When it comes to football analysis, I’d say there are three major camps. Some believe you can tell most of the story with stats alone. Another feels stats are meaningless, it’s about what your eyes tell you – it’s about watching the game. The final, and the one I believe I’m a member of, believes the truth falls somewhere inbetween.
I’m not an analytics fanatic and am not a football purist who believes there is no place in the game for data and fancy formulas. I see the value of both and think each is critical to form a well rounded opinion (or hot take!).
But there will be no tape discussion here today. There won’t be any screen grabs or animated gifs of interesting plays. What we are about to have here is a complete data dump.
While other people are on Facebook or Youtube, sometimes I randomly find myself on a site like Pro Football Reference using their play index and looking for interesting nuggets. Like who’s the best quarterback in the league in the 4th quarter on 3rd down with more than 15 yards to go? (Andrew Luck) Or which running back in the league has the most 20+ yard runs in away games? (Doug Martin)
See, isn’t that fun?
So because I get so much enjoyment out of digging for stats, I thought It’d be fun to find a bunch of, what I thought were, interesting nuggets and leave them here. I’m going to do my best to omit any sort of analysis or opinion and instead will leave that to you all in the comments.
However, I will point out some things along the way or further explain what exactly it is we’re looking at.
Bridgewater In December
There’s been a lot of talk about Bridgewater’s performance in the month of December. I wanted to take a closer look at how he stacked up against his peers during the final full month of the regular season. To do this, I searched for quarterback stats from weeks 14-17 in the years 2014 and 2015 (the years Bridgewater has been in the league). Note that these stats do not include week 17 of the 2015 season… Week 17 has obviously not occurred yet. Here’s what I found:
Top 10 quarterbacks sorted by passer rating with over 50 attempts in the years 2014-2015 between weeks 14-17.
- Tony Romo / 132.6 Rating (112 Att)
- Kirk Cousins / 126.8 Rating (105 Att)
- Teddy Bridgewater / 111.0 Rating (200 Att)
- Carson Palmer / 108.9 Rating (94 Att)
- Russell Wilson / 107.0 Rating (220 Att)
- Geno Smith / 105.3 Rating (109 Att)
- Cam Newton / 104.4 Rating (176 Att)
- Eli Manning / 101.4 Rating (267 Att)
- Matthew Stafford / 99.8 Rating (250 Att)
- Ryan Fitzpatrick / 98.5 Rating (141 Att)
Top 10 quarterbacks sorted by touchdowns in the years 2014-2015 between weeks 14-17.
- Eli Manning (17)
- Russell Wilson (15)
- Drew Brees (14)
Matthew Stafford (14)
- Teddy Bridgewater (13)
Cam Newton (13)
- Derek Carr (12)
Tony Romo (12)
- Philip Rivers (10)
Aaron Rodgers (10)
Top 10 quarterbacks sorted by passing yards in the years 2014-2015 between weeks 14-17.
- Drew Brees (2,262)
- Eli Manning (2,146)
- Ben Roethlisberger (2,139)
- Matt Ryan (2,043)
- Ryan Tannehill (2,009)
- Philip Rivers (1,919)
- Russell Wilson (1,839)
- Teddy Bridgewater (1,826)
- Matthew Stafford (1,724)
- Aaron Rodgers (1,629)
Top 10 quarterbacks sorted by completion percentage with at least 50 attempts in the years 2014-2015 between weeks 14-17.
- Tony Romo, 74.1% (112 Att)
- Kirk Cousins, 73.3% (105 Att)
- Teddy Bridgewater, 71.5% (200 Att)
- Ben Roethlisberger, 70.9% (265 Att)
- Alex Smith, 68.5% (184 Att)
- Andy Dalton, 67.8% (121 Att)
- Drew Brees, 67.4% (298 Att)
Robert Griffin, 67.4% (95 Att)
- Matt Ryan, 67.2% (262 Att)
- Carson Palmer, 67.0% (94 Att)
Top 10 quarterbacks sorted by yards gained per attempt with at least 50 attempts in the years 2014-2015 between weeks 14-17.
- Kirk Cousins, 9.4 Y/A (105 Att)
- Geno Smith, 9.2 Y/A (109 Att)
- Teddy Bridgewater, 9.1 Y/A (200 Att)
- Carson Palmer, 9.0 Y/A (94 Att)
- Tony Romo, 8.8 Y/A (112 Att)
- Robert Griffin, 8.7 Y/A (95 Att)
- Russell Wilson, 8.4 Y/A (220 Att)
Tyrod Taylor, 8.4 Y/A (81 Att)
- Peyton Manning, 8.2 Y/A (121 Att)
- Ben Roethlisberger, 8.1 Y/A (265 Att)
Vikings Defense Against Opponents’ #1 Receiver
Naturally, I reached out to some of the staff here at VT to see if there was anything in particular they were interested in. One of our team members was curious to see how the Vikings defense performed against opponents’ number one wide receivers.
To determine who the opponents’ top receiver was, I looked at the 2015 receiving stats for each opposing team and chose whoever was on the top.
Here are the numbers:
A couple of things to note here. First, the “Comp % Diff” column shows you the difference between their completion percentage for the entire season and their completion percentage against the Vikings. If it’s a negative number, that is not good and means that their completion percentage was higher against Minnesota’s defense.
The “% Yards Against MIN” column tells us the percentage of their total yards for the 2015 season that were gained against the Vikings. Because division opponents are played twice, I split the percentage for Calvin Johnson and Alshon Jeffery.
The Total value for “% Yards Against MIN” represents the percentage of receiving yards for all receivers for the entire 2015 season that came against the Vikings. (8.28%)
Teddy’s Third Down Targets
Lindsey Young recently published an article to Vikings.com about the connection between Jarius Wright and Stefon Diggs on third down. This prompted me to take a look at all the Vikings receivers performance on third down.
First Down Running
If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know I’m frequently complaining during games about the lack of creativity on first down. More specifically, I’m usually ranting about how the Vikings endlessly run the ball right up the gut every single time. I wanted to take a look at how often the Vikings run on first down compared to the rest of the league.
The Averages row at the bottom of this table will give you an idea of how the Vikings tendency to run on first down compares to the league average.
Feast Or Famine?
It’s widely believed that one of the reasons Peterson is so effective is because he’s able to wear opposing defenses down with his physical running style. More often than not, we’ll see Peterson bottled up at the line for minimum gains and then, in the third or fourth quarter, break a long one off.
I wanted to see how often the Vikings had runs for very minimum gains and how they compared to the rest of the league. Furthermore, I wanted to see how often they had big gains and how that compared to the league average.
(Note: This table is rather large so you’ll need to click to enlarge.)
Taking this a step further, I wanted to pull the same exact information but limit it to first down run plays. I was curious whether or not the Vikings tendency to run on first down could be resulting in a larger number of plays (versus the league average) for small or even negative gains.
Inherent Personnel Conflict?
Something we’ve discussed at multiple points throughout the season is Peterson’s perceived inability to run from anything other than under center. I wanted to see how Peterson’s totals this season for being under center versus in the shotgun compared to his career.
Adrian Peterson | Rushing – Shotgun vs. Under Center
How does this contrast with Jerick McKinnon? Is McKinnon noticeably better out of the shotgun than Peterson?
Jerick McKinnon | Rushing – Shotgun vs. Under Center
Finally, what about Teddy Bridgewater? How much of a conflict is there between what he excels at and what Peterson has been good at throughout his career?
Teddy Bridgewater | Passing – Shotgun vs. Under Center
Directional Rushing Preference
We’ll end with a pretty straightforward one looking at what direction the Vikings running backs have had the most success running in; to the left, to the right, or up the middle.
A lot to digest, I know. But I’m very interested in hearing some analysis and conclusions that can be drawn from the above statistics. I have some thoughts of my own and would love to share some of them in the comments here through discussion.