A look at Robert Griffin III’s over/unders for the season


(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Robert Griffin III has some new weapons on offense and a new head coach, and he’s recovered from the knee injury that plagued him for much of last season, so the expectations coming into the season are high.

But there are plenty of reasons to temper them as well. ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski says RGIII’s mechanics have regressed in a “fundamental way,” there are concerns over Griffin’s ability to stay healthy and others fuel the fire that he may not even last as the starter.

Then there are the oddsmakers, who set the over/unders for Griffin third NFL season.

Let’s start with the O/U on 3,700 yards. Griffin has thrown 849 passes for 6,403 yards (7.5 yards per attempt) over 28 career games and has a career 62.7 percent completion percentage. Using this, we can simulate 10,000 seasons and get a likelihood of how often we could expect RGIII to eclipse the 3,700-yard mark. Here are the results.

Vegas has set the O/U on Griffin’s touchdown passes at 22.5. He has thrown 36 touchdowns on 849 attempts, so each time he throws the ball it has a 4.2 percent chance of reaching the end zone. During Jay Gruden’s time with Cincinnati, 4.6 percent of his quarterbacks’ attempts became six points, so the number is not too out of line with reasonable expectations. But to appease those who expect an improved performance, let’s use an even higher number: 5 percent.

Griffin has had 17 passes intercepted over 849 attempts (2 percent), which is below league average. However, interceptions are tricky to project because they are mostly random events.

[T]he variance of a QB’s season-long interception rate could be up to 81% due to random sample error and as low as 19% due to persistent player ability. But variance is an abstract statistical concept. It may be more intuitive to think in terms of correlations. The correlation between a QB’s actual interception rate during a season and his underlying true ability to avoid interceptions is sqrt(0.19) = 0.43.

Over the past three seasons, there have been 1,476 interceptions on 53,348 passing attempts (2.8 percent). By assigning each of RGIII’s simulated throws these odds, here is how often we could expect Griffin to end up with 12.5 interceptions over the course of a season.

If Griffin does have some innate ability to throw interceptions at a reduced rate, it only bolsters the model’s results for the under.

Oddsmakers set Griffin’s rushing-yardage total at 500.5 yards. He had 815 and 489 yards rushing, respectively, in his first two years in the league, but there has been talk about how Griffin’s designed runs might be “few and far between” this season. Here are his  chances of 500 yards rushing using the averages from each of his first two seasons plus a few other scenarios:

If you think Griffin will run five times or more per game, then there is a good chance he goes over 500 yards rushing. Anything less than that and he should come in under.

From 2011 to 2013, quarterbacks have scored touchdowns on 3.8 percent of their rushing attempts. Griffin is slightly lower at 3.4 percent. Again, the likelihood of him going over the 3.5 rushing touchdowns all depend on how many rushing attempts he has, as well as the down and distance those attempts occur. Using data from the past three years, as well as Griffin’s running performance to date, here is how likely he is to score more than 3.5 touchdowns in 2014:

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.
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