Tim Tebow to Philadelphia Probably Doesn't Matter, But This Chart Is Interesting
The odds that newly-acquired Tim Tebow makes an impact with the Eagles -- let alone makes the team -- are slim. Not just because he hasn't thrown an NFL pass since 2012, but because when he did, he wasn't very good at it.
But the same could maybe even be said about the other quarterbacks on the team. Sam Bradford, whether it's due to injury, poor coaching or horrible weapons, has yet to have a meaningful season in the league. Mark Sanchez was pretty underrated in Chip Kelly's system last year, but his previous work in the NFL can best be described as "Not Great, Bob!"
And then there's Matt Barkley, who has four interceptions on 50 career attempts, and GJ Kinne, whose name is GJ.
All of this has created a social media storm of hot takes over the last 12 hours, ranging from "Tim Tebow is going to save the Eagles" to "The Eagles have the worst group of quarterbacks in NFL history."
Because this is the world we live in.
But really, how bad is this group of passers? What is happening? Has Chip Kelly gone mad?
Well, to give you some idea, I looked into our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric and charted how these quarterbacks have fared throughout their careers versus the league average. If you've never been to numberFire and are new to NEP, it's a way of showing how many points above or below expectation a particular player performs. Looking at things through a Net Expected Points lens allows us to throw out skewed statistics like yards and touchdowns. After all, a three-yard run on 3rd-and-3 is much more impactful than a three-yard run on 3rd-and-14, right?
To learn more about NEP, check out our glossary.
Passing NEP represents the number of points added through the air. And because passing is far more efficient than rushing, you'll find that the NEP totals are well above zero -- that is, zero isn't necessarily "expectation" for quarterbacks.
Below is a fun chart that takes a look at the league-average Passing NEP per drop back rate (represented by a blue line) versus what each Eagles' quarterback has done throughout his career. It starts in 2009, because that's when the most experienced of the group, Mark Sanchez, showed us what he was made of at the NFL level.
Now, with this chart, keep in mind that there are no drop back limitations. Matt Barkley, for instance, threw one pass last year. Since it was an incomplete one on third down, his per drop back number looks horrible. That data point (2014 Barkley) as well as Tebow's 2012, though, were the only two seasons on the chart without at least 50 drop backs.
As it stands, of the 13 quarterback seasons with at least one drop back on the Eagles' roster, only two have been above average in terms of Passing NEP per drop back. One of those years was Tebow's 82-attempt rookie season (this surprised me too), as well as Sanchez's campaign a season ago.
For some optimism, Eagles fans: Relatively speaking, Sanchez was a baller last year per drop back. Considering how far below average he had played up until that point, you should feel at least a little confident that Chip Kelly will make any starting quarterback into a competent one.