The QB Blast: Numbers Reveal Long Odds

November 4th, 2009

Former Bucs QB Jeff Carlson


Former Bucs quarterback Jeff Carlson writes the weekly QB Blast column here at Joe is ecstatic to have him firing away. Carlson has TV gigs in the Bay area and trains quarterbacks of all ages via his company, America’s Best Quarterback.

As the Bucs took some time off after their return to the U.S.A. to reflect on the first half of the season, I thought about it as well, but decided at 0-7, I needed to keep working to find hope for success as their retro uniforms return for the very first time on Sunday.

The obvious comparisons to the early days of the franchise are too easy right now.  But come Sunday, they will be honoring their only Hall-Of-Famer, who suffered through that first winless season and also led them to division titles shortly thereafter and all the way to the NFC Championship game in 1979.

So, no matter how bleak it looks today, there is hope in sight. Isn’t there?

With the extra time, I decided to crunch some 2009 QB numbers, and see what it might look like on Sunday for Josh Freeman, when he takes the reins of this franchise.

The two other first round rookie QBs (Lions’ Matthew Stafford and Jets’ Mark Sanchez) have started from the first game of the season and have posted mediocre results. The Jets started 3-0, but have fallen to 4-4 as his passing efficiency has dropped significantly. The two top picks average .85 TD passes per game (less than 1 per game), while throwing 1.13 INT’s. They combine for a 64.8 passer efficiency rating.

I also looked at teams in the NFL with just a single win thus far (Titans, Chiefs, Rams, Cleveland) and found eerily similar numbers with or without a veteran quarterback under center. The average passing efficiency of 62.65 is almost identical to the rookies’ and their TD-pass average per game is slightly lower (.73) than the rookies’. The INT rate is 1.1. 

If Josh Freeman keeps up with his more experienced peers, he is not likely to throw a touchdown pass on Sunday, but will absolutely throw a pick.

Most of those QB’s have had a pick returned for a TD and Freeman’s pick will also have a decent chance of that or at least leading to points for Green Bay.  By the way, the combination of Leftwich and Johnson put up 1.14 TD’s per game, but are up a bit higher than their competitors’ INT rate at 1.57. Their efficiency rating is 61.05, right on the number for the other QB’s having rough seasons.

On the other hand, Aaron Rodgers (one of my favorites in the league) of the Green Bay Packers has put up some of the best numbers in the NFL with 14 TDs and only 2 INT’s. His 110 QB rating is tops in the entire league, just ahead of Peyton Manning.

The +12 difference between his TD’s and INT’s is only surpassed by guess who? Brett Favre is at +13, leading the 7-1 Vikings. The only thing not working for the Packers offense is their pass blocking. Against the Vikings last weekend, Rodgers got dropped six times and leads the league in getting sacked. When he gets some protection or creates some for himself, he has very good agility. The Packers offense is very good through the air averaging 2 TD’s per game, with only a .28 chance of throwing one to the other team.

To sum up all of these numbers, the Bucs are likely to throw a pick, possibly for six, so we’ll give the Packers 3 points for that. The Bucs are unlikely  to throw a TD, but the Packers should expect to throw two, another 14 points. So, the QB differential going into Sunday is 17 points for the Packers, based solely on QB stats from other teams with similar records and on the two other QB’s picked ahead of Josh Freeman.

The Bucs running game hasn’t proven to put up 17 points yet, so it doesn’t look good for our boys in orange this weekend, regardless if you like Bucco Bruce or not.

Good luck Josh — and I mean that sincerely.

3 Responses to “The QB Blast: Numbers Reveal Long Odds”

  1. Ackall Says:

    Liked the analysis, but that was a downer. Even the stats are stacked against Freeman. Thanfully, we still have to play the game. …

  2. Bob Says:

    Jeff appreciate your insight not sure if your one to answer comments or not but here it goes. Faithfull listener of Sirus NFL Radio and Pat Kirwan was suggesting that JF should not have taken off for the bye but instead spent 14 hour days at One Buc Place to improve his chances of a better start!

  3. Chuck Says:

    I have not made it a secret what I think about JC, but this was an interesting article using real stats. Nice job Jeff, thank god Freeman and the Bucs beat the odds.