Thanks to the nflFastR project and NFL NextGen Stats for the timely sources of data.
For those of you new to this, I will publish key QB stats each week judging how well the Colts passing game performed. Yes, O-Line, receivers, and play-calling impact these numbers but they are primarily QB measures. I will probably modify the charts throughout the season. Commentary will be brief but feel free to let me know in the comments that stats aren’t everything. (click charts for larger view)
NOTE: All references to rankings are of the top 32 QBs by attempts through current week.
Ryan Tannehill is a unicorn among QBs. He is the rare QB that dramatically changed his value by switching teams. Here is a chart that tracks his career epa efficiency using a rolling 17 week average(1).
He was significantly below average in Miami and then after his first start with the Titans in week 7 of 2019, he immediately started playing like one of the best QBs in the league. The conventional wisdom is that Derrick Henry made Tannehill good, but prior to Tannehill, Henry wasn’t putting up big numbers: only after Tannehill’s arrival did he become “King”. Tannehill clearly had an impact.
Of course, that chart also shows on obvious decline in 2021 and therefore, many are claiming the Ryan-aissance is over, but I think think they may be pulling the trigger too quickly. He is still playing above average football and his 2022 has started off pretty good.
In the first 3 weeks of the season, Tannehill has faced harder than average passing defenses and the Titan’s run-first offense has been a shell of its former glory (9th opd, 30th edp, 31st arsr).
He’s throwing the ball quicker than average (19th ttt), but not sacrificing distance, as he has the 12th longest target depth and 6th longest completions (adot, ay/c). His completion rate is low, but after adjusting for target depth, his accuracy is near average (19th cpoe). His receivers are getting very good yac relative to completion depth (5th yacoe), which helps drive the 6th best passing yardage efficiency in the league.
He’s facing a lot of pressure, but his quick throws help him avoid abandoning the play (7th pr%, 21st aa%). He’s not taking sacks and instead moves around and throws the ball away if the play isn’t there (24th sck%, 15th scr%, 13th ta%). This all helps keep his per drop-back yardage efficiency high (6th ny/d).
He has moved the ball very well with his arm (6th 1st%), but he turns the ball over (9th to%) and isn’t finishing drives with TDs (19th td%). That is a net drag on his overall efficiency, so despite great yardage efficiency, he is currently only 12th best in epa per drop-back.
However, his success rate is much stronger (8th psr), which is likely due to the turnovers impacting epa much more than success rate. In other words, if he cleans up the turnovers, his value would much higher and he would likely be a top 10 QB (if he isn’t already).
He has been pretty consistently successful and gets a lot of first downs, even though his net yardage was pretty low last year. That is probably due early-down run success, which means you don’t have to pass as far to consistently convert. However, that isn’t the case this year.
His trend has been towards throwing longer passes . . .
. . . and it’s working as his YPA is really good.
That’s not a super impressive stable of receivers, but again, it’s working.
Over his trailing 17 games, he has had better than average accuracy.
He is usually quick to throw, especially relative to his target depth.
He is definitely finding his greatest success within 10 yards. Does that mean you make him beat you deep?
1) EPA per drop-back is measured via z-score per a 17 week rolling period. For example, the 2022 week 3 value is the z-score relative to all QBs based on cumulative epa per drop-back from 2021 week 4 through 2022 week 3.