A New Take on the MVP Debate: Stats Edition

So, over the last few weeks, my friends and I have been engaged in some pretty heated debates over who should win the MVP. A lot of the posters here have made some very good points and arguments. However, I'd like to add my own voice to this with some breakdowns of some stats. Here is some of the stuff that my friends and I have cooked up. Also, note that all the stats work that we did doesn't include the results of this week:

Green Bay is 5th in starting field position, 3rd in Yds/Drive. Saints are 15th in starting field and 1st in Yds/Drive. Saints are first in Drive Success Rate (see Football Outsiders if you don't know what this is) (FG or TD per drive) and GB is 3rd. If you'd like to know whose second, it's NE. The context hints that there might be something there. I.E. GB leads all three in TD/Drive and as a result PTs/Drive. Leading in starting field position and TDs is what you would expect from this story. GB also leads defensively in TOs and INTs/Drive. Something else of note is that GB, NE, and NO are all good at pinning their opponents back to start. So the story is that all three teams either score or force their opponents to march across the entire field. GB gets more turnovers on those marches and scores TDs on those short fields while NO and NE see more drive success by holding their opponents to FGs and starting the cycle over at the 20.

Also note that looking at Passer Rating, the relative numbers that matter are Comp/Att, Yards/Att, TD/Att and INT/Att. You'd expect to see a larger boost in Passer Rating when you're given a shorter field relative to a longer one because TD/Att will be higher. A QB starting from the 20 and passing down the field with identical stats in the other fields faces the exogenous effect of starting field position. It's really one of the weirdest things and a great reason to completely mess all over the rating. If a QB marches down the field 10/10 and 85 yards and then runs it in, it lowers his rating relative to passing it in. This is really relevant when you see people talking about Rodgers vs Brees/Brady and citing passer rating as an important stat. If you start with a shorter field, your TD/Attempt should be higher. If you run the ball more in the red zone, your passer rating will be lower, assuming identical QB production in Comp%, Yds/Attempt and INT/Att. That's not to say Rodgers hasn't been more productive, but it's important to know what the hell we're talking about when we say "hey that number's bigger"

You can totally make the Line Of Scrimmage argument because the Saints lead the league in drive success rate and yards/drive. So the Saints march further and don't get to the endzone vs GB marching shorter and getting more TDs.

Brees/Rodgers Relative Ratios (Brees as a % of Rodgers) [Difference in Rating]
Comp/Att: 70.7/68.2 (103%) [2.08]
Yds/Att: 8.17/9.2 (88.8%) [-4.3]
TD/Att: 0.065/0.089 (73%) [-8]
INT/Att: 0.02/0.011 (181.8%) [-3.75]

The largest deviation is in INTs, followed by TD/Att. Comp/Att caps at about 74%. Anything higher than 74 does not increase your rating. Yds/Att caps at about 11. TD/Att caps at about .11 INT/Att caps at 0. Every .01 is worth about 4.1 Passer Ratings. So looking at the differentials, despite Rodgers being nearly twice as efficient in INT/Att, it's TD/Att that really drives the gap between the two. Given the explanation I've put forward earlier, it's truly the most important of the stats we're looking at, and it's very exogenous to QB play. Of course we can look at the ways that Rodgers has edges, but in reality I doubt anyone would expect TD/Att to be such a decisive stat.

Remember that the median and mode here is going to be locked at 20 due to kickoff rules. Saints are literally last in the NFL in turnovers. There's about 150 drives for all three teams. I'm going to open excel here and pop down 20 for 100 cells. To get to 30, the remaining 50 drives would have to average starting at the 50 yard line. For 28~, where the Saints are, the remaining 50 drives would have to average starting at the 45 yard line line, 5 more yards per drive. That's 250 more yards over the course of the season that one team has to travel over the other. Also, realize that, on average, the saints start at the 28 and travel 41 yards to the 31 yard line. GB starts at the 30 and travels 39 yard, all the way to the....31 yard line! So the only explanations that describe the reality that is more TDs than the Saints is that the Saints are more consistent, whereas GB's variability leans towards a single tail. I.E. most of their starts are at the 20 but they get to start much closer to the endzone more frequently than the Saints get great field position.

Seriously the Saints started in field goal range like three times this season. One was the fourth down stop in Atlanta, one the Sproles kick return last week, and when they picked off Newton on the first play of the Carolina game. The total yardage difference, over the season, puts GB 300 yards closer to the endzone. If those 300 yards tend to come in large chunks rather than small ones (something there's certainly evidence for), they'll lead to more TDs. Oh and you can totally explain a lot of it with weird INTs like the one Brees had Monday where the endzone TD got popped in the air off a tip. Brady has a couple like that as well. Given the sample size, those anomalies can go a long way towards explaining why TDs drop while yards are so similar for all three. Again there is absolutely nothing here discounting the entirety of Rodgers. It's merely explaining the distortion that something exogenous can have on a passer rating.

This FanPost was written by a reader and member of Canal Street Chronicles. It does not necessarily reflect the views of CSC and its staff or editors.

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Canal Street Chronicles

You must be a member of Canal Street Chronicles to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Canal Street Chronicles. You should read them.

Join Canal Street Chronicles

You must be a member of Canal Street Chronicles to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Canal Street Chronicles. You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.