Last week's Stats That Matter showcased Al Saunders' method of grading quarterbacks using proprietary, private statistics. Today, we'll consider a public, everyman stat that Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg uses to judge his passers: yards per attempt.
Strange, right? Listen to coaches over the years talk about statistics, and you'd think that the public stuff -- stuff found on a player's stats page -- is nothing more than catnip for fans. Coaches complain that those stats don't take into account a play's design and a player's assignment -- they're too simplistic, the argument goes.
But smart coaches find ways to look at blue-collar data differently. For example, when New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick judges defensive tackles, he looks at tackles, assists, overthrows forced and pressure on quarterbacks -- all stuff you can find online. Then, he and his staff divide the defensive tackle's production on a per-play basis to figure out how many tackles a player averages each snap. The data isn't special, but the method of using it is. So it goes with Mornhinweg.
I got to know Marty well while writing an ESPN The Magazine story in 2010 in which studies predicted that he will be a successful head coach if he gets the chance. Although I was impressed with his attention to detail when talking quarterbacks, I wondered how impactful his coaching actually was. After all, the quarterbacks on his résumé -- Steve Young, Jeff Garcia and Donovan McNabb -- have been Pro Bowlers no matter who's instructing them.