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Introducing a new statistic for evaluating quarterbacks: Total Accuracy

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Kevin C. Cox

Let me introduce a new statistic I think could help to better measure quarterback play in the NFL -- Total Accuracy.

What is it? Why's it called "Total Accuracy?"

I'll start with an explanation of what this metric tracks and how it's formed -- it's very simple, actually. I've just never seen it on the Internet or used in any analytic breakdowns. The wonderful football website Pro Football Focus provides two (among many others) tremendously insightful advanced statistics pertaining to quarterbacks -- Accuracy Percentage (AP) and Average Depth of Target (aDOT).

If you're not familiar with AP...it's time you get familiar. It's the older, stronger and smarter big brother of completion percentage. It'll make you forget about completion percentage forever. I'm sure many of you astute readers do know what it is, but for those who don't, here's the quick definition.

Instead of simply dividing completions by attempts, Accuracy Percentage "accounts for dropped passes, throw aways, spiked balls, batted passes, and passes where the quarterback was hit while they threw the ball - factors that hurt the quarterback's completion percentage but don't help show how accurate they are."

The AP formula = ((Completions + Drops) / (Attempts - Throw Aways - Spikes - Batted Passes - Hit As Thrown))

Remember that.

Average Depth of Target is much more straight forward. It's the average depth per aimed throw by a quarterback...in yards, obviously.

Total Accuracy combines the two metrics. Only fair, right?

Total Accuracy isn't formed from a tricky, graduate-level formula -- it's elementary addition.

Total Accuracy is found by adding a quarterback's AP rank and aDOT rank. The lowest sum makes for the Total Passing leader. The highest sum makes for the worst Total Passer.

(Actually, I borrowed this idea from the PGA Tour's "Total Driving" statistic. Same exact concept. The Tour adds driving distance rank and driving accuracy rank. The golfer with the lowest sum is first in Total Driving.)

Hopefully I've spelled this out concisely enough. Below you'll find Week 1's Total Passing ranks, and I'll update this table every week throughout the 2014 regular season. Should be pretty telling.

Quarterbacks who've taken at least 25% of their respective team's snaps were counted.

(Editorial Note: Because this stat is in its infancy stages, I wasn't against getting feedback as to how it could be improved. Field Gulls member Cuenca Guy suggested I count AP twice and aDOT once, with the thought that accuracy is more "important" than simply "heaving the ball downfield." Logical. So that's what I've done and what I'll do from here on out. Appreciate the recommendation.)

TOTAL ACCURACY - WEEK 1

Rank Name AP Rank aDOT Rank AP Rank 2x Total Accuracy
1 Matt Ryan 4 15 8 23
2 Colin Kaepernick 6 16 12 28
3 Philip Rivers 11 8 22 30
4 Robert Griffin III 1 29 2 31
5 Austin Davis 12 10 24 34
6 E.J. Manuel 7 21 14 35
T7 Matt Cassell 3 30 6 36
T7 Geno Smith 2 32 4 36
9 Shaun Hill 15 7 30 37
10 Aaron Rodgers 10 18 20 38
T11 Matthew Stafford 18 3 36 39
T11 Derek Anderson 8 23 16 39
13 Derek Carr 5 31 10 41
14 Russell Wilson 9 25 18 43
15 Jake Locker 16 12 32 44
16 Joe Flacco 14 17 28 45
17 Ben Roethlisberger 19 9 38 47
18 Drew Brees 13 22 26 48
19 Peyton Manning 21 13 42 55
20 Tony Romo 29 1 58 59
21 Carson Palmer 27 6 54 60
22 Andy Dalton 17 28 34 62
23 Nick Foles 31 2 62 64
24 Ryan Fitzpatrick 23 19 46 65
25 Ryan Tannehill 26 14 52 66
26 Alex D. Smith 32 4 64 68
T27 Andrew Luck 22 26 44 70
T27 Jay Cutler 20 30 40 70
T29 Tom Brady 33 5 66 71
T29 Brian Hoyer 30 11 60 71
31 Josh McCown 25 24 50 74
32 Eli Manning 24 27 48 75
33 Chad Henne 28 20 56 76