aDOT-adjusted Yards-Per-Throw

Mike Clay continues his quarterback analysis by adjusting each player's yards-per-aimed-throw marks based on aDOT.

| 4 years ago
Cam Newton

aDOT-adjusted Yards-Per-Throw


I knew it was coming, but within seconds of tweeting the dynamics of yesterday’s “aDOT-adjusted completion percentage” article, industry friend and fellow stathead Chase Stuart was quick to respond:

 

The answer, of course, is “yes.”

Today, I’m running nearly the same experiment I did yesterday, but this time I’ll be comparing actual and expected yards-per-aimed-pass data. If you missed yesterday’s article, the “expected” YPA will be determined based on the depth of each throw made by the quarterback.

First of all, an Aimed Pass is very similar to a Pass Attempt except that I remove spikes, throwaways, batted balls, and passes disrupted by a QB hit. This gives us a better idea of quarterback efficiency on “in-play” pass attempts.

The first step in my process was to find a regression formula that could be used to determine an “expected” YPA for each depth.

As you can see from our graph/formula, we’re not exactly dealing with a linear relationship here. For the most part, YPA progressively increases along with aDOT. That changes when the depth of the throw is around 50 yards or so. The potential reward of a long throw becomes too risky near 50 yards down field.

My next step was to work through each quarterback who racked up at least 100 aimed throws during the 2012 season. I compared each player’s actual and expected YPAs to come up with the best and worst performers.

The Best

Rk

Quarterback

Aim

Actual

Expected

+/-

1

Colin Kaepernick

283

9.2

8.2

1.07

2

Alex D. Smith

203

8.6

7.5

1.05

3

Russell Wilson

414

8.9

8.0

0.91

4

Robert Griffin III

386

8.5

7.6

0.89

5

Cam Newton

441

8.8

7.9

0.84

6

Aaron Rodgers

585

8.2

7.6

0.65

7

Drew Brees

618

8.4

7.7

0.64

8

Peyton Manning

601

8.2

7.7

0.49

9

Matt Ryan

667

8.0

7.7

0.34

10

Matt Schaub

589

7.8

7.5

0.29

Colin Kaepernick may have had the league’s highest expected YPA, but he also easily had the league’s largest actual YPA. Considering his more conservative approach, ex-teammate Alex Smith’s expected YPA was significantly lower than Kaepernick’s. Smith was near equally efficient, however, finishing just two one-hundredths of a point behind Kaepernick in our study.

Interestingly, four of our top five are involved in some sort of read-option offense. Kaepernick, Wilson, Griffin, and Newton each helped their teams rank among the league leaders in offensive scoring and yardage efficiency. Defenses may eventually find ways to slow the read-option, but it clearly hasn’t happened yet.

Following our rushing quarterbacks, we see some of the league’s top pocket passers in Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, and Matt Ryan. For what it’s worth, Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady rounded out the top 12.

The Worst

Rk

Quarterback

Aim

Actual

Expected

+/-

1

Ryan Lindley

159

4.7

7.7

-3.0

2

John Skelton

187

6.1

7.6

-1.6

3

Blaine Gabbert

268

6.2

7.6

-1.4

4

Brady Quinn

180

6.3

7.7

-1.3

5

Matt Hasselbeck

210

6.5

7.6

-1.1

6

Mark Sanchez

422

6.8

7.9

-1.1

7

Christian Ponder

452

6.5

7.3

-0.8

8

Kevin Kolb

171

6.8

7.6

-0.8

9

Andrew Luck

628

7.4

8.2

-0.7

10

Jay Cutler

413

7.3

8.1

-0.7

After writing up yesterday and today’s articles, it’s become very clear why Larry Fitzgerald had such a rough 2012 season. I mean, we knew his quarterback play was poor, but our recent experiments have shown that Ryan Lindley and John Skelton were probably the two worst quarterbacks in the league last year (at least among those to throw 100 passes). As bad as Skelton’s -1.6 mark is, Lindley was close to doubly worse at -3.0.

First-round picks in 2011, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder are looking like major busts. Ponder’s expected YPA was the lowest in the league, but he still put up a mark nearly one full yard lower.

The Colts made it to the playoffs, but Andrew Luck still has a long way to go if he wants to join the ranks of the league’s top quarterbacks. His YPA took a bit of a hit as a result of an exorbitant amount of drops by his wide receivers, but that only partially explains his poor rookie-season numbers.

Follow Mike Clay on Twitter: @MikeClayNFL

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