FanPost

Alex vs Saints compared to Colin vs Saints

Many people have been comparing Saints 2011 Playoffs in SF versus Saints 2012 in New Orleans, even though it's an apple to oranges comparison. I repeatedly see people talking about 36 points vs 17 offensive points. This isn't meant to solve the Who Should Start debate. Alex is good. Kaepernick is good. We know what we have with Smith. Many suspect Colin has a higher ceiling. I'm just presenting some stat analysis, as I think a lot of people are not taking field position and number of possessions into account.

Before I present the numbers, I want to call out some major reasons why it's apples to oranges:

  1. Home versus away - sometimes SF could be worse, but I believe the weather and wind were good. I wasn't at the game, so feel free to comment if you were. This time, NO was a much more difficult atmosphere, with a silent count for the entire game.
  2. Defenses are different. Different coaches, but similar personnel. Everyone lambasted Gregg Williams for the defensive play calling (man to man on Davis). I guess hindsight is 20:20, but it was a much different defensive game plan this year.
  3. Pressure was probably greater on Alex, but it's hard to compare. It was Colin's 2nd start, but playoffs is a whole different stage.

I just want to run some numbers and see what they say. Not because it's definitive in any way, but because I've got time to kill and the Eagles/Panthers is inconsequential.

Let's break down the 32 vs 17 offensive points. Starting with possessions, we find that Colin had 10 and Alex had 15. This is a huge difference when we're talking yardage and scoring opportunities. Also, I'm not counting Alex's drive that started at with 0:29 left in the half.

  • Alex - Points per Possession 2.4
  • Colin - Points per Possession 1.7

Alex looks good so far, but let's compare avg field position:

  • Alex - Average field position of yards to go 60.4
  • Colin - Average field position of yards to go 69.5

Why the big disparity? Well, when we got our turnovers in the playoffs, they were returned deep. Alex's 3rd possession started at the NO 4 yard line and went for a TD. Alex's 4th possession started at the NO 13 yard line and we made a FG.

The first way we can play it is this, what if instead of 2 pick-6, the Niners D returned 2 balls to the NO 10? Since Alex got 10 points out of his 2 possessions deep in enemy territory and Kaep has had a strong red zone conversion rate, we'll assume he gets 10 points as well. This is what we get:

  • Alex - 2.4 Points per Possession w/ average field position of 60.4 yards to go
  • Colin - 2.3 Points per Possession w/ average field position of 59.6 yards to go

Here's the second way we can play it - take away Alex's 2 possessions and compare to Kaep's game. What if instead of 2 super close possessions, our D/ST had taken it to the house? Let's compare:

  • Alex - 2.0 Points per Possession w/ average field position of 69.3 yards to go
  • Colin - 1.7 Points per Possession w/ average field position of 69.5 yards to go

Third, let's consider the last 2 possessions of the 2012 game null. Honestly, we were running out the clock and there's no equivalent for that in the playoff game. I guess you could argue we got more conservative in the middle of the playoff game, but it was way early in the game and I don't think it's the same as running out the clock. Kaepernick had numerous O-Line penalties to deal with to deal, plus drops, so let's not try to nitpick all the drives. Let's just consider the last 2 possessions out of the equation, which happen to be the best field positions of the day for the Niners, at the NO 36 and 45. We'll compare the first 8 possessions to Alex's original full game numbers:

  • Alex - 2.4 Points per Possession w/ average field position of 60.4 yards to go
  • Colin - 2.1 Points per Possession w/ average field position of 76.8 yards to go

Finally, what if we combined scenarios 1 & 3? What if we gave Kaep two possessions at the NO 10 instead of pick-6's and dump the 2 garbage end of game possessions?

  • Colin - 2.7 Points per Possession w/ average field position of 63.4 yards to go

So what does this mean?

Well, their output is pretty dang similar once you start adjusting. You could say Alex was slightly better or you could say Kaep did more with less, if you buy the scenarios to make it similar distances and meaningful drives. Hopefully we can have a little fun with this analysis, so please don't psycho on the hypothetical scenarios. Either way, it's the internet and nothing anyone says will change anyone's opinion on anything, right? Enjoy!

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors.

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