Quarter Season Stat Check: Quarterbacks


September 27, 2012;Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) throws a pass during the game against the Cleveland Browns at M

All this week I will be taking a look at the statistical and on field trends over the first quarter of this NFL season. I am going to start with a hot topic in Baltimore right now, which is Quarterback play.

300 yard games

It seems like every game this year has involved a 300 yard passer. A closer look at the numbers confirms that we haven’t been that far away from that. through 4 weeks(minus one game tonight) we have had 38 300 yard passers. given that there have only been 63 games so far(including tonights game) that means that on average there has been .603 300 yard passers per game. that is a pretty astounding number. four players are currently averaging over 300 yards per game. Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Joe Flacco and Tom Brady.

Overall Yards

Currently there are 3 QBs on pace to break 5000 passing yards. Drew Brees(5400), Eli Manning(5280) and Baltimores own Joe Flacco(5017). Given that all three have also played 4 games each, that is also how they fall in order of passing yards total. Tom Brady is on track to fall just short of 5000.

1.Drew Brees                  1,350

2.Eli Manning               1,320

3.Joe Flacco                   1,269

4.Tom Brady                   1,227

5.Matt Stafford               1,182


Take a wild guess at which QB leads the league in TDs. If you guessed Ryan Fitzpatrick, I will give you a cookie. Ryan Fitzpatrick has had completely underwhelming play all season but has managed to rack up 12 TDs(3 per game) over the first four games. The only other two players in double digits are Matt Ryan(11) and Drew Brees (10). This stat alone should eliminate the idea that QBs who score more TDs are always better. Taking out Matt Ryan and his 4-0 record, the other two double digit QBs are a combined 2-6, even with Matt Ryan the trio would have 33 TDs and a combined 6-6 record. after those three players there are a cluster of QBs with 8TDs and another cluster with 7, Flacco is in the 7 group which puts him tied for 7th in the league.

1.Ryan Fitzpatrick                    12

2.Matt Ryan                                11

3. Drew Brees                             10

4. Andy Dalton                            8

4.Peyton Manning                     8

4.Ben Roethlisberger                 8

7.Joe Flacco                                 7


Picks is basically the one category that QBs don’t want to lead the league in. The game rests on the shoulders of the QB for most teams and interceptions are almost always costly. ironicaly, the guy who leads the league in TDs, Ryan Fitzpatrick, also is tied for the league lead in INTs. There are three players, including Fitzpatrick, that have 7 INTs, the other two are Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassell. I am going to excuse Weeden because he is a Rookie and as such he is allowed to make mistakes. That said, 7 INTs in 4 games for 2 very highly paid QBs is inexcusable. Both are unforgivably egregious as well because they both have top ten rushing attacks which should be taking pressure off of their throws. the combined record of their three teams is 3-9.

1. Ryan Fitzpatrick        7

1.Matt Cassell                 7

1.Brandon Weeden        7

4.Jay Cutler                      6

4.Ryan Tannehill           6

4.Mike Vick                      6

17. Joe Flacco                  3

TD:INT Ratio

This, in my opinion, is the most important QB stat there is. To get this number you simply divide a QBs INTs by his TDs. For example Joe Flacco has 7TDs and 3INTs, so 3/7=.428. Christian Ponder currently leads this category with a perfect 0.0 based on his 4 TDs to 0 INTs. He is the only starting QB to not throw an INT. second is Ben Roethlisberger with a .121(8:1). Keep in mind, this stat is very important, but it does not paint an entire picture, when left out of context it is a very misleading stat.

1. Christian Ponder             0.0

2. Ben Roethlisberger         0.121

3. Tom Brady                         0.142

4. Matt Ryan                          0.182

5. Alex Smith                         0.200

9. Joe Flacco                          0.428

Yards Per Attempt

This is a nominal stat by itself, but it helps to judge effectiveness when combined with other factors. This stat reflects on the QBs deep ball ability as well as his completion percentage(a QB who completes 50% of his attempts is likely to have lower yardage than a QB who hits 75% of the time). The current leader in the stat is Cam Newton with a solid 9.5 YPA. anything over a 7 is pretty good here.

1. Cameron Newton      9.5

2. Andy Dalton               8.8

3. Robert Griffen III       8.6

4. Eli Manning                8.3

5. Joe Flacco                    8.1

Big Plays

As a former defensive player, I can assure you that nothing is worse than haveing a QB throw over top of you for a 20+ yard strike. It can kill you in a game and give the offense almost unstoppable momentum. I would guess that drives including a 20+ yard play have a very high chance of ending in a score. maybe around 70% or so. with that in mind here are the leaders in the category(20 yards or more+40 yards or more) with a very familiar face leading the pack.

1. Joe Flacco                 26

2. Drew Brees               20

2. Cam Newton            20

2. Andy Dalton            20

5. Robert Griffen          19


When trying to figure out the best QB in the league, no one stat is going to do the trick. you have to look deeper, look at the schedule and weight the stats accordingly. That said, only 4 players made the top 10 in all of the above categories and bottom 10 in INTs. Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco. I am going to grade out a top 5 here and the guy who doesnt quite make the cut statistically, but that i think has been playing exceptionally is Ben Roethlisberger. Here is my top 5 for the first quarter of the season.

5. Ben Roethlisberger

4. Tom Brady

3. Eli Manning

2. Joe Flacco

1. Matt Ryan

I dont think anyone can reasonably argue that Matt Ryan has been playing exceptionally well to this point in the season, in my mind he was an easy pick for the top spot. That said, his opening 4 games has been extremely soft so it will be interesting to see if he maintains this level of play moving forward. The choice between Manning and Flacco was a difficult one. In the end I took Flacco based on his better win record and what i viewed as a more difficult schedule so far. That left Tom Brady at four and my write in Big Ben at 5.