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Data Crunch: Trending Glennon

Posted Nov 15, 2013

In the sixth of our weekly ventures into data visualization, we take a look at what rookie QB Mike Glennon's impressive start might indicate for the rest of his NFL career.

Every week, we football fans consume the NFL through live game action, replays and highlight shows.  And then we consume it again through the numbers.  Whether it's via fantasy football, statistical analysis or simply the league standings, numbers help us understand and digest the game we love.

This season, Buccaneers.com wants to help you see what the numbers are saying.

Welcome back to Data Crunch, our weekly foray into data visualization that will help tell the story of Tampa Bay Buccaneers football and the 2013 NFL season as a whole.  Here, we will not only dive deep into the statistics generated each week by the Buccaneers but we'll present it to you in graphical form to better convey what the numbers are telling us.  These interactive graphs allow the user to identify trends, gaining a better understanding of how wins and losses are generated and where the team and individual players are headed.

Our sixth data visualization exercise of the season focuses on the impressive six-game start to rookie QB Mike Glennon's career.   In his six starts so far, Glennon has completed 59.6% of his passes, thrown for 5.80 yards per attempt and tossed nine touchdowns (4.0 TD%) and just four interceptions (1.8 INT%), leading to a passer rating of 81.8.  While that yards per attempt figure is low, the rest of the numbers are particularly encouraging in terms of Glennon's long-term NFL prospects.

How encouraging?  That's what we chose to consider in this week's Data Crunch.  By taking the first-year figures of dozens of NFL quarterbacks since 1985 and connecting those numbers to each QB's career passer rating, we sought to examine if a passer's early performance could be predictive for his career as a whole.  Specifically, we looked at passer rating, completion percentage, touchdown percentage, interception percentage and yards per pass attempt to determine if there was a correlation between those early-career figures and long-term success.

You can examine those results yourself in these interactive charts.  Hover over any of the dots (Glennon's dot is in red) to compare the Buccaneers rookie with any of his predecessors, particularly those who started their careers with similar numbers.  The charts indicate that the strongest correlations between first-year performance and career passer rating come in the completion percentage and interception percentage categories.  In addition, there does seem to be a fairly straightforward correlation between starting one's career with a strong passer rating and maintaining that in subsequent years.