Stats That Don't Lie

Here’s why stats are dangerous in the wrong hands

Neat little trick from Jeff Legwold today. He came up with a premise that the Broncos have given up too many big plays of late, and his column was titled thusly:

Broncos defense prone to yielding "explosive plays" in recent years

In classic Legwoldian, he writes that "most teams" consider 10-yard rushes and 20-yard completions to be "explosive plays." Not sure if he polled the league's coaches, or what, for that one.

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STDL: QB stats through 17 weeks

By now you're all really tired of reading/hearing how bad Tim Tebow was on Sunday and has been for the past few weeks. So, let's just get to the numbers. They speak for themselves.

Last week, Tim ranked 25th in ANY/T and was tied for 32nd in NY/T with Matt Cassel - out of the top 40 quarterbacks in terms of pass attempts. What did his 30-touch, 66-yard, two turnover performance against the Chiefs do to his rankings?

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STDL: Week 17 - Broncos vs Chiefs

By now, you know what's at stake. Seven weeks ago, the Broncos went into KC and came out victorious despite the fact that Tim Tebow completed just two of his eight pass attempts. Denver reeled off 244 rushing yards that day, the bulk of them provided by Lance Ball, Tebow and Knowshon Moreno. Neither team committed a turnover, and they combined for just 193 net passing yards. Overall, it was a snoozefest. Nine days later, Denver released Kyle Orton.

Tomorrow will be anything but boring - even if it's three hours of three-and-outs. After all, the AFC West is on the line, and as much as the two teams are trying to downplay it, the game really is Tim versus Kyle. About the only way this game could have had more drama is if the Chiefs had managed to beat Oakland last week (they were just a blocked FG shy of doing so), thus turning it into a winner-takes-all contest. So, how do the teams match up?

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STDL: QB stats through 16 weeks

Tim Tebow has now started 10 games this season, and although he was responsible for two Denver TDs on Saturday, two of his four turnovers were brought back for six points by the Bills. Along with the 45-10 loss to Detroit in his second start of the season, Tebow now has two games where he was charged with both a pick-six and a fumble return for a score.

Although the narrative had been that Tebow takes exceptional care of the football, he now has 12 fumbles to go along with five interceptions. Among the NFL's top 40 QBs in terms of pass attempts, Tebow now has the second-highest sack rate (10.7%), third-highest fumble rate (3.0%) and the tenth-highest negative play rate (sacks, fumbles, interceptions - 11.9%).

Let's see how he stacks up in terms of Adjusted Net Yards and Net Yards:

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STDL: Week 16 - Broncos at Bills

Let's take a quick pre-game look at how the Broncos and Bills match up:

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STDL: QB stats through 15 weeks

Let's see how Tim Tebow's offensive numbers look after nine starts as the Broncos starting QB. Prior to the New England game, Tebow was 20th in the league in Adjusted Net Yards per Touch and 33rd in Net Yards per Touch, out of the 40 passers who had attempted 100 or more passes. While there are now 43 QBs who've thrown over 100 passes, we'll constrain the list to the top 40 players in terms of attempts:

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STDL: Week 15 - Broncos vs Patriots

Interesting matchup today, right? Have you ever seen so much talk about a regular-season game featuring an eight-point spread (the third-biggest one behind Packers/Chiefs and Saints/Vikings)? It's pretty bizarre, but that's the power of Tim Tebow. He's all anyone ever wants to talk or read about (just ask Skip Bayless about his show's ratings), except of course for when the author/commentator's viewpoint doesn't match that of the readers/viewers/listeners.

This is the animal we're dealing with. Anyway, big betting line or not, this is an exciting day to be a Broncos fan, because we get to see how our team measures up against NFL royalty (if not the far-from-perfect class of the conference). Let's see how the two teams match up.

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STDL: QB stats through 14 weeks

Tim Tebow attempted 40 passes last week, so he finally qualifies to be ranked in NFL QB rate stats. In terms of traditional QB rating, Tebow sits at 14th among 32 qualifiers at 83.9, and in terms of PFR's NY/A and ANY/A he ranks 29th and 18th, respectively, out of 32 quarterbacks.

Those rankings aren't so bad, especially relative to the criticism lobbed at Tebow's play from folks like, well, this guy. Of course, the whole point of doing this is to see how much Tebow's running adds to his offensive contribution to the Broncos as compared to other QBs who run less, or not as well. Let's see how the numbers have changed since the first and second weeks we've done this.

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STDL: Week 14 - Broncos vs Bears

On Thursday we covered Tim Tebow's stats through Week 13; today let's examine the full team's numbers and how they match up with the Bears. Of course, Chicago's offense will be without Jay Cutler and Matt Forte, who have been responsible for 82.1% of the Bears' net offensive yardage but just 57% of their touchdowns. Chicago has also scored a combined six touchdowns on interceptions and Devin Hester's punt and kick returns. Marion Barber (five rushing scores) and Cutler's backup Caleb Hanie (two TD passes) round out their scoring. The absence of Cutler and Forte is sure to loom large tomorrow, but keep in mind that the following numbers were achieved largely on their broad shoulders.

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STDL: QB stats Week 14

So, it turns out that Tim Tebow's 15 pass attempts on Sunday weren't enough for his 2011 stats to qualify for rate stats leaderboards, but that won't stop us from updating the numbers. Last week, Tim ranked 19th in ANY/A and 36th in NY/A out of 39 QBs with 100 or more pass attempts. Incidentally, Tyler Palko became the 40th passer to cross that threshold with his 30 attempts against Denver's upcoming opponent.

As one might expect, Tim's sparkling second-half performance in Minnesota served to move him significantly higher in both categories. This speaks to two factors: one, we're still looking at a relatively small sample size which can be easily influenced by a single game; two, his results Sunday were that much better than his prior ones.

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