Chiefs: Is QB Accuracy enough?

| 2 years ago

Chiefs: Is QB Accuracy enough?


PFF-headlinesAlex Smith has been the second most accurate quarterback in the NFL this year with 80.6% of his throws on target. Only Russell Wilson has been more precise with his passes. Smith has ranked in the top 5 in Accuracy Percentage in each of the past 4 weeks.

If you were to look just at his accuracy stats, one could make an argument for why Smith is a top-tier NFL QB, capable of leading his team to deep playoff runs. But stats without context are often misleading, so let’s take a closer look at why Smith has been so accurate.

Smith has attempted the fewest deep passes of any qualifying QB this year with just 5.7% of his attempts traveling further than 20 yards. Last year, he went deep on 8.1% of his attempts, 3rd lowest in the NFL. On the rare instances Smith throws the long ball, the results have been a disappointing 3-8 passing, 73 yards, and 2 INTs.

Not only does Smith rarely throw deep, he’s also much more likely to throw very short – hitches, crossing routes, quick outs, screens, and check downs – all considered high completion percentage plays. To date, 100 of his 144 attempts have been to targets in the backfield or within 10 yards from the line of scrimmage.

This isn’t to say Smith and the Chiefs can’t succeed with a low-risk, high-percentage passing game. Just that when you look at our Accuracy Percentage rankings, keep in mind that the types of throws an offensive system requires a QB to make may have just as much impact on the stat as the QB himself.

| Analyst

John is an analyst for Pro Football Focus and former safety for the University of Kansas Jayhawks (2004–2006).

  • Dohkay

    Wilson, who leads in accuracy percentage, has thrown even fewer with 4 completions on 8 attempts (albeit with less overall attempts and thus a higher rate). It would be interesting to see the numbers on passes within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. Maybe PFF can make that available, too?

    • Chris

      Wilson:

      20+: 4/8 (50%), 129 yards (16.1 YPA), 1 TD, 0 INT, 135.2 RTG
      10-19: 10/18 (56%), 184 yards (10.2 YPA), 2 TD, 1 INT, 104.9 RTG
      0-9: 42/53 (79%), 389 yards (7.3 YPA), 4 TD, 0 INT, 122.4 RTG
      Minus: 22/22 (100%), 150 yards (6.8 YPA), 1 TD, 0 INT, 110.2 RTG
      TOTAL: 78/101 (77%), 852 yards (8.4 YPA), 8 TD, 1 INT, 127.6 RTG
      10+: 14/26 (54%), 313 yards (12.0 YPA), 3 TD, 1 INT, 119.6 RTG
      10-: 64/75 (85%), 539 yards (7.2 YPA), 5 TD, 0 INT, 118.8 RTG
      852 total yards less 507 YAC equals 60% YAC
      8.4 YPA less 5.0 YAC per throw equals 3.4 YIA

      Smith:

      20+: 3/9 (33%), 73 yards (8.1 YPA), 0 TD, 2 INT, 24.1 RTG
      10-19: 18/35 (51%), 314 yards (9.0 YPA), 0 TD, 2 INT, 58.5 RTG
      0-9: 58/73 (79%), 558 yards (7.6 YPA), 5 TD, 0 INT, 121.3 RTG
      Minus: 22/27 (81%), 121 yards (4.5 YPA), 4 TD, 0 INT, 124.9 RTG
      TOTAL: 101/144 (70%), 1066 yards (7.4 YPA), 9 TD, 4 INT, 100.6 RTG
      10+: 21/44 (48%), 387 yards (8.8 YPA), 0 TD, 4 INT, 40.6 RTG
      10-: 80/100 (80%), 679 yards (6.8 YPA), 9 TD, 0 INT, 125.0 RTG
      1066 total yards less 574 YAC equals 54% YAC
      7.4 YPA less 4.0 YAC per throw equals 4.3 YIA

      Peyton:

      20+: 7/17 (41%), 306 yards (18.8 YPA), 2 TD, 0 INT, 127.7 RTG
      10-19: 26/47 (55%), 415 yards (8.8 YPA), 3 TD, 2 INT, 88.5 RTG
      0-9: 59/73 (81%), 532 yards (7.3 YPA), 6 TD, 0 INT, 124.4 RTG
      Minus: 13/17 (76%), 40 yards (2.4 YPA), 1 TD, 1 INT, 73.4 RTG
      TOTAL: 105/154 (68%), 1293 yards (8.4 YPA), 12 TD, 3 INT, 111.7 RTG
      10+: 33/64 (52%), 721 yards (11.3 YPA), 5 TD, 2 INT, 105.0 RTG
      10-: 72/90 (80%), 572 yards (6.4 YPA), 7 TD, 1 INT, 114.4 RTG
      1293 total yards less 428 YAC equals 33% YAC
      8.4 YPA less 2.8 YAC per throw equals 5.6 YIA

      • phatcat43

        I have no idea what else you could expect from Smith. He’s playing behind of the worst offensive lines in football (30th according to today’s story), has no real deep threat playmakers and has a below average arm. He has to play to his/the team’s strengths in order for his team to have any chance of being successful.

        • Chris

          Dude on come. Smith has always been a checkdown passer. This isn’t new news.

          • phatcat43

            I agree he’s a checkdown passer, even under the best of circumstances. He is what he is. I do think the lack of protection/time in the pocket and no outside/deep playmakers exacerbates it. I just don’t get the point of the article – “is accuracy enough?”. Enough for what? Is it saying that high accuracy/short distance throwing QBs have less successful outcomes, all else being equal? All I see in the article are tendencies and perhaps a suggestion that not throwing deep successfully is a detriment. But I don’t see analysis that proves the point. The author then goes on to say that the Chiefs can potentially succeed with low risk/high percentage passing. So I don’t really get it.

          • ChickenHunter

            Dude, he’s always had less than stellar WRs. Name one fast receiver he’s had that could take the top off the D? Go back and look at it and come back to me. He’s had one deep threat his whole career and he was a TE and guess what? He used to complete passes to him all the time in SF. But that’s a TE. You need to learn the game more buddy.

          • Chris

            Michael Crabtree, Josh Morgan, Isaac Bruce, Kyle Williams, Ted Ginn, Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, Dwayne Bowe.

            His first couple years in SF he had nothing. After that he’s always had 1-2 good wideouts, just like he does now.

            Stop being so apologetic for a guy who can’t throw the ball over 10 yards.

          • Alex

            lol comon Chris. That list of WRs is pretty awful. You could make an argument Isaac Bruce is the best of them all even at his old age.

            Crabtree continues to disappoint even with Kaepernick. Really no statistical difference when Smith was throwing to him VS Kaepernick. Kyle Williams and Ted Ginn, really? Mario Manninghan was a terrible free agent signing at the time and hasn’t done anything significant in the league since his superbowl winning catch with the giants. I like Josh Morgan and he was having his best year as a WR wth Smith until that terrible injury. Didn’t do much in WSH or CHI after leaving.

            I mean the starting WRs in the NFC championship game were Crabtree, Kyle Williams, Brett Swain and Joe Hastings and Smith still had the 49ers in position to win the game.

            It’s a completely false statement to say he’s had 1-2 good WRs after his first couple seasons.

      • PetEng

        Any concern about the lack of deep ball attempts for Wilson (bottom 4 in NFL for QBs)?

        • eYeDEF

          No because that’s a result of this year only. in the past he had thrown plenty of deep balls at double his current rate and has been very accurate doing it. These days the short passing game throwing to Percy in the flat and on screens is what is being used to keep defenses honest at the sometimes cost of the deep ball. I expect it to come back as they gradually work in their top draft pick Paul Richardson who they selected to be a vertical threat and a burner. He needs work on his route running though.

    • Chris

      It’s obvious that KC changed up their gameplan after the week 1 disaster.

      Week 1:
      10+: 7/17
      20+: 2/6
      Weeks 2-5:
      10+ 14/27
      20+: 1/3

      He threw 6 balls over 20 yards in the opener but only 3 in the last 4 games. He’s attempted 1 throw over 20 yards since week 2.

      He was 12/22 on throws over 10 yards the first two weeks, but since then he’s just 6/13 the last 3 weeks.

      He’s obviously the worst of the 3 throwing anything over 10 yards (40.6 RTG). He also has half the attempts per game over 10 yards that Peyton does. However Wilson is far behind in this comparison – a chart of percentage of throws by depth (Wilson, Smith, Peyton):

      20+: 8%, 6%, 11%
      10-19: 18%, 24%, 31%
      0-9: 52%, 51%, 47%
      Minus: 22%, 19%, 11%

      10+: 26%, 31%, 42%
      10-: 74%, 69%, 58%

      74% of Wilson’s throws go for less than 10 yards. This is a major reason why he currently ranks 30th out of 34 in YIA % (YPA less YAC). Even Smith ranks higher at 28th, as only 69% of his throws go for less than 10 yards.

      Peyton ranks 10th in YIA %, and his 58% rate of throws that go for less than 10 yards likely plays a major part.

      However that said Smith should stick to throwing checkdowns, as his numbers beyond 10 yards are gross. Wilson is effective everywhere, but he isn’t asked to throw as much (~25 attempts per game compared to ~29 for Smith and ~39 for Peyton), which is where the game manager tag comes from.

      • Dohkay

        As usual, good analysis. Where did you get the YIA stats?

        • Chris

          YIA is available on the Sig Stat page for QBs.

          My numbers should be a tad off as I got all of them from the QB Passing stats from the game grades, which remove things like spikes and throwaways from their attempts.

          So instead of say 1000 yards on 150 attempts, I would come up with 1000 yards on only 140 attempts, because QB Hypothetical threw away 7 passes and spiked 3 others.

          • [email protected]

            I see whats going on here, no comment. Everybody has to make a buck.

          • Chris

            Are you contending that the difference between Wilson’s 40% YIA and Peyton’s 63% YIA are a fluke in statistics? That that difference doesn’t exist?

            Are you denying that Wilson throws more short passes under 10 yards (74% to 58%) than Peyton? That they really throw the same number of intermediate and deep balls?

          • [email protected]

            I have no idea what YIA is, but i can with complete confidence that its utter bs.

          • Chris

            I said I do it for free.

          • ChickenHunter

            Again, you only see numbers and don’t see the true picture. Alex Smith has no one to thow it deep to. His #1 WR is an over sized receiver that’s had weight problems. His best pass catchers are a TE and a RB. You can’t throw deep if you don’t have the horses. Alex had the same problem in SF, where he had unimpressive possession receivers and one very fast TE that was asked to block all the time. Alex is playing behind an injured OL, he’s not going to have time to throw it deep. Plus his team is a West Coast offense team where he’s asked to throw dunks and dunks and not turn over the ball. Accuracy and timing is more important than stats. He can only do what the coach asks him to do.

          • Chris

            “He can only do what the coach asks him to do.”

            Now you sound like Russell Wilson apologists. It doesn’t matter how often he throws it deep (not often), or if his targets aren’t very good, the fact remains that when he does throw it deep he has been inaccurate.

            You think it’s a surprise that team’s don’t build with a huge cast of deep threats around him? You think maybe they build a team to his strengths, as a game manager with a good running game and defense?

            He was an option QB in college. He was drafted by a team that had a great running game and defense who just wanted a game manager. They didn’t bring in a ton of wideouts, they knew what they wanted when they drafted him.

            Then he goes to KC where again shocker they have a great running game and defense and they just want a game manager.

            They do this because he can’t throw deep very well. He doesn’t and never did. Teams aren’t looking for that when they sign Alex Smith. So to try and explain away his woes throwing the ball deep by saying he has no WRs is just ignoring the facts since he started college.

  • ChickenHunter

    Smith is asked to win ballgames throwing, especially with all the injuries. Russell Wilson isn’t. End of story about an overrated game manager.

    • [email protected]

      My baby’s momma asks me to pay child support, but that doesn’t happen either.

      • ChickenHunter

        Well Smith has won 32 and lost only 13 since 2011, so he’s been winning like bad azz Mofo. Maybe if you’re mama wasn’t so skanky she wouldn’t have raised a deadbeat douche like you.

        • Hank Mardukis

          Using wins and losses as a metric to grade QBs is downright awful.

          • [email protected]

            All metrics are downright awful.

          • Madi

            But using an extremely high completion percentage to prove he’s not worth praising makes perfect sense.

          • Hank Mardukis

            Why is it impressive? I’d pose to you that most of the QBs in the league would have a similar completion percentage in the offense the Chiefs run. A QB throwing the vast majority of passes either behind the line or within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage shouldn’t miss but a few.

          • Madi

            I didn’t claim he’s impressive because of his completion percentage. PFF implied that we fans are making that claim, but I didn’t see it. He’s impressive because he’s a good player. He’s put enough on the field for enough years that we should know that by now. It’s not 2008 anymore.

        • [email protected]

          Baby’s Momma != your mother. Its your baby’s mother.

          • ChickenHunter

            Do you even know who yo mama and daddy are? Maybe they’s teach u betta english.

  • [email protected]

    Why are we comparing Smith to Wilson? They are nothing alike. Smith has a good team around him, lets see how far he can take them. The results will speak for themselves over the next 3-4 years.

    • Chris

      They said Smith has been 2nd most accurate with his throws. They only mentioned Wilson because he is 1st. Then the rest of the article is about Smith.

      Not sure how you could take offense to that.

      • [email protected]

        I didn’t realize i was offended.

        • ChickenHunter

          You don’t realize much do you?

  • Phanton of the Oprah Winfrey

    At least he’s been consistent, better than the kaepercoaster.

  • Brian

    We all knew this lol watch any Chiefs game, so many passes behind the line! Screens, simple passes. Even back on the Niners, super conservative. There’s nothing wrong with being a “game manager” seriously. Solid but unspectacular is fine with a good team, just don’t make mistakes, what else can one ask for? Even guys like Peyton, Brady, Rivers will “manage” a game if it’s going well. So I don’t see the problem. Only real issue is at least once in a while it won’t work/you’ll fall behind and need to “step up” Smith has shown an ability to do this, albeit inconsistently

    • Brian

      That said, Wilson is also blessed with a GREAT team around him…but he has proven to consistently “step up” and take control and they are the last SB champs and carry that confidence, that feeling when you watch em they won’t lose. Diff between Smith and Wilson and why one team is going to be more successful! And I like Smith, I thought he did a great job and came THAT close in 2011…he gets a bit of an unfair rep, but yeah he probably wont be more than a game manager who flashes the occasional spark

  • Madi

    I don’t get this site’s problem with Smith.

    “If you were to look just at his accuracy stats, one could make an argument for why Smith is a top-tier NFL QB, capable of leading his team to deep playoff runs. But…”

    Um, how about instead of picking apart a positive stat of his you look at history? He already HAS led his team to deep playoff runs. But they wrote a pre-emptive article telling us he probably can’t, so don’t accidentally think he’s good. So, when is a similar article about Tony Romo coming out? How many deep playoff runs has he led?

    Check out PFF’s “He blew it” critique on his outstanding playoff performance last year against Indy:

    https://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2014/01/05/refo-chiefs-colts-wild-card-round/

    It’s just shameful.

    • [email protected]

      Don’t worry, this week is the first time they gave Wilson a good grade too. Theyre like hipsters who love a band until they become famous. They were all over Wilson until other people started doing it, now theyre nitpicking him to death.

      • Madi

        Were they all over Smith before? I honestly don’t know, because I never came to the site then.

        Whatever their history is, this is just stupid. Maybe next week they’ll come out with an article pointing out that Le’Veon Bell is not as good as Barry Sanders, and several of his long runs came on plays with good blocking, so don’t start to think he’s good!

        • Chris

          There’s a difference – Bell is a great runner. Smith has been a below average thrower his entire career. He was an option QB in college and nothing but a game manager since getting drafted.

          • Madi

            Well, you’ve clearly got some kind of reason for this vendetta. Either that or you were just unfrozen from 2008. Either way, there’s no convincing someone that STILL sees Alex Smith as nothing more than a “hand the ball off and try not to lose” quarterback.

          • [email protected]

            I don’t think Alex Smith is great, but i’d rather have him than a reckless gunslinger like Jay Cutler any day of the week.

        • [email protected]

          No, they’ll say that Le’Veon Bell is not as good as Danny Woodhead. Russell Wilson is not as good as Mike Glennon.

      • Chris

        This was the first week he earned it.

    • Chris

      He hasn’t led teams on long playoff runs. Teams have made long playoff runs in spite of him. He was drafted solely to be a game manager for a great running game and defense, and KC signed him to be a game manager for a great running game and defense. He’s not leading anybody on a playoff run, they are carrying him on the playoff run.

      • MosesZD

        Bull. That win over NO was an amazing feat with TWO come-from-behind drives.

        And if his WRs would have caught the ball against the Giants, like Vernon Davis and Frank Gore mysteriously managed to do, they’d have made the Superbowl. But they didn’t. They didn’t show up and they didn’t catch the ball and William’s two muffed punts just ended it for the 49ers.

        And if you don’t like that opinion, take it up with Jerry Rice who ripped Crabtree and Williams after the game for being worthless WRs.

        • Madi

          Thanks for saying it for me. Two game-winning drives in one game. He beat Drew Brees at his own game. And they say the 49ers won in spite of him? The only stat the anti-Smith crowd can point to was the low third down conversion rate in the Giants’ game, but he still played well overall, and if Kyle Williams doesn’t fumble three times (two lost), they win that game and go to the Super Bowl.

          It’s one thing to say he’s not as good as we claim. But the level at which Chris is dumping on him just strips him of all credibility.

  • Woody

    Hard to throw deep passes without WR’s able to gain seperation downfield…

  • Brandon

    This site has his line ranked 30th in the league, how deep of passes does he have time to throw? And what deep weapons does he have? Only Wilson and Kap have more rush yards, give the guy some credit, he does what he has to, to give his team a chance.