Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

11 Dec 2012

Measuring the impact of a successful running game on a QB's production

I have been trying to wrap my head around how to show this with statistics. Take two cases of the ultimate extremes, Aaron Rodgers and RG3. Rodgers has zero running game to lean on, and by "lean on" I mean force the defense to bring 8 into the box and come out of a two-deep shell and focus on stopping the run.

RG3 almost never faces a two-deep shell and constantly has a one-high safety and the middle of the field wide open. He is especially benefited by the play action, which the Redskins run more than any other team in the league and which boosts his passer rating from 90 (non-PA) to around 125 (on PA passes). Rodgers' passer rating actually drops on PA passes.

So, we can measure stats on PA throws and non-PA throws (PFF does it). But how can we measure the impact on the rest of their stats? Clearly Rodgers has a tougher time than RG3 based on the defensive looks he gets, but how can that be shown in stats?

I really can't find a way, unless defensive alignments are tracked with QB stats.

tl;dr how can one show the positive effect of a running game on passing statistics? Can anyone help?

Posted by: ironbmike on 11 Dec 2012

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