Tale of the Tape: Joe Webb v. Vince Young

I'll just start this post by noting this is not to  be construed as my unequivocal support for the Vikings to sign Vince Young. Lord knows Young has some issues, both on the field and off.

Rather, this is an effort to start a conversation. With Craig Johnson now in the fold as QB coach, people are wondering if the probably-available-whenever-FA-opens Vince Young might be coming to the purple, as well. Johnson, after all, had a hand in developing Young with the Titans and supposedly has had a good relationship with him. In response, many people have argued that Joe Webb is comprable to (or even better than) Young, with a better character to boot.

Is this true? Let's look at some evidence...

My favorite stat to evaluate QB play is adjusted net yards per attempt (ANY/A). I have no idea why quarterback rating is the primary metric that gets used. I'm a fairly big football fan (obviously since I post here), and I find QB rating combursome and not intuitive at all. I know what an average rating is, and I know what consititutes as extremely good and extremely bad. But QB rating's a bit too "black box" to figure out easily and is simply a number that really doesn't describe anything.

ANY/A, on the other hand, is simple and far more descriptive. In essense, it gives you the estimated average yards a QB gains per dropback. We don't come up with some convulated number to measure a running back, do we? We use yards/carry. Well, ANY/A is the yards/carry metric for QBs. The formula is basically yards divided by dropbacks (so you include sacks), with a 20-yard-bonus for every TD and a 45-yard-deduction for every interception. That's it. It neatly summarizes most of the stuff QB rating does (accuracy, decision-making, yards), but balances completion % v. yardage better than QB rating and it gives you something concrete to wrap your head around. The average QB rating in 2010 was 82.2 and the average ANY/A was 5.7 yards. If you knew that, what's more descriptive, a QB with a rating of 85, or a QB with an ANY/Y of 6.0? Obviously you'd know both are a little above average, but with ANY/Y, you have a better intuitve grasp not only of how much better he is, but also something to apply to the game: Every time this guy drops back, we can expect an average gain of 6 yards. ANY/A also correlates very well with winning, which is also quite handy. For instance, Brett Favre's 2009 ANY/A was an outstanding 7.6; his 2010 ANY/A was a bad 4.6.

Anyway, getting off that tangent, how do Joe Webb and Vince Young compare here?

Young's ANY/A in 2010 was 7.3. While Young's "elite" comments have drawn plenty of chuckles, he might be right in this area. He didn't quite throw enough passes to qualify, but 7.3 ANY/A would've placed him 5th in the NFL last year behind only Brady, Rivers, Rodgers, and Roethlesberger.

Young's ANY/A in 2009 was 6.4, well above the 2009 league average of 5.6.

Joe Webb's ANY/A last year? 3.0.

"Now wait a second there, wise guy," I hear you saying. "Joe Webb was a rookie pressed into action with barely enough reps." Fair enough. Joe Webb was 24 last year (older than ideal for a rookie, particularly one who needs developing). Young's ANY/A at age 24 was 4.4. Below league average, but much better than Webb's. Young's rookie season came at age 23, with a 4.5 ANY/A.

ANY/A can be found for any QB at

OK, what if you're more comfortable with QB rating? Young's rating last year was 98.6 and 82.8 in 2009. Using RATE+ (which basically places QB rating on a comparison scale where 100 is average), Young's RATE+ was 116 in 2010 and 99 in 2009. (In other words, Young was 16% better than league average in QB rating last year and 1% below--essentially average--in 2009.) Webb's rating was 60.9 for a RATE+ of 75 (Young at age 24 was 71.1, RATE+ of 85).

How about DVOA, the metric used by football outsiders that considers quality of opponent? Young's DVOA in 2010 was 26.9% (essentially 26.9% better than average, 5th in the league) and 17.7% in 2009. Webb's DVOA was -18.8% (note that that's negative). Young at 24 was at -8.4%.

How about win probability added, found here. Basically, at any point in any game, a team has a certain chance of winning called win probablility, based on the score, the point where the line of scrimmidge is, the time remaining, the down and distance, etc. WPA basically takes the difference in win probability at the start of the play and the end of the play, and if the player is directly involved, his WPA is either added to or subtracted from. A simple example would be if it's 4th and 8 and the team's down by 3 with a minute remaining, and the QB completes a 12 yard reception to get the first down put the team in field goal range, his WPA will get a huge boost (along with others involved). If he throws an incompletion, it'll take a hit. You want to be positive. Anyway, Young's WPA was .86 in 2010 and 1.87 in 2009. Webb's was -14.8.

We can go on. Vince Young's QB record (a measure I'm not a huge fan of but many are) is 26-13. Webb in limited action of course was essentially 1-2, counting the game at TCF where Favre was concussed in the first quarter. Young was the third overall pick as a QB. Webb was the 199th overall pick as a WR....

Of course, I can go on and on with these comparisons until I'm blue in the face. They don't address teh elephant in the room with Young, which are the intangibles, the leadership, the intelligence, the presence... I fully agree these simply can't be underestimated as concerns.

The problem is none of us are in a position to judge Young on this. His issues could be as seemingly insurmountable as real psychological illness to merely a personality dispute with Jeff Fischer (I've heard both arguments. I've also heard teammates like him in general). We just don't really know. But you know who might be in position to offer a worthwhile opinion? New Vikings QB coach Craig Johnson.

The thing is, if there's any situation out there ripe to be a great change-of-scenery landing spot for Young, it's probably Minnesota if the coaching staff decides he's worth it. That's the key; Frazier, Musgrave, and Johnson have to make that determination. But when you consider that Young would essentially be asked to serve the same role he was largely successful in (particularly these past two seasons)--that is, effective mid-volume passer who plays off a dynamic running back and knows how to grind out wins--he would seem to be more than capable, and at 28 years old next, he wouldn't be yet another greybeard who's best football's probably behind him. His former QB coach is here. Another QB developer in Musgrave is here. Frazier, who's often compared to Tony Dungy (one of the few that vouched for Vick when Vick was considered poisonous), is here. The skill talent is probably a net upgrade here from Tennessee...

I guess this is just a long way of saying if the staff brings him in, I'd be more than fine with it. If not, cest' le vie. Then there's probably something wrong with him. Or they just like some other option more. Who knows? Frazier brought Johnson here because they're friends and comfortable with each other. It's entirely possiblde Johnson's telling Frazier "you don't even know half about this guy. Stay away!" Either way, I'm just happy the Vikings are in a great position to judge.

Also, this analysis also suggests we maybe need to throw a little bit of cool water on the Joe Webb as QBOTF. We can't tell the future, of course, and maybe Webb can be a starting QB. But these numbers, at the very least, suggest he has quite a long, long way to go.

This FanPost was created by a registered user of The Daily Norseman, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the staff of the site. However, since this is a community, that view is no less important.

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