Mobile QBs: Donovan McNabb (2001, 2003), Steve McNair (2002), Alex Smith (2009),
Typically, we think of Pocket QBs as the ones who attempt more passes — something that should lead to them throwing for more yards and touchdowns than their run-prone counterparts. However, counter to this logic, we found that Pocket QBs throw for less yards and passing touchdowns per season than Mobile and Semi-Mobile QBs. Again, there are many contributing reasons why this difference may have emerged, including play-calling and the quality of the other offensive personnel. But this sizeable difference suggests that the ability of Mobile and Semi-Mobile QBs to keep plays alive with their feet may lead to bigger downfield plays in the pass game as well.
From these results, it appears that having a truly mobile QB seems to be worth the investment when it comes to winning in the regular season. Mobile and Semi-Mobile QBs win, on average, about one whole regular season game more per year than Pocket QBs. But this also begs the question: if Mobile QBs are so successful during the regular season, why haven’t we seen more of them win the Super Bowl?
Actually, the number of Mobile QB Super Bowl wins since 2001 is a little misleading. Mobile QBs win at least one playoff game in nearly half of their seasons, and win the Super Bowl in 4% of their seasons. So, proportionally, Mobile QBs win more playoff games and Super Bowls than Semi-Mobile QBs and Pocket QBs.
Perhaps we haven’t seen more Mobile QBs win the Super Bowl because there have been so few truly Mobile QB seasons.
1 Cluster analysis uses a statistic — in this case, rushing attempts — to create groups of cases. The aim is to have clusters that are as distinct from each other as possible, but for the cases in each group to be as similar as possible. For more information, see: Han, Kamber, & Pei (2012): Data mining concepts and techniques.↩
2 To get a more accurate picture of QB tendencies, we used only QBs who had played at least 3 games and who had attempted at least 200 passes in a season.↩