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Quantifying the Explosive Play

If you like Kaep there is no wrong.
It's funny what stats say with small sample sizes. At this point there isn't enough info on Kaep to conclusively say either way. Take Alex's first 3 games of the season and he'd look alot better. Or throw out Giants and Seahawaks and he looks alot better. We'll see what Kaep settles into after ~10-16 games to get a much better idea of what to expect in future. Cam Newton was absolutely dynamic for the first 5 games then fell apart. Alex looked like one of the top QB's in the league the first ~5 games this year and then started struggling.

I think we need more sample points before we can say much about stats yet. I think Kaep looks great, but don't think it's as open and shut as being presented.
Kaep > Alex

Because harbaugh said so
Originally posted by nickbradley:
We've heard a lot of analysts talk about 'the explosive play', and why its so important to the NFL these days, and how Colin Kaepernick has far more of them than Alex Smith. Smith has 23 plays of 20+ yards (1 run) out of 267 passes, sacks, and runs. Kaepernick has 13 plays of 20 or more yards out of 111 passes, sacks, and runs. On plays of 25 yards or more, Smith has 11 and Kaepernick has 9. On plays of 30+ yards, Smith has 6 and Kaep has 7.

This is despite that fact that Smith has 2.5x more plays than Smith -- discussion closed, right? wrong.

Question: which quarterback is more dependent on the 'big play' for yards? The answer is that they're the same!

On plays that didn't result in a turnover (more later), Alex Smith averaged 6.64 yards per play (pass/run/sack). If you throw out the top 5% of his non-turnover plays, this drops to 5.2 yards per play (pass/run/sack). In other words, his biggest plays are responsible for 22% of his yards.

Let's turn to Kaepernick. On plays that didn't result in a turnover, Colin Kaepernick averaged 7.89 yards per play (pass/run/sack). If you throw out the top 5% of his non-turnover plays, this drops to 6.08 yards per play. In other words, his biggest plats are responsible for 23% of his yards.

Its basically the same (I had to Split a Kaepernick pass in half to fit it within the top 5%). If I threw out the top 25% of plays, the results don't change (much) - Smith got 62.5% of his non-turnover play yardage from the top 1/4th of his plays, while Kaep got 63.5%.

50.5% of Smith's plays resulted in 5 or more yards. Kaepernick, 49.5%. 63.7% of Smith's plays resulted in positive yardage. Kaep - 65.5%.

Tack on the fact that Smith was 25% more likely to commit a turnover than Kaepernick, and 60% more likely to be sacked than Kaepernick.

*** Simply put, Kaepernick has been better than Smith at everything, on all types of plays. Put any idea that he's just more likely to complete a big pass or run downfield out of your head completely.
Originally posted by gavindirishmen:
Alex doesn't give you the big play as often as Kaepernick does. Kaep can extend plays that Alex cannot.
Alex checks down. Kaep throws down field. Alex sucks on 3rd down. Kaep is decent on 3rd down.
Alex can hit a donkey from 30 yards away. Kaep can kill a donkey from 50 yards away!
Hmmmmmmmm............ Nah let's stick with Alex

Yea Alex sucks on 3rd, and Kaep is lights out
Originally posted by HornedToad10:
It's funny what stats say with small sample sizes. At this point there isn't enough info on Kaep to conclusively say either way. Take Alex's first 3 games of the season and he'd look alot better. Or throw out Giants and Seahawaks and he looks alot better. We'll see what Kaep settles into after ~10-16 games to get a much better idea of what to expect in future. Cam Newton was absolutely dynamic for the first 5 games then fell apart. Alex looked like one of the top QB's in the league the first ~5 games this year and then started struggling.

I think we need more sample points before we can say much about stats yet. I think Kaep looks great, but don't think it's as open and shut as being presented.

Actually, Kaepernicks first three games are better than Smith's first three games
  • GORO
  • Veteran
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Originally posted by nickbradley:
Um, Alex Smith was godawful on third and 4th down. His EPA/play on 3rd and 4th down? NEGATIVE -0.05, a total of NEGATIVE 3.72. Kaepernick: 0.6 EPA/play, for a total of 16.39.

Strange data point: Alex Smith is better than Kaepernick on SECOND DOWN. Wierd?

Your awesome. Where do you get your stats from?
Originally posted by GORO:
Originally posted by nickbradley:
Um, Alex Smith was godawful on third and 4th down. His EPA/play on 3rd and 4th down? NEGATIVE -0.05, a total of NEGATIVE 3.72. Kaepernick: 0.6 EPA/play, for a total of 16.39.

Strange data point: Alex Smith is better than Kaepernick on SECOND DOWN. Wierd?

Your awesome. Where do you get your stats from?

I extracted the data from pro football reference and crunched the data
Originally posted by nickbradley:
Originally posted by HornedToad10:
It's funny what stats say with small sample sizes. At this point there isn't enough info on Kaep to conclusively say either way. Take Alex's first 3 games of the season and he'd look alot better. Or throw out Giants and Seahawaks and he looks alot better. We'll see what Kaep settles into after ~10-16 games to get a much better idea of what to expect in future. Cam Newton was absolutely dynamic for the first 5 games then fell apart. Alex looked like one of the top QB's in the league the first ~5 games this year and then started struggling.

I think we need more sample points before we can say much about stats yet. I think Kaep looks great, but don't think it's as open and shut as being presented.

Actually, Kaepernicks first three games are better than Smith's first three games


I actually meant he'd look better than he does in this comparison, not better than Kaep. My point stands regardless, we don't have enough data to make any conclusions, just that Kaep is looking very good and hopefully continues to get better. Alex has been better than he gets credit for though, IMO.
Originally posted by gavindirishmen:
Alex doesn't give you the big play as often as Kaepernick does. Kaep can extend plays that Alex cannot.
Alex checks down. Kaep throws down field. Alex sucks on 3rd down. Kaep is decent on 3rd down.
Alex can hit a donkey from 30 yards away. Kaep can kill a donkey from 50 yards away!
Hmmmmmmmm............ Nah let's stick with Alex

Why don't people understand the check down. It's positive yards. Drew Brees nearly beat us in the NFCC game with check downs to Sproles. Peyton does it all the time. It forces the Defense to come up if they aren't stopping it. Some of us need to realize that NFL games don't have to look like a game of Madden on easy
Originally posted by nevadalove9ers2:
Great post!

Great post, I agree!
Originally posted by nickbradley:
Originally posted by SFTifoso:
Agree 100%. Also another stat that doesn't appear is how big plays demoralize other teams and their fans (when playing away). A key 3rd and long conversion can swing the momentum in your direction.

No. There is no such thing as momentum unless you believe in it. Statistically, its not there. Our eyes perceive a random sequence as a pattern when its not.

If a coin flip is 'heads' 5x in a row, 'heads' does not have momentum.

http://www.nfl.com/features/freakonomics/episode-3

So you're telling me that when a defense is gassed, and they have the opposing team in a 3rd and long situation, and then that team proceeds to convert on a 20 or 30 yard play, it doesn't affect the defense in any way, shape, or form?
Originally posted by SFTifoso:
So you're telling me that when a defense is gassed, and they have the opposing team in a 3rd and long situation, and then that team proceeds to convert on a 20 or 30 yard play, it doesn't affect the defense in any way, shape, or form?

Nope
Originally posted by SFTifoso:
So you're telling me that when a defense is gassed, and they have the opposing team in a 3rd and long situation, and then that team proceeds to convert on a 20 or 30 yard play, it doesn't affect the defense in any way, shape, or form?

Well technically the empirical studies have shown that a turnover doesn't change the momentum.

But the same principle should apply to big plays
Originally posted by redmanc07:
Why don't people understand the check down. It's positive yards. Drew Brees nearly beat us in the NFCC game with check downs to Sproles. Peyton does it all the time. It forces the Defense to come up if they aren't stopping it. Some of us need to realize that NFL games don't have to look like a game of Madden on easy

Alex checks down before the play even has a chance to develop. Brees does not and did not do that.