FanPost

Projecting Ponder: 2011 Stats


Thanks to recent comments by General Manager Rick Spielman (doesn’t that have a nice ring to it?), Christian Ponder will be our starting quarterback when OTAs begin. And if Ponder is to be believed, the Vikings won’t be drafting a QB in the 1st round of 2012 draft either. Given that Ponder took over the starting QB duties midway through this season, and battled some injuries, we don’t have a full season’s worth of stats on him. Instead, we have about half of a season’s worth of stats. So, what would his stats look like if they were projected over an entire season? How would that compare to 2011’s other starting rookie QBs in the league? Heck, what would that look like when compared to some of the current league’s elite QB’s first full seasons? These are the questions I wanted to find answers to, but sadly, I couldn’t find a single analysis out there. So, I had to do my own!

In trying to project a full season out of half a season’s worth of stats, I made a few assumptions. First, average data is significant, but only when it concerns Ponder’s stats where he played the majority of the snaps. Second, how Ponder stacks up against each individual opponent matters. Therefore, in the analysis, I averaged his total stats of X number of games (where X is a game he played the majority of the possessions) and multiplied that average over Y games (where Y is a game in which he played less than 50% of the possessions) and added X and Y together. Any partial game that he played less than 50% of the possessions can’t be statistically projected against the opponent, because there isn’t enough significant data. Take the first Chicago game for instance where Ponder played only 2 out of the total 12 possessions. He threw it 17 times, which would projected to over 100 attempts (the NFL record for attempts in a game is 70), which is just stupid. Using game time isn't much better, because he also played during what was essentially 1 quarter. Again, 17 attempts in 1 quarter, multiplied over 4 total quarters still gets you 68 attempts, which is just 2 shy of the NFL record (again, stupid). So, anyway you slice it, those partial games where he didn’t play in the majority of the possessions can be thrown out entirely, because of insignificant data against a unique opponent.

However, for those partial games where Ponder played more than 50% of the possessions, but not the entire game, we will take his stats, and average them for a single possession, and then multiply that average over the total possessions in the game. So, we’re using his statistically significant partial games, and tossing out his insignificant partial games, as this seems like the only fair way to do it. Lastly, the following stats will be examined: Attempts/Completions (%), Passing Yards, Average Yards per Attempt, and TD/INT ratio. There are plenty of other stats one could consider here (3rd down efficiency, red zone efficiency, passer rating, sack percentage, rushing yards, etc), but I wanted to keep it simple and manageable. So after all that, if you buy this premise, then read on! If you don’t, flame away in the comments section. :)

First, here are the partial game stats, and the full game projection based on possessions:

Partial Games

Projected Stats

Game

Att/Cmp (%)

Yards

Avg Yds

TD/INT

Possessions Played

Cmpl %

Yards

Avg Yds

TD/INT

Total Possessions

Wk 6 CHI

9/17 (52.9)

99

5.8

0/0

2 (not usable)

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

12

Wk 14 DET

11/21 (52.4)

115

5.5

2/3

10

15/29 (51.7)

161

5.6

3/4

14

Wk 16 WAS

8/13 (61.5)

68

5.2

0/0

7

14/22
(63.6)

117

5.3

0/0

12

Wk 17 CHI

4/10 (40.0)

28

2.8

0/1

6 (not usable)

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

14

So, out of the above 4 partial games, we’ll add two to the total season stats: the Week 14 and Week 16 projections; and throw out two: week 6 and week 17 (because there isn’t enough significant data to project over an entire game). What follows, is a table of Ponder’s actual regular season stats of complete games, and then the adjusted regular stats after adding the two partial games.

2011 Regular Season Stats (7 complete games)

Regular Season Adjusted Stats (w/2 projected partial games)

Att/Com
(%)

Yards

Avg Yds

TD/INT

Att/Com
(%)

Yards

Avg Yds

TD/INT

Christian Ponder

126/230
(54.8)

1543

6.7

11/9

155/281
(55.1)

1821

6.5

14/13

So, I used 9 games worth of adjusted stats, which is just over half of a regular NFL season. Using this aggregate, his average stats over a single game, would be as follows: 17/31 (54.8), 202 yards, 6.5 yards per att, with 1.6/1.4 TD to INT ratio. Then, multiplying that average stat line over the remaining 7 games of the season, gives him the…drum roll…following 2011 Projected Season Stats, including his comparison with a few other notable QBs:

Name

Att/Com (%)

Yards

Avg Yds

TD/INT

Christian Ponder 2011 (Projected)

274/498 (55.0)

3,235

6.5

25/23

Andy Dalton 2011

300/515 (58.3)

3,398

6.6

20/13

Cam Newton 2011

310/517 (60.0)

4,051

7.8

21/17

Peyton Manning 1998

326/575 (56.7)

3,739

6.5

26/28

Drew Brees 2002

320/526 (60.8)

3,284

6.2

17/16

Eli Manning 2005

294/557 (52.8)

3,762

6.8

24/17

David Carr 2002

233/444 (52.5)

2,592

5.8

9/15

Conclusion
I realize that the above stats are merely a projection of what Christian Ponder’s season could have been, and it is not what his season actually was. But if you buy the premise of this projection, and you compare that projection to other rookies this year that started and played all 16 games, he stacks up pretty well. Cam Newton had a record breaking year for a rookie QB, so it’s hard to compare Ponder to Newton, but when you compare Ponder’s projection to a couple other great QBs during their first full seasons as a starter, his stats look pretty comparable again. His stats are pretty similar to Andy Dalton, who most would agree had a great year as a rookie, making it to the playoffs. In fact, Ponder's average stat line in the previous paragraph from his adjusted season total also looks respectable.

Now, I have heard David Carr’s name crop up in various comments recently, as people fear that Ponder will end up being shell-shocked and fizzle out of the league much like David Carr did, but the fact is, Carr wasn’t very good to begin with. If you compare Carr’s first season stats to Ponder’s projection, you can see that Ponder would have easily surpassed him. I could have chosen any number of QBs in their first full year as a starter: Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, etc. And Ponder stacks up pretty well against all of them. While we’ll never know what Ponder could have done if he started all 16 games this season, based on what he did during the 11 games he did play in, and crunching some numbers to project that over an entire 16-game season, I am convinced that he has the tools to succeed in the NFL. I am excited to see what he can bring to the table after a full off-season in Musgrave's system, and an infusion of talent to the roster.

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 <em>community</em>, that view is no less important.

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