Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Effects of Year 1 ACL Recovery On Passing Efficiency

If you just awoke from a deep sleep and haven't yet heard, RGIII has been medically cleared to start the regular season tomorrow night against the Eagles.  Let's assume that RGIII stays healthy and has no medical setbacks. Can we expect him to be at full efficiency his first year back from ACL/LCL surgery?

For answers, we have two reference points:
1) Tom Brady’s performance the year after his ACL injury, and
2) RGIII’s performance in college the year after his first ACL injury. 

Let's start with Tom Brady, who missed the bulk of 2008 with an ACL injury  We will use adjusted yards per pass attempt (AYPA) to index passing efficiency because it correlates with winning better than other QB statistics such as passer rating:
  • 2007: AYPA=7.2 (1st in the NFL)
  • 2008: Injured
  • 2009: AYPA=6.4 (8th in the NFL)
  • 2010: AYPA=6.9 (1st in the NFL)
In short, Brady showed a modest but noticeable drop-off in passing efficiency the year after his ACL injury, and regained his form year 2 post-injury.

Next, let's take a look at RGIII, who tore his ACL at Baylor in 2009:
  • 2008: AYPA=8.4
  • 2009: Injured
  • 2010: AYPA=7.9
  • 2011: AYPA=11.8 (1st in all of college football)
Like Brady, RGIII showed a modest drop-off in passing efficiency the year after his ACL injury, but was back on top year 2 post-injury.

So what does this mean for the future?  This season, RGIII's passing efficiency is likely to take a modest hit. But if he stays healthy, RGIII will be better than ever next season.

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