First and 10: Comparing quarterback numbers
NOV 13, 2012 12:13p ET
1) I set out to prove that the Browns offense this season has improved with Brandon Weeden. To do so, it was time to check some numbers -- Weeden’s and Colt McCoy’s from 2011. So … let’s go to the stats. Through nine games Weeden is averaging 20.5 completions in 37.3 attempts, which is a 54.9 percent completion rate. In 13 games last season, McCoy went 20.4-for-35.6, for 57.3 percent. So the accurate Weeden is actually completing passes at a lower percentage than McCoy did. Huh.
2) On to the next numbers. McCoy’s yards per attempt was woefully low last season -- 5.9. Weeden’s is 6.2, an improvement of five percent. Weeden is 30th in the league in that category. McCoy ranked 33rd. So there’s that three-spot jump. Weeden is averaging one touchdown and 1.3 interceptions per game. McCoy averaged 1.1 touchdowns and .85 interceptions per game. And Weeden’s rating is 67.9, compared to McCoy’s 74.6. OK then. To this point it’s a push. Based on numbers.
3) A key difference comes in big plays -- 20 yards or more. Weeden has seven touchdowns of 20 yards or more in nine games; McCoy had five in 13 games. On those touchdown throws, Weeden is averaging 36.4 yards. McCoy averaged 31.6. McCoy’s longest TD pass in 2011 was 45 yards. Weeden has TDs of 71 and 62 yards, both to Josh Gordon, who was not on the team McCoy was throwing to last season.
4) Total offense also is up, from 288 yards last season to 312 this season. From 4.5 yards per play, to 5.1 per play. The total offense percentage increase is 8.3 percent, the per play increase 13.3 percent. And the passing offense is ranked 18th, compared to 24th a year ago.
5) So basically individually the numbers are comparable. Except that Weeden can stretch the field. Given this is Weeden’s first season, one might think his numbers will improve as he grows with the rest of the players. But since last season was McCoy’s first as as starter, one might assume his production would have increased as well.
6) Is this simply a matter of the eye test, that Weeden simply looks better than McCoy? Tough to say. He definitely does. Except the numbers don’t show it. Still … there’s no doubt he simply looks more like an NFL quarterback, and his arm strength is clearly better than McCoy’s. The 33-yard rope for a touchdown he threw to Gordon in Indianapolis … McCoy simply does not make that throw.
7) So perhaps the numbers aren’t that revealing. But the conclusion remains: Weeden’s arm strength and the way he carries himself have provided real improvement at a key position this season. But just as obviously, Weeden has a ways to go.
8) Yes, it took six items to come to that riveting conclusion.
9) None of this guarantees Weeden will be back in 2013. It seems likely, but anything can happen if the Browns decide to change coaches and change the front office. The new coach and/or GM might prefer a more mobile quarterback. If the new coach is a Chip Kelly kind of guy, Weeden may or may not be a fit. Much will be determined these final seven games.
10) How many wins are left in the final seven games? Sunday in Dallas will be very tough, which drops the Browns to 2-8. In the final six, the Browns have legitimate (not hopeful) chances to beat Kansas City, Washington and Oakland. It’s tough to see wins over Pittsburgh (twice) and Denver. Which means the final tally should be 5-11. Judge for yourself what that will mean to the new management.
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