Data Viz Done Right

May 12, 2014

Makeover Monday: Will Johnny Manziel stop the run of terrible QBs for the Cleveland Browns?


The NFL Draft is somewhat of a national holiday here in the US. It’s the day when all fans can dream of their team using their picks to turn the fortunes of their franchise around. QBs are particularly in the spotlight. In this spirit, Chart of the Day published a chart on Friday after the first round of the NFL Draft showing the number of starting QBs for each NFL team since 1999.

Accompanying the chart was this statement:

“Since 1999, 20 different quarterbacks have started for the Browns, the most in the NFL. Meanwhile, the New England Patriots have had just three starting quarterbacks over the same span.”

This statement implies that there is a relationship between number of starting QBs and success (because they’re only talking about the outliers), yet they provide no additional context. I downloaded the winning percentages for every NFL team since 1999 from and joined it to the Chart of the Day data. 

I like how they’ve sorted the bars in ascending order by number of QBs, yet I don’t like how they always have the labels rotated. A horizontal bar chart would be much easier to read.

Given that we can easily compare number of QBs and win %, I turned to Tableau and build this simple view.

Looking at the data this way, it becomes much more clear that there is no direct correlation between the number of starting QBs and win % (as implied by COTD).

  • Detroit is an absolutely horrible franchise, yet they’re right in the middle of the pack with starting QBs. 
  • Chicago has a winning record, yet they’ve used the third most QBs.
  • Cincinnati and Houston have had pretty stable QB situations, yet they don’t win even half of their games.

One particular insight that sticks out to me is the amazing amount of parity that exists in the NFL. 25 or 32 teams have between 40-60% win percentage. In any given season, you can pretty much count on around 80% of the teams winning between 9.6 and 6.4 games per season. This is exactly what the NFL wants and is a large reason that they run a socialist type model of revenue sharing.

What else do you see? You can click on a team to highlight them. Download the data here and the workbook here.


  1. Love the makeover, would love to see if there another dimension that could explain the outliers like Chicago, I suspect its the effect of superstar QBs which maybe just what the Browns are hoping. Maybe an additional chart showing breakdown by qb for the teams on selection of a team, with a length of stay bar again shaded by win percentage to keep that a common element?

    1. Tarik, feel free to download the data and add to it. A great source for NFL data is

  2. Just wanted to thank you for your awsome work with this blogg. Been an Tableau user for 1,5 year now and since our consultents left us after education and implementing your blogg is always up on my secondary screen to hold my hand and guide me :)

    Cheers from Sweden.

  3. Andy,

    I like this a lot and I think this shows a strong correlation; certainly the trend model suggests it is strong. You definitely see more orange clustering at the top than blue (and I thank you for not using green and red). The Chicago anomaly makes me wonder if there was a stretch of several years where you had the same quarterback and producing a lot of wins.