Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

31 Aug 2010

The Bradford Files

Can preseason stats tell us anything about the future of rookie quarterbacks?

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 31 Aug 2010

6 comments, Last at 01 Sep 2010, 12:11am by Basilicus


by zlionsfan :: Tue, 08/31/2010 - 1:54pm

I'm going to disagree with Mr. Tanier. I don't think the preseason stats for the group he chose says anything about the QBs that couldn't be surmised in some other way.

Bradford's going to throw for a reasonable amount of yards because he had a lot of attempts? How about because he's on a terrible team that has one very good player on offense, and unfortunately for the Rams, an excellent RB can't be the centerpiece of an otherwise nondescript offense if you want to have a productive offense?

And if a bad preseason is fantasy-speak for "stay away", then from where does the optimism for Stafford originate? A touch over 50% completions (last year) and a 1-4 TD/Int ratio, isn't that bad?

This seems to me like a typical mainstream article: an unusual premise, darts thrown at a wall to illustrate it, and no meaningful conclusion. The Rotoworld audience may be different than here, but it's not that different.

by Basilicus :: Tue, 08/31/2010 - 2:26pm

Agreed. Oddly particular selection, cherry-picking stat categories from a minuscule sample size. Not a big fan of this article.

I enjoy that the best stat-lines are Jay Cutler, Matt Leinart, J.P. Losman, Brady Quinn, and Mark Sanchez. Maybe I should start reconsidering my opinion of Jay Cutler.

by Dan :: Tue, 08/31/2010 - 2:28pm

There is one pattern that jumped out at me which divides the quarterbacks from 2004-08 into three groups:

Group 1: Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, Jason Campbell

Group 2: Vince Young, Jay Cutler, Brady Quinn, Matt Ryan

Group 3: J.P. Losman, Alex Smith, Matt Leinart, JaMarcus Russell, Joe Flacco

It's not a perfect correlation, but Group 1 looks better than Group 2, which looks better than Group 3 (only Campbell, Quinn, and Flacco look notably out of place).

This correlation gives some surprising verdicts for recent quarterbacks: Matthew Stafford and Josh Freeman's preseason stats put them in Group 1, Mark Sanchez goes in Group 2, and Sam Bradford unfortunately goes in Group 3 (although that could change depending on his performance in the last preseason game).

What are these groups based on? Interceptions. Group 1 (the best group) is the players who threw multiple preseason interceptions their rookie year, Group 2 is the players with exactly 1 interception, and Group 3 (the worst) is the players with no preseason interceptions. So Rams fans had better hope that Bradford plays in game 4 and throws some interceptions.

Of course I'm not serious about this, but I bet that any correlation that you are serious about is weaker than this one (I got r = -0.7 between number of interceptions and the rank that I gave the 14 QBs from best to worst). Meaning that you can't really draw any conclusions about what rookie preseason stats matter unless you look at a larger sample of quarterbacks.

by Basilicus :: Wed, 09/01/2010 - 12:11am


by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 08/31/2010 - 2:41pm

Of course stats cab tell u something. Key thing iss have to be willing to listen.

by Joseph :: Tue, 08/31/2010 - 5:42pm

Well, if I understood the article right, he's talking about FANTASY. However, if you are using preseason stats to evaluate Chase Daniel's potential if he were to go to another team (or heaven forbid, actually PLAY because Brees gets injured), I think they can have SOME predictive value.
As a Saints fan, there is a recent example that sticks out in my mind. Last year, in the 4th preseason game, Coach Payton gave Joey Harrington almost all the reps, specifically to evaluate his worth as the 3rd (emergency) QB. He FAILED MISERABLY. He took sacks instead of throwing the ball away, and other basic errors that I have long forgotten. He got cut, and the Saints picked up Chase Daniel. If you compare Daniel's performance against the Texans in the 2nd preseason game with Harrington's against the Fins, you would think that the stat lines need to be reversed.
Now understand, Daniel is probably no better than any other 2nd year QB, and maybe worse because of lack of game reps. But his preseason performance has shown that he can/will develop into a decent backup, and maybe even a starter in the right system. Harrington's performance last year showed that he was washed up.