Thursday, December 28, 2006

Statistical Look at Dropped Passes

I had touched on this in a post about a week ago, and thought it was worth expanding on a little bit before the Bear game.

I had been in a discussion with another poster about how many dropped passes the Packers have had this year, and whether or not it was any better or worse than other teams. I decided to take the top 10 passers in attempts and compare them to the number of dropped passes.

I used pass attempts, because I think it is a fair comparison for Favre to be compared with other quarterbacks who are asked to put it into the air as much as he has been expected to. I think when you get to a quarterback that is only attempting 20 passes a game, there's more skewing as those passes are offset by a stronger running game.

The following, then, are the top ten passers in attempts, followed by the number of dropped passes this season.

1. Favre 571 /39
2. Bulger 558 /17
3. Kitna 554 /21
4. Brees 549 /38
5. P. Manning 520 /26
6. E. Manning 496 /27
7. Brady 492 /27
8. Palmer 482 /16
9. Grossman 468 /12
10. Pennington 455 /16

One of the points I tried to make is that not only is Favre leading the league in attempts, but also in dropped passes. It was argued that more attempts would mean more drops, and that Favre would be right around middle of the pack per attempt. However, the percentages didn't bear that out.

Of those ten, here are the ranked percentages of dropped passes per attempt:

1. Favre 6.8%
2. Brees 6.4%
3. Brady 5.5%
4. E. Manning 5.4%
5. P. Manning 5.0%
6. Kitna 3.7%
7. Pennington 3.5%
8. Palmer 3.3%
9. Bulger 3.0%
10. Grossman 2.5%

As of right now, Favre leads the league in dropped passes per attempt, just ahead of Brees and significantly ahead of everyone else.

So, why aren't the Saints struggling as much as the Packers? Easy..they have a running game, particularly one led by a Thunder-And-Lighting duo like Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush.

But how much do those other teams utilize the running game versus the passing game. Using the same teams as the quarterbacks represented above, I thought I'd see what the percentage of run-to-pass ratios would be for each team.

Total passing played determined by total offensive plays minus rushing plays = total passing plays (including sacks and attempted pass plays resulting in fumbles, etc.)

1. Packers 397 rushes - 610 passing
2. New Orleans 455 - 569
3. New England 468 - 526
4. New York Giants 421 - 521
5. Indianapolis Colts 408 - 535
6. Detroit Lions 279 - 612
7. New York Jets 454 - 491
8. Cincinnati Bengals 419 - 521
9. St. Louis Rams 388 - 610
10 Chicago Bears 479 - 509

So, how many times, among these quarterbacks passing so often, are they getting runs called in comparison? As would be expected from the coaches who ask their quarterbacks to throw so often, none have a perfectly even run/pass ratio, but some get more run support than others.

Of, then, the top 10 passers by attempts, here are the percentages of runs-to-pass plays of those teams.

1. Bears 48.5%
2. Jets 48.0%
3. Patriots 47.1%
4. Giants 44.7%
5. Bengals 44.6%
6. Saints 44.4%
7. Colts 43.3%
8. Packers 39.4%
9. Rams 38.5 %
10 Lions 31.3%

Now, interesting stat. Of all these prolific passing teams, the ones that utilize the run at least 40% of the time have winning records. The ones that utilize it less than 40% of the time have losing records.

So, Favre leads the league in attempts, the Packers lead the league in dropped passes AND dropped passes per attempt. They also ranked third to last among prolific passing teams in run/pass ratio.

Incidentally, among those ten teams, the Packers rank next-to-last in yardage per rush (3.9 ypc), and in total rushing yardage (1566).

My point? None to make. I'm a strong believer that statistics are easily cited and can prove nearly any point, depending on how they are presented. I offer them for your consideration and allow you to draw your own conclusions, or to offer your own statistics to support or counter them.

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