The folks at Football Outsiders are always crunching numbers and creating metrics to get a better idea of how NFL players are really performing. Recently Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders addressed the idea of quarterback accuracy. (Link is to an ESPN In$ider article.) A quarterback can have great completion percentage if he simply checks down and takes the easy throw all the time, but that isn’t really a true reflection of how accurate of a passer he is.
Therefore, Football Outsiders created a metric called “passing plus-minus.” Kacsmar explains the metric as such:
[Passing plus-minus] estimates how many passes a quarterback completed compared to what an average quarterback would have completed, given the location of those passes. It does not consider passes listed as "thrown away," "tipped at line," or "quarterback hit in motion." Player performance is compared to a historical baseline of how often a pass is completed based on the pass distance, the yards needed for a first down, and whether it is on the left, middle or right side of the field.
Seems simple enough. The passing plus-minus is trying to be a metric purely based on passing accuracy. It throws out the plays where the quarterback’s pass accuracy was directly affected and focuses solely on how well the QB completes passes compared to the average. They called the difference in that average C%+—in other words, how many percentage points better than average a given quarterback was at completing passes.
This advanced metric intended to focus on pure passing accuracy reflected very well upon the play of one Teddy Bridgewater. In fact, Bridgewater placed third out of every quarterback in the NFL in C%+. Kacsmar explained why Bridgewater ranked so high:
Much of the focus on Bridgewater goes towards his paltry 14 touchdown passes per season, but his accuracy numbers are impressive for a young quarterback. Since these numbers adjust for pass distance, Bridgewater did not get to third place simply by dinking and dunking. His completion percentage on throws traveling 10-plus yards ranked 10th overall last season. Bridgewater also faced the highest pressure rate (36.0 percent) of any quarterback in 2015, but still finished in the top 14 in DVOA with and without pressure.
So even with a porous offensive line and being perceived as a “safe” passer, Bridgewater was more accurate than every other quarterback in the NFL outside of Russell Wilson and Ben Roethlisberger. In just his second year in the league.
If Bridgewater can face less pressure and improve his deep ball like we have seen so far in camp, it’s very feasible that Teddy could become and even more accurate passer in the eyes of Football Outsiders.
Dink and dunk that.