2016 Defense Adjusted Quarterback Stats

With the 2016 regular season in the books, I thought it might be interesting to look at some of our homegrown quarterback stats. Normally, I would present Total Adjusted Yards per Play (TAY/P) and New Total Adjusted Yards per Play (NTAY/P)1 and leave it at that. However, we have made those stats available all year and wouldn’t be giving you anything new by going the traditional route. Instead, I’d like to present those metrics with adjustments to account for the defenses quarterbacks have faced. This way, we can put both the gaudy and the paltry passing stats in better context.2 I’d also like to use ESPN’s revamped clutch-weighted Expected Points Added per Play in the same manner.

Methodology

The methodology is pretty simple. We start by translating the raw quarterback stats in each game into individual game TAY/P and NTAY/P. Afterward, we use Pro Football Reference’s Simple Rating System model to adjust those metrics for the defenses the quarterbacks faced. Keep in mind, these adjustments were made to measure how well defenses performed in these metrics, specifically, so we could establish proper baselines or measuring quarterback performance relative to expectation.

Once we found each team’s defensive SRS scores, we normalized them to league average. In other words, if a team posted an SRS score of -1.55 in TAY/P, and the league average is 8.55 TAY/P, the team’s normalized TAY/P allowed is 7.00. That means any quarterback who plays that team will be measure against 7.00 instead of 8.55. So if a quarterback had a 7.50 TAY/P in a game against them, he would earn a -1.05 value per play without adjusting for opponent but a +0.50 value per play after adjustments. This means guys won’t get unfairly penalized for playing the Broncos and Giants, and he won’t get unfairly rewarded for playing the Browns and Jets.

Make sense? Great. Let’s look at the results.

Team Defensive Stats

This table displays the SRS-adjusted stats for each defense, based on how they fared against opposing quarterbacks only. It is sorted alphabetically, but you can sort by any column. Read it thus: After adjusting for opposing quarterbacks faced, the Arizona Cardinals allowed a true TAY/P of 7.19, a true NTAY/P of 6.69, and a true EPA/P of 0.097. Note that a lower number indicates a stronger defense.

TmTAY/PNTAY/PEPA/P
ARI7.205.690.097
ATL8.877.290.103
BAL7.756.230.105
BUF9.327.780.129
CAR7.806.310.068
CHI9.107.850.135
CIN8.456.970.110
CLE10.038.550.139
DAL8.577.160.093
DEN6.365.170.061
DET9.888.190.141
GNB9.127.590.107
HOU7.386.050.086
IND9.918.180.114
JAX8.557.080.095
KC8.176.780.081
MIA8.546.900.110
MIN7.526.030.067
NE8.837.520.096
NOR9.938.250.138
NYG7.415.970.069
NYJ9.998.380.125
OAK9.287.530.108
PHI7.756.340.071
PIT8.096.480.080
RAM8.587.150.111
SD8.396.900.097
SEA8.717.280.102
SF9.788.320.121
TB8.477.090.090
TEN9.067.480.097
WAS9.267.610.149

By any quarterback-defending metric you prefer, the Broncos rate the best. The Browns fare the worst by our adjusted yardage stats, but Washington brings up the rear in EPA/P. If you’re not sure what to make of this, think about it this way: with an adjusted TAY/P of 6.36, Denver makes opposing QBs look worse than Brock Osweiler. By contrast, Cleveland makes opposing QBs look like Kirk Cousins.

Use this table as a reference for what follows. Or don’t; live your life the way you want to.

Total Adjusted Yards

This table shows every quarterback with at least one action play in 2016 and is sorted by Total Adjusted Yards over expectation based on defenses faced (VAL). Read it thus: Matt Ryan turned 595 action plays into 7099 Total Adjusted Yards, a rate of 11.93 TAY/P. His defensive strength of schedule was 8.46, meaning he outperformed expectation by 3.47 TAY/P. That gives him a value per-game of 129.0 and a total season value of 2065. If you want to sort by rate stats and filter out non-qualifiers, just type “*” into the table’s search bar.

PlayerTmPlyTAYTAY/PSOSVAL/PVAL/GVAL
Matt Ryan*ATL595709911.938.463.47129.02065
Drew Brees*NOR705714910.148.391.7577.11234
Kirk Cousins*WAS647655010.128.281.8574.71195
Tom Brady*NE465524111.278.862.4193.61123
Dak Prescott*DAL526555610.568.512.0667.61082
Aaron Rodgers*GNB69467499.728.681.0545.5728
Andrew Luck*IND63259889.478.500.9841.2619
Derek Carr*OAK59856139.398.450.9337.3559
Matthew Stafford*DET65761769.408.640.7631.2499
Ben Roethlisberger*PIT52949529.368.620.7428.1393
Andy Dalton*CIN63957809.058.430.6124.5392
Marcus Mariota*TEN52149279.468.760.6924.1362
Alex Smith*KC55348888.848.300.5419.7296
Brian HoyerCHI205209510.229.071.1539.3236
Matt MooreMIA8798911.379.162.2148.1192
Jimmy GaroppoloNE6971710.397.872.5229.0174
Russell Wilson*SEA64456538.788.630.155.994
Philip Rivers*SD62253768.648.530.114.369
Mike GlennonTB1114012.738.873.8642.442
Tony RomoDAL46716.757.759.0036.036
Shaun HillMIN373529.519.030.486.018
Chase DanielPHI12525.007.4117.5917.618
Sam Bradford*MIN59852378.768.740.020.812
Nick FolesKC595449.229.100.123.47
Matt SchaubATL3258.338.98-0.65-1.0-2
Kellen ClemensSD100.008.55-8.55-8.6-9
Charlie WhitehurstCLE272087.708.83-1.12-30.4-30
Matt McGloinOAK15775.137.16-2.03-10.1-30
Connor CookOAK231134.916.36-1.44-33.2-33
Trevone BoykinSEA231737.529.02-1.50-11.5-35
Derek AndersonCAR544277.918.63-0.72-9.7-39
David FalesCHI7101.437.52-6.09-42.7-43
Jacoby BrissettNE745837.888.50-0.62-15.3-46
Geno SmithNYJ19934.897.52-2.62-24.9-50
Tyrod Taylor*BUF56749028.658.74-0.10-3.7-56
Ryan MallettBAL6-10-1.678.43-10.10-20.2-61
Cardale JonesBUF13665.089.99-4.91-63.8-64
Tom SavageHOU816147.588.57-0.99-26.7-80
Kevin HoganCLE352186.238.54-2.31-40.4-81
Sean MannionRAM7-43-6.147.19-13.34-93.4-93
Matt CasselTEN563426.117.90-1.79-33.5-100
Jameis Winston*TB63953118.318.49-0.18-7.3-117
Landry JonesPIT907127.919.38-1.46-26.4-132
Scott TolzienIND432144.988.13-3.15-67.8-136
Mark SanchezDAL22241.097.85-6.76-74.4-149
Brett HundleyGNB11-53-4.828.93-13.75-37.8-151
Jay CutlerCHI15910626.687.70-1.02-32.6-163
Cody Kessler*CLE22517817.928.68-0.77-19.1-172
EJ ManuelBUF361654.589.87-5.28-38.0-190
Paxton LynchDEN996456.528.68-2.16-71.4-214
Blaine GabbertSF20914536.958.16-1.21-42.1-252
Ryan Tannehill*MIA45036888.208.81-0.61-21.1-275
Drew StantonARI481703.549.32-5.78-55.5-277
Trevor Siemian*DEN53443828.218.74-0.53-20.3-284
Colin Kaepernick*SF43034648.068.81-0.76-29.6-325
Matt Barkley*CHI22617327.669.19-1.53-49.3-345
Eli Manning*NYG62250138.068.62-0.56-21.9-351
Carson Palmer*ARI64552898.208.87-0.67-28.6-429
Case Keenum*RAM35826407.378.64-1.26-45.2-452
Cam Newton*CAR62749457.898.62-0.73-30.5-457
Josh McCownCLE18911205.938.35-2.42-91.6-458
Robert Griffin IIICLE20012246.128.41-2.29-91.7-458
Bryce PettyNYJ1517665.079.16-4.09-102.9-617
Blake Bortles*JAX71354617.668.58-0.92-40.8-653
Ryan Fitzpatrick*NYJ45031216.948.68-1.74-55.9-783
Joe Flacco*BAL71254717.688.82-1.13-50.3-805
Carson Wentz*PHI67348807.258.63-1.38-58.1-930
Brock Osweiler*HOU55437316.738.72-1.99-73.5-1102
Jared Goff*RAM2359444.028.87-4.85-162.9-1140

By Total Adjusted Yards over expectation, Matt Ryan laps the field. His 2065 is 67% greater than runner-up Drew Brees‘s 1234, and he has a comfortable margin over Tom Brady in value per game and per play. Ryan’s lead is built on a historically great Y/A and first down percentage, a league-leading touchdown rate, and a solid turnover rate. He took more sacks than you’d like to see, but he made up for it with positive plays.3

Brady, of course, is no slouch. He flaunted his scarlet letter on his way to 11 wins in 12 games, a record breaking touchdown to interception ratio, and his fourteenth division title in fifteen seasons as New England’s primary starter. By TAY/P, he faced the fourth easiest slate of pass defenses, but he almost never played down to the level of his competition.

Dak Prescott and Kirk Cousins both stood out statistically, even if both often appeared to make several good plays at the expense of making great plays. Cousins faced the league’s toughest schedule, by this metric, while the stellar rookie faced the ninth hardest schedule.

Rookie Jared Goff‘s numbers were so bad on a per-play basis that he actually led the league in negative value, despite barely meeting the threshold to qualify for rate stats. Remember, of course, that Goff is really a proxy for Goff learning under a bad offensive coach who was eventually fired, playing behind the Rams line, throwing to Rams receivers, facing the second hardest defensive schedule of any qualifying quarterback.4 Give the guy 20 games before calling his career.

New Total Adjusted Yards

This table shows every quarterback with at least one action play in 2016 and is sorted by New Total Adjusted Yards over expectation based on defenses faced (VAL). Read it thus: Kirk Cousins turned 647 action plays into 5572 New Total Adjusted Yards, a rate of 8.61 NTAY/P. His defensive strength of schedule was 6.80, meaning he outperformed expectation by 1.81 NTAY/P. That gives him a value per-game of 73.3 and a total season value of 1173. If you want to sort by rate stats and filter out non-qualifiers, just type “*” into the table’s search bar.

PlayerTmPlyNTAYNTAY/PSOSVAL/PVAL/GVAL
Matt Ryan*ATL59559369.986.983.00111.41782
Kirk Cousins*WAS64755728.616.801.8173.31173
Dak Prescott*DAL52647829.097.022.0868.21092
Drew Brees*NOR70559528.446.901.5467.91086
Tom Brady*NE46543549.367.362.0077.7932
Aaron Rodgers*GNB69457318.267.181.0846.7747
Andrew Luck*IND63251418.137.031.1046.5697
Derek Carr*OAK59847217.896.970.9236.7551
Marcus Mariota*TEN52142848.227.230.9934.3514
Andy Dalton*CIN63948357.576.950.6224.8397
Matthew Stafford*DET65750547.697.160.5321.8349
Ben Roethlisberger*PIT52940967.747.100.6424.1338
Tyrod Taylor*BUF56743027.597.230.3513.3199
Alex Smith*KC55339577.156.810.3412.7190
Brian HoyerCHI20517328.457.520.9331.7190
Russell Wilson*SEA64447647.407.140.2610.6169
Jimmy GaroppoloNE695988.666.312.3527.0162
Matt MooreMIA878119.327.691.6335.4142
Jameis Winston*TB63946207.237.010.218.6137
Mike GlennonTB1112211.057.293.7541.341
Shaun HillMIN373168.537.471.0613.039
Tony RomoDAL46215.506.349.1636.637
Chase DanielPHI12019.505.9713.5313.514
Matt SchaubATL3258.337.540.801.22
Nick FolesKC594397.447.53-0.09-2.6-5
Kellen ClemensSD100.007.08-7.08-7.1-7
Matt McGloinOAK15734.835.85-1.02-5.1-15
Philip Rivers*SD62243476.997.03-0.04-1.6-26
Trevone BoykinSEA231375.967.57-1.62-12.4-37
Charlie WhitehurstCLE271646.067.52-1.46-39.5-39
David FalesCHI730.366.03-5.67-39.7-40
Derek AndersonCAR543446.377.16-0.79-10.6-43
Tom SavageHOU815306.547.08-0.54-14.7-44
Connor CookOAK23703.045.17-2.13-48.9-49
Cardale JonesBUF13544.128.37-4.25-55.3-55
Matt CasselTEN563075.476.51-1.04-19.4-58
Kevin HoganCLE351875.337.05-1.72-30.1-60
Ryan MallettBAL6-20-3.256.85-10.10-20.2-61
Geno SmithNYJ19522.716.00-3.29-31.3-63
Sam Bradford*MIN59842557.117.24-0.13-5.1-76
Sean MannionRAM7-50-7.145.69-12.83-89.8-90
Scott TolzienIND431744.036.53-2.49-53.5-107
Jacoby BrissettNE744125.567.02-1.46-36.0-108
Blaine GabbertSF20912816.136.71-0.58-20.3-122
Landry JonesPIT905916.577.98-1.41-25.4-127
Brett HundleyGNB11-60-5.417.36-12.77-35.1-140
Cody Kessler*CLE22514576.487.13-0.65-16.3-147
EJ ManuelBUF361524.218.30-4.09-29.5-147
Paxton LynchDEN995625.687.18-1.50-49.6-149
Jay CutlerCHI1598505.356.29-0.95-30.1-151
Mark SanchezDAL22-21-0.936.44-7.37-81.1-162
Trevor Siemian*DEN53436766.887.22-0.33-12.7-178
Cam Newton*CAR62742766.827.11-0.29-12.1-181
Colin Kaepernick*SF43029086.767.31-0.54-21.3-234
Drew StantonARI481322.757.88-5.13-49.2-246
Matt Barkley*CHI22614676.497.62-1.13-36.3-254
Carson Palmer*ARI64544656.927.36-0.44-18.8-282
Ryan Tannehill*MIA45029616.587.32-0.74-25.7-334
Robert Griffin IIICLE2009984.996.90-1.91-76.6-383
Josh McCownCLE1898964.746.80-2.07-78.1-391
Case Keenum*RAM35821526.017.13-1.12-40.2-402
Eli Manning*NYG62240006.437.12-0.69-26.8-430
Blake Bortles*JAX71345226.347.07-0.73-32.4-518
Bryce PettyNYJ1515693.767.62-3.85-97.0-582
Ryan Fitzpatrick*NYJ45025465.667.18-1.53-49.1-687
Joe Flacco*BAL71244336.237.29-1.06-47.4-758
Carson Wentz*PHI67339985.947.13-1.19-50.2-803
Brock Osweiler*HOU55431395.677.22-1.56-57.5-862
Jared Goff*RAM2356582.807.35-4.55-152.7-1069

This list isn’t going to be too much different from the previous one. The biggest difference is that quarterbacks who rely heavily on YAC from their receivers are going to slip, while those who throw deeper passes are going to rise. Matthew Stafford, who threw short passes, was ninth in TAY/P but falls to eleventh in NTAY/P. Jameis Winston, Tyrod Taylor, and reigning MVP Cam Newton all aired out the ball and fair better here, where the degree of difficulty of their passes is rewarded. Alex Smith and Sam Bradford see drops concomitant with their low percentage of air yards.

Again, Ryan leads the pack by a mile, while Brady drops to fifth in total value. Brady is still second in per-game value, but he drops to third in per-play value because Prescott’s strength of schedule was greater.

My preseason pick for MVP was Russell Wilson. Playing through injury behind a not-ready-for-primetime offensive line, Wilson did not quite reach those heights. His rushing ability, which until this year was among the most valuable of any quarterback’s in history, was gone. His trademark elusive scrambling has often bought him time his line couldn’t provide, enabling him to take deep shots downfield with success, but injuries mitigated that as well.

Expected Points Added

This table shows every quarterback with at least one action play in 2016, according to ESPN’s definition of action plays when calculating Total QBR. It is sorted by Expected Points Added over expectation based on defenses faced. Read it thus: Aaron Rodgers turned 749 plays into 115.4 EPA, a rate of 0.154 EPA/P. His defensive strength of schedule was 0.104, meaning Rodgers outperformed expectation by 0.050 EPA/P. He finished the regular season with 2.33 EPA added value per-game and 37 EPA value for the season. If you want to sort by rate stats and filter out non-qualifiers, just type “*” into the table’s search bar.

PlayerTmPlyEPAEPA/PSOSVal/PVal/GVal
Matt Ryan*ATL647111.40.1720.0960.0763.0849
Dak Prescott*DAL54895.40.1740.1020.0722.4740
Aaron Rodgers*GNB749115.40.1540.1040.0502.3337
Kirk Cousins*WAS70299.70.1420.0950.0472.0833
Matthew Stafford*DET703101.60.1450.1030.0421.8329
Tom Brady*NE50783.10.1640.1110.0532.2227
Andrew Luck*IND69894.30.1350.0990.0371.7026
Drew Brees*NOR76096.70.1270.0940.0331.5725
Derek Carr*OAK66573.90.1110.0960.0150.6710
Jameis Winston*TB70180.50.1150.1010.0140.6010
Tyrod Taylor*BUF60572.60.1200.1060.0140.568
Jimmy GaroppoloNE7416.00.2160.1040.1121.388
Marcus Mariota*TEN57066.80.1170.1030.0140.528
Alex Smith*KC59861.90.1040.0910.0120.487
Philip Rivers*SD68071.40.1050.0970.0080.356
Matt MooreMIA9415.70.1670.1130.0541.265
Ben Roethlisberger*PIT57666.30.1150.1070.0080.345
Russell Wilson*SEA69776.30.1090.1040.0050.223
Tom SavageHOU8911.60.1300.1010.0290.863
Tony RomoDAL52.00.4000.0710.3291.642
Brian HoyerCHI21924.30.1110.1070.0040.161
Chase DanielPHI10.50.5000.0690.4310.430
Matt CasselTEN615.80.0950.0900.0050.110
Shaun HillMIN373.90.1050.0980.0080.100
Kevin HoganCLE364.20.1170.1110.0060.100
Mike GlennonTB121.20.1000.103-0.003-0.040
Matt SchaubATL30.00.0000.114-0.114-0.170
Kellen ClemensSD2-0.2-0.1000.095-0.195-0.390
Trevone BoykinSEA241.90.0790.104-0.025-0.20-1
Ryan MallettBAL6-0.2-0.0330.105-0.138-0.28-1
David FalesCHI7-0.4-0.0570.067-0.124-0.87-1
Brett HundleyGNB11-0.3-0.0270.106-0.134-0.37-1
Geno SmithNYJ200.50.0250.102-0.077-0.77-2
Sean MannionRAM9-0.7-0.0780.097-0.175-1.58-2
Cardale JonesBUF13-0.2-0.0150.125-0.141-1.83-2
Connor CookOAK26-0.6-0.0230.061-0.085-2.20-2
Matt McGloinOAK17-1.0-0.0590.071-0.130-0.74-2
Charlie WhitehurstCLE290.50.0170.096-0.078-2.27-2
Scott TolzienIND440.60.0140.082-0.069-1.51-3
Blaine GabbertSF21617.60.0810.097-0.015-0.54-3
Joe Flacco*BAL74876.10.1020.107-0.005-0.24-4
Nick FolesKC652.80.0430.103-0.059-1.93-4
EJ ManuelBUF390.50.0130.122-0.109-0.85-4
Landry JonesPIT987.10.0720.116-0.044-0.86-4
Sam Bradford*MIN64465.00.1010.108-0.007-0.29-4
Mark SanchezDAL23-2.8-0.1220.074-0.196-2.25-5
Jacoby BrissettNE814.20.0520.109-0.057-1.55-5
Drew StantonARI510.60.0120.116-0.104-1.06-5
Carson Palmer*ARI69969.50.0990.108-0.009-0.42-6
Derek AndersonCAR63-0.8-0.0130.096-0.109-1.71-7
Andy Dalton*CIN68163.10.0930.103-0.010-0.43-7
Trevor Siemian*DEN58350.50.0870.099-0.012-0.52-7
Eli Manning*NYG65662.40.0950.107-0.012-0.47-8
Paxton LynchDEN1031.40.0140.098-0.084-2.88-9
Brock Osweiler*HOU58348.50.0830.099-0.016-0.62-9
Robert Griffin IIICLE21111.20.0530.097-0.044-1.87-9
Cody Kessler*CLE24517.00.0690.108-0.039-1.06-10
Ryan Tannehill*MIA47442.00.0890.109-0.020-0.74-10
Jay CutlerCHI1692.70.0160.077-0.061-2.07-10
Josh McCownCLE2026.80.0340.096-0.063-2.53-13
Carson Wentz*PHI73265.30.0890.107-0.018-0.83-13
Colin Kaepernick*SF45536.90.0810.111-0.030-1.23-14
Matt Barkley*CHI24614.40.0590.116-0.058-2.02-14
Cam Newton*CAR66754.10.0810.104-0.023-1.01-15
Case Keenum*RAM38621.70.0560.101-0.045-1.74-17
Bryce PettyNYJ1610.10.0010.114-0.113-3.03-18
Ryan Fitzpatrick*NYJ48127.80.0580.106-0.048-1.66-23
Blake Bortles*JAX77151.40.0670.100-0.033-1.61-26
Jared Goff*RAM263-0.2-0.0010.109-0.110-4.14-29

The first two tables are based on mostly the same inputs, so they obviously are quite similar. Since TAY/P is based on expected points, there is much overlap with EPA/P as well. However, ESPN has a reverse clutch index to their totals,5 and they also include EPA from penalties. adjusted yardage-based stats do neither of those things, so it is interesting to note the differences here.

The most notable change is the position of Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford in the top three of total EPA. When you consider the number of close games the Packers and (especially) Lions played, it makes sense that a stat that rewards performance in high leverage situations would rate them highly. Of course, the two ran over 700 plays apiece to get there, so their EPA/P only ranks fourth (Rodgers) and fifth (Stafford), behind Prescott, Ryan, and Brady.

Prescott’s lead over Ryan disappears once schedule strength is factored in, but his contributions as a rookie have been remarkable.

Brady faced the second easiest schedule in the league, by this metric, which allows Rodgers to pull up almost even with him. Given that Rodgers had both more plays and more plays per game than did Brady, the Green bay star actually surpasses Brady in both total value and per-game value.

Looking at total value, Ryan led the league by a significant margin, followed by Prescott with Rodgers close behind. However, after accounting for playcalling and offensive support, the race for a certain award may be closer than many in the stats-only crowd are making it out to be. Of course, that’s just my opinion; I could be wrong.

 

  1. Total Adjusted Yards per Play with only half credit awarded to quarterbacks for receiving yards gained after the catch.
  2. Though not perfect context, as that would include factoring in weather, home/away splits, supporting offensive cast, defensive help, coaching, and dumb luck plays.
  3. Yes, I know, except at the end of that game. Don’t make the mistake of focusing on his worst moment at the expense of all his great moments that made Atlanta a playoff team.
  4. Similarly, Matt Ryan is a proxy for Ryan playing for a good play designer/caller, playing in a dome, throwing to a good receiving corps, handing off to talented backs, and playing a difficult schedule. Brady is really Brady playing behind a solid line, coached by a Rushmore head coach, playing in a system defenses rarely seem to be able to figure out, playing a light schedule, throwing to decent receivers, playing outside in a northern city. Every player at every position has stats that are really indicative of more than the individual contribution. Good luck figuring out how to parse it.
  5. By “reverse clutch weighted,” I mean that they don’t give extra weight to high leverage plays (as they used to), but they do reduce the weight of plays made in garbage time. Thus, a quarterback whose team often has a big lead or a deficit will see his contributions mitigated statistically. Alternatively, a quarterback whose team plays in many close games will receive more credit for making the same plays.
  • Adam

    Good stuff, man. I had no idea Kirk Cousins faced the toughest SOS among regular starters this year. I’ve had him close to the top of my not-as-good-as-his-numbers list, but maybe it’s time to rethink that.

    • Bryan Frye

      I honestly felt the same way when watching him, as I alluded to. I don’t know how you can consistently overthrow DeSean Jackson, but Cousins seemed to do it all the time this season. I mentioned him and Dak Prescott together because I felt they both left big plays on the field. Cousins left them on the field by making poor throws or poor reads. Prescott left them on the field by not pulling the trigger. That was my impression of watching the two (I watched all 16 Cousins games and 10 or 11 Prescott games).

  • Adam

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  • Adam

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