Mornhinweg's method of QB evaluation

How the Eagles' offensive coordinator measures Michael Vick's effectiveness

Originally Published: June 17, 2011
By Seth Wickersham | ESPN Insider
Marty MornhinwegHoward Smith/US PresswireMarty Mornhinweg knows a thing or two about measuring quarterbacks.

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.

Seth Wickersham | email

ESPN The Magazine senior writer
Seth Wickersham joined ESPN The Magazine after graduating from the University of Missouri. Although he primarily covers the NFL, his assignments also have taken him to the Athens Olympics, the World Series, the NCAA tournament and the NHL and NBA playoffs.