While I’m sure the Kevin Kolb vs. John Skelton debate has been covered ad nasuem, one thing I haven’t seen is a really thorough breakdown of their stats (and I’m talking about more than just their completion percentage or yards per attempt). Also I apologize if this has been covered already and if so, just feel free to ignore/delete this fanpost. I’ll admit I don’t always visit RoTB on a daily basis, as I should, but hey we’re not all perfect, right? Anyways, I’ll admit upfront that I’m a Kolb supporter but my goal in this particular post is too stay as unbiased as possible and simply present the stats as they appear.
First and foremost one of the most telling stats for any QB is how many points their offense scores:
- Kolb starts: 20.25 points per game
- Skelton starts: 18.75 points per game
(Just in case anyone is wondering, Patrick Peterson split his punt return TD’s evenly between Kolb and Skelton starts and there were no defensive TD’s this year so these numbers are equal and accurate. I also included the second San Fran game as a Kolb start instead of Skelton start since Kolb threw only one pass.)
Now for a quick look at the stats that we all know and love:
- Completion %: Slight edge for Kolb (57.7 to 54.9)
- Average Yards per attempt: Slight edge for Kolb (7.73 to 6.96)
- Adjusted Net Yards per Pass Attempt (via Pro-football reference): Slight edge for Kolb (5.5 to 4.5)
- Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement (via Football Outsiders): Slight edge for Kolb (-25 to -220)
- Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (via Football Outsiders): Slight edge for Kolb (-12.5% to 22.2%)
- Effective Yards (via Football Outsiders): Slight edge for Kolb (1,429 to 1,303)
Ok so it looks like most of the basic and advanced stats indicate that Kolb had a slightly better season than Skelton, although admittedly it’s not a landslide by any means. How about some situational stats now:
Home/Indoors: This jumped out at me immediately; Skelton had much better stats at home vs. the road and indoors vs. outdoors. His completion percentage plummets to under 50% either outdoors or not at home and 10 or his 14 interceptions came in away games. Kolb is pretty even in outdoor vs. indoor games but still had much better stats at home vs. on the road (5% difference in completion percentage).
3rd Down Passing: I always love this stat because we all know how critical 3rd downs are in this league. This is a good one to evaluate too because they had a very similar number of attempts (77 for Skelton and 70 for Kolb). Kolb had a higher completion percentage (55.7 vs. 53.2) but Skelton had a higher YPA (7.14 vs. 6.54). Skelton threw two TDs and four picks on third down while Kolb was even at one and one. Kolb had a higher QB rating, if you value this stat, at 74.6 vs. 63.2. One thing that was kind of odd on third downs is that Skelton’s completion percentage got worse as the "yards to go" dropped (56.7% on 9+ yards but just 38.5% on 1-2 yards). Not sure what that means but just thought it was odd enough to mention.
Directional Passing: I saw this on ESPN and had to mention it just because I thought it was very interesting and could possibly explain some game planning/play calling for each QB. Skelton was at his best (60% comp and 9.93 YPA) on passes to the middle of the field but at his worst (50% comp and 5.92 YPA) on passes to the sideline. Kolb on the other hand was basically the exact opposite being at his worst on passes to the center of the field (50% and 5.5 YPA) but at his best on passes to the sideline (60% and 8.47 YPA).
Red Zone passing: Another crucially important statistic and surprisingly both QBs were pretty solid inside the red zone. Neither QB threw an interception inside the 20 and they both had QB ratings above 98. Skelton had a higher completion percentage (57.1 vs 52.6) and while both their YPA seem really low (conservative play calling maybe?), Skelton had the slight edge there (3.36 to 3.05). In case anyone was also wondering, Skelton was at his best either between his own 1 and 20 or in the other teams red zone while Kolb was at his best at his own 21-50. Another interesting factoid, eight of Skelton’s 11 touchdowns came from the red zone. Kolb on the other hand had the most TDs in between his own 21-50 (he had just three TDs from the red zone).
First Half vs. Second Half:I had to include this because of Skelton’s reputation as a comeback king and the stats certainly reflect that he’s a much better QB in the second half than the first and that he gets better in every quarter. Kolb on the other hand, is somewhat the opposite. His completion percentage goes from 60.6% in the first half to 53.7% in the second, although his YPA go up from 6.63 to 8.38 and those two variables combined equal to the exact same QB rating of 78.3 from the first half to the second. Skelton is a miserable QB in the first half completing just 49.1% of his passes for 5.27 yards per attempt and he threw twice as many INTs and TDs, but to his credit he turns it around in the second half with a 57.6% completion rate for 7.85 YPA and a 1:1 TD to INT ratio. Oh and in case you’re wondering both QB completed every single pass they threw in overtime this season (most amazing stat of the year?).
So that’s a very long winded analysis and I’m not sure how it’ll be perceived but I came away with this thought: Both Skelton and Kolb were below average QBs in 2011, but Kolb did play better, even if only by the slightest of margins. I don’t know what exactly that means going into 2012 and I think a reasonable argument can be made either way as who should be the starter. Skelton is much younger but has been in the system longer than Kolb and despite the age difference their level of on the field experience is much closer than their age would suggest. Thoughts?