Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

19 May 2017

The Sam Bradford Index

Sam Bradford set an NFL record last year by completing 71.6 percent of his passes, but he was also last in the league with 9.8 yards per completion. Chase Stuart at Football Perspective looks for other quarterbacks with similar styles -- high completion rates but few yards per completion, for their era. Featuring lots of appearances by Joe Montana, Len Dawson, and Fran Tarkenton!

UPDATE: Stuart has now published the flip side of this, the list of low-percentage long-bombers, which he is calling the Jay Schroeder Index, for obvious reasons if you ever watched the former Raiders/Washington quarterback play. Among current quarterbacks on the list, the most prominent is Cam Newton. Four of Newton's five seasons make the top 200, and his 2016 campaign was seventh overall.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 19 May 2017

11 comments, Last at 10 Feb 2018, 3:28am by ninest123


by Chuckc :: Fri, 05/19/2017 - 7:39pm

Doesn't combining the two just lead you to Yards per attempt, which is a pretty widely used measure of QB effectiveness?

by andrew :: Fri, 05/19/2017 - 11:08pm

not quite.

You can improve YPA by both completing more passes and by having your completions be for more yards. So two quarterbacks could have the same YPA and have wildly different Sam Bradford Indexes as it were.

by Theo :: Fri, 05/19/2017 - 8:59pm

I thought this was going to be about how much draft value have teams combined spent on the same player.

by Pen :: Fri, 05/19/2017 - 11:35pm

I'm not too excited about this analysis. YPA is an important stat. Far more important that completion % and ypc. YPA actually measures how successful a QB is. It's no surprise that Montana and Tarkenton both rated highly in YPA.

by jtr :: Sat, 05/20/2017 - 10:21am

I'm sure Chase would be the first to tell you that YPA (or his preferred ANY/A, which is similar) is far better than this measure in terms of gauging quarterback success. This analysis is about style, not effectiveness. If QB A throws two 50-yard bombs and 8 incompletions, while QB B throws ten 10-yard completions, they have the same YPA. But they've obviously played two very different games, and that's what Chase is trying to tease out here. Chase doesn't really make a value judgement here, but it isn't too surprising to see some all time greats near the top. For a given YPA, a QB with higher C% is likely to run a more consistent and efficient offense.

We need a SAM acronym for this stat. Short Attempt Majority?

by Will Allen :: Mon, 05/22/2017 - 9:11am

For Bradford to finish 17th in DYAR and DVOA, behind zero blocking, nothing at running back, and middling at best receiver play, was a good performance, and the only way he could have done it was by getting the ball out fast. He took a pretty horrific beating still, which belied his reputation for fragility. I've never been a fan of his, but that impressed me.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 05/22/2017 - 12:33pm

Yeah, the Vikings offensive line was historically injured last year, and had something like 80% higher AGL than second place. Add that to the fact there wasn't much of a running game and not much of a WR corps, and Bradford played about as well as could be expected in any way. That being said, dumping passes off is kind of a Bradford trademark, and, even with the situation last year, a quick glance at PFR shows Bradford having best ANY/A of his career last year. So, basically, last year he had an excellent excuse to do the kind of thing he's being doing his entire career anyways.

by jgibson_hmc95 :: Mon, 05/22/2017 - 12:26pm

I think this would highly correlate to Scott's ALEX stat.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 05/24/2017 - 12:19pm

I'm shocked to see Favre on the Bradford index.

Not shocked to see Douglass on the Schroeder.

by Vincent Verhei :: Wed, 05/24/2017 - 2:45pm

Favre did play most of his career in a West Coast offense under Mike Holmgren.

Here's a list of Green Bay's top receivers in the Favre era (1992-2007). Six of the top 11 players on the list are running backs or tight ends. A fullback, William Henderson, is fourth. That's a lot of short throws.