FanPost

The Manziel Advantage

they got little baby legs

that stand so low

you got to pick 'em up

just to say hello

"Short People" Randy Newman

Remember the angst that accompanied RGIII's combine. What would he measure? Would it be below the dreaded "Mendoza line" for NFL quarterbacks of 6'2". I am sure his agent was relieved that Robert came in at 6'2 1/8". It was generally believed that 6'2" is a minimum for NFL QB's and preferably 6'3" or better. They just keep getting taller and taller Joe Flacco and Josh Freeman at 6'6" 5 years ago and now Mike Glennon and Brock Osweiler at 6'7". The average height has increased by 2.5" in the last 50 years.

Years

Average Height (Inches)

1930-49

72.77

1950-59

72.96

1960-69

74.22

1970-79

74.45

1980-89

74.98

1990-99

75.19

2000-11

75.51


We have heard Bill Polian talk breathlessly about "wanting a Field General that can stand tall in the pocket and survey the field". We have heard that a quarterback must be tall to throw over the OL and DL. We have heard all the reasons that QB's must be tall. Yet despite this Russell Wilson and Drew Brees seem to be thriving despite the fact they apparently can't see a damn thing and and should only be able to throw the ball over an OLine made up of third down RB's blocking a DLine made up of slot receivers.

Football at it's heart is game of deception. The offense disguises what it intends to do with motion and misdirection. We run play action, use ball fakes, head fakes and pump fakes. The defense feigns a blitz uses amoeba looks and stunts. All of these things have one intention, to obscure the true intent of one side from the other.

I am here to tell you than Johnny Manziel has something that can't be taught or learned. Something Peyton, Brady and Bortles can never have. That secret weapon is not being burdened with an overabundance of height. You may snicker at that statement, after all, we know the benefits of being a tall QB. Have you ever pondered the advantage to being a short QB? OK, neither did I until a few days ago when I read this on PFT on one of my 5 time daily checks for Josh Gordon suspension news. You can click on the link but this is the money quote that piqued my interest, Earl Thomas is talking about Terelle Pryor:

"I just think he’s a great model for me, as far as practice," safety Earl Thomas told reporters. "He’s a tall guy, I can get a good read on him. When Russell is back there, you can’t really see him because he’s so short and I can’t get good breaks on the ball. But when Terrelle’s back there, I can get great breaks on the ball. He’s a great guy — he’s throwing on target but I can get a great read on him."

Hmm, DB's can get a great break on the ball when watching a 6'6" QB but not on a 5'11" QB. Wait could this be advantage short guy!!!! The short QB is actually concealing his intentions by virtue of being difficult to see. This actually seems like a desirable trait. How would this show up statistically I mused. It seems that the most obvious way this would show up would be a decrease in Interception percentage. It makes sense that if a DB can not get as good of a break on the ball it would show up as less interceptions.

A quick googling led me to this article by Scott Kacsmar from which I borrowed the table above. Scott did a fascinating study examining QB height correlated to various metrics: YPA, comp%, int%, TD% and passer rating. One thing you will note is that interceptions have really decreased over the years. It was not uncommon to see guys with percentages in excess of 5% in years past which rarely happens now. This makes it difficult to look at players from different eras.

I looked at all QB's with at least 1000 attempts since 1985 (with the exception of Russell Wilson who was included with only 800 attempts because of the scarcity of QB's under 72 inches). The following tables are the data I compiled, under totals the "debut year" is the average of all QB's in the table and the height is in inches:

QB Height debut att int int%
Russell Wilson 2012 800 19 2.4%
Doug Flutie 1986 2151 68 3.2%
Totals 1999 2951 87 2.9%
Drew Brees 72 2001 6799 177 2.6%
Michael Vick 72 2001 3030 85 2.8%
Rodney Peete 72 1989 2346 92 3.9%
Totals 1997 12175 354 2.9%

Ok so not many QB's 72 inches or less to choose from, an admittedly small sample size. The 6'1" guys are a little sparse too not much below the "Mendoza line". This group is just kind of f'ugly, when Jeff Garcia and Jeff Blake are the two best guys in your group that is not good.

QB Height debut att int int%
Jeff Garcia 73 1999 3676 83 2.3%
David Garrard 73 2002 2281 54 2.4%
Mark Brunell 73 1993 4640 108 2.3%
Jeff Blake 73 1992 3241 99 3.1%
Erik Kramer 73 1987 2299 79 3.4%
Rex Grossman 73 2003 1562 60 3.8%
Kordell Stewart 73 1995 2358 84 3.6%
Billy joe Tolliver 73 1989 1707 64 3.7%
Totals 1995 11167 386 3.5%

The 6'2" group looks pretty good. Some HOFers here.

QB Height debut att int int%
Aaron Rodgers 74 2005 2955 52 1.8%
Tony Romo 74 2003 3775 101 2.7%
Kurt Warner 74 1998 4070 128 3.1%
Brett Favre 74 1991 10169 336 3.3%
Donovan Mcnabb 74 1999 5374 117 2.2%
Andy Dalton 74 2011 1630 49 3.0%
Matthew Stafford 74 2009 2497 73 2.9%
Steve McNair 74 1995 4544 119 2.6%
Jake Delhomme 74 1998 2932 101 3.4%
Tarvaris Jackson 74 2006 1066 35 3.3%
Jon Kitna 74 1997 4442 165 3.7%
Charlie Batch 74 1998 1604 52 3.2%
Jay Fiedler 74 1994 1717 66 3.8%
Ryan Fitzpatirick 74 2005 2599 93 3.6%
Stan Humphries 74 1989 2516 84 3.3%
Jim Miller 74 1994 1046 31 3.0%
Chris Miller 74 1987 2892 102 3.5%
Jake Plummer 74 1997 4350 161 3.7%
Craig Erickson 74 1992 1092 38 3.5%
Don Majikowski 74 1987 1905 67 3.5%
Mark Sanchez 74 2009 1867 69 3.7%
1998 65042 2039 3.1%

We are starting to get into "normal" sized QB's with the 6'3" group only Cutler, Henne and Ponder are still active in this group.

QB Height debut att int int%
Chad Pennington 75 2000 2471 64 2.6%
Trent Green 75 1993 3740 114 3.0%
Rich Gannon 75 1987 4206 104 2.5%
Marc Bulger 75 2001 3171 93 2.9%
Jim Kelly 75 1986 4779 175 3.7%
Jay Cutler 75 2006 3310 112 3.4%
Brian Griese 75 1998 2796 99 3.5%
Neil O'Donnell 75 1990 3229 68 2.1%
Steve Beuerlein 75 1988 3328 112 3.4%
Jim Harbaugh 75 1987 3918 117 3.0%
Chad Henne 75 2008 1876 62 3.3%
David Carr 75 2002 2267 71 3.1%
Gus Frerotte 75 1994 3106 106 3.4%
Bubby Brister 75 1986 2212 78 3.5%
Kyle Boller 75 1995 1519 54 3.6%
Steve Walsh 75 1989 1317 50 3.8%
Rick Mirer 75 1993 2043 76 3.7%
Jack Trudeau 75 1986 1644 69 4.2%
Christian Ponder 75 2011 1013 34 3.4%
1995 51945 1658 3.2%

Ah, the Brady bunch 6'4" QB's:

QB Height debut att int int%
Tom Brady 76 2000 6586 134 2.0%
Daunte Culpepper 76 1999 3199 106 3.3%
Eli Manning 76 2004 5008 171 3.4%
Matt Hasselbeck 76 1999 5030 148 2.9%
Troy Aikman 76 1989 4715 141 3.0%
Jeff George 76 1990 3967 113 2.8%
Kyle Orton 76 2005 2265 59 2.6%
Alex Smith 76 2005 2685 70 2.6%
Chris Chandler 76 1988 4005 146 3.6%
Mark Rypien 76 1987 2613 88 3.4%
Aaron Brooks 76 1999 2963 92 3.1%
Sam Bradford 76 2010 1760 38 2.2%
Tim Couch 76 1999 1714 67 3.9%
Tommy Maddox 76 1992 1200 54 4.5%
Tony Banks 76 1996 2356 73 3.1%
John Friesz 76 1990 1364 42 3.1%
Josh McKown 76 2002 1337 45 3.4%
Trent Dilfer 76 1994 3172 129 4.1%
Joey Harrington 76 2002 2538 85 3.3%
Andrew Luck 76 2012 1197 27 2.3%
Ryan Tannehill 76 2012 1072 30 2.8%
1999 60746 1858 3.1%

This seems to be one of the most popular groups for active QB's. We could call this the Manning Group but I'm going to go with the Kosar Group. The 6'5"ers.

QB Height debut att int int%
Peyton Manning 77 1998 8452 219 2.6%
Phillip Rivers 77 2004 4108 104 2.5%
Ben Roethlisberger 77 2004 4346 122 2.8%
Matt Schaub 77 2004 3181 84 2.6%
Matt Ryan 77 2008 3288 77 2.3%
Carson Palmer 77 2003 4682 152 3.2%
Cam Newton 77 2011 1475 42 2.8%
Jason Campbell 77 2005 2499 60 2.4%
Brad Johnson 77 1992 4326 122 2.8%
Bernie Kosar 77 1985 3365 87 2.6%
Matt Cassel 77 2005 2298 66 2.9%
Elvis Grbac 77 1993 2445 81 3.3%
Byron Leftwich 77 2003 1605 42 2.6%
Jim Everett 77 1986 4923 175 3.6%
Drew Bledsoe 77 1993 6717 206 3.1%
Vinny Testaverde 77 1987 6701 267 4.0%
Vince Young 77 2006 1304 51 3.9%
Kerry Collins 77 1995 6261 196 3.1%
Kent Graham 77 1992 1339 33 2.5%
Dave Brown 77 1992 1634 58 3.5%
1998 74949 2244 3.0%

The new kids on the block the 6'6" guys. Remember Scott Mitchell? He was the Matt Flynn of the 1990's.

QB Height debut att int int%
Joe Flacco 78 2008 3103 78 2.5%
Josh Freeman 78 2009 2020 67 3.3%
Scott Mitchell 78 1991 2346 81 3.5%
Derek Anderson 78 2005 1440 55 3.8%
2003 8909 281 3.2%

I then used linear regression to arrive at a correlation coefficient of 0.223. Basically, this means there is a mild positive correlation with height and interception percentage, as one increases the other does also. Not the smoking gun I had hoped for but mildly suggestive at least. Given the low interception percentages of the active small QB's Vick, Wilson, Brees I am hopeful that this hunch will turn out to be valid especially with Manziel. I think the outlier 6'1" group which has no active players and is plagued by mediocrity really screws up the correlation. I mean look at that group, yuck, is there one guy in the whole group that was ever a franchise QB.

Someday I hope to hear an announcer say "Yeah Bortles needs to crouch down a little in the pocket and make himself a little smaller like a Manziel or Wilson so the DB's can't see him and get a break on the ball." . Until then I just hope Johnny becomes the most hated man in Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cincinnati.

This is a fan-created post. Dawgs By Nature assumes no responsibility for the content listed.

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