Jacksonville Jaguars Advanced Stat of the Week: Gabbert or Henne?
Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports
You can't blame Gus Bradley and David Caldwell for not wanting to name their starting quarterback in March.
Neither Blaine Gabbert nor Chad Henne are particularly enticing options.
Points per attempt (PPA) is not a commonly used stat, but is an interesting concept posited by Texans FC Jeffery Roy in a previous article.
The idea is to divide a team's offensive points scored (excluding defensive and special teams scores) and divide that by the number of passing attempts plus sacks. The stat really should be called PPDB (points per dropback), but let's keep it simple, shall we?
What the resulting number tells you is how often a team was forced to pass the ball in order to generate points.
PPA is not strictly a passing stat. It's ultimately a team efficiency stat. Obviously, short fields and a strong running game will lead to more points with fewer passing attempts. Additionally, teams pass more when trailing in games.
The teams that did well in PPA in 2012 were the Seahawks, Redskins, 49ers, Patriots, Giants, Packers, Broncos, Vikings and Texans. Of those nine teams, eight qualified for the playoffs. If you drop the list down to the top 12 in the NFL, 10 of the teams made the postseason.
On the other end of the spectrum were the Jaguars.
The Jags finished with the second worst mark in the NFL, and it didn't matter which quarterback played.
Both Henne and Gabbert finished with an identical score of 0.393 points per pass. As unlikely as it sounds, the two quarterbacks were equally inefficient at turning passes into points.
Only Jake Locker and the Arizona quarterbacks were needed more passes to put up a point.
As we've seen from other teams, the solution to pass inefficiency isn't necessarily to run the ball more effectively, though obviously that can help.
Under Gabbert, the Jaguars ran the ball slightly less often and slightly more effectively. They ran just shy of 21 times a game for about 3.9 yards a carry. Gabbert did have the advantage of playing alongside Maurice Jones-Drew for several starts.
The run game petered out a bit under Henne, but the difference wasn't stark. Jacksonville ran about 28 a game for a 3.7 yard average, but the Jags also had more plays per game under Henne, so the ratio change wasn't dramatic.
In this case, PPA tells us something we already knew. Both men struggle with passing efficiency, ranking 33rd and 34th in the league in DVOA. PPA echos that, placing them at the bottom of the NFL in points per pass.
No matter which numbers you look at, it's hard to find a major advantage for either man. Henne's biggest edge on Gabbert is in YPA, but a higher sack rate and higher interception rates slightly offset his edge.
Whether or not PPA has any value as an independent stat is still up in the air, but what isn't debatable is that neither Gabbert nor Henne represent good options for 2013.
Unless the Jaguars address the quarterback situation in the draft, however, those are the likely the two best options they have.
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