Stat of the Day: Failed Completions

As part of our ongoing Stat of the Day series, we're digging deep into our spreadsheets to run a new stat every weekday until Super Bowl XLIV.

Today's list looks at "failed completions." These are passes that are complete, but don't get enough yardage to count as "successful plays" according to FO guidelines: 45 percent of needed yards on first down, 60 percent on second down, or 100 percent on third/fourth down.

If you enjoyed last year's Chicago-Denver trade, well, this week's list is for you.

Most Failed Completions   Highest Rate Failed Completions
(min. 100 completions)
Player Team Total   Player Team Pct
6-J.Cutler CHI 94 x 5-T.Edwards BUF 35.5%
8-K.Orton DEN 90 x 2-J.Russell OAK 35.0%
8-M.Hasselbeck SEA 87 x 11-A.Smith SF 34.7%
7-M.Cassel KC 86 x 14-R.Fitzpatrick BUF 34.6%
8-M.Schaub HOU 85 x 7-M.Cassel KC 31.5%
4-B.Favre MIN 85 x 10-B.Quinn CLE 30.9%
9-D.Brees NO 84 x 8-M.Hasselbeck SEA 29.7%
9-D.Garrard JAC 81 x 6-J.Cutler CHI 28.0%
17-J.Campbell WAS 79 x 8-K.Orton DEN 26.8%
18-P.Manning IND 79 x 9-D.Garrard JAC 25.8%

Now we'll flip things around and look at receivers. This is actually what inspired this list as stat of the day: Vince Verhei wanted to know if Wes Welker led all receivers in this stat for 2009. Actually, if you look at the quarterbacks list and then remember the most memorable individual performances of the year, you should be able to figure out which receiver tops this list. It isn't Welker; he's high up there, but nobody even comes close to the guy at number one.

I left off running backs, because otherwise they would dominate the list. Obviously, they get a lot of failed completions as dumpoff outlets.

Most Failed Completions
(WR/TE only)
  Highest Rate Failed Completions
(min. 30 completions, WR/TE only)
Player Team Total   Player Team Pct
15-B.Marshall DEN 31 x 86-D.Lee GB 51.4%
84-J.Morgan SF 22 x 84-J.Morgan SF 42.3%
83-W.Welker NE 22 x 16-D.Amendola STL 36.4%
82-J.Witten DAL 22 x 83-D.Branch SEA 33.3%
80-Z.Miller OAK 20 x 15-M.Crabtree SF 33.3%
85-V.Davis SF 19 x 86-D.Northcutt DET 31.4%
44-D.Clark IND 19 x 15-B.Marshall DEN 30.7%
86-D.Lee GB 19 x 80-Z.Miller OAK 30.3%
86-H.Ward PIT 19 x 80-B.Scaife TEN 28.9%
83-H.Miller PIT 19 x 85-D.Thomas NO 28.6%


37 comments, Last at 16 Jan 2010, 1:44pm

#1 by LukeM // Jan 15, 2010 - 2:32pm

How many of Marshall's completions were failed against the Colts?

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#2 by LukeM // Jan 15, 2010 - 2:34pm

Russell should be exempted due to small sample size.

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#3 by Marko // Jan 15, 2010 - 2:36pm

I think a shorthand term for a failed completion should be a "Shoop" in honor of former Bears offensive coordinator John Shoop. Bears fans will know what I mean.

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#6 by Thomas_beardown // Jan 15, 2010 - 2:52pm

I don't think Shoop ever met a 3rd down he couldn't throw short on the sticks on.

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#35 by Daniel // Jan 16, 2010 - 9:23am

FO should do a "Shoop of the year" award for most ridiculous (designed) play on 3rd or 4th down. I would nominate the screen to Julian Edelman on 4th and 7 last Sunday (the one where he made the first down with a superb individual effort only to have it called back by a holding penalty.)

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#23 by dmb // Jan 15, 2010 - 4:41pm

Well, Campbell was tied with Peyton Manning for ninth in total number, and didn't make it into the top (bottom?) 10 for rate (though it wouldn't surprise me if he narrowly missed the cutoff) ...

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#17 by MikeyS (not verified) // Jan 15, 2010 - 3:37pm

Why not just call it a Jauron? You get his Bears and Bills efforts.

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#4 by Thomas_beardown // Jan 15, 2010 - 2:40pm

Cutler is first in failed completions, but no Bears on the receiver list. I guess he spread them around.

Also, Cutler is listed ahead of Orton on the percentage list, but has a lower percentage.

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#14 by JasonG (not verified) // Jan 15, 2010 - 3:24pm

Or that most of them were to Forte, who would be excluded from the second list.

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#15 by Aaron Schatz // Jan 15, 2010 - 3:27pm

Oops! Pasted wrong numbers for the bottom two guys when I decided to increase the minimum to be ranked. I've fixed that now.

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#5 by AnonymousA (not verified) // Jan 15, 2010 - 2:47pm

Welker has a lot of failed completions...but only because he had a TON of receptions. His percentage doesn't make the top 10.

So the answer is "no, his stats aren't inflated."

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#27 by PatsFan // Jan 15, 2010 - 5:02pm

In fact, his percentage was no higher than 17.9%. Compared to #10 at 28+%.

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#7 by UTchamps (not verified) // Jan 15, 2010 - 2:57pm

Interesting that percentage failed completion seems to be a much better indicator of QB quality than total failed completions. QBs widely considered to be elite (Peyton Manning, Drew Brees) and controversially considered to be elite (Brett Favre Matt Schaub) are in the top ten of total FC. Top ten of percentage is a veritable who's who of terrible QBs.

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#10 by Jovins // Jan 15, 2010 - 3:09pm

Well that makes sense, doesn't it? The total failed completions is a counting stat, not a rate stat. So, the quarterbacks with the most attempts ought to have the most failed completions. More specifically, the quarterbacks with the most completions ought to have the most failed completions.

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#12 by Arkaein // Jan 15, 2010 - 3:16pm

Good QBs throw the ball a lot and so have a greater chance to rack up large numbers of bad passes of almost any kind (including incompletions and interceptions), so it's not really a surprise.

And I wouldn't say all of the bad percentage guys are terrible. A lot of them on ir bad situations. Lack of playmakers or protection seems to be as much of a common thread as actual bad quarterbacking. Orton, Garrard, Cutler, and Hasselback are all guys that have shown at least average or better ability under decent circumstances.

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#22 by Dales // Jan 15, 2010 - 4:22pm

I see perhaps two guys on the suck list, maybe three if I squint hard, who I think can be above-average quarterbacks in any given year.

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#16 by JetfanMike (not verified) // Jan 15, 2010 - 3:31pm

No Sanchize. But maybe his failures are of the spectacular interception type.

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#33 by Led // Jan 16, 2010 - 12:21am

His problem for most of the year was not checking down and forcing the ball downfield, rather than checking down too much.

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#11 by BadgerDave // Jan 15, 2010 - 3:12pm

Can we get the numbers for who had the least failed completions? As a Packers fan, I'm really anxious to see how Aaron Rodgers' numbers turned out.

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#19 by ChicagoRaider // Jan 15, 2010 - 3:49pm

Actually, it looks like this list skews heavily toward tight ends, which is also what you expect. They run a lot of dump-off routes also. I think that WR/TE should just be a separate list.

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#20 by Melsh (not verified) // Jan 15, 2010 - 4:05pm

Let's not overlook JaMarcus' high rate of successful incompletions.

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#30 by Bright Blue Shorts // Jan 15, 2010 - 5:37pm

It's kind of scary that not only does the Fatboy have one of the lowest completion rates in the league, but then of those completions over a third of them are essentially useless.

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#21 by Dales // Jan 15, 2010 - 4:20pm

I honestly think this is one stat that is more meaningful as a rate for QBs and more meaningful as a counting stat for the receivers.

That list of QB rates is a whole lotta suck.

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#25 by otros // Jan 15, 2010 - 4:51pm

Can we get a top ten lowest QB/WR failed conversion?

It's weird miss if that's what moved you to make the list.

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#26 by PatsFan // Jan 15, 2010 - 5:02pm

As I recall, Welker had 123 completions (maybe more if DPI/illegal contact against him are counted as completions when figuring failed/successful completions) which means he had at worst had a 17.9% failure rate -- which is way, way, way below the top 10 list of highest rate of failure.

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#28 by sundown (not verified) // Jan 15, 2010 - 5:21pm

Great stats, but I don't think I agree with using 45% as the benchmark on first down. You'd be happy with a 4 1/2 yard run on first down, so why would it be a failure to get to the exact same place with a pass?

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#29 by Verifiably Unv… (not verified) // Jan 15, 2010 - 5:30pm

I'm sure this is not material to the rankings but, (as a numbers/geek type) if the third down is followed by a fourth down non-punt I would think 60% to 75% of the required yardage would be sucessful.

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#31 by BigDerf // Jan 15, 2010 - 5:48pm

only in scenarios where they were obviously playing for 4 downs does that work though... cause otherwise they are only going for it on 4th cause of the unsuccessful third.

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#32 by Ryan Mc (not verified) // Jan 15, 2010 - 9:22pm

What about failed completions just for third down? Seems like that would be a much bigger deal than throwing a 3 yard hitch on 1st down, which least gets positive yardage. Who are the main offenders on 3rd down?

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#34 by Soulless Merch… // Jan 16, 2010 - 7:41am

Trent Edwards - #1 for percentage of failed completions.
Ryan Fitzpatrick - #4 for percentage of failed completions.

Ladies and Gentlemen, your Buffalo Bills! YEE-HAW!

Hard to believe so few people want that head coaching gig...

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#36 by ChicagoRaider // Jan 16, 2010 - 11:57am

That is so unfair. When you are behind an offensive line that only permits a one-step drop, obviously it is hard to hit the metrics.

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#37 by dk240t // Jan 16, 2010 - 1:44pm

I wonder what the breakdown of "failed" completions is by down. A failure on 1st or 2nd down is not as terrible for team success as on 3rd/4th down, of course.

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