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Joe Flacco: Breaking Down The Attempts

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If you grouped Joe Flacco's attempts throughout a game, you can tell how he is progressing against defenses.

Joe Flacco has certainly been inconsistent at times during the regular season. He might start fast and fade or visa versa. I took a look at his statistics throughout a game to see how he was progressing by measure completion percentage and other statistics at three different levels.

In my opinion, a team wants a quarterback who improves throughout the game. That would indicate to me that they are making adjustments from what they have seen from the defense. The Ravens need Joe Flacco to be that reactive type of quarterback. Not only do they need him to start strong, but also make adjustments and improve throughout the game. Teams, especially good teams, try and put some defense plays in that they have not previously used. It is up to the quarterback to recognize this and adjust.

In Flacco’s career, he has taken some heat regarding his ability to adjust. There seemed to be a narrative forming that Flacco didn’t have the moxie or mental ability to adjust to defenses at the line and make quick decisions (doesn’t seem to be the case anymore – see 3rd down to Boldin in the Super Bowl). It’s hard to quantify this phenomenon, but I took a look at how Flacco stats changed throughout the game. I grouped his statistics into three categories: attempts 1-10, 11-20 and 20 and above hoping that this would indicate whether he was getting better or worse as the game wore on. Below are the game by game numbers for the 2012 season:

Cmp % 1-10 Cmp % 11-20 Cmp % >20
20120910_CIN@BAL 80.00% 80.00% 55.56%
20120916_BAL@PHI 70.00% 60.00% 31.82%
20120923_NE@BAL 70.00% 80.00% 68.42%
20120927_CLE@BAL 70.00% 70.00% 50.00%
20121007_BAL@KC 50.00% 50.00% 42.86%
20121014_DAL@BAL 70.00% 60.00% 66.67%
20121021_BAL@HOU 30.00% 40.00% 61.90%
20121104_BAL@CLE 70.00% 40.00% 80.00%
20121111_OAK@BAL 80.00% 70.00% 46.15%
20121118_BAL@PIT 50.00% 80.00% 50.00%
20121125_BAL@SD 50.00% 50.00% 61.29%
20121202_PIT@BAL 60.00% 40.00% 50.00%
20121209_BAL@WAS 80.00% 60.00% 100.00%
20121216_DEN@BAL 40.00% 50.00% 65.00%
20121223_NYG@BAL 70.00% 60.00% 75.00%

As always, I have taken out the last game of the season because Flacco only threw the ball 8 times. In 6 of the 15 games, Flacco had his best completion percentage in the last third his attempts. The strange thing about this stat is the team went 3-3 in these games (In the Redskins game he only threw 1 pass over 20). The Ravens are 5-2 in games where Flacco has is best stretch between attempts 1 and 10. The per game numbers above give us an idea as to how Flacco effects the game and how his progression in a game can affect the outcome. There is a narrative about Flacco that you can tell how he is going to play in a game based on his early throws and this seems moderately true based on the statistics above. Now let’s take a look at the season totals.

Cmp % 1-10 Cmp % 11-20 Cmp % >20 TD % 1-10 TD % 11-20 TD % >20 INT % 1-10 INT % 11-20 INT % >20
Total 62.66% 59.33% 56.76% 0.63% 6.00% 5.41% 3.16% 2.00% 0.90%

The above data is all on a per attempt basis.

Flacco’s completion percentage dips as the game goes along, but still stays within shouting distance of 60%, which is a good benchmark to test against. The encouraging thing about Flacco’s number here are his TD numbers improve significantly after his 10th throw and his INT numbers dip at the same time. This means to me that as the game goes on, Flacco is putting more point of the board and taking care of the ball. Overall, I would like to see Flacco’s completion percentage improve when he has made over 20 attempts. If he is able to complete passes, then the Ravens will be able to keep the ball and the chains moving.