- Several quarterbacks had accuracy issues in Week 1
- Inaccurate quarterbacks were mostly on the losing end
- Small misses can have big consequences
Jared Goff, Ben Roethlisberger, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Baker Mayfield, Cam Newton, Sam Darnold, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Jamies Winston. These were all troubling quarterback performances in Week 1 and all had something in common — accuracy issues.
I am always looking at numbers to find a way to make my own high school team better. I was looking at quarterbacks during the first week of the season and I noticed there was a stat that showed whether a quarterback was better or worse than his expected completion percentage. Expected completion percentage takes much into consideration. including the distance the ball travels in the air (that means it’s harder to be accurate on longer throws, more time for a defender to break on the ball), how open the receiver was from the nearest defender, etc.
What these guys had in common is that they had the lowest scores compared to what the expectation should be. They were all 4.8% or worse under expectation. The list above is also in order of how far under expectation these quarterbacks were in Week 1. Goff was 10.6% worse than expected while Winston was 4.8% worse than expected.
What is telling is six of these eight quarterbacks lost in Week 1 and the only two who won were Goff and Garoppolo, who played against Newton and Winston, respectively.
Let’s look at a few examples of how something seemingly small can have a dramatic impact on the game. Most who follow or listen to my podcast know that I have concerns about Sam Darnold of the New York Jets as a quarterback. First let’s look at a small underthrow but huge impact on the game. Fairly early in the second quarter, Darnold leaves it just behind his wide open receiver but gives the defender a chance to come back and deflect the ball.
It’s a play that should have been a touchdown for the Jets. Instead, they do not even get a field goal out of the drive. The slight hangup in the pass looks like a relatively small miss, but has a huge impact on the result of the play.
Later in the second quarter when the Jets were driving for a field goal right before the half, Darnold threw slightly behind Jamison Crowder on what I call a shake route. It doesn’t appear as much because the pass is complete. It is huge, though, because the slight throw behind on this route designed for run after the catch makes it a 2-yard gain instead of more. That is an unsuccessful play. A throw in front of the receiver could have set up a bigger play and potentially a shot at a touchdown before the half.
Then in the third quarter when the Jets were up 6-0 and the Bills had done nothing on offense with a hance to pull away, Darnold had another miss. On 1st and 10, he underthrew Robby Anderson on what would have been a 13 yard gain inside the Bills 40. The next play he missed Anderson again on what would have been a 30-yard gain or maybe a touchdown. Anderson is open by several yards with no one else around on about a 15-yard throw.
And just so I am not picking on Darnold, the worst performer of the day was Jared Goff. He and the Rams won by three points, but only because Cam Newton also struggled on the other side. On this play in the second quarter, it was 3rd and 8 and Goff had Robert Woods wide open for an easy first down to continue the drive. Every NFL QB has to hit this throw.
My point is, these NFL quarterbacks get paid big bucks and that’s well deserved. I think it is personally the most difficult job to do well in the whole world. But, they have to be able to make these throws when they get a chance. Everyone knows a turnover affects the game tremendously. But I don’t think everyone understands how much a simple throw behind a receiver to stop run after catch can have just as big of an impact. It’s easy to forget about an underthrown pass that should have been a touchdown but ends up a punt when it is just seen as an incompletion on the play-by-play.
These quarterbacks are going to have to improve going forward or these little misses will continue to have big consequences.