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Failed Completions 2014

Failed Completions 2014
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Scott Kacsmar

You may have missed that Matt Forte set an NFL record for running backs last season. His 102 receptions broke Larry Center's record of 101, set with the Cardinals in 1995. Did they stop the game in Week 17 to acknowledge this accomplishment? Heck no. That would have been in poor taste given that the Bears were trailing the Vikings 13-9 in Minnesota in the final two minutes. Beyond that, Forte tied the record with a 6-yard catch on second-and-20 and broke the record with a 10-yard catch on third-and-19. Not exactly the stuff of legends.

Both receptions qualify as failed completions by our methods. Forte was on the receiving end of 48 failed completions in 2014, or 21 more than any other player. Suddenly it makes sense why he only ranked third in receiving DYAR among running backs last year despite a record number of catches.

On first down, any catch that fails to gain at least 45 percent of the yards to go counts as a failed completion. That threshold climbs to 60 percent of yards to go on second down, and 100 percent of yards to go on third or fourth down. Not every failed completion is created equally, but for this article we make things binary, summing up successes and failures. For DVOA, there are fractional points involved where a 12-yard completion on third-and-15 would generate some partial success.

Just fewer than 25 percent of all completions in the NFL qualify as failed completions -- that's 2,471 plays in 2014. In preparing the following numbers I used only regular-season data. The total number of completions is slightly higher than the official NFL total since Football Outsiders includes backward (lateral) passes as pass plays and completions.

The following table shows each team's completions and failed completions, and the percentage of each team's completions that were failed plays. Teams are sorted from lowest failure rate on completions (Green Bay) to highest (Oakland). We've also listed each team's yardage gained on failed completions, their offensive DVOA on failed completions, and their overall pass offense DVOA.

Rk Team Completions Failed Pct. Failed Yards Failed DVOA Rk Pass DVOA Rk
1 GB 349 61 17.5% 215 -70.1% 16 46.5% 2
2 CAR 327 60 18.3% 213 -81.4% 31 4.1% 23
3 DAL 327 67 20.5% 236 -70.8% 17 36.4% 4
4 PIT 412 85 20.6% 273 -77.0% 25 47.9% 1
5 STL 327 68 20.8% 273 -73.0% 19 -7.8% 27
6 IND 411 89 21.7% 246 -75.4% 23 15.6% 13
7 BAL 344 75 21.8% 242 -74.1% 21 32.6% 6
8 DEN 399 90 22.6% 364 -58.7% 5 41.3% 3
9 NO 456 104 22.8% 339 -66.3% 12 20.7% 9
10 PHI 387 89 23.0% 286 -71.5% 18 11.8% 15
11 SF 293 69 23.5% 320 -53.5% 1 5.8% 22
12 SD 382 90 23.6% 289 -65.2% 9 30.3% 7
13 MIA 394 93 23.6% 355 -65.1% 8 19.1% 11
14 NYG 383 91 23.8% 395 -64.0% 7 16.5% 12
15 ATL 418 101 24.2% 429 -55.2% 2 24.5% 8
16 NE 392 95 24.2% 338 -60.4% 6 35.0% 5
Rk Team Completions Failed Pct. Failed Yards Failed DVOA Rk Pass DVOA Rk
17 TB 301 74 24.6% 331 -56.3% 4 -22.3% 31
18 DET 366 90 24.6% 374 -74.8% 22 9.6% 17
19 CLE 276 68 24.6% 264 -68.7% 14 5.9% 21
20 HOU 295 74 25.1% 242 -69.8% 15 7.9% 19
21 NYJ 287 73 25.4% 254 -68.6% 13 -7.6% 26
22 KC 322 82 25.5% 246 -80.2% 30 11.2% 16
23 ARI 320 83 25.9% 281 -76.8% 24 8.3% 18
24 MIN 322 84 26.1% 286 -78.8% 29 -10.4% 29
25 TEN 299 82 27.4% 410 -55.8% 3 -12.8% 30
26 CIN 323 89 27.6% 305 -77.4% 27 6.7% 20
27 BUF 363 101 27.8% 309 -77.7% 28 0.4% 24
28 CHI 396 111 28.0% 408 -65.9% 11 12.0% 14
29 WAS 364 103 28.3% 367 -73.6% 20 -5.1% 25
30 SEA 287 84 29.3% 276 -77.2% 26 19.6% 10
31 JAC 325 100 30.8% 340 -81.4% 32 -32.1% 32
32 OAK 365 116 31.8% 389 -65.3% 10 -10.1% 28
AVG 350.4 85.7 24.4% 309.2 -69.7% - 11.3% -

Denver and Dallas are the only offenses to finish in the top eight in failed completion rate in both 2013 and 2014, and they barely made the cut. The teams actually swapped spots, with Denver ranking third and Dallas ranking eighth in 2013.

For the second year in a row, the defending champions were involved in the biggest plunge. Baltimore climbed from 32nd to seventh this year, but the Seahawks fell from ninth to 30th. That might explain some of Russell Wilson's decline in advanced stats.

Speaking of repeats, the Falcons led the league in failed completion yards again. They had 432 failed yards in 2013 and 429 this year.

On Friday I looked at Denver's playoff loss against the Colts where Peyton Manning had 15 failed completions (12 in the second half alone). Sure enough, out of 267 games and 534 offensive performances last season, that was the most failed completions for any team in any game. The 57.7 percent rate of failed completions ranked as the fifth-highest game in 2014. The highest goes to Arizona in their 12-6 win against St. Louis in Week 15: 10 of Arizona's 16 completions (62.5 percent) qualified as failures. (This was the game where Drew Stanton was injured and Ryan Lindley hit the field.)

The Rams were involved in one of the two 2014 games where an offense had zero failed completions: an efficient 13-for-13 performance in their 52-0 blowout win over Oakland in Week 13. The other "perfect" game came when Andy Dalton made all 16 completions count in New Orleans in Week 11.

Next is a look at the 38 quarterbacks who completed at least 100 passes last season, and their rate of failure on completions, from the lowest (Aaron Rodgers) to the highest (Robert Griffin). I also included the quarterback's DVOA on these failed completions.

Rk Quarterback Completions Failed Pct. DVOA Rk
1 Aaron Rodgers 341 58 17.0% -71.2% 21
2 Cam Newton 262 47 17.9% -84.1% 37
3 Mark Sanchez 198 36 18.2% -69.2% 17
4 Kirk Cousins 126 24 19.0% -82.6% 35
5 Tony Romo 303 61 20.1% -70.7% 20
6 Austin Davis 180 37 20.6% -70.7% 19
7 Ben Roethlisberger 409 85 20.8% -77.0% 31
8 Andrew Luck 381 81 21.3% -76.4% 29
9 Shaun Hill 145 31 21.4% -76.3% 28
10 Joe Flacco 344 75 21.8% -74.1% 24
11 Peyton Manning 395 89 22.5% -58.2% 7
12 Brian Hoyer 244 55 22.5% -72.4% 22
13 Drew Brees 456 104 22.8% -66.3% 14
14 Tom Brady 373 87 23.3% -60.9% 8
15 Philip Rivers 381 90 23.6% -65.2% 13
16 Ryan Tannehill 392 93 23.7% -65.1% 12
17 Colin Kaepernick 290 69 23.8% -53.5% 1
18 Josh McCown 184 44 23.9% -55.2% 4
19 Eli Manning 379 91 24.0% -64.0% 9
Rk Quarterback Completions Failed Pct. DVOA Rk
20 Matt Ryan 415 101 24.3% -55.2% 3
21 Matt Stafford 364 89 24.5% -74.1% 25
22 Ryan Fitzpatrick 197 49 24.9% -75.8% 27
23 Alex Smith 305 76 24.9% -80.2% 34
24 Mike Glennon 117 30 25.6% -57.8% 6
25 Charlie Whitehurst 105 27 25.7% -56.6% 5
26 Drew Stanton 132 34 25.8% -70.1% 18
27 Teddy Bridgewater 259 67 25.9% -83.2% 36
28 Geno Smith 219 57 26.0% -68.2% 16
29 Kyle Orton 287 78 27.2% -78.7% 32
30 Andy Dalton 309 84 27.2% -74.3% 26
31 Jay Cutler 370 102 27.6% -64.6% 11
32 Nick Foles 189 53 28.0% -73.0% 23
33 Carson Palmer 141 41 29.1% -79.4% 33
34 Russell Wilson 285 83 29.1% -76.7% 30
35 Blake Bortles 280 85 30.4% -87.1% 38
36 Zach Mettenberger 107 33 30.8% -55.1% 2
37 Derek Carr 348 112 32.2% -64.6% 10
38 Robert Griffin 147 49 33.3% -68.0% 15

Predictably, league MVP Aaron Rodgers had the lowest rate of failed completions. Surprisingly, Cam Newton was second, but next to last in DVOA on these plays. That doesn't even include the time he bounced a screen pass off the ground on fourth-and-25 against Seattle, so that's interesting. Tennessee rookie Zach Mettenberger was the opposite: third-highest failed completion rate, but second-highest DVOA on failed completions. I think I know the explanation to that one, but we'll get to that later.

Rookie Derek Carr led the NFL with 112 failed completions in Oakland's vertically-challenged passing game, but Robert Griffin III had the highest rate at 33.3 percent. I ridiculed both of them back in Week 1 for not showing much effort to get the ball down the field. Griffin had 12 failed completions in that Week 1 loss to Houston. Was Jay Gruden's offense the problem? Colt McCoy only had 91 completions, but his failed rate was 33.0 percent. However, we shouldn't just blame the offensive design. Kirk Cousins had the fourth-lowest rate last year, but lost his job after suffering too many turnovers.

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The NFC East produced another interesting split with Mark Sanchez ranking third and Nick Foles ranking 32nd. Foles was also much more vertical with his passes than Sanchez in Chip Kelly's offense. Sam Bradford has been known for dinking and dunking in his career, but his St. Louis replacements, Shaun Hill and Austin Davis, finished in the top nine here.

Regression hit Josh McCown hard in Tampa Bay last year, but in Chicago in 2013 he had the worst DVOA on failed completions. In 2014, he was middle of the road (18th) in failed completion rate, yet had the fourth-highest DVOA on his failed completions. Strange year, but it helps to have the big targets in Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson.

Believe it or not, Colin Kaepernick has had the highest DVOA on failed completions for two seasons in a row. His rate may have gone up a little, but he still maximized the partial success points. I hope to study him in-depth this offseason to get a better understanding of why this may be happening in an offense that many feel underachieved last year.

Some might argue with the idea of a 4-yard completion on first-and-10 being an unsuccessful play, but there is no debating the importance of getting every necessary yard on third and fourth down. The following table lists each quarterback's total failed completions, his completions and failed completions on third/fourth down, and then the table is sorted by failure rate on third-/fourth-down completions, from lowest (Rodgers, again) to highest (Mettenberger). Also included is the share of each quarterback's failed completions that came on third or fourth down, from lowest (Drew Stanton) to highest (Charlie Whitehurst). I included this on accident last year, so I'm listing it again for comparison's sake.

Rk Quarterback Total Failed 3-4D Comp. 3-4D Failed 3-4D Failed Pct. %Failed Rk
1 Aaron Rodgers 58 84 13 15.5% 22.4% 3
2 Drew Stanton 34 34 6 17.6% 17.6% 1
3 Tony Romo 61 85 15 17.6% 24.6% 10
4 Josh McCown 44 52 10 19.2% 22.7% 4
5 Carson Palmer 41 49 10 20.4% 24.4% 9
6 Mark Sanchez 36 57 12 21.1% 33.3% 21
7 Tom Brady 87 93 20 21.5% 23.0% 6
8 Andrew Luck 81 90 20 22.2% 24.7% 11
9 Philip Rivers 90 107 24 22.4% 26.7% 12
10 Matt Ryan 101 101 23 22.8% 22.8% 5
11 Drew Brees 104 109 25 22.9% 24.0% 8
12 Colin Kaepernick 69 89 21 23.6% 30.4% 14
13 Nick Foles 53 45 11 24.4% 20.8% 2
14 Austin Davis 37 47 12 25.5% 32.4% 18
15 Cam Newton 47 72 19 26.4% 40.4% 29
16 Ben Roethlisberger 85 102 27 26.5% 31.8% 17
17 Ryan Tannehill 93 90 26 28.9% 28.0% 13
18 Joe Flacco 75 90 26 28.9% 34.7% 25
19 Alex Smith 76 86 25 29.1% 32.9% 19
Rk Quarterback Total Failed 3-4D Comp. 3-4D Failed 3-4D Failed Pct. %Failed Rk
20 Peyton Manning 89 102 30 29.4% 33.7% 23
21 Geno Smith 57 67 20 29.9% 35.1% 27
22 Eli Manning 91 121 38 31.4% 41.8% 31
23 Matt Stafford 89 107 34 31.8% 38.2% 28
24 Mike Glennon 30 22 7 31.8% 23.3% 7
25 Kyle Orton 78 81 26 32.1% 33.3% 22
26 Derek Carr 112 111 37 33.3% 33.0% 20
27 Kirk Cousins 24 30 10 33.3% 41.7% 30
28 Jay Cutler 102 91 32 35.2% 31.4% 16
29 Shaun Hill 31 42 15 35.7% 48.4% 37
30 Russell Wilson 83 81 29 35.8% 34.9% 26
31 Ryan Fitzpatrick 49 58 21 36.2% 42.9% 34
32 Brian Hoyer 55 71 26 36.6% 47.3% 36
33 Teddy Bridgewater 67 76 28 36.8% 41.8% 32
34 Andy Dalton 84 98 37 37.8% 44.0% 35
35 Blake Bortles 85 73 29 39.7% 34.1% 24
36 Robert Griffin 49 33 15 45.5% 30.6% 15
37 Charlie Whitehurst 27 37 17 45.9% 63.0% 38
38 Zach Mettenberger 33 28 14 50.0% 42.4% 33

Rodgers again leads the pack, but you also can see why the Cardinals were really missing Drew Stanton and Carson Palmer down the stretch. No, Ryan Lindley is not cut out to start, but those quarterbacks in Bruce Arians' attack-style offense were rarely checking down for insignificant gains on money downs. Many of the best quarterbacks from last season rank well here, though Peyton Manning had a pretty average season and Russell Wilson only ranked 30th.

Two Tennessee quarterbacks bring up the rear, with half of Mettenberger's completions on third/fourth down resulting in a failed completion. Mettenberger had five completions that gained at least 12 yards on third or fourth down with at least 13 yards needed for a conversion. Only Matthew Stafford (six) had more, but obviously on a lot more plays. This helps to explain why Mettenberger had the second-highest DVOA on failed completions; those plays are still scored as partial successes, and the baseline on those third-and-long plays tends to be below that.

Similarly, Kaepernick only had three completions all season that lost yardage, which compares favorably to any full-season starter. It's good to avoid failed completions, but you especially want to avoid ones that lose yards.

Someone has to be on the receiving end of these failed plays. I looked at the failed completions for everyone with at least 30 receptions. The following table excludes running backs since they dominate these lists due to all the short passes they catch.

Most Failed Completions (WR/TE) Lowest Failed Completion Rate (WR/TE) Highest Failed Completion Rate (WR/TE)
Receiver Team Failed Receiver Team Rec. Failed Pct. Receiver Team Rec. Failed Pct.
James Jones OAK 27 Marques Colston NO 59 1 1.7% Damaris Johnson HOU 31 14 45.2%
Jarvis Landry MIA 26 Stedman Bailey STL 30 1 3.3% Chris Hogan BUF 41 16 39.0%
Martellus Bennett CHI 26 Kenny Stills NO 63 3 4.8% James Jones OAK 73 27 37.0%
Golden Tate DET 24 Nate Washington TEN 40 2 5.0% Jordan Reed WAS 50 17 34.0%
Michael Crabtree SF 22 Terrance Williams DAL 37 2 5.4% Jermaine Gresham CIN 62 21 33.9%
Julian Edelman NE 22 Calvin Johnson DET 71 4 5.6% Tavon Austin STL 31 10 32.3%
Antonio Brown PIT 22 Vincent Jackson TB 70 4 5.7% Michael Crabtree SF 69 22 31.9%
Jermaine Gresham CIN 21 Sammy Watkins BUF 65 5 7.7% Hakeem Nicks IND 38 12 31.6%
Demaryius Thomas DEN 21 Andre Roberts WAS 36 3 8.3% Jace Amaro NYJ 38 12 31.6%
Pierre Garcon WAS 20 Antonio Gates SD 69 6 8.7% Percy Harvin SEA/NYJ 51 16 31.4%

If you saw Derek Carr's numbers, then you might have guessed that James Jones would have the most failed receptions, with 27. Six of those plays came against Denver in Week 10 when Jones finished with 20 receiving yards on eight catches. No wide receiver had ever finished a game with so few yards on that many catches.

Julian Edelman, Pierre Garcon, Antonio Brown, and Martellus Bennett all ranked in the top 10 in failed completions last season too.

Drew Brees still had his moments of dominance last year, and two of his receivers had very low rates of failed receptions. Marques Colston finished second in 2013, so that's not surprising. Speedster Kenny Stills will try to complement short-pass catcher Jarvis Landry in Miami now. Consider him a cheaper version of the old Mike Wallace the Dolphins thought they were getting two years ago.

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Even though I used the same minimum requirement of 30 catches for 2013, we had eight receivers this year under 8.0 percent for failed completions. Last season, only Calvin Johnson (3.6 percent) was under that mark.

Despite playing with Kyle Orton, who had a league-high 16 completions for negative yardage, Sammy Watkins had the lowest failed completion rate of all rookie receivers. Teammate Chris Hogan had the second-highest rate.

Damaris Johnson only had 31 catches for Houston, and they weren't very effective. Notice how some of the receivers on the highest rate list are not returning to their teams in 2015, including Hakeem Nicks, Percy Harvin, and perhaps Michael Crabtree. The free-agency buzz has hardly even been there for Crabtree and Nicks.

Harvin is on his fourth team in four years with Buffalo, but he was a lousy fit in Seattle. Though Wilson was 22-of-26 when targeting Harvin in 2014, the combo only gained 133 yards and accounted for 10 failed completions, a rate of 45.5 percent that would have been the highest in the NFL over the course of a full season. Wilson's talents are much better suited for a vertical game.

Finally, let's look at each defense's ability to create failed completions. Teams are ranked from highest rate of failure on completions (Oakland) to lowest (Atlanta). They are also listed with their 2013 rate and rank, and their difference from one season to the next, from most improved (New England) to biggest decline (New Orleans).

Defenses: 2014 Failed Completions with Comparison to 2013
Rk Team Completions Failed Pct. 2013 Rk 2013 FC% Diff Rk
1 OAK 344 102 29.7% 9 26.1% 3.6% 7
2 CAR 365 104 28.5% 1 34.0% -5.5% 30
3 MIN 353 100 28.3% 20 23.8% 4.5% 5
4 DEN 399 112 28.1% 11 25.8% 2.3% 9
5 DET 383 107 27.9% 2 28.6% -0.7% 17
6 STL 368 100 27.2% 26 22.2% 5.0% 4
7 ARI 366 98 26.8% 24 23.2% 3.6% 6
8 CIN 365 97 26.6% 5 27.0% -0.4% 14
9 SD 320 84 26.3% 19 23.9% 2.4% 8
10 BAL 382 100 26.2% 6 26.8% -0.6% 16
11 SEA 314 82 26.1% 3 28.4% -2.3% 24
12 CLE 335 87 26.0% 21 23.7% 2.3% 10
13 BUF 337 87 25.8% 17 24.8% 1.0% 12
14 DAL 371 95 25.6% 22 23.5% 2.1% 11
15 WAS 345 87 25.2% 30 20.1% 5.1% 3
16 NE 342 85 24.9% 31 19.0% 5.9% 1
Rk Team Completions Failed Pct. 2013 Rk 2013 FC% Diff Rk
17 NYJ 345 83 24.1% 13 25.2% -1.1% 20
18 HOU 365 87 23.8% 23 23.3% 0.5% 13
19 JAC 357 85 23.8% 15 24.9% -1.1% 18
20 TB 388 91 23.5% 8 26.1% -2.6% 27
21 PHI 345 80 23.2% 32 17.9% 5.3% 2
22 IND 321 74 23.1% 12 25.2% -2.1% 23
23 KC 318 73 23.0% 7 26.5% -3.5% 28
24 PIT 351 80 22.8% 16 24.9% -2.1% 22
25 TEN 347 79 22.8% 18 24.1% -1.3% 21
26 NYG 325 73 22.5% 14 24.9% -2.4% 25
27 MIA 338 74 21.9% 25 23.0% -1.1% 19
28 CHI 366 75 20.5% 28 21.0% -0.5% 15
29 SF 325 66 20.3% 10 25.9% -5.6% 31
30 NO 340 69 20.3% 4 27.3% -7.0% 32
31 GB 333 64 19.2% 27 21.7% -2.5% 26
32 ATL 359 61 17.0% 29 20.8% -3.8% 29

If you love watching failed completions, you loved the 2014 Raiders for having the highest percentage on both sides of the ball.

Carolina was was so far ahead of the pack in 2013 that they were almost guaranteed to seriously regress. Greg Hardy's absence killed their pass rush and they totally revamped their secondary, and they finished with the third-biggest decline in failure rate last season. However, even with that decline, they still had the second-highest failure rate in the league. The entire NFC South accounted for four of the six biggest declines.

It was very tough to gain yards after the catch against Seattle in 2013, but they suffered one of the biggest declines last season. Dan Quinn will hope he can bring some of that fast and physical style to an Atlanta defense that ranked dead last in 2014 at forcing failed completions.

Even though the Patriots were average as can be (ranked 16th) at failed completions on both sides of the ball, no defense improved more from 2013 in terms of percentage points.

Comments

33 comments, Last at 19 Mar 2015, 9:43pm

1 Re: Failed Completions 2014

Kaepernick isn't that hard to explain; his lack of footwork stops him from moving through his reads on time, so he doesn't check the back down very often. The niners also never throw screen passes because defenses load the box as well as spying him so the screen is rarely a good call, this is why he had so few completions for negative yards.

4 Re: Failed Completions 2014

Just because I was curious...

Successful completions by percentage of total team passing attempts (spikes not excluded):
1. Dallas, 54.6%
2. Green Bay, 53.7%
3. Pittsburgh, 53.4%
4. New Orleans, 53.4%
5. Denver, 50.9%
...
28. Tennessee, 42.3%
29. Arizona, 41.7%
30. Cleveland, 41.4%
31. Jacksonville, 40.4%
32. Oakland, 39.6%

Failed completions by percentage of total team passing attempts (spikes not excluded):
1. Washington, 18.9%
2. Seattle, 18.5%
3. Oakland, 18.4%
4. Chicago, 18.3%
5. Jacksonville, 18.0%
...
28. Baltimore, 13.5%
29. Indianapolis, 13.5%
30. St. Louis, 13.2%
31. Green Bay, 11.4%
32. Carolina, 11.0%

12 Re: Failed Completions 2014

Thanks.

This kind of data is much more useful when we have the attempts count in the table and can look at Fails/Attempt. It seems such an obvious piece of data to include in the analysis.

7 Re: Failed Completions 2014

Sort of? The interesting thing about this chart is that while Rodgers is on top, the Top 10 is rife with people like Mark Sanchez and Austin Davis. Also, Rodgers having such a low DVOA on his failed completions is interesting - if you were to compare the two, doesn't Manning's #1 ranked DVOA on those passes off-set his slightly higher percentage of failed completions? Anyway, I'm not sure what these numbers point to, really...

13 Re: Failed Completions 2014

I'm guessing the Broncos are one of the heaviest WR screen-throwing teams in the league. That plus Manning's penchant for getting the ball out very quickly probably leads to a greater share of short completions that are failed but less damaging. Getting the ball out quickly probably also cuts down on late dumpoffs after 5-6 seconds in the pocket that tend not to go anywhere.

9 Re: Failed Completions 2014

oh my god this is depressing for a Falcons fan. it looks like our team mantra has been "we should throw because winning teams throw" instead of "winning teams generate lots of succesful plays" aghghghhghghghghghhgh

11 Re: Failed Completions 2014

It's also sympomatic of a team that falls behind because it has the worst defense in the league, can't run the ball effectively on offense (even when it's ahead), and has suspect pass protection.

The stat in this article that concerns me most as a Falcons fan is that #32 ranking in the defensive chart. The terrifying thing is that the secondary is the strength of the defense; just shows you how bad the front seven is.

17 Re: Failed Completions 2014

I was thinking about this. The fact is - the problems with today's falcons really stem from the problems before matt Ryan. That team cratered and had no talent. We sort of lost sight of that because Matt Ryan, the receivers, and Jon Abraham did their very best to paper over a lackluster roster.

I will say that not signing grimes was the one egregious gm decision.

14 Re: Failed Completions 2014

I think I could have pegged Derek Carr at the bottom of this list even before the season started. Do you happen to have historical data? I'd be curious to see leaders/laggards over the past decade.

18 Re: Failed Completions 2014

I just put together a file on this from 1999-2014.

This is the leaderboard in that time for players with at least 80% complete career data and 500 completions.

1. Derek Anderson - 19.6%
2. Tom Brady - 19.9%
3. Ben Roethlisberger - 20.1%
4. Peyton Manning - 20.1%
5. Andrew Luck - 20.3%
6. Aaron Rodgers - 20.8%

The bottom: Tim Couch (32.6%), Kyle Boller (29.2%), Damon Huard (29.0%), Alex Smith (29%), Joey Harrington (28.9%)

So yeah, outside of Derek Anderson at the top, this is doing a pretty great job of picking out the best QBs in the NFL in this time.

25 Re: Failed Completions 2014

Plus he's in a more wide-receiver screen happy offense than earlier in his career, which I'd guess would up the percentage as well. Antonio Brown being fairly high on the receiver list bears this out I think.

21 Re: Failed Completions 2014

Bizarre that the Bills have a receiver in the top ten and bottom ten. I'd expect the latter, given how bad that offense was, but maybe Sammy Watkins really is that good...

27 Re: Failed Completions 2014

I'm sure it does - but in the context of what's around him (a bottom-quarter QB at best) and the fact that he was thrown a ton of passes maybe speak to him having better-than-average game awareness or skills for getting open? (Of course, that's what you want in a highly drafted WR, but...)

24 Re: Failed Completions 2014

Given the Raiders are the most successful at failed completions on defense, I wonder how important this statistic really is..... Why should a failed completion be seperated from an incomplete pass? So Woodson got there a step late and made the tackle instead of knocking the ball away?
Other than "this is a stat I can compute", I wonder about the importance of this - how is a failed completion a different outcome vs an incompletion for either offense or defense? The only exceptions I can think of, are those where the completion can be said to not have "failed" after all - a completion that gains enough yards to shorten a field goal attempt, get close to a 4th & short, or even that gets a few more yards of room for your punter. I think its applying a binary value where one doesn't apply - arbritrarily in the case of 1st & 2nd down - is 2nd & 6 really a "failure"? Its worse than 2nd & 4 sure, but is it equivalent to 2nd % 9? Obviously not - it has more in common with the "success" of the former than the latter.
Also I think attaching a negative connotation to these plays misses the point of them somewhat. Some of these plays are setting up other plays. Some of them are perhaps replacing an ineffective running game (no surprise Oakland is top - 2nd & 6 was a far better result than getting another 2nd & 11 from running McFadden through a non-existing hole) & some of the failed completions might be the rational response to the higher probability vs throwing the ball further down the field with a lower chance of a completion & higher chance of sack/interception. Sure, you'd rather the guy breaks the tackle whilst catching the ball 11 yards downfield on 3rd & 13, but he has a chance to do this - is throwing the ball 15 yards into double coverage a better option?

28 Re: Failed Completions 2014

This describes *how* an offense worked. It shows that Oakland was throwing short and not breaking tackles, so that's a big reason why their offense sucked. Other stats like a low completetion percentage would say that a team was having trouble completing passes in the first place.

32 Re: Failed Completions 2014

I wonder if the Raiders defensive success at failed completions is due to opposing teams taking fewer risks.

When other teams know you're that inept why risk a turnover when you can just punt it back to them knowing they're unlikely to score and you'll get another chance.

26 Re: Failed Completions 2014

"but there is no debating the importance of getting every necessary yard on third and fourth down. "

Ooh - a challenge!

No, seriously, there is certainly value to analysis using a binary stat like failed completion. But I also see good teams willing to go underneath on 3rd and very long, even in routes that are unlikely to get a 1st down.

Let's consider a team facing 3rd and 20. Now getting a completion at least 20 yards downfield isn't easy (if it were, teams would do it all the time and there would never be punting). So a team might decide that, instead of going for an all-or-nothing approach, it makes sense to take the yardage available, to improve the odds of a FG attempt or simply to move the ball for better position after a punt. A 15-yard movement of the ball has value, even if you have to punt.

I'm guessing that this difference between a 0-yard gain on 3rd and 20 and a 15-yard gain on 3rd and 20 is accounted for by DVOA.

31 Re: Failed Completions 2014

I'm shocked! Shocked to discover that receivers who always run deep routes had low 'failure' rates on completed catches. Shocked, I tell you! (Almost as shocked as discovering that high volume possession receivers had high failure totals.)