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.
Davis Mills has only played in 13 NFL games, starting 11. So, it is obviously way too early to tell what kind of QB he is going to be. However, he did have over 400 drop-backs last year so we can at least see what the “early results” look like.
Last year, Mills faced average-ish defenses, so his numbers aren’t skewed too much because of opposing talent (13th opd). Against those defenses, the Texans implemented the most “run-first’ offense in the league (#32 edp). That is an interesting choice, considering their run game was one of the worst in the league (#31 arsr).
Mills got rid of the ball quickly (28th ttt), which makes sense because he tended to throw short passes and rarely went deep (25th adot, 24th 20+). With short passes, comes high completion rate and Mills was no exception, completing 67.1% of his attempts (15th cmp%). Don’t mistake that for precision though, as when adjusting for distance, his accuracy was actually below average (22nd cpoe).
His shorter completions (25th ay/c) should have led to decent yards after the catch (yac), but his receivers only managed 24th best and were even worse relative to expected yac (30th yacoe). It’s easy to lay blame at the feet of the receivers, but QB vision and accuracy are a huge part of that recipe and Tyrod Taylor managed significantly better yacoe with the exact same receivers. Short inaccurate passes with low yac forces poor yardage efficiency, so a 24th ranked yards per attempt is not surprising.
Mills faced less than average pressure but with such a quick time to throw, he shouldn’t have seen much pressure at all (23rd pr%, 28th ttt). That points to O-line issues, which is bolstered by the fact that he had the 9th highest sack rate. Of course, he didn’t help himself, as he neither scrambled nor threw the ball away much (27th scr%, 21st ta%). His lack of mobility and inability to give up on a play resulted in him playing a bad hand poorly and he finished with the 25th best overall yardage efficiency (ny/d).
On the plus side, he wasn’t bad at ball security, with a 17th ranked turnover rate (to%). I guess being average really isn’t a plus, but it’s far better than his ability to get first downs, which was 2nd worst in the league (31st 1st%). Add in a below average TD rate (20th td%) and you have a guy that didn’t turn the ball over, but also didn’t drive the ball down the field for points.
Ironically, on the occasions he was in the red zone, his efficiency was ridiculously good (1st rze). Of course, that was primarily driven but a low sample size of only 32 drop-backs that yielded 8 TD passes. I highly doubt he can continue that red zone success this year, as the far larger sample of his plays outside of the red zone revealed the 2nd worst efficiency in the league (31st orze).
His total passing success rate and epa efficiency, which are the best descriptors of his overall play, were terrible (29th psr, 29th epa/d). He wasn’t Zack Wilson terrible, but still terrible.
As I said, it’s way too early to tell how good he will be in the long run, but so far no good.
The top 2 charts tell you what he did, the bottom 2 tell you how he did it. You know what? Never mind, it’s all bad.
His passes trended shorter over the season, but then he reversed that in the last 5 games.
He threw some deeper touchdowns, so he can be dangerous.
Wait . . . Danny Amendola and Rex Burkhead are still alive?
Following that completion chart is like watching a turtle occasionally pop it’s head above water to get some air.
He is good at getting rid of the ball quickly. He’s also good at taking sacks.
Just to clarify, red is bad.