It is early, but in the past week I have been doing some investigating of Fitz's stats over the past two years and with quite a bit of chatter about Fitz on the board as of late, I thought why not now?
Before I give my projection I want to address something that I have seen in the comments of other posts several times of late and if you keep an open mind it might change your mind about how you view our current starting QB. No one has made or attempted to make a complete comparison of Fitz to E. Manning, but his name does keep popping up. I know comparing Fitz to a two time SB winner seems obsurd on the surface, but they actually do have some simularities. So I decided to look into it a little to see what I could uncover. I did not consider either of thier rookie years. When I first started looking at Manning's stats it was clear that I could break them into two groups. The first group was his first 3 years (2005-2007) and the second group was his last 4 years (2008-2011)which also includes two superbowl wins.
The first three years were nothing special and his gunslinger attitude made him look bad at times. The three year average looked like this: 297/536/3,347/54.4%/6.24/23.67TD/18.33INT/75.6 keep these in mind to compare later to Fitz's (2008-2009)stats.
The last four years for Mr. Manning have been considerably different. He has improved his game all around, but one of the biggest areas that he has improved is in his TD/INT ratio. With the exception of 2010 when he had 25 INT.he has kept the INT. number low, while driving up his TD's to the upper twenties @ year. Adding 1.41 yrds to his YPA and 7.2% to his completion percentage has also been a big step forward. The last 4 years average looks like this: 326/529/4049/61.6%/7.65/27TD/16.25INT/89.43
Now lets look at Fitz, like Manning I seperated his stats into two groups. The first two years that he played over half the games (2008-2009) and the last two years under Chan (2010-2011).
The first group just like Manning's first group above looks bad. I had to do some prorating out to make Fitz's 23 games in the group compareable to Mannings. His stats look like this:
242/417/2314/58%/5.55/11.82TD/13.22INT/69.85. Fitz's first group.
297/536/3,347/54.4%/6.24/23.67TD/18.33INT/75.6 Manning's first group.
The first thing that jumps out at you is the 119 less attempts @ year, but even with more attempts Fitz's numbers are just smaller. The one thing that we gripe the most about with Fitz is his accuracy, but according to this Fitz already looks better on his Comp. percentage then the young Manning. YPA are and will always be lower than Manning's as this is one of the major differences between the two QB's, Fitz just does not have the deep ball accuracy that Manning does. Fitz throws less TD, and INT.than Manning, but those numbers are deceiving bc Fitz threw way less then Manning. The proper way to look at this is that Fitz threw a TD 3.1% of the time and an INT 3.4% of the time. Compared to Manning who threw a TD 4.42% of the time and an INT 3.42% of the time. As you can see the INT rates are close but Manning throws a good percentage more TD's.
So to summarize the comparison of the first two groups Manning throws more and longer, with a better TD per attempt percentage,and slightly better passer rating, while Fitz is throwing less, shorter,but with a higher comp. percentage and compareable INT percentages.
In Fitz's second group like Manning's, Fitz makes strides in the right direction. His TD/INT ratio is much better, his TD percentage per attempt is higher, he adds 2.2% to his comp. percentage and 1.21 yrds to his YPA, but his passer rating takes a big jump. The last two years avg. for Fitz looks like this:
304/505/3,416/60.2%/6.76/23.5TD/19INT/80.45 Fitz's second group.
326/529/4049/61.6%/7.65/27TD/16.25INT/89.43 Mannings second group.
So now lets compare Fitz's second group with Mannings second group. The change in coaching helps Fitz out and he is now throwing almost as much as Manning,and the yards @ year gap has become closer as well. While both improved thier comp. percentage Manning is now slightly better than Fitz on average. Fitz's 6.76 YPA might not be worth bragging about, but considering the type offense that Chan is running it is not bad, and only .89 yrds per attempt less than the talented Manning. Fitz is now throwing a TD 4.65% of the time and an INT 3.76% of the time, compared to Manning throwing a TD 5.1% of the time and an INT 3.07% of the time.
OK so Fitz is no E. Manning but you have to admit that the numbers are closer than you thought.
Now that I have that out of the way lets get to the projection for Fitz in 2012. The first thing I asked myself was how would I go about trying to estemate Fitz's performance based on the new defense being there to help him stay on the field along the way? The answer I came up with was to look at his stats in the last two years in the games he played where he was healthy, and not trying to win from behind. Oddly enough there were 9 games in each of the last two years. Here is what Fitz's stats look like averaged out in those games then prorated for 16 games.
336/565/3817/59.4%/6.75/28.4TD/16INT/87.97 Fitz in 2010 prorated out to 16 games.
357/537/3858/66.6%/7.19/26.7TD/12.4INT/95.32 Fitz in 2011 prorated out to 16 games.
359/589/4933/61%/ 8.4/ 29TD/ 16INT/ 92.9 Just for kicks I threw in Manning 2011.
I am not trying to say that Fitz will meet these kind of stats every game but this is the kind of play that he has demonstrated in the past that he can produce when the playing field is even. Fitz and the Bills will have bad games and will struggle. Fitz will throw multiple INT games, as do all QB's last time I checked.
Based on these numbers I came up with my projection of:
IMO the team will do less passing in 2012 if the defense does what it is supposed to do, but that also means that the offesnse will be on the field longer and getting more snaps, so it comes close to being a wash. I think Fitz will have a record breaking year, and will lead us to the playoffs. What do you think Fitz's numbers will look like this year, and will he be able to lead us to the playoffs? Put them in the comments.