Was Tyler Wilson Really Better in 2011? A Statistical Breakdown

Posted on February 21, 2013

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Here are previous Tyler Wilson articles:

Smith, Barkley, Wilson, and Glennon: A Metrics Breakdown

Tyler Wilson: A Statistical Scouting Report

When writing the Tyler Wilson scouting report, I discussed at length the narrative surrounding Tyler Wilson’s ‘weak arm’. The response I received from some readers indicated that they believed Wilson’s 2011 numbers would show that he was a much superior quarterback before the many Arkansas debacles of 2012. The answer to the title of this post and their assertions is less than clear. His statistics show that his play in certain areas from 2011 to 2012 both got better and got worse, thus providing no definitive answer. However, we can still use the data to our advantage, showing that while his deep ball was better, his intermediate throws were worse.

As always, these stats are based off of me watching game film and writing down the factors that go into a play. I marked down where the ball was caught, what the formation was, why the ball was incomplete and many more factors. In each section, I’m going to post the relevant chart and then make comments on it.

Where Did He Throw The Ball?

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  • Wilson threw slightly less short passes in 2011 than in 2012. Although he threw less screens overall, his 1-5 yard target percentage was nearly identical. Many people have asserted that Wilson threw short so much because of his bad offensive line in 2012, the numbers show this is simply not true.
  • The number of 11-20 yard intermediate passes was nearly identical as well. Throwing to this intermediate zone 15.5% of the time both years, he is well below what the average quarterback threw to what many consider the “NFL range”
  • He threw deep more often in 2011 than 2012. This could be due to a number of possibilities. One is that his offensive line gave him more time in 2011, another is that his receivers were much better in 2011 and he felt more comfortable going deep.

How Accurate Was He?

The green in the color coding represents above average accuracy compared to a composite of last year’s quarterback class. The yellow represents average and the red represents below average.

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  • Wilson’s completion percentage on 20+ yard throws was well above-average at 56%. I gave him a hard time in his scouting report for his declining completion percentage as he threw further down field, so it’s positive to see that he was once good at it. Is this a case of his wide receivers making his play better than expected in 2011 or below-average receivers in 2012 making his play seem poorer than reality? That depends on your point of view.
  • No matter how you slice it, his 11-20 yard completion percentage was consistently bad. Although he improved from 47.6% to 53.9% from 2011 to 2012, neither is even close to average from the 2011 class. The fact that this is a trend could indicate it will continue into the NFL.
  • These numbers tell a mixed story about his ability completion percentages downfield ,we’d expect to see better completion percentages downfield in 2011. That holds true in the 6-10 yard and 20+ ranges, but isn’t supported by his poor completion percentage in the 11-20 yard zone. This is where you have to answer whether you believe his NFL receivers made him better than he is in 2011 or a bad offensive line in 2012 made him worse than he really is.

Where Did His Incompletions Come From?

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  • I also got on Wilson’s case for his large percentage of underthrows in 2012. We don’t see the same trend in 2011, which lends credence to the idea that he often was forced to throw short and quick because of a bad offensive line in 2012.
  • Wilson’s decision making also got better in 2012. In 2011 we see a larger percentage of throws into single and double coverage. By and large he decreased both of these factors, indicating better decision making.
  • We definitely see more drops in 2012 than in 2011, as his receivers dropped 1.4% more passes. The drop percentage in 2012 is closer to average than the 5.8% in 2011, this lines up with the fact that he had so many NFL ready receivers.

Summary

Without taking into account sacks or other such statistics, the numbers seem to support the hypothesis that Wilson was negatively affected by a poor offensive line.  However, the drop percentage and 20+ completion percentage could also show that his receivers made him look better than he actually is. As with most things in football and life, it’s most likely a combination of both.

The question you have to answer for yourself is whether these numbers tell you he was negatively affected by negative circumstances in 2011 or he just plain regressed. You have to worry about the fact that he has been consistently bad at 11-20 yard passes, which I consider to be a strong predictor of NFL success. Your confidence also has to be buoyed by his deep ball ability in 2011. In the end, it’s all about how you interpret the numbers.

I’m going to present a few more charts with no comments. Among them are play result, completion percentage by down, total yardage by quarter, and red zone yardage.

Before the stats, if you’ve liked this, you can follow me at . I do work pretty much every day breaking down prospects and I’ll be tweeting out interesting stats that I come across , future articles/breakdowns, or let you know when I post new things . Thanks a lot!

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Posted in: Quarterbacks