October 8, 2009

Stafford at the Quarter Mark

Stafford at the Quarter Mark

October 8th, 2009 | by detfan1979 |

Ryan Leaf, and Peyton Manning. Philip Rivers, Eli Manning. Sometimes, especially at the quarterback position, players are linked together by their association in the pre-draft madness. Every strength, weakness, foible, physical stat, mental test — they are all compared against each other as if these are the only two players ever to exist.

There was a comment on last post (also take a moment to read my post-length response) regarding how Stafford is a “nevers was, could have been” after 4 games. Again, while it is too early to judge in total, I thought maybe a look at his performances against what could be considered a reasonable gage might be in order. But what?

The first stats to look at were how much his “big arm” was really being used. When you take YAC (Yards After Catch) out of consideration, then you can get a gage of where the players are catching the ball, and then making plays. Surprisingly, about 81% of Stafford’s completions are within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. (all Stats as per passing stats)
Distance to Catch Completions/Attempts

Behind LOS 24/30

LOS – 10 yards 40/62

11-20 yards 13/32

21-30 yards 1/8

31-40 yards 1/6

40 + yards 0/1

This demonstrates how great CJ is a getting some meaningful YAC, as well as the other WR. However, even more so it shows how Linehan is using the short passing game to take pressure off of Stafford, and help open up the running game. Those shots way down the field aren’t often successful, but they also force teams to defend the deep ball. Overall, this doesn’t look too bad for Stafford. He is hitting a lot of the short passes, but still taking his shots. This is taking what the defense gives, and is a good thing for a QB so young to “get”. If he were in a dink n dunk WCO style where all the passes are pretty much inside the 20 yard range, he would have a 62% instead of about 56.8%. The longer, less often completed throws are what bring down a “gunslinger’s” passing percentage. So while he still needs put some arc/air under the longer touch passes, he is not as inaccurate as a first glance might make it seem. This is something that is very coachable as well, and which I look for him to improve on.

Still, this only shows his progress in the abstract. What we really need is a benchmark. Fortunately, all the gushing stories over Mr. GQ Abs himself got me to thinking: How about a Sanchez/Stafford comparison? They have had one opponent — the Saints — in common. This also happened to be the team that made each QB look like, well, like a rookie. Stafford in game 1, Sanchez in game 4. So with Stafford seemingly flying under the radar while Sanchez and the Jets get all the National Media attention, the result of a short statistical comparison may surprise you:

Player              Comp/Att  %    Att/G Yds Avg Yds/G
Mark Sanchez        63/110  57.3   27.5  744 6.8  186    
Matthew Stafford    79/139  56.8   34.8  894 6.4  223.5   
Player              TD INT 1st 1st%  Lng 20+ 40+ Sack Rating
Mark Sanchez        4   5  39  35.5  46  11  3   9    71.2
Matthew Stafford    3   6  41  29.5  64  16  2   10   65.5

As you can see, they have similar stats, despite the fact that most fans and experts would readily agree that Mark Sanchez plays on a team that has much better talent on both sides of the ball. The Jets also haven’t been playing form behind most games (as you can see from the attempts/game). Factor in fewer long balls due to the Jets WCO style of offense, and Sanchez should have a better accuracy mark. Take from this what you will, but it says to me that the “best” QB of 2008 is still far from decided, no matter who has been annointed thus far. Looking at these stats, they both have a lot to learn and a long way to go.

It will be interesting to watch this debate as the next few seasons roll on. As Lions fans, will we be blessed to see a true Franchise QB mature before our eyes on the field, or will we be cursed once again with thoughts of what might have been? Only time will be able to answer this question.

What are your thoughts on this? Where do you stand??

Rating: 9.4/10 (14 votes cast)
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2 Responses to “Stafford at the Quarter Mark”

  1. By chiefger139 on Oct 9, 2009

    Ive already seen enough and know we finally have a top notch qb, I wanted us so badly to get cutler but now am glad we didnt, I just hope staffords injury is minor and he can get back in there asap. I know he will have bad games, probably many bad games to add to the ones he’s already had but I also know if they stick with him we will soon have that special qb weve missed since the great bobby lane.

    Rating: 2.7/5 (3 votes cast)
  2. By KCLionFan on Oct 9, 2009

    Think of this as a “non-statistical” analysis of Stafford to date:

    Game 1: throw it out; 1st pro game, got waaayy to far behind early to face a balanced D.

    Game 2: Was more of a liability than an asset. Turnovers at key times contributed heavily to Lions loss. A few flashes, but played tentatively and made 2 big rookie mistakes

    Game 3: More of an asset then Liability. Managed the game well, did not make glaring rookie mistakes. Made some strong long throws.

    Game 4. In the 1st half, played like a QB that could’ve carried the team on his shoulders. 3 great, long drives in a hostile environment, and showed some poise under adversity.

    To me, I see a progression here of a talented QB getting a feel for the speed of the game.

    Unlike others, I advocate sitting Stafford for Pitt. Give him 3 weeks to heal, come back for St. Louis, enjoy some success, and build the confidence.

    Rating: 3.0/5 (2 votes cast)

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