How did long windup Leftwich do in Week 1? Better than you think

A quick interlude here on Byron Leftwich.  Let me state this before I get into any fact finding or opinions.  I don't t hink Byron Leftwich is the greatest QB in the world.  I don't think he is headed to the Hall of Fame.  I don't own a Byron Leftwich jersey.  I don't babysit for his kids (does he have kids?).  I don't wake up every morning in Leftwich pajamas.  I think he is a legitimate replacement quarterback.  One who can soldier through a season with average results in the long run.  Hopefully I'm pretty clear here.

That being said, I couldn't believe the heat and criticism that was lobbed at Leftwich after his week 1 performance.  I'm all for crucifying a guy if you have a beef, if he played poorly, didn't put up the best stat line etc, but this is bordering on ridiculous.  The guy came out and played a pretty solid guy. 

Did he make mistakes?  Absolutely.  Did they cost us the game?  Not even close. 

I figured there was no better way to show his performance than to use some traditional stats and some advanced stats from his game one performance.  Let's take a look

Let me preface this whole thing by saying that we definitely are in SSS (small sample size) alert.  One game.  That's it.  In the long run this may prove to be a blip on the face of a great/horrible season, or this may be an average performance.  There isn't a whole lot we can predict based on one week.  I simply want to look at how he performed week 1, not forecast his performance the rest of the year.

We all know his traditional stat line, heck, I've vomited it up enough this week.  25/41 (60.9%) for 276 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 0 sacks.  I'd like to point out, that though it isn't an officially tracked stat, there are at least 5 drops being credited to Tampa Bay receivers.  If those 5 balls are caught, that puts Leftwich at a 73% completion rate.  (As an aside for those who will ask, Clayton was targeted 8 times, Winslow was targeted 9 times).

So the traditional stats tell us that Leftwich had a very solid game in which he controlled the game and had no turnovers.  Pretty easy to say.   Now on to the advanced stats, again courtesy of FootballOutsiders. 

DYAR - Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement. This gives the value of the quarterback's performance compared to replacement level, adjusted for situation and opponent and then translated into yardage

DVOA - Defense-adjusted Value Over Average. This number represents value, per play, over an average quarterback in the same game situations. The more positive the DVOA rating, the better the player's performance

 Two definitions that we've seen before, and that we will see again.  On offense, high DVOA = good.  low DVOA = bad.  So where did Leftwich fall? 

Player  DYAR  Rk  YAR  Rk  DVOA  Rk  VOA  Passes  Yards  EYds  TD 
7-B.Leftwich  99 9 99 9 22.60% 12 22.60% 43 284 370 1


Working left to right, we can see Leftwich had a better than solid game.  After being adjusted for defense and situation, He was 99 yards better than a replacement QB.  Put him in the top third of the league.  An adjusted value over average (DVOA) of 22.60%.  This puts him in the top half of the league pretty easily.  A quick note.  0% DVOA would indicate he is playing no better or worse than a replacement level QB.  This means he would be interchangeable at any time with someone you'd find holding a clipboard.  22.6%?  Puts him in the clear cut starting QB range.  Small sample size, I know, but for one week, you ought to cut him some slack.

Another stat (Eyds) is explained here

Effective Yards, listed in red, translate DVOA into a yards per attempt figure. This provides an easy comparison: in general, players with more Effective Yards than standard yards played better than standard stats would otherwise indicate, while players with fewer Effective Yards than standard yards played worse than standard stats would otherwise indicate. Effective Yards are not the best way to measure total value because they are more dependent on usage than DYAR.

So Leftwich's standard stats show 284 yards but Eyds of 370.  Read into it what you will, but it's another indicator that he played better than we thought. 

Take it for what it's worth.  These stat lines may continue through 2009, or they may head in a drastically different direction.  For now, I think we can focus our anger and disappointment somewhere else.  Now if you'll excuse me, my Leftwich onesie is ready to be taken out of the dryer.

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