Monday, January 09, 2006

Breaking Down Joey

It's one of the most common discussions heard on every message board - What's the deal with Joey? So, after following a few threads, I picked up on a few comments and decided to do a little homework. In one segment, I read a comment that "All the Lions really need is a 'game manager' who can post stats like this:

60% completions, 3000 yards, 20 td, 12 int, 80 rating.

With that in mind, I took a look at Joey's stats this year. His final season stat line goes like this:

188/330, 2021 yards, 12 TD, 12 INT, 57%, 72.0 Rating

To try to get a feel for how these stats would have turned out if he played the entire season, I decided to increase the totals by the same percentage, assuming he threw 500 passes which is close to the average of 2003-04 where he played 16 games. Multiplying by 1.515 (500/330) gives us this stat line:

285/500 3048 yards, 18 TD, 18 INT, 57%, 72.0 Rating.

It's not that far off from where that poster had indicated that they want our QB to be. 15 more completions and it's 60%. If the TD's go up by 2, and the INT's down by 2, it's close to the 80 rating. Over the course of an entire season, Joey was pretty close to those numbers.

Where it gets interesting, and what will cause a lot of head scratching is projecting 16 games based on what he did before and after the benchings. I quick dropped his stats into a spreadsheet, and projected them out. Here are the projected numbers, based on a typical 500 attempt season:

Before Initial Benching (GB, @CHI, @TB, BAL, CAR)

Actual 76/143 798 Yards, 4 TD, 8 INT
Projected 266/500 2790 yards, 14 TD, 28 INT, 53.1%, 55.6 Rating

Clearly not a good year based on these numbers. I have mentioned in many of my other posts that I believed Joey played better than the numbers indicated in most of these games, but that's another discussion entirely. The numbers were abysmal, and absent any other info, deserving of a benching.

Mid-Year, between Benchings (@MIN, ARI, @ DAL, ATL)
Actual 72/117 724 yards, 4 TD, 3 INT
Projected 308/500 3094 yards, 17 TD, 13 INT, 61.5%, 79.7 Rating

When people said they thought that the benching did Joey good, they weren't kidding. The numbers clearly were better, coming very close to what people think the Lions need out of a QB. Still not great, but sufficient.

Final 3 games (CIN, @NO, @PIT)
Actual 40/70 499 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT
Projected 286/500 3564 yards, 29 TD, 7 INT, 57.1%, 93.0 Rating

Over the last three games, Joey looked a LOT better. You can forgive the completion percentage when you get the yardage and TD/INT ratios like those ones. These are the type of stats that most people expected to see from JH when he was drafted. People argued (correctly) that it appeared that the benching did good things for Joey. The second benching seemed to do even more good.

Since the final three games are really about 2 and 1/4 games, why not take a look at the sum total of everything after the first benching:

Everything after Initial Benching (@MIN, ARI, @DAL, ATL, CIN, @NO, @PIT)
Actual 112/187 1223 yards, 8 TD, 4 INT
Projected 299/500 3270 yards, 21 TD, 11 INT, 59.9%, 84.0 Rating

Now those are QB numbers that I'm sure everyone in Detroit could live with. Good, solid QB play. But still, there are people who would argue those stats are skewed by the 3 TD game against Pittsburgh. So... Here goes...

Everything after initial benching, minus Pittsburgh (@MIN, ARI, @DAL, ATL, CIN, @NO)
Actual 95/154 1011 yards, 5 TD, 4 INT
Projected 308/500 3282 yards, 16 TD, 13 INT, 61.7%, 80.6 Rating

3.4 QB rating points is some, but not a ton. But the same game also knocked his completion percentage down by almost 2%. I think most people could live with those kind of numbers.

Now to be fair with Joey, if we knock out the Pittsburgh game for the second half numbers, what about knocking out the Bears game from the first half numbers? Here goes...

Before Initial Benching, Minus Bears (GB, @TB, BAL, CAR)
Actual 57/106 602 yards, 3 TD, 3 INT
Projected 269/500 2840 yards, 14 TD, 14 INT, 53.8%, 68.2 Rating

Not as bad as it initially looked, but not great. Actually, it's pretty close to his full year numbers.

And this is the quandary that the Lions and Millen face heading into the offseason. Which QB are they going to get going forward from here? The guy before the benching, or the guy after the benching. Who the heck knows...

2 comments:

Nationwide said...

Great breakdown of Joey's numbers! If you have time and want to see something very interesting, factor in the drops the Lions receivers had. Last season, I did a study to see how Joey would have done if his receivers had only dropped the NFL average of passes. And low and behold, Joey's numbers were almost identical to Tom Brady's.

It seems the Lions don't know how to catch a football and it is very weird. Marcus Pollard came here having been known for having very sure hands, yet he drops almost twice as many passes this season then he did for his entire career combined. Az Hakim, Charles Rogers, Roy Williams, Mike Williams, Kevin Jones, Bill Shroeder, etc. etc. etc. Are all of these guys just bad at catching the football? They didn't use to have these problems, at least not all of them.

The answer is the Marty/Steve WCO. When you continually run routes between the D Line and the Linebackers, you have more drops, period. These guys aren't geniuses, but they aren't stupid either. The NFL is dangerous enough without risking your life for a 2 yard catch. Because the WCO system we have had in place for the last three years, our offense has seen essentially 11 man fronts. Instead of sending a 6'4" WR that runs a 4.4 forty out on a deep pattern against a 5'11" corner, we have been running him on a 3 yard slant across the middle. If the ball is thrown at the prefect time and to the perfect spot, our player might be able to get a nice gain on the play. But if the receiver is held up even for a half of a second, the QB isn't perfectly accurate, or the pass has to be rushed, or their is a LB or SS in the way, then our player has to lay his life on the line to secure a 2 yard gain instead of having the ball intercepted.

Our players will do that when the game is on the line, but they are not going to do it all of the time. Their careers are too short to risk significant injury for such trivial yardage.

My guess is that under the new coaching staff, when we throw the ball, we will be putting our players in a position to not only gain better yardage before and after the catch, but we will limit the physical exposure to the receiver. When you run a deeper route, the Defense has two choices; 1. Single coverage. 2. Double coverage. When they chose to single cover a player like Roy Williams or even Charles Rogers, they put a lot at risk. Both of these two Lions WR's are significantly taller and faster then the average NFL CB. There is big play potential every time a stud WR's is left in single coverage on a deep route. Teams will try to get away with this from time to time, but after you have beaten them for a deep score, they will double cover these guys.

When that happens, our offense is now playing 10 players to their 9. That means one less man in the box to defend the run. That means one of the other WR's are now in single coverage. That means that on a given play, no one is covering the TE across the middle of the field.

This game is about match-ups and attacking the entire field in such a way that the defense doesn't know when or where the offense is going to attack. The Marty/Mooch offense was about neither of these two points. It was about trying to complete 19 passes in a row to drive 58 yards for a field goal. Is there any wonder why we dropped so many passes? Is it any wonder that our offense was so bad?

But factor in the amount of drops our Lions players had. Subtract that amount from the league average, and then add the remaining would be catches to Joey's completions. Then multiply those added completions to by Joey's average gain per completion and add that to his yardage totals. Then add in the number of TD's that those completions would have accounted for by dividing his completions by TD's and then multiplying that number to his added completions. Then lastly calculate his new completion percentage and his new QB rating.

I haven't done this yet, but my guess is that Joey's numbers will fall in about the middle of all NFL starting QB's.

Nationwide said...

Great breakdown of Joey's numbers! If you have time and want to see something very interesting, factor in the drops the Lions receivers had. Last season, I did a study to see how Joey would have done if his receivers had only dropped the NFL average of passes. And low and behold, Joey's numbers were almost identical to Tom Brady's.

It seems the Lions don't know how to catch a football and it is very weird. Marcus Pollard came here having been known for having very sure hands, yet he drops almost twice as many passes this season then he did for his entire career combined. Az Hakim, Charles Rogers, Roy Williams, Mike Williams, Kevin Jones, Bill Shroeder, etc. etc. etc. Are all of these guys just bad at catching the football? They didn't use to have these problems, at least not all of them.

The answer is the Marty/Steve WCO. When you continually run routes between the D Line and the Linebackers, you have more drops, period. These guys aren't geniuses, but they aren't stupid either. The NFL is dangerous enough without risking your life for a 2 yard catch. Because the WCO system we have had in place for the last three years, our offense has seen essentially 11 man fronts. Instead of sending a 6'4" WR that runs a 4.4 forty out on a deep pattern against a 5'11" corner, we have been running him on a 3 yard slant across the middle. If the ball is thrown at the prefect time and to the perfect spot, our player might be able to get a nice gain on the play. But if the receiver is held up even for a half of a second, the QB isn't perfectly accurate, or the pass has to be rushed, or their is a LB or SS in the way, then our player has to lay his life on the line to secure a 2 yard gain instead of having the ball intercepted.

Our players will do that when the game is on the line, but they are not going to do it all of the time. Their careers are too short to risk significant injury for such trivial yardage.

My guess is that under the new coaching staff, when we throw the ball, we will be putting our players in a position to not only gain better yardage before and after the catch, but we will limit the physical exposure to the receiver. When you run a deeper route, the Defense has two choices; 1. Single coverage. 2. Double coverage. When they chose to single cover a player like Roy Williams or even Charles Rogers, they put a lot at risk. Both of these two Lions WR's are significantly taller and faster then the average NFL CB. There is big play potential every time a stud WR's is left in single coverage on a deep route. Teams will try to get away with this from time to time, but after you have beaten them for a deep score, they will double cover these guys.

When that happens, our offense is now playing 10 players to their 9. That means one less man in the box to defend the run. That means one of the other WR's are now in single coverage. That means that on a given play, no one is covering the TE across the middle of the field.

This game is about match-ups and attacking the entire field in such a way that the defense doesn't know when or where the offense is going to attack. The Marty/Mooch offense was about neither of these two points. It was about trying to complete 19 passes in a row to drive 58 yards for a field goal. Is there any wonder why we dropped so many passes? Is it any wonder that our offense was so bad?

But factor in the amount of drops our Lions players had. Subtract that amount from the league average, and then add the remaining would be catches to Joey's completions. Then multiply those added completions to by Joey's average gain per completion and add that to his yardage totals. Then add in the number of TD's that those completions would have accounted for by dividing his completions by TD's and then multiplying that number to his added completions. Then lastly calculate his new completion percentage and his new QB rating.

I haven't done this yet, but my guess is that Joey's numbers will fall in about the middle of all NFL starting QB's.