Over the years several people have tried to develop a stat that best measures how good a quarterback is. The passer rating is still used today, but since its development we have moved on to yards per pass attempt, net yards per pass attempt and adjusted net yards per pass attempt. If you read Pro Football Reference regularly, you probably know by now that net yards per pass attempt (NY/A) is a better stat to use to predict future performance and that adjusted net yards per pass attempt (ANY/A) is a better stat to look at history. Chase Stuart had a post recently about the correlation coefficient of certain passing statistics with wins and it is a fascinating read.
In case you are curious as to where Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger ranks all-time in both (NY/A) and the (ANY/A) stats, he is tied for 14th in (NY/A) and ranked 13th in (ANY/A). Considering that both of those stats use sacks as part of their formula, that says a lot about Roethlisberger, in my opinion.
If you have followed this site for a while you know that I am a big fan of the not only the TOX differential stat, but also the ANY/A differential stat, as both are great for correlating wins. Being as we are focusing mostly on the ANY/A stat in this post, I wanted to look back at the Steelers history game by game to see how the differential number held up in regard to wins and losses.
I compiled 32 years worth of game-by-game Steelers passing stats dating back to the 1981 season for both the offense and the defense and ran the ANY/A stats of both units along with the differential and whether they won or lost the game. As far as the results go, when the Steelers won the ANY/A differential in a game they were 252-40-1 overall which translates to an 86.0% winning percentage. In any game that they won the differential by 0.848 or more, they went 230-27-1 overall which translates to an amazing 89.1% winning percentage.
While I can\’t verify these numbers, I have seen studies that suggest a league wide offensive ANY/A average is 5.3 over the last decade. If we were to use that number as a measuring stick, the Steelers are 198-59 (77.0%) over the last 33 years when their offense has posted a ANY/A stat of greater than 5.3 in any one game, regardless of what their defense allows. Defensively, the Steelers are 233-69 (77.2%) when their defense allows an ANY/A stat of less than 5.3 in any one game, regardless of what their offense puts up.
While neither of those winning percentages will blow your mind, perhaps this one will. Over the last 32 years, when the Steelers offense has topped the 5.3 ANY/A number and their defense has held their opponent to less than 5.3 ANY/A in that same game, the team went 149-12 (92.5%). That is a hell of a winning percentage and certainly gives credence to the ANY/A stat as well as the 5.3 average number.
Let me close by going back to Roethlisberger and his ANY/A numbers since coming into the league in 2004. In the 127 regular season games that he has played in, Roethlisberger has topped the 5.3 ANY/A number 83 times. (65.4%). In those 83 games the Steelers are 67-16 (80.7%) overall. If my math is correct, that would mean Roethlisberger is good for 8 wins in a 16 game season just by showing up and playing in each and every game.