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Beast of Burden: QB Percentage of Offensive Production and MVP Discussion

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After Russell Wilson entered the MVP discussion due to his role in Seattle’s offensive production in 2017, we consider the NFL versus Wilson and others in this capacity.

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at New York Jets Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Towards the end of the 2017 season, Vegas had Russell Wilson as the #2 candidate for league MVP. At that time, there were a lot of articles written claiming he should win it outright or at least be Offensive Player of the Year.

Two things caught my eye about those articles. First, they were written prior to the 42-7 beatdown the Rams handed the Seahawks at Centurylink in week 15. And second, they used the percentage of offense that Wilson generated as support of their claim. Here is one such article written after the end of the season:

Wilson was responsible for an astonishing 86 percent of Seattle’s total offensive output for the season, which is an NFL record . . . also logged three out of the four total rushing touchdowns for Seattle, making him responsible for 37 of 38 offensive scores by the Seahawks in 2017.

Okay, 2 things:

1) The 86% of offense quoted in that article (and many others) is wrong. It neglects to account for sack yards and after adding those in, the total is actually 80.6%. It isn’t a critical point because that is still an NFL record but it was bothering the hell outta me.

2) This is a bizarre thing to measure.

It has nothing to do with how good of a season a QB has had, but rather it is a measure of a poor run game, usually on a pass-centric team. And since teams that trail accumulate passing yards while minimizing rushing yards, it is also somewhat a measure of a poor defense.

Wait a minute . . . lots of passes, poor run game, bad defense . . . that sounds oddly familiar. Now I’m intrigued.


If performing well while carrying the team is criteria for MVP, then perhaps Luck should have gotten a little more love in 2016. Here are the side by side stats for Luck’s 2016 and Wilson’s 2017 season. Since the Wilson MVP talk died down after week 15, these are weeks 1 through 14 only.

QB comparison

Player Year Rating YPA TD Rate Int Rate % of Offense
Player Year Rating YPA TD Rate Int Rate % of Offense
Luck 2016 95.3 7.5 5.6% 2.2% 79.5%
Wilson 2017 95.5 7.5 6.1% 2.3% 81.4%

Wilson has the slight edge in TD rate, but everything else is basically the same. Of course the Colts were 6-7 at the time while Seattle was 8-5 so maybe that had something to do with no MVP talk.


Let’s explore this more by looking at the top 10 QBs in this “stat” since 2000(1):

QB % of Offense

Player Year Pass Yds Sack Yds QB Rush Yds Total QB Yds Total Team Yards QB % of Total Psr Rating Rush DVOA Rank Def DVOA Rank Season Wins
Player Year Pass Yds Sack Yds QB Rush Yds Total QB Yds Total Team Yards QB % of Total Psr Rating Rush DVOA Rank Def DVOA Rank Season Wins
R.Wilson 2017 3983 -322 586 4247 5269 80.60% 94.4 -0.12 23 -0.04 13 9
J.Kitna 2006 4208 -386 156 3978 4946 80.40% 79.9 -0.23 32 0.11 28 3
M.Stafford 2016 4327 -216 207 4318 5421 79.70% 93.2 -0.17 25 0.19 32 9
B.Bortles 2015 4420 -312 310 4418 5568 79.30% 87.9 -0.17 28 0.1 26 5
A.Rodgers 2011 4636 -211 257 4682 5918 79.10% 120.6 0.06 7 0.09 25 15
M.Stafford 2017 4446 -272 98 4272 5419 78.80% 98.4 -0.2 30 0.04 19 9
M.Ryan 2012 4719 -210 141 4650 5906 78.70% 99.1 -0.17 30 -0.03 12 14
T.Romo 2012 4903 -263 49 4689 5994 78.20% 91.3 -0.09 24 0.07 23 8
A.Luck 2016 4240 -268 341 4313 5521 78.10% 96.5 0.01 9 0.13 29 8
M.Ryan 2013 4515 -298 55 4272 5490 77.80% 89.5 -0.07 21 0.14 29 4
AVERAGE 95.1 -0.12 22.9 0.08 23.6 8.4

I question if making a list where Kitna and Bortles cracked the top 5 is actually an accomplishment.

On average, these are good passing QBs, who put up good efficiency numbers (avg rating 95), while the rush game and defenses were towards the bottom of the league (avg of 23rd and 24th in DVOA).

It’s sort of like a perfect storm is needed to make the list.


So, if this is a measure of a QB carrying their team, then which QB has carried his team the most(2)?

QB Career % of Offense

Player Games Team Yds Team TDs QB Net Pass Yds % of Total QB Rush Yds % of Total QB Yds % of Total Rank QB Pass TDs QB Rush TDs QB % of Tm TDs Rank
Player Games Team Yds Team TDs QB Net Pass Yds % of Total QB Rush Yds % of Total QB Yds % of Total Rank QB Pass TDs QB Rush TDs QB % of Tm TDs Rank
A.Luck 70 25,825 185 18,085 70.0% 1,442 5.6% 19,527 75.6% 1 132 14 78.9% 1
M.Stafford 125 44,917 307 32,914 73.3% 949 2.1% 33,863 75.4% 2 216 14 74.9% 6
B.Bortles 62 20,957 132 13,943 66.5% 1,411 6.7% 15,354 73.3% 3 90 7 73.5% 8
C.Newton 109 37,969 283 23,126 60.9% 4,312 11.4% 27,438 72.3% 4 158 55 75.3% 4
A.Rodgers 148 54,163 437 36,169 66.8% 2,671 4.9% 38,840 71.7% 5 314 25 77.6% 2
R.Tannehill 77 25,144 165 16,855 67.0% 1,065 4.2% 17,920 71.3% 6 106 6 67.9% 23
P.Manning 234 88,538 714 62,328 70.4% 531 0.6% 62,859 71.0% 7 487 16 70.4% 17
M.Ryan 158 57,953 410 39,964 69.0% 1,019 1.8% 40,983 70.7% 8 260 6 64.9% 32
D.Brees 249 97,013 759 67,762 69.8% 790 0.8% 68,552 70.7% 9 489 19 66.9% 27
D.Carr 62 20,513 146 14,110 68.8% 365 1.8% 14,475 70.6% 10 103 - 70.5% 16
D.McNabb 154 52,546 360 33,905 64.5% 3,143 6.0% 37,048 70.5% 11 227 30 71.4% 14
K.Cousins 62 22,393 151 15,359 68.6% 383 1.7% 15,742 70.3% 12 99 13 74.2% 7
J.Winston 45 16,402 100 10,992 67.0% 516 3.1% 11,508 70.2% 13 69 8 77.0% 3
A.Brooks 90 29,013 190 18,768 64.7% 1,536 5.3% 20,304 70.0% 14 123 13 71.6% 11
R.Wilson 96 34,077 242 20,571 60.4% 3,276 9.6% 23,847 70.0% 15 161 16 73.1% 9

Shocker. Since 2000, no QB has accounted for a higher percentage of offensive production for their team (both yards and TDs) than Andrew Luck.

It’s interesting that some QBs are making this list because of their legs (Newton, Wilson) and some solely by their arm (Manning, Brees).


CONCLUSIONS

  1. Luck needs help. He has really had to shoulder the load. Get it? See what I did there?
  2. Welcome Russell Wilson into the “this is what it looks like when your team can’t rush and your defense isn’t one of the greatest of all time” club.
  3. I wish it were September.
  4. YPC is a crap stat (that wasn’t addressed here but I like to drop reminders).

FOOTNOTES

1) QBs must have played at least 14 games in the season and only games played were used to calculate team total yards and TDs

2) Only data since 2000 is included. QBs must have played a minimum of 30 career games and only games played were used to calculate team total yards and TDs.