Was Charlie Whitehurst the worst player in the league on Sunday?

by Joe on October 25, 2011

12 for 30, 97 yards and an interception. Those are some pretty horrible numbers. But was he bad enough to be the worst player in the NFL this week?

Of course I can’t watch every play of every game (Or can I….) and can’t keep track of every player but there are some stats we can look at and at least see how Whitehurst stacks up against nearly all the other signifigant players in the league.

Over at Advanced NFL Stats they have some awesome live win probablility charts that keep track of every play and what percentage chance a team has to win a game at any given time. It is pretty fun to track the games this way and look at some of the big jumps and drops in win probability. Even looking at the Seahawks game chart Seattle was down 0-3 but they were still expected to win the game when they had the ball down near the goalline in the third quarter.

How bad was Charlie this past weekend?

They also track something called WPA or Win Probability Added. To calculate this they take the win probablity before and after a play and calculate the difference. To figure this out for a player they add up all the plays they were involved in. For example, Aaron Rodgers, who had a great game on Sunday against the Vikings had a WPA of .57 which I think was the best in the league.

What I like about this stat is it takes in to account all the plays a player is involved in. As stated on the Advanced NFL Stats site “An individual player’s WPA is the sum of the WPA of the plays in which that player was directly involved. Being directly involved is defined as an offensive player who ran, threw, or kicked the ball, was targeted by a pass, or flagged for a penalty”.

Since QBs are directly involved in the most plays their WPA numbers are usually a pretty signifigant indicator of a team’s success. So let’s take a look at a few of the different QBs from this weekend and see where Charlie stacks up. There were some pretty horrible QB performances this week so maybe Charlie has some company.

Kyle Boller: 7 of 14, 3 picks, and 61 yards. That is a bad stat line. His WPA? -.32. That might be a bit skewed since he didn’t play a whole game but by the time he was removed from the game it was already out of reach so the Oakland WP didn’t change much after that.

Joe Flacco: 21 of 38, 137 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT. If you were just looking at first half numbers this might have been worse since Flacco only had 1 yard and the team only had 16 yards. But the TD late helped and Flacco finished with a final WPA of -.48. Since teams start with a .5 WP that means Flacco was pretty much the reason the Ravens lost.

Charlie Whitehurst: 12 of 30, 97 yards, 1 INT. Whitehurst’s WPA was -.57. Yep, that’s right. -.57. That means if Charlie hadn’t played the team would have had a +.07 WP meaning the Seahawks would win the game 57% of the time which is pretty signifigant.

Of course this isn’t a perfect stat and I don’t know that one exists. But based on these numbers Charlie Whitehurst took more away from his teams chance of winning than any other QB player in the league this past weekend.

Charlie Whitehurst has only started three games in his NFL career and I don’t think it is time to totally write him off but from everything I have seen Tarvaris Jackson gives this Seahawks team a much better chance of winning. Mike Sando had a post about writing off a QB after three starts and overall it would be foolish to do so but I also don’t think there is any way you can compare Whitehurst to Montana, Elway, or even Hasselbeck like Sando does. Too many other factors involved.

But for one inglorious Sunday it seems like Charlie was the worst player in the NFL.

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