Friday, October 03, 2008

I've Come to...Defend Tebow?

I find analysis like this to be completely facile. I like Paul's blog a lot, but this post rubbed me the wrong way, mainly because grading quarterbacks by their won-loss records is dreadful analysis. It's sports talk radio- level discourse. It's an exercise that confuses correlation and causation. It's a method that would elevate Jay Barker and Craig Krenzel to the pantheon of college quarterbacks. It's bad enough that the old school baseball media still gives out Cy Young awards based on won-loss records; it's worse to judge quarterbacks by the same standard when they are one of 22 starters as opposed to one of nine.

How would I compare Stafford and Tebow? Oh, I don't know. Maybe I'd look at their actual numbers to determine their productivity?

Career yards per pass attempt:

Stafford: 7.30
Tebow: 9.18

Career pass attempts per interception:

Stafford: 31.16
Tebow: 69.28

Career passing touchdowns:

Stafford: 33
Tebow: 43

Career total touchdowns:

Stafford: 38
Tebow: 76

Career total yards:

Stafford: 5,671
Tebow: 5,941

Average points scored by offense in career losses:

Stafford: 18.0
Tebow: 27.2

That last stat is a little odd, but I simply want to show that comparing Tebow's won-loss record to Stafford's is highly misleading because Tebow spent his first year as a starter playing for a team that allowed over 25 points per game. Saturday was the first instance in which Stafford lost a game in which Georgia's offense scored 30 points and even the score Saturday was misleading because Georgia scored two garbage time touchdowns after the game was decided. In contrast, Florida lost one game last year in which they scored 30, another in which they scored 35, and they lost on Saturday despite scoring 30.

I'm a fan of using yards per attempt as the primary measure for a quarterback and Tebow has it all over Stafford in that department. I also like looking at interception rate as a way to test whether a quarterback is driving up his yards per attempt humbers by taking too many risks. Tebow has it all over Stafford in that department, as well. If you prefer the NCAA's pass efficiency stat, Tebow's lowest pass efficiency number (146 this season) is higher than Stafford's highest pass efficiency number (144 this season). In 2007, Tebow's number was 172 (2nd nationally) and Stafford's was 128 (56th nationally).

If I were an NFL GM, I'd prefer to take Stafford over Tebow because Stafford has more experience reading defenses and running an NFL-style offense at Georgia. If someone wanted to make the point that Stafford has had inferior offensive lines, I'd be willing to listen. My counter would be that Tebow's mobility makes his offensive line's task a little easier, but there is certainly some merit to excusing Stafford's numbers by pointing to the lines. Also, if someone wanted to make the point that Tebow plays in a better offensive scheme than Stafford and that scheme inflates his numbers, I'd be willing to listen to that argument, too. I don't recall too many Georgia fans filling up my inbox to sing the praises of Urban Meyer's offense, so I'm not expecting that argument.

In the end, the statistical comparison between Tebow and Stafford is not close, which I suppose explains the fixation with using junk numbers (won-loss records) to evade reality.

[Update: I fixed the broken link above. Also, I like the idea of a Tebow-Stafford debate, even if it isn't close. It could be a worthy sequel to Wuerrfel-Manning and Bo-Herschel.]


Joe said...


I think you may have the wrong link in there. Agreed with your rebuttal though.

SmoothJimmyApollo said...

The real question, Michael, is who did you side with during the great Grossman-Clausen wars? All joking aside, I agree with you here. I am a Dawg fan, but occasionally Paul comes across like Matt Stafford's PR man.

Michael said...

A better question: where do I come down on the Josh Booty-Brock Berlin competition for overrated products from Evangel Christian?

chg said...

From a South Carolina fan, it's an insult to Tebow to subject him to that comparison. Tebow is a special college player excelling in a system that I doubt any other QB could win with in the SEC.

For all his physical gifts, Stafford is merely a slightly above average college quarterback. Moreno is the engine that drives Georgia. He's the player that scares opposing fans, while Stafford often seems teetering on the brink of disaster.