NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 27: Matt Hasselbeck #8 of the Tennessee Titans throws a pass under pressure from DeQuan Bowers #91 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at LP Field on November 27, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Buccaneers 23 to 17. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
The short answer, unsurprisingly, is very, very average. But let's look closer and see what made him just so darn intermediate.
Starting off with some of the more traditional stats, we'll painstakingly break down his first year in Tennessee.
If there's one thing that Matt had going for him in 2011 it's that he was very accurate. No one can deny that his completion percentage of 61.6 is something to be ignored. That's really a very good number, especially given that he was working without Kenny Britt. Let's give credit where credit is due though, Nate Washington cutting down on the drops this year played a role in the slight bump in accuracy from Hasselbeck's past three seasons. All of this adds up to him being the tenth most accurate, or at least the tenth most completion-prone, quarterback in football. Not bad. All in all, it was his best season since 2007. Get used to hearing that a lot.
Yardage and its' sub-categories, yards per attempt, yards per completion, etc. also looked better than they have since his magical 07 year. Yardage is highly imperfect, but I think it's still notable that Hasselbeck posted the first 3,500 yard season for a Tennessee quarterback since Warren Moon. That honestly shocked me and showed me just how much the game has changed in a very short period of time. No way McNair wins an MVP in today's game without surpassing 3,500 yards, but I digress, Hasselbeck's yardage total was a pleasant surprise, though it still wasn't elite. 3,571 yards, good for 14th best in the league. That's pretty darn average, but it was also an incredible year with gross yardage totals that we've never seen before. Yards per attempt and completion are less kind to Hass, but considering the incredibly insignificant difference of half a yard separating him and top 15 territory, I think it's safe to say that 6.9 y/a isn't such a bad sum either. As far as yards per completion, it's more of the same. He ranks 29th with 11.2, but move up ten spots to 19th and you still have only 11.7. It's a very inconsequential difference. While his rank may be low, he was still within spitting distance of Joe Flacco, Alex Smith, Andy Dalton, and surprisingly enough, Drew Brees. I can live with that.
As far as touchdowns and interceptions go, there really isn't much to say here. An 18/14 ratio isn't ideal, but people went crazy over Andy Dalton (I know, I know, he's a rookie) posting a similar ratio when all he did was lob it up to A.J. Green. However, a relatively large amount of attempts (just over 520 in this case) combined with a low number of touchdowns equals a low touchdown percentage. Only 3.5% of Hasselbeck's passes were for scores. It hurts when the best statistical receiver goes down in game three, but it still isn't a great number. In any case, it was his highest number since, you guessed it, 2007.
Let's move on to something more advanced to get a better picture of Hasselbeck's 2011 season. These next stats are all based on a scale where 100 is average. Spoiler alert; he's really close to 100 in just about all of them. In all categories, higher is better. For a better explanation:
Next, we computed how many standard deviations away from the league average each player was in each of his seasons. We multiply that number by 15 and add it to 100, and that is the number you see. First, for each stat for each year for each league, we computed two things:
1. the league average for that stat in that league during the three-year period with the given year in the middle. For example, the "league average" for the 1963 AFL would be the aggregate average of the stats accumulated in the AFL from 1962 to 1964. (NOTE: the 1960 AFL and the 1969 AFL, as well as the current season, will be based on only two years worth of data rather than three.)
2. the standard deviation of the stat for all individuals who had 14 or more pass attempts per scheduled game during the three-year period.
The stats I'll use here are completion% +, TD% +, INT% +, sack % +, and finally rate +. Generally, they tell us what we already knew. Hasselbeck's completion% rates 104, basically four points higher than your average starting quarterback, about what we expected. TD% and INT% rate 91 and 103 respectively. This is just a typical snapshot of a conservative quarterback. He's good at preventing turnovers, but at the same time he's not going to win you the game by himself. Somewhere where Hasselbeck was well above average: sack % +. At first I was willing to give Hass some credit for escaping pressure, a lot of sack prevention falls on the QB after all, but then I checked his numbers in Seattle and it's clear that a 20 point jump doesn't just happen in your age 36 season. Finally, rate +. Rate + spits out the most Matt Hasselbeck number ever: 98. He was literally just below average. So close, Matt, right on the cusp, but we love you anyway, thanks for a
decent great season, I think I speak for most of us when I say that stable play at the quarterabck position went beyond the numbers in this case.