AFC East – The Launching Point

AFC East – The Launching Point
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Analyzing the Quarterback

For the first time in several seasons, all the teams in the AFC East are expected to start that same quarterback in 2014 as they did Week 1 in 2013. In the age of Free Agency and the short windows for success that players and coaches are afforded in the Modern NFL, this is a significant accomplishment.

In today’s NFL, Quarterback performance usually leads to team success both in the regular season and beyond. In many instances, past patterns, both successful and not, can help shed some light on future performance. This is the basis of game planning and coaching to place your players in the best position to succeed.

For today’s discussion, I thought it would be interesting to see how the Quarterback performed under the two standard passing positions: Under Center and Away from Center (Shotgun/Pistol/etc…). Based on these numbers, we can speculate on what the best position that each team should try to keep their QB in during passing situations.

Now before anyone travels down the “Knuckles the hater is cherry picking stats” road, I thought I would make it clear that these are raw stats only that do not take into account: Down and Distance, Score of the Game, Time, etc….Just how the QBs faired during passing attempts. Here are the stats for the AFC East Starting QBs:

At first glance, most of the Quarterbacks performed better under center. This would make sense because usually in this type of formation the defense still has to be prepared for the running threat as opposed to a team in using a Shotgun Formation when there is a much higher probability of passing the ball.

Tom Brady – New England Patriots: Brady performed the best while under center. This is a direct result of having a serviceable running game that defenses cannot fall asleep on. In the Shotgun, however, there is a significant drop in passing efficiency including a major decline in the TD/INT ratio.   Shaky interior O/Line play, a rotating cast of pass catchers, and even age certainly contributed to this. The Patriots invested multiple draft picks to address the O/Line and the hope is the pass catchers will be a little more consistent this year.


Ryan Tannehill – Miami Dolphins: Playing behind one of the worse O/Lines since the 2002 Houston Texans, it is a miracle that Tannehill did not end up on Injured Reserve. Tannehill does show promise in throwing from Under Center however game situations and lack of a legitimate running threat forced 81% if his throws out of the Shotgun.   The Dolphins did attempt to improve their line via Free Agency and the draft but until the protection gets better and a legitimate running back emerges, Tannehill could end up getting beat like a red-headed stepchild all season long.

BEST PASSING POSITION IN 2014: Under Center…..Likely passing position will be, unfortunately, on his back.

EJ Manuel – Buffalo Bills: Injuries cut Manuel’s season short so it is difficult to evaluate his strengths at this point. From the limited sampling that we saw under center seems the place where EJ had his best passing performance statistically. Though the jury is out on the ability of the O/Line, Manuel does have the benefit of having both Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller so the coaching staff needs to be smarter with play calling and committing to the run. The greatest challenge that Manuel faces in year two will be trying to stay healthy.


Geno Smith – New York Jets: Smith was the worst statistically rated quarterback, in the NFL, during the 2013 season. Regardless of where Smith lined up, he had an equally poor TD/INT ratio. His Division high percentage being away from the center was a result of a suspect O/Line, poor running game, and bad offensive strategy. To be fair, Smith was, at best, a project QB that was rushed into the starting lineup due to personnel mismanagement in the 2013 Preseason. Some time watching the game from the sidelines may have helped early on. Though the Jets have added some pieces offensively (Eric Decker, Chris Johnson, etc…), Smith needs to dramatically improve his football acumen if he hopes to fend off Michael Vick during training camp and the preseason.




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