QB Performance Plots For NFL Week 9: Philip Rivers Almost Sets Record

This is a guest post by Greg Matthews, founder of Stats In The Wild, a blog focused on sports analytics and data visualization. If you’re interested in guest posting on TeamRankings, email us your post and we’ll consider it.

(Just click on the graphic below to enlarge it…)

Jay Cutler led the league in quarterback rating last week, throwing for 229 yards on 19 of 26 passing, three touchdowns, and no interceptions in leading the Bears to a 51-20 dismantling of the Titans. Looking at the graphic, however, I’d say that Philip Rivers had the standput performance of the week .

While his quarterback rating was only 125.0 (fifth highest in week 9) and he threw for just 220 yards, he accomplished this by completing 18 of his 20 passes for an average of 11.0 yards per attempt. Granted he did all of this against the lowly Kansas City Chiefs, but anytime a professional quarterback completes 90% of his passes in a game, it’s quite impressive.

(Even more impressive is a completion percentage of 94.7%, which nearly got Alex Smith the single game record but one of his passes was ruled a lateral.)

Brandon Weeden, Christian Ponder, and Eli Manning fell at the other end of the performance spectrum in Week 9. At first glance, it may appear in the graphic that Manning had a bye week, but if you squint and look very closely you can barely make out a bit of an orange slice representing Manning’s 5.2 yards per attempt in week 9.

The rest of his stat line includes 10 completed passes in 24 attempts for a 41.7% completion percentage, 125 passing yards, one interception, and no touchdowns. While that’s certainly a terrible performance, Ponder was even worse.

His plot this week is basically blank except for the left green wedge displaying his 23 rushing yards on 5 attempts. Ponder’s rushing was basically all he contributed to his team this week as he completed 11 of his 22 (50%) passes for a total of 63 yards. That’s an average of 2.9 yards per attempt, which is hard to even comprehend.

That output is almost a full two yards worse than Brandon Weeden, who averaged 4.8 yards per attempt in Week 9. So how bad is 63 total yards really? Let me put it this way: there were 5 quarterbacks who had individual passes that were longer than 63 yards last week (Newton, Vick, Rodgers, Romo, Freeman).