FanPost

Alex Smith - NFL QB (Trends and Averages: Part 2)

Jed Jacobsohn

From the FanPosts -Joel

First, I must start by acknowledging AP user JayhawksNChiefs for starting this conversation with his FanShot, that you can read here. The conversations within the comments section led to this FanPost.

Trends_medium

Specifically, this post is written in response to two arguments:

Argument #1) The "total number of TDs" is a superior stat for showing QB success, and demonstrates that Matt Cassel was a superior game winner, compared to Alex Smith.

Argument #2) We, as AP users, have a tendency to ignore Alex Smith's early years and cherry pick want we need to support our opinions of him

To counter these arguments, I will present data to you in three different ways. First, I have compiled the career statistics for both Matt Cassel and Joe Flacco from the NFL.com webpage (follow this link and this link for the raw data). Second, as per JayhawksNChiefs example, I have created charts which show the trends of both QBs in each of these reported areas. Last, I repeat these trend charts, but include information for Joe Flacco and Tom Brady as well. I will not provide very much commentary on these findings--I will let the data speak.

Countering Argument #1

I have broken the career data for Smith and Cassel into two tables: one with absolute statistics (such as total yards, total INTs, total TDs) and one with relative statistics (such as completion %, TD %, INT %, and QB Rating). The primary reason I have done so is because Cassel and Smith have never played the same number of games in a season. It is therefore difficult to compare their absolute stats in a meaningful way, whereas we can form judgements based on their relative stats.

I have included both sets of data for reference, but have gone through and highlighted the "winner" in each relative statistical category for each season in which both players played. Just to emphasize a point about total number of TDs, I have included that statistic in both tables. You will see that Matt Cassel has thrown more TDs that Alex Smith in only one season of NFL football. From the 32 "comparisons" made between Smith and Cassel: Smith "won" 23 times, "lost" 7 times, and "tied" Matt Cassel twice.

Table #1: Absolute Stats

Absolute

Cassel

Smith

Cassel

Smith

Cassel

Smith

Cassel

Smith

Cassel

Smith

Cassel

Smith

Cassel

Smith

Cassel

Smith

Cassel

Smith

Year

G

G

Att

Att

Comp

Comp

Yds

Yds

TD

TD

Int

Int

20+

20+

40+

40+

Sck

Sck

2012

9

10

277

218

161

153

1,796

1,737

6

13

12

5

24

22

1

4

19

24

2011

9

16

269

445

160

273

1,713

3,144

10

17

9

5

21

41

5

6

22

44

2010

15

11

450

342

262

204

3,116

2,370

27

14

7

10

40

30

4

7

26

25

2009

15

11

493

372

271

225

2,924

2,350

16

18

16

12

37

33

8

5

42

22

2008

16

0

516

--

327

--

3,693

--

21

--

11

--

37

--

6

--

47

--

2007

7

193

94

914

2

4

11

1

17

2006

16

442

257

2,890

16

16

34

8

35

Table #2: Relative Stats with Highlighted "Winner"

Relative

Cassel

Smith

Cassel

Smith

Cassel

Smith

Cassel

Smith

Cassel

Smith

Cassel

Smith

Cassel

Smith

Cassel

Smith

Cassel

Smith

Year

G

G

Pct

Pct

Att/G

Att/G

Avg

Avg

Yds/G

Yds/G

Rate

Rate

TD

TD

TD%

TD%

Int%

Int%

2012

9

10

58.1

70.2

30.8

21.8

6.5

8

199.6

173.7

66.7

104.1

6

13

2.2

6

4.3

2.3

2011

9

16

59.5

61.3

29.9

27.8

6.4

7.1

190.3

196.5

76.6

90.7

10

17

3.7

3.8

3.3

1.1

2010

15

11

58.2

59.6

30

31.1

6.9

6.9

207.7

215.5

93

82.1

27

14

6

4.1

1.6

2.9

2009

15

11

55

60.5

32.9

33.8

5.9

6.3

194.9

213.6

69.9

81.5

16

18

3.2

4.8

3.2

3.2

2008

16

0

63.4

--

32.2

--

7.2

--

230.8

--

89.4

--

21

--

4.1

--

2.1

--

2007

7

48.7

27.6

4.7

130.6

57.2

2

1

2.1

2006

16

58.1

27.6

6.5

180.6

74.8

16

3.6

3.6

Countering Argument #2

What is the best way to evaluate Alex Smith, given the variance in his performance as a QB since he entered the league? Should we average out his stats? Should we identify trends? In my opinion (which I am happy to have countered within the comments) one of the most informative methods is to look at trends over time, just as JayhawksNChiefs did in his FanShot. I have therefore plotted both QB's performances by season (not age) to identify trends, using the relative statistics from above. Just to avoid bias, I have also included the absolute numbers for both TDs and INTs, although these will not predict trends as well as their "TD%" and "INT%" counterparts.

You will see (on each chart) a pair of thick curved lines and thin straight lines. The thick line is the running curvilinear data for each player with the circles indicating their actual stat. The thinner straight line is a linear ordinary least squares (OLS) trend line. If the straight line is pointing upwards from left-to-right, this indicates the QB is getting better (except INT% and Interceptions, of course, which we want to point to down). If the line points downward from left-to-right, that QB is regressing in a particular area. Here are the charts for Alex Smith and Matt Cassel (double-click them to see full size):

Matt Cassel (Blue) vs. Alex Smith (Green)

Qbcharts001_medium

via imageshack.us

Qbcharts002_medium

via imageshack.us

Alex Smith trends improvement in: Completion %, Yards per Completion, Yards per Game, Quarterback Rating, Touchdown %, total touchdowns, Interception %, and total interceptions.

Alex Smith trends negatively in: Pass Attempts per Game only

Matt Cassel trends improvement in: total interceptions only

Matt Cassel trends negatively in: Completion %, Yards per Completion, Yards per Game, Quarterback Rating, Touchdown %, total touchdowns, Interception %, and Pass Attempts per Game


Matt (Blue) vs. Joe (Green) vs. Tom (Yellow) vs. Alex (Red)

To increase our sample size and see how these compare, I have repeated the charts with Joe Flacco and Tom Brady's information. It's a bit more muddled, but hopefully still readable (and please note the color change for Alex).

Qbcharts003_medium

via imageshack.us

Qbcharts004_medium

via imageshack.us

Joe Flacco trends improvement in: Yards per Completion, Yards per Game, Quarterback Rating, Touchdown %, total touchdowns, Interception %, total interceptions, and Pass Attempts per Game

Joe Flacco trends negatively in: Completion % only

Tom Brady trends improvement in: Completion %, Yards per Completion, Yards per Game, Quarterback Rating, total touchdowns, Interception %, total interceptions, and Pass Attempts per Game

Tom Brady trends negatively in: Touchdown % only (primarily due to his insane 2007 season -- it's hard not to regress from there)

My Conclusion

Alex Smith is not Tom Brady. But, Alex Smith is also NOT Matt Cassel. Alex Smith's future looks bright--at least as bright as Joe Flacco's.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.

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