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Houston Texans Value of Things: Average Quarterback Play

What does average quarterback play look like?

NFL Combine Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

We began our reboot of The Value of Things in our last piece. It’s something that we just have to do every once in awhile to keep things in perspective. The Houston Texans should add a rookie quarterback in the draft. There will be questions about whether they will become an elite quarterback. Obviously, everyone wants to have an elite quarterback, but by definition that isn’t possible.

The 2021 and 2022 Texans are terrific examples of the point we were looking at in the last Value of Things. The Texans haven’t been average in any phase of the game since 2020. So, how far do the Texans have to go to get to average? How well does the rookie need to play in order to be an average quarterback? After all, that is probably the benchmark for success that the Texans need to get to across the board.

Team Stats

It is extremely rare these days to see a quarterback start all 17 games (only eight did so in 2022). So, whether the Texans draft C.J. Stroud or Bryce Young (or someone else), chances are good that Case Keenum will get at least one start under center. So, before we dive into specific quarterbacks, we should take a look at how Davis Mills and Kyle Allen did collectively.

Passing Yards: 3,344

PCT: 60.8

TD: 20

INT: 19

NY/A: 5.4

The key for any good analysis of statistics is to find a frame of reference. That is why we compare players with the average, replacement level, top ten, or best performer. Without seeing that you can have no idea whether the numbers above are good, bad, or somewhere in between. After all, there was a time in the NFL where those numbers would be good. That time obviously isn’t now. Average quarterback play is listed below.

Passing Yards: 3,701

PCT: 64.2

TD: 23.4

INT: 13.1

NY/A: 6.1

In particular, the net yards per attempt is more of a team statistic. If you get sacked less often then your net can’t help but be higher. When you look at the numbers through a per game prism it gets even closer. The Texans were short 20 passing yards per game. They were only three touchdowns and six interceptions short as well. It seems like a lot, but it really isn’t all that much. It would seem like getting to average shouldn’t be all that daunting a task.

Individual Statistics

I know looking at Davis Mills’ numbers are depressing, but it is instructive to see where a rookie quarterback can go. It is more telling when we start attaching names to the numerical average. We will look at more numbers here because more is available to us. Depending on the statistic, there were either 33 or 34 quarterbacks that qualified under most categories. The outlier here is Pro Football Focus. They had nearly 40 quarterbacks qualify. Davis Mills’ numbers are here expressed on a per game basis.

Yards Per Game: 207.9

PCT: 61.0

NY/A: 5.64

TD%: 3.5

INT%: 3.1

Rating: 78.8

PFF: 61.9

DVOA: -16.8

Again, these numbers don’t mean anything without a frame of reference. In this case, average becomes our frame of reference. We will include a name or two next to each number to provide further context. Overwhelmingly, no one is relitigating the Mills question. That horse done left the barn. The question is more about Young or Stroud. What do they have to do to be average?

Yards Per Game: 219.5 (Jimmy Garoppolo and Aaron Rodgers)

NY/A: 6.15 (Justin Herbert and Kirk Cousins)

PCT: 65.2 (Mac Jones and Ryan Tannehill)

TD%: 4.5 (Kirk Cousins)

INT%: 2.2 (Aaron Rodgers and Kirk Cousins)

Rating: 91.1 (Lamar Jackson and Tom Brady)

PFF: 72.4 (Jared Goff)

DVOA: 1.6 (Derek Carr and Daniel Jones)

When you start to see the same name over and over again it probably means something. We see Cousins and Rodgers pop up multiple times. Does that mean they are average? That’s more of a philosophical question. It means that for whatever reason they had numerous average traits in 2022. Past results are not necessarily great predictors of future results. This is particularly true with Rodgers changing teams.

Simply telling a quarterback to “be like Cousins” is telling them to hit a moving target. The numerical numbers that represent average performance are more likely to be constant than the player achieving those particular numbers. It is interesting to see some familiar names though and some of those players have been compared to Stroud or Young at any point.

All of the quarterbacks you see above have led their team to the playoffs at least once. Brady and Rodgers have Super Bowl rings. An average quarterback can win a championship. The key is to make sure he isn’t paid like he is a good quarterback. For the next three or four years that will be true in Houston. Hopefully whoever they end up with will be able to accomplish the numbers above.