Football Outsiders: Teddy Bridgewater Was Very Accurate (Yes, Even After Accounting for Distance)

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NFL fans in general seem to be aware that Teddy Bridgewater was an accurate quarterback last season, and a few third parties have confirmed that:

What many NFL fans—and even a few Vikings fans—seem to believe is that Bridgewater’s league-leading accuracy was driven by an unusual number of low-depth passes. If you check the replies to that tweet, Teddy’s high rate of short passes dominates the conversations.

What if someone accounted for that?

Scott Kacsmar at Football Outsiders did just that, using data collected from their tracking project and creating expected completion rates based off of distance thrown both vertically and horizontally.

After accounting for how far downfield a pass was and whether or not it was to the middle of the field, he started crediting or docking individual passes. So, if a pass was completed 7 yards down the field in between the hashes, it would be credited for 0.25 completions, because those passes are completed 75% of the time.

Add all those individual pass numbers up, and you get Kacsmar’s plus-minus. Teddy had only 395 passes in the sample, after getting rid of throwaways and other irrelevant passes, so he was at a disadvantage in this statistic compared to others, but he still ranked fifth overall in this metric.

When looking at it like a rate statistic (something they also do with C%+), he ranks third.

They also look at it while excluding drops, and he ranks sixth overall (fifth in the rank statistic).

Kacsmar was impressed.

Teddy Bridgewater is likely to be a focal point in several of our quarterback studies this year. He did not fare well in Expected Failed Completions, looking like one of the league’s more dink-and-dunk passers. But when it comes to plus-minus, Bridgewater has been quite good, ranking 15th as a rookie and fifth this year. Even on passes thrown 10-plus yards, Bridgewater still ranked 10th in plus-minus (+5.2) in 2015. While Bortles and Derek Carr each threw more touchdowns in 2015 than Bridgewater has in two seasons, the gap in passing efficiency is definitely in Bridgewater’s favor. When we get around to looking at performance with pass pressure in 2015, you may be even more impressed by Bridgewater.

This plus-minus approach aligns very well with what I wrote about Bridgewater earlier in the offseason, using a completely different approach for distance-adjusted accuracy. He ranked sixth in “implied YPA,” which took PFF’s average depth of target and their accuracy rate statistic and combined them after adjusting for their relationship to each other.

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