Metrics that Matter: Mariota can't be THIS good in the red zone
(“Metrics that Matter” is a short feature that appears every weekday, highlighting a notable fantasy lesson to be learned from PFF’s advanced stats.)
Hello and welcome to the second-ever installment of Metrics that Matter. Each weekday we’ll look at an intriguing metric or chart developed through PFF-exclusive statistics. This week, our focus is on quarterbacks. Wednesday, we went over Ryan Tannehill and how different his stats look when operating from a clean pocket as opposed to when he is pressured. Today we’ll look at Marcus Mariota and his impressive efficiency when passing near or into the end zone.
Throughout his career, when in the red zone, Mariota has completed 60 of his 94 (64 percent) pass attempts with 33 touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Among all 52 quarterbacks with more than 10 red-zone pass attempts over this stretch, Mariota ranks fourth in completion percentage, first in touchdown percentage, and first in interception percentage.
Throughout his career, when targeting a receiver in the end zone, Mariota has completed 26 of his 44 (59 percent) pass attempts with 26 touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Among all 47 quarterbacks with more than 10 end-zone pass attempts over this stretch, Mariota ranks first in completion percentage, touchdown percentage, and interception percentage.
What does this mean?
Either Mariota is a generational quarterback when it comes to red-zone and end-zone efficiency, or he’s due for some serious regression.
Among all quarterbacks over the past 10 seasons with at least 150 such pass attempts to qualify, the leader in completion percentage both red-zone (65 percent) and end-zone (52 percent) pass attempts is Kurt Warner. Over this span, the leader in red-zone touchdown-to-interception ratio is Aaron Rodgers (221:9). The leader in end-zone touchdown-to-interception ratio is Peyton Manning (148:8).
Given the fact that we’re dealing with such a small sample of pass attempts with Mariota, it’s most likely that he’s not the next Warner, Rodgers, or Manning. Still, the fact that he’s been so efficient when it’s mattered most (in or near the end zone) can only be taken as a positive for his future development.
As for what this means to us as fantasy owners, I’m having trouble coming up with a final takeaway. Rishard Matthews was Mariota’s favorite and most efficient receiver in both categories last season, converting 6 of 9 of both such targets into touchdowns. I think everything we’ve uncovered here bodes well for first-round draft pick Corey Davis. Davis led all college wide receivers in touchdowns (19) and ranked top-five in touchdown market share while at Western Michigan last year. He had 12 (11th-best) and 15 (third) touchdowns the two previous seasons.