Mike Glennon's statistical splits are really weird

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a quarterback with some pretty mediocre statistics. But if we start looking at splits, they suddenly become really weird.

Statistics are fun. You can use them to support your narrative, or to try to refute someone else's. Quarterback statistics are the best in that regard: there's just so damn many of them. One thing we can do with quarterback statistics is look at splits: what does first-half Mike Glennon look like? How does third-down passer differ from first-down passer?

Usually, those splits are fairly intuitive. But then I started looking at Mike Glennon's statistics on ESPN.com, and I became confused. Very, very confused.

First-half Mike Glennon is outstanding. He's a quarterback who can carry a team to victory, and we wouldn't even be entertaining the thought of a new passer if first-half Mike Glennon showed up for full games. Unfortunately, second-half Mike Glennon is more or less the equivalent of Blaine Gabbert.

Cmp Att Yards Cmp% Y/A TD INT Sacks Passer rating
First half 140 215 1,554 65.1 7.23 13 2 15 102.7
Second half 107 201 1,054 53.2 5.24 6 7 24 63.7

We can explain these splits, of course. The score was generally closer in the first half, allowing the Bucs to run the ball more and help their offense that way. Theoretically that would lead to more third-and-longs, and hence to worse play on Glennon's part. Makes sense, right? Unfortunately, that doesn't actually appear to have been the case if we look at Glennon's splits by game score.

Score differential Cmp Att Yards Cmp% Y/A TD INT Sacks Passer rating
Winning 62 105 634 59 6.04 5 4 8 76.4
Trailing 149 255 1,606 58.4 6.3 11 5 26 83.2
Tied 36 56 368 64.3 6.57 3 0 6 100.9

Oddly enough, Glennon actually seems to do slightly worse when winning as compared to when he's trailing or tied. He's actually better at playing catch-up than he is at preserving a lead, when the team can lean more heavily on the run and the defense can't sell out against the pass. That's just weird.

So, it's not the score, which means it's not the team being forced into a pass-first mentality that's causing this split. But there's something else we can look at: the down-by-down splits. If the down and distance dictate a lack of balance on offense, we would expect first-and-10 to look good, while second-and-long and third-and-long should look pretty bad. Any truth to that theory?

Cmp Att Yards Cmp% Y/A TD INT Sacks Passer rating
First and 8-10 90 143 1,130 62.9 7.9 7 1 8 100.9
Second and 6+ 62 101 598 61.4 5.92 3 2 5 79.6
Third and 6+ 44 87 473 50.6 5.44 1 2 12 61.1

First down is obviously the best situation for Mike Glennon, which is exactly what we would expect, while third-and-long is also the worst result. The twelve sacks especially stand out. But second-and-long isn't really all that different from first down. Yes, the yards per attempt are significantly lower, but with a shorter distance to go the actual success rate is probably similar.

There's something else we can examine here: the formations used by the offense. A lack of quality tight ends limited the number of formations the Bucs could use, and they weren't very imaginative with what they did in the first place, but the results are still fairly interesting.

Cmp Att Yards Cmp% Y/A TD INT Sacks Passer rating
2 Wide Receivers 48 83 702 57.8 8.46 3 3 4 82.5
3 Wide Receivers 136 233 1,260 58.4 5.41 6 5 25 72.9
4+ Wide Receivers 31 47 313 66 6.66 4 0 5 113.2

Glennon was actually really good in the spread, but with only 47 snaps it's not clear how telling that statistic is. The fact that he really struggled with three wide receivers on the field is what's most interesting to me. The Bucs predominantly used three wide receivers on passing downs and in two-minute drills -- and this is where he really struggled.

When the Bucs presented a run-first formation and when they more often used play-action, Glennon looked a lot better. The 8.5 yards per attempt are very significant, while he also took few sacks. The TD-INT ratio is less promising, but given the small sample size I don't think that split is particularly interesting -- it's too heavily influenced by variance. And part of that ratio is that the Bucs ran very few red-zone passes out of two-wide receiver sets.

While these statistics are all interesting, I'm not sure they tell us all that much about Mike Glennon's future. He did show that he at least could be a functional game manager, who would do well when managed well and when the team could keep away from third-and-long. Unfortunately, you'll face some long third downs in every game, and to really help your team win, your quarterback needs to be able to convert those opportunities.

But the fact that he couldn't do that last year, when he had a somewhat limited supply of weapons, doesn't mean that he won't be able to learn to do that with Jeff Tedford's help. It also doesn't mean that any of the available quarterbacks, whether in the draft or free agency, would do any better. In other words: we still don't know anything. But at least all these numbers are interesting, right?

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