Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

28 Feb 2007

FO Mailbag: Completion Percentage by Pass Distance

Stephen Shaw: I was just looking through my copy of Pro Football Prospectus and was trying to find completion percentages broken down by distance of pass, short, medium, long, and bomb. Is that info available?

Aaron Schatz: Sure. I'll even do you one better by showing the best and worst quarterbacks of 2006 at each distance. Right now, the data still doesn't include Weeks 16-17, but nearly every game from Week 1 through Week 15 is all charted and in this data.

Here are the general completion percentages for the league in 2006:

• Short (5 yards or less): 78%
• Mid (6-15 yards): 63%
• Deep (16-25 yards): 49%
• Bomb (26+ yards): 29%

What we're measuring here is completion percentage based on the length a pass goes in the air, not the total yardage gained on a play. If these percentages seem high, remember they don't include passes where the intended length of the pass can not be determined: throwaways, tipped at line, and hit in motion.

Here's a look at which quarterbacks had the best and worst completion percentage based on our current partial data. I'm using the top 40 quarterbacks in terms of charted passes.

Best Short

• J.P. Losman: 86.9%
• Carson Palmer: 86.0%
• David Carr: 86.0%
• Charlie Frye: 86.0%
• Ben Roethlisberger: 84.1%

Worst Short

• Andrew Walter: 65.6%
• Vince Young 69.0%
• Drew Bledsoe: 69.2%

Best Mid

• Trent Green: 72.1%
• Tony Romo: 72.0% (remember, this does not include Weeks 16-17)
• Brad Johnson: 71.6%
• Alex Smith: 70.5%
• Aaron Brooks: 70.2%

Worst Mid

• Bruce Gradkowski: 52.3%
• Donovan McNabb: 53.8%
• Brett Favre: 54.4%

Best Deep

• Drew Brees: 66.0%
• Philip Rivers: 64.4%
• Carson Palmer: 62.0%
• Donovan McNabb: 61.7%
• Tony Romo: 61.2% (with Drew Bledsoe right behind, oddly enough)

Worst Deep

• Jason Campbell 26.3%
• Byron Leftwich 32.0%
• Bruce Gradkowski 32.2%

Best Bomb (small sample size on these)

• Drew Brees 57.1%
• Steve McNair 50.0%
• Carson Palmer: 48.5
• Peyton Manning: 47.4%
• Tony Romo: 45.8%

Worst Bomb

• Daunte Culpepper: 0% (0 for 9)
• David Garrard: 10.0%
• Vince Young: 10.7%

Hey, remember when people thought that Drew Brees was smart and easily coachable, but didn't have the arm needed to make long-range throws in the NFL? Heh, that was funny.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 28 Feb 2007

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