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The Compelling Case against Seneca Wallace, Starting Quarterback

Don't know who started this and maybe it's just message board fodder, but Seneca Wallace is not Seattle's quarterback of the future. Wallace represents that rare occasion when we can be absolutely sure an NFL player was playing way over their head. Here's the quick case against Wallace.

Wallace didn't turn a corner. Wallace has two seasons with 100 or more attempts, 2006 and 2008. His adjusted completion percentage in 2006 was 58.2%. His adjusted completion percentage in 2008 was 58.8%. Wallace's quarterback rating and DYAR surged in 2008. Wallace was worth -166 DYAR passing in 2006, but 247 DYAR passing in 2008. The major difference: interceptions, fumbles and yards after catch.

Despite barely edging up his completion percentage, Wallace's interception percentage plummeted. In 2006, he threw an interception on 5.0% of all attempts. In 2008, just 1.2%. 1.2% represents a better interception rate than Peyton Manning has ever achieved. Better than Tom Brady. Better than Dan Marino.

Interceptions and incompletions are products of the same faults: Inaccuracy and poor decision making. A quarterback never wishes to throw an interception and rarely wishes to throw an incomplete, but while incomplete passes are mundane, interceptions are phenomenal, the product of luck and skill, of timing and tips and funny bounces that fly off camera and find a streaking Patrick Willis hell bent to the end zone.

Wallace's fumble percentage improved with his sack percentage. In 2008, Wallace was sacked on just 5.5% of pass attempts. In 2006, Wallace was sacked on 9.0% of pass attempts. In 2008, Wallace fumbled on 1.5% of rush and pass attempts. In 2006, Wallace fumbled on 3.3% of pass attempts. Your opinion of Wallace's improved ability to protect the ball depends on your opinion of his ability to avoid sacks.

The final component is receiver yard after catch. As I've mentioned, the ability to run after the catch correlates much more strongly to the receiver than the quarterback. Wallace benefited greatly from receiver run after catch, something that doesn't show up in traditional or even advanced stats, but is obvious when you look strictly at his Air Yards. Wallace was 32nd in the NFL in Air Yards an attempt. Air Yards does not tell you how good a quarterback is, but it does, as in the case of Wallace, tell us a bit about how much of a quarterback's production was dependent on his receivers.

There're two possible truths. One, that Wallace dramatically improved his interception rate without improving his completion percentage. That Wallace dramatically improved his ability to avoid sacks without shortening his drop backs, learning pocket presence or eliminating his loony tunes scrambles. And that Wallace was responsible for Deion Branch cutting across the field for 63, Koren Robinson coming wide open for 90 and Leonard Weaver busting free for 42 and 63. Or two, that Wallace was playing way over his head.