Stat Of The Weak: Tampa Bay QB Byron Leftwich's Completion Percentage

Tanner FlowersCorrespondent IAugust 21, 2009

NASHVILLE, TN - AUGUST 15: Byron Leftwich #7 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks to throw downfield against of the Tennessee Titans during a preseason NFL game at LP Field on August 15, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)

Writer's note: My column "Stat of the Weak" will be a weekly feature here at B/R during the season (unless it bombs).

The idea here is to take a look at one statistic from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' game of the week or the season at large. Statistics can certainly lie about performance, and this is where I want to show how that happens.

It's a preseason game. It is the first preseason game. Stats are, admittedly, meaningless in these games.

But just as the players are warming up for the season, I, too, am warming up.

(That's why this article is a bit late. But, hey, I got it out before the second game, right? That's something?)

This week's Stat of the Weak is Bucs' quarterback Byron Leftwich's completion percentage.

If a fan were to look at Leftwich's 43 percent completion percentage from last week's game on it's own, he or she might assume that Leftwich is trailing in the race to win the starting quarterback role.

Last season the lowest completion percentage in the league among qualified passers belonged to Cleveland's Derek Anderson. He completed 50.2 percent of his passes.

Last season's leaders were Chad Pennington, Kurt Warner, and Peyton Manning—all above 66 percent.

Leftwich completed 43 percent of his passes.

The league's rules say that to be a qualified passer the quarterback must average 14 pass attempts per game. Leftwich threw 14 attempts.

So Leftwich threw the lowest completion percentage on the Bucs' roster in the game; it's not what he did in those eight incompletions that is helping Leftwich's close in on being named Tampa's starter. It's what he did in his six completions.

Leftwich averaged just more than 10 yards per completion and led a touchdown-scoring drive.

Luke McCown, the only other quarterback on the roster with an honest chance of starting on opening day, completed 50 percent of his passes for 19 yards—an average of just less than five yards per completion.

Leftwich also has been praised by this coaching staff—and St. Petersburg Times writer Rick Stroud—for his work in red zone drills in practice.

Experience and production are what you expect from a NFL starting quarterback, and that is what Leftwich brings to Raymond James.

Completion percentage can be an important stat, but it, like all stats, can lie about performance.

So what do you think? How important is completion percentage for a quarterback and an offense?

I promise the quality of this column will pick up when the stats actually count, I think!