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2014 Rearview Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt

Every year at Footballguys.com, I publish an article called Rearview QB, which adjusts the fantasy football statistics for quarterbacks (and defenses) for strength of schedule. I’ve also done the same thing for years (including last season) using ANY/A instead of fantasy points, which helps us fully understand the best and worst real life performances each year. Today I deliver the results from 2014.

Let’s start with the basics. Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt is defined as (Passing Yards + 20 * Passing Touchdowns – 45 * Interceptions – Sack Yards Lost) divided by (Pass Attempts plus Sacks). ANY/A is my favorite explanatory passing statistic — it is very good at telling you the amount of value provided (or not provided) by a passer in a given game, season, or career.

Let’s start with some basic information. The league average ANY/A for quarterbacks in 2014 was 6.13, the highest in NFL history. Aaron Rodgers led the way with a 8.65 ANY/A average, the highest rate in the league among the 39 quarterbacks who started at least five games. Since the Packers quarterback had 520 pass attempts and was dropped for 28 sacks, that means he was producing 2.52 ANY/A (i.e., his Relative ANY/A) over league average on 548 dropbacks. That means Rodgers is credited with 1,383 Adjusted Net Yards above average, a metric labeled “VALUE” in the table below. That was the most in the NFL last year:

RkNameTeamPassYdPTDINTSkYdDBANY/AANY/A RkRANY/AVALUE
1Aaron RodgersGNB43813851745488.6512.521383
2Ben RoethlisbergerPIT49523291726417.8231.691086
3Peyton ManningDEN472739151186147.6841.55951
4Tony RomoDAL37053492154648.1121.99921
5Andrew LuckIND476140161616437.2851.15739
6Tom BradyNWE41093391346037.0180.89534
7Drew BreesNOR495233171866886.7790.65444
8Matt RyanATL469428142056596.71120.58380
9Ryan FitzpatrickHOU2483178833337.1561.02339
10Eli ManningNYG441030141876296.67130.54338
11Joe FlaccoBAL398627121675736.66140.54307
12Russell WilsonSEA34752072424946.72110.59290
13Carson PalmerARI1626113592337.0970.96224
14Philip RiversSDG428631181896066.45150.32193
15Kirk CousinsWAS1710109702126.77100.64136
16Charlie WhitehurstTEN1326721032036.27160.1429
17Drew StantonARI171175662516.22170.0922
18Mark SanchezPHI241814111513326.18180.0517
19Alex SmithKAN32651862295096.14190.016
20Brian HoyerCLE332612131604626.1120-0.02-11
21Nick FolesPHI21631310743205.9322-0.19-62
22Matthew StaffordDET425722122546476.0321-0.1-62
23Mike GlennonTAM1417106912195.7425-0.39-86
24Zach MettenbergerTEN1412871381975.6827-0.45-88
25Shaun HillSTL1657871162475.6128-0.52-128
26Andy DaltonCIN339819171245025.7524-0.37-188
27Ryan TannehillMIA404527123376365.8323-0.3-190
28Kyle OrtonBUF301818101984805.6926-0.44-212
29Robert GriffinWAS1694462272475.1734-0.96-237
30Austin DavisSTL20011291793135.2933-0.84-261
31Jake LockerTEN99357851604.3337-1.8-288
32Teddy BridgewaterMIN291914122494415.4631-0.66-293
33Colin KaepernickSFO336919103445305.5829-0.55-293
34Cam NewtonCAR312718123004865.4532-0.68-332
35Jay CutlerCHI381228182235995.5730-0.55-332
36Geno SmithNYJ252513131753955.1335-1-396
37Josh McCownTAM220611142353634.338-1.83-664
38Derek CarrOAK327021121496234.8236-1.31-817
39Blake BortlesJAX290811173455303.8139-2.32-1230

Given how much time we’ve all had to look at the 2014 data, I doubt there’s much in here that’s surprising to regular readers. So let’s get to the point of today’s post, which is to adjust those numbers for strength of schedule. The methodology, which I’ve labeled Rearview adjusted net yards per attempt, adjusts those numbers for strength of schedule. The system is essentially the same as the one used in the Simple Rating System. Let’s look at Derek Carr, who averaged an unimpressive 4.82 ANY/A last season, on 623 dropbacks. If we want to find Carr’s SOS-adjusted rating, we need an equation that looks something like this:

Rating_Carr = 4.82 + (94/623) * (Rating_KAN-D) + (86/623) * (Rating_DEN-D) + … (17/623) * (Rating_MIA-D)

In other words, we need to adjust his rating for the ratings of the defenses he faced, based on the number of dropbacks he had against each defense. Carr’s true rating should equal his ANY/A plus the rating of each defense he played, multiplied by the number of pass plays he had against that team. Each of the 32 defenses is assigned a rating based on how much tougher or easier they are on opposing QBs than the league average. Carr had 94 dropbacks against the Chiefs, the most of any time he faced. Kansas City has (initially) a +0.33 rating in 2014, because opposing QBs averaged 0.33 fewer ANY/A than league average against the Chiefs. Carr had 86 dropbacks dropbacks against the Broncos, who (initially) have a rating of +1.20, because opposing QBs averaged 1.20 fewer ANY/A against the Broncos than league. And so on.

If Carr played a schedule that was exactly average, the sum of all the numbers to the right of the first plus sign would be zero, and Carr’s rearview rating would be the same as his actual rating. If Carr played a hard schedule (which he did), all the numbers on the right would sum to a positive number, and Carr’s rearview rating would be better than his actual rating.

This is easier in theory than it is in practice. We need to know the ratings of Kansas City, Denver, Miami, and all of the other defenses Carr faced, but we can’t figure those ratings out until we’ve figured out the ratings of all the quarterbacks those teams faced. But we can’t do that until we figure out the ratings for the defenses that those quarterbacks faced. As you can see, each quarterback’s rating depends on each team’s defensive rating, and vice versa.

Fortunately, there is a relatively simple way to do this using Excel. I iterate this strength of schedule adjustment (adjusting each QB’s SOS for each defense, adjusting each defense’s rating for each defense’s SOS (i.e., the QB), then adjusting each QB again, and then each defense again, and so on) process over and over again until the ratings converge. That’s when we know we’ve finally reached the true strength of schedule adjusted ratings.

With that out of the way, the table below shows the same 39 quarterbacks from above. Here’s how to read the Tony Romo line. The Cowboys quarterback averaged 8.11 ANY/A last year against a strength of schedule that was 0.32 ANY/A easier than average. That ranked as the 36th hardest SOS among these 39 quarterbacks (for SOS, 1 means the toughest and 39 the easiest).1 Romo’s Adjusted ANY/A is therefore 7.79 (i.e., 8.11 – 0.32), which means he ranked 4th in Adjusted ANY/A. Finally, we can compute each quarterback’s Adjusted VALUE, based on his Adjusted ANY/A and number of pass plays. Romo’s Adjusted Value is 772 adjusted net yards, which places him at #4 in the league.

RkNameTeamANY/ASOSSOS RkAdj ANY/AAdj ANY/A RkVALUE
1Aaron RodgersGNB8.650.01158.6611388
2Ben RoethlisbergerPIT7.820.04137.8621111
3Peyton ManningDEN7.680.12117.7931023
4Tony RomoDAL8.11-0.32367.794772
5Andrew LuckIND7.280.01147.295748
6Tom BradyNWE7.010.277.226656
7Drew BreesNOR6.77-0.06216.7110402
8Philip RiversSDG6.450.3136.768383
9Matt RyanATL6.71-0.06206.6512341
10Joe FlaccoBAL6.66-0.02166.6513296
11Russell WilsonSEA6.72-0.05196.6711266
12Ryan FitzpatrickHOU7.15-0.34376.817226
13Eli ManningNYG6.67-0.24306.4215186
14Kirk CousinsWAS6.77-0.04186.739127
15Drew StantonARI6.220.3626.5814113
16Carson PalmerARI7.09-0.76396.331646
17Alex SmithKAN6.140.07126.221744
18Ryan TannehillMIA5.830.266.0318-60
19Charlie WhitehurstTEN6.27-0.46385.8123-65
20Kyle OrtonBUF5.690.345.9919-66
21Mark SanchezPHI6.18-0.27345.9120-72
22Zach MettenbergerTEN5.68-0.12255.5628-111
23Brian HoyerCLE6.11-0.25315.8622-125
24Shaun HillSTL5.61-0.02175.5927-133
25Mike GlennonTAM5.74-0.27355.4629-146
26Nick FolesPHI5.93-0.27335.6726-147
27Matthew StaffordDET6.03-0.17285.8721-170
28Austin DavisSTL5.290.13105.4330-220
29Andy DaltonCIN5.75-0.08235.6725-229
30Jay CutlerCHI5.570.1595.7224-243
31Jake LockerTEN4.330.2154.5437-254
32Robert GriffinWAS5.17-0.09245.0836-259
33Geno SmithNYJ5.130.1785.2934-330
34Teddy BridgewaterMIN5.46-0.18295.2935-371
35Colin KaepernickSFO5.58-0.16275.4131-381
36Cam NewtonCAR5.45-0.12265.3232-391
37Derek CarrOAK4.820.4915.3133-513
38Josh McCownTAM4.3-0.26324.0438-760
39Blake BortlesJAX3.81-0.07223.7439-1265
  • This site has not always been so kind to Derek Carr’s 2014 season, but facts are facts: the Raiders rookie faced the toughest schedule in the NFL last year. On a schedule-adjusted basis, he was about as efficient a passer as Cam Newton or Colin Kaepernick, and yes, the intent of this sentence was to praise Carr.
  • The other rookie quarterbacks don’t benefit from any bump in this analysis. Both Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater had slightly easier-than-average schedules.
  • Drew Stanton faced the second toughest schedule in the NFL; Carson Palmer faced the easiest. Yes, the two Cardinals quarterbacks had wildly different schedules, as Stanton faced a brutal slate of opponents, while Palmer missed all four games against the 49ers and Seahawks.
  • AFC East and AFC West quarterbacks faced the hardest schedules last year: among quarterbacks with at least ten starts, the quarterbacks for those eight teams had the six hardest schedules and eight of the nine toughest schedules, with only Jay Cutler breaking up the group (as he’s prone to do).

Defenses

What about the defenses? After adjusting each defense for strength of schedule (i.e., talent of the opposing quarterback), we get the following ratings. Here’s how to read Buffalo’s line: the Bills allowed 4.50 ANY/A last year and faced a schedule that was 0.02 ANY/A easier than average. That ranked as the 15th most difficult schedule; after adjusting for SOS, the Bills allowed 4.52 Adjusted ANY/A, which still ranked 1st. Over the course of the 613 dropbacks the team faced, that means the Bills pass defense finished 986 adjusted net yards above average (this is the statistic by which the table is sorted).

RkTeamANY/ASOSSOS RkAdj ANY/AAdj ANY/A RkDBVALUE
1BUF4.5-0.02154.521613986
2DEN4.930134.943681813
3SEA4.990.1654.822543708
4CLE4.97-0.01144.984616706
5SFO5.250.0695.195584548
6DET5.15-0.12275.276634542
7CIN5.410.0785.347627496
8HOU5.33-0.28295.68654343
9NWE5.860.0875.789614217
10KAN5.8-0.02165.8210590180
11CAR5.840125.8411602176
12GNB5.51-0.38315.8912605143
13MIA5.950.05105.913572133
14MIN6.1-0.04196.1414575-9
15BAL6.04-0.11246.1615642-18
16ARI6.16-0.03176.1916614-36
17NYG6.31-0.05206.3517567-127
18STL6.27-0.11256.3818580-148
19IND6.3-0.1236.4119583-161
20TEN6.45-0.06226.5120581-219
21PHI6.720.1746.5521640-268
22NYJ7.030.416.6322583-292
23TAM6.680.02116.6623597-316
24DAL6.27-0.44326.7124584-339
25JAX7.020.2536.7725586-376
26NOR6.890.1266.7826580-377
27OAK7.130.326.8327559-393
28SDG6.53-0.32306.8528547-396
29ATL7.01-0.03187.0429586-536
30PIT7.23-0.19287.4231574-739
31CHI7.29-0.12267.4130587-751
32WAS7.88-0.06217.9432555-1005

The Jets had, by a good margin, the toughest schedule in the NFL when it comes to facing opposing passers. In other words, it was not a good year for the Jets secondary to get decimated by injuries and departures. New York faced Rodgers, Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning, Brady, and Philip Rivers… and that was all before the bye week!

The Cowboys, meanwhile, had the easiest schedule in the NFL, courtesy of games against Blake Bortles, Jake Locker, RG3, Kaepernick, Austin Davis, and Colt McCoy.

Finally, take a look at those bottom three rows. One, it’s always startling to see the Bears and the Steelers at the bottom of any defensive rating system, although we may need to get used to that. But how about Washington? Allowing 35 touchdown passes against just 7 interceptions is a remarkable split, but the defense also ranked in the bottom three in pure net yards per attempt. Ouch.

  1. And, of course, the reason Romo’s schedule was easy is not because those defenses faced Romo; that is filtered out in the iterative process. []
  • Clint

    I think it’s a big secret that Fitzy was more than okay last year. Ryan Fitzpatrick has always been a good backup that broadcasters brilliantly refer to as a “brainy quarterback”. I’d actually be curious to see how he’d play on a good team.

    When it comes to Derek Carr, I really don’t think you’re adding interviews into the equation. Dude KILLS the interviews. I don’t like to bash him STRICTLY based on his performance in Q&A situations.

    • The thing with Fitzpatrick is that QBR thought he was not very good, particularly in pass EPA. I do think Fitzpatrick is the type of player who can look a lot better on a good team, though, because he won’t be asked to do as much and his limits won’t be pushed.

      • sacramento gold miners

        Fitzpatrick is who we thought he is, a backup QB only. He’ll play well for short periods, but will be exposed when required to be the starter long term. This is what happened in Buffalo, after the Bills gave him a big contract. I think if you put Fitzpatrick as the starter on a good team, that club really wouldn’t improve, and you’d need an upgrade. I had concerns about Geno Smith at West Virginia, after his team lost their last five games of his senior year.

      • Clint

        Yeah. He hasn’t been with a good team at all. Doesn’t look like that’s about to change either.

    • Tom

      That must be why I keep thinking he was better than he was…those interviews…

      Seriously though, he did have a brutal schedule…Seattle and Denver had the best passing defense (per Chase’s table) and Carr faced them both on the road.

      • Clint

        True. Unlike a Joey Harrington or Colt McCoy (those with similar stats early in their careers) I think Carr can actually get better and be a decent starting quarterback.

  • Richie

    How to do iterative calculations in Excel: (Which I still haven’t fully been able to grasp.)

    http://www.screencast.com/users/Sports-Reference/folders/PFR/media/cea8d1e3-ed91-431f-a0df-1336c03b1268

    • If you’d like, I can email you a copy of my SRS workbook. I set it up based exactly on the link you shared.

      • Richie

        Yeah, that’d be great. richiewohlers@gmail.com

        • It’s a lot more manual input, but you can use the spreadsheet for basically anything you want. ANY/A with the SRS treatment yields some neat results, as does any team stat like total yards, points per drive, whatever.

  • Richie

    Top 10 schedule-assisted ANY/A:

    Carson Palmer
    ARI
    0.76

    Charlie Whitehurst
    TEN
    0.46

    Ryan Fitzpatrick
    HOU
    0.34

    Tony Romo
    DAL
    0.32

    Mike Glennon
    TAM
    0.28

    Mark Sanchez
    PHI
    0.27

    Nick Foles
    PHI
    0.26

    Josh McCown
    TAM
    0.26

    Eli Manning
    NYG
    0.25

    Brian Hoyer
    CLE
    0.25

    Top 10 schedule-hindered ANY/A:

    Derek Carr
    OAK
    -0.49

    Drew Stanton
    ARI
    -0.36

    Philip Rivers
    SDG
    -0.31

    Kyle Orton
    BUF
    -0.30

    Tom Brady
    NWE
    -0.21

    Jake Locker
    TEN
    -0.21

    Ryan Tannehill
    MIA
    -0.20

    Geno Smith
    NYJ
    -0.16

    Jay Cutler
    CHI
    -0.15

    Austin Davis
    STL
    -0.14

    • Richie

      grrrrr….I wish it would let me post Excel data in a nice format.

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