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« : January 17, 2013, 12:00:38 AM »

Third Down Conversions: .....Quarterbacks

Khaled Elsayed | 2013/01/15


They say a lot of things.
You should eat your vegetables. You should say your prayers. And you should judge a quarterback by the kind of work he does on third and fourth downs. You know, the ‘clutch’ downs.
Yet very little is made of it despite the information being right there. I didn’t want team conversion rates or quarterback completion percentage. I wanted to know when a quarterback drops back to pass on third and fourth down, what rate of those are converted for either a first down or a touchdown.
So I found out… and needless to say, the results were interesting.
Before I get into the best and worst, some notes:
 -  This only includes regular season data.
 -  When a quarterback scrambles on third or fourth down it is counted. Designed runs are not.
 -  A quarterback needed to face at least 100 drop-backs in this situation to qualify.

Peerless Peyton
The playoffs didn’t turn out the way he wanted, but during the regular season there wasn’t a quarterback in the league who converted a higher percentage of third or fourth downs into first downs or touchdowns than Peyton Manning. In all, 79 of his 161 drop-backs in these situations ended in success for Denver; 49.07%, for comparisons sake.
That put Matt Ryan into second place with a score of 46.45%, and it will surprise some to see Tony Romo in fifth at 43.94. A bigger shock, however, comes with the guy who finished seventh and led all rookies.

Russell Wilson

Yes, just when you think you can’t say any more nice things about him, you discover a new stat that does just that for you. Still, he’s not the only rookie who can be proud of his performance with Andrew Luck 10th overall, though it’s worth noting that Robert Griffin III could only manage the 19th best score, with Ryan Tannehill 23rd and Brandon Weeden achieving the fourth-lowest score.

Heinous Henne
And, right at the bottom is none other than Chad Henne who had his opportunity to make the Jaguars’ fan base love him, and quite frankly failed. He turned just 31of his 117 third- or fourth-down drop-backs into first downs or touchdowns. Just not good enough.
A more shocking name is the guy who finished just above him. You see, while Andy Dalton made the playoffs he didn’t exactly do it by excelling in clutch situations. Indeed, his score is worryingly low for a franchise quarterback for whom many are wondering if he’s already reached his ceiling.
Here’s the full list:

Name                                           Percentage


Peyton Manning                                 49.07%

Matt Ryan                                          46.45%

Tom Brady                                        44.83%

Drew Brees                                      43.94%

Tony Romo                                      43.85%

Matthew Stafford                             43.75%

Russell Wilson                                43.75%

Ben Roethlisberger                        43.54%

Aaron Rodgers                              43.17%

Andrew Luck                                 42.86%

Michael Vick                                  41.13%

Ryan Fitzpatrick                            39.52%

Christian Ponder                          38.98%

Matt Schaub                                 37.50%

Jay Cutler                                    37.11%

Philip Rivers                                37.02%

Eli Manning                                 36.71%

Cam Newton                              36.31%

Robert Griffin III                         34.75%

Sam Bradford                           34.55%

Joe Flacco                               34.46%

Carson Palmer                       33.73%

Ryan Tannehill                       33.53%

Josh Freeman                       32.97%

Mark Sanchez                      32.32%

Brandon Weeden                 32.04%

Jake Locker                         31.15%

Andy Dalton                        27.54%

Chad Henne                      26.50%


Obviously there’s more that goes into judging quarterback play than just one stat, and not all third and fourth down situations are created equal. But it’s an interesting look at an aspect of the game that is all too often left to gut feel, as opposed to deep study.

The Anti-Java

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« #1 : January 17, 2013, 02:56:08 AM »

Well hallelujah....he is better than Sanchez, Henne,  Locker, Weeden and Dalton.   

Good times.


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« #2 : January 17, 2013, 03:13:00 AM »

Rejoice. Freeman is better than Sanchez.

17 freepologists just came.

Chief Joseph

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« #3 : January 17, 2013, 03:20:16 AM »

It is a telling stat. Rodgers led the league in third down efficiency the year before he really took off.

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« #4 : January 17, 2013, 07:55:30 AM »

Goes back to the thing I've been saying for awhile, do you trust your QB on 3rd and 7 to convert.

All posts are opinions in case you are too stupid to figure that out on your own without me saying it over and over.



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« #5 : January 17, 2013, 08:21:43 AM »

No excuses but this doesn't mean anything without giving the average "yards to go" for each player also.

Boid Fink

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« #6 : January 17, 2013, 08:34:01 AM »

Third and seven?

Run it.



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« #7 : January 17, 2013, 08:42:19 AM »

My response to this article......duh?


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« #8 : January 17, 2013, 12:40:15 PM »

   TBH, I saw many 3rd downs where he could have EASILY run for it, but instead threw to someone well covered AND short of the 1st down! There's that BAD DECISION thing coming up again.... ::)


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« #9 : January 17, 2013, 12:43:34 PM »

No excuses but this doesn't mean anything without giving the average "yards to go" for each player also.

Do you think there is a large margin in the average 3-down distance across the league?
Do you think it's a coincidence the top of the list has the best QB's and the bottom has the worst QB's?

Booker Reese

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« #10 : January 17, 2013, 12:54:52 PM »

I'd like to see him do better, but conversions matter regardless of the down, and the Bucs do better there - 20th. 

And Biggs, first downs per game is also consistent with best QBs being at the top of the list.


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« #11 : January 17, 2013, 02:11:01 PM »

That is the one area that we need improve significantly on offense. We didn't turn the ball over on a consistent basis, we had an above average FG who could convert for us, our red-zone offense was very good and we were as explosive as any team in the league.

3rd and middle distances seemed to kill us all year because of a lack of TE and slot help. I liked Underwood but alligator arms with a QB who wasn't spot on with his short route accuracy is not a good thing.

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« #12 : January 17, 2013, 02:12:51 PM »

Yes they had to convert those. Especially with the defense we had. Im sure that will be one thing Schiano stresses in camp.



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« #13 : January 17, 2013, 02:23:58 PM »

This is part of the reason why i can't see Freeman winning a lombardi. Leaves points and 1st downs off the field. You have got to be able to limit the possession of the opposing QB especially if its against an Aaron Rodgers, Brady, or Brees


Pro Bowler

Posts : 1220
« #14 : January 17, 2013, 03:40:04 PM »

What about the  passes that clark and underwood dropped on third down, do they factor those in as well?
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