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"Next Gen" stats indicate Mayfield, others, were undermined by their WRs

Shade has been thrown in the direction of Baker Mayfield, Zach Wilson and Justin Fields. But the numbers compiled by the league’s “Next Gen Stats” division indicate each of these passers isn’t as bad as the numbers suggest.

Specifically in regards to completion percentage. The league reviews each pass play, grading whether it should have been caught. And that process concludes that each of those maligned passers should have finished with a much higher completion percentage.

Zach Wilson completed fewer than 55 percent of his passes, for example. But the Next Gen Stats department says he should have finished at 61 percent. And Fields should have been over 65 percent, instead of down at 60 percent.

Mayfield was the biggest mover of all. He completed only 60 percent, but they’re saying he should have been at close to 67 percent.

It’s a subjective process, of course, trying to track drops and grade whether a receiver should have come down with a ball in a partially contested situation. A great quarterback perhaps throws a ball that’s on time and in the perfect spot, resulting in an easy catch. With a lesser quarterback, perhaps the ball is a little off or a little late, raising the degree of difficulty – turning it into a “drop” or missed opportunity, showing up as a positive in this “expected completion percentage”.

According the Next Gen Stats group, there were seven quarterbacks last year whose completion percentage should have been over 4 points higher. The aforementioned three, plus Carson Wentz, Mike White, Joe Flacco and Cooper Rush. Is it a coincidence that these seven quarterbacks, all with various flaws, happened to be the seemingly unlucky ones whose receivers didn’t catch as many passes as they were supposed to? How come there’s never a year where Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers are the three quarterbacks victimized by poor receiver play?

At the other end of the scale, it’s argued that Geno Smith and Jalen Hurts were the quarterbacks last year who were helped the most by their pass catchers. Smith completed almost 70 percent of his passes, but this grading process instead he should have been down at 65 percent.

Numbers for all quarterbacks who started at least half the season …

Geno Smith, Sea.69.8%65.3%4.4%
Jalen Hurts, Phil.66.5%63.7%2.8%
Jacoby Brissett, Clev.64.0%61.6%2.3%
Joe Burrow, Cin.68.3%66.1%2.2%
Kirk Cousins, Min.65.9%64.3%1.6%
Daniel Jones, NYG67.2%65.5%1.6%
Justin Herbert, LAC68.2%66.8%1.5%
Taylor Heinicke, Was.62.2%60.8%1.3%
Dak Prescott, Dall.66.2%65.0%1.2%
Ryan Tannehill, Ten.65.2%64.1%1.1%
Matt Ryan, Ind.67.0%66.1%0.9%
Andy Dalton, N.O.66.7%65.9%0.8%
Patrick Mahomes, K.C.67.1%67.2%-0.1%
Tua Tagovailoa, Mia.64.8%65.1%-0.4%
Trevor Lawrence, Jac.66.3%66.8%-0.5%
Matthew Stafford, LAR68.0%68.5%-0.5%
Kenny Pickett, Pitt.63.0%63.5%-0.5%
Josh Allen, Buff.63.3%64.2%-0.9%
Kyler Murray, Ariz.66.4%67.4%-1.0%
Mac Jones, N.E.65.2%66.2%-1.0%
Marcus Mariota, Atl.61.3%62.5%-1.2%
Derek Carr, L.V.60.8%62.0%-1.3%
Tom Brady, T.B.66.8%68.2%-1.3%
Aaron Rodgers, G.B.64.6%66.1%-1.6%
Jimmy Garoppolo, S.F.67.2%69.3%-2.1%
Lamar Jackson, Balt.62.3%64.7%-2.4%
Jared Goff, Det.65.1%67.5%-2.5%
Davis Mills, Hou.61.0%64.2%-3.2%
Russell Wilson, Den.60.5%64.4%-4.0%
Justin Fields, Chi.60.4%65.5%-5.2%
Zach Wilson, NYJ54.5%60.7%-6.1%
Baker Mayfield, Car.-LAR60.0%66.9%-6.9%

—Ian Allan

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