Has Curtis Painter Outplayed Kerry Collins?

Many fans and analysts have been saying that Curtis Painter clearly showed more than Kerry Collins in his brief time as QB.

Is that true?

We’ll let the numbers decide. The following stats cover all Indy drives except end of half drives where no attempt to score was made. Thanks to Joe Baker for running the numbers.

Look to answer the following questions:

Was Collins improving at all? Remember that the rough first start should be weighing down his numbers in theory.

Was Painter doing things that Collins had not done?

I’ve included Indy’s 2010 numbers for context.


HOU CLE Pitt TB Total
Collins 17.8 22.3 29.6 24.7
Painter 25 29.9 28.6
2010 36.04

Painter was better overall, but the same as Collins against Pittsburgh. Collins was showing a clear upward trend. 


1st Downs/Drive

HOU CLE Pitt TB Total
Collins 1.36 1.73 1.29 1.48
Painter 1.25 1.18 1.20
2010 2.14

Collins was better in every game than Painter in either game.

3rd Down Conversions

HOU CLE Pitt TB Total %
Collins 1/9 4/14 6/11 11/34 32.4%
Painter 2/4 4/13 6/17 35.3%
2010 44.6%

Again, Painter is slightly better overall (though virtually identical). However, Collins was better against Pittsburgh than Painter was in either game. He also showed an upward trend.


HOU CLE Pitt TB Total %
Collins 2/11 2/11 0/7 4/29 13.8%
Painter 1/4 1/11 2/15 13.3%
2010 14.0%

The Colts are better now than last year in turnovers. Collins and Painter are basically the same, even given Collins’ week 1 struggles.


HOU CLE Pitt TB Total
Collins 0.64 1.73 0.86 1.10
Painter 1.75 1.55 1.60
2010 2.34

Here’s the one where Painter beats out Collins. The question is how much credit do you give Painter for the two Garcon touchdowns. This is the only category where Painter is the clear winner. Even so, his points per drive is about the same as Collins against Cleveland. It is fair to point out that both Collins’ touchdown drives on the season were ‘in garbage time’. Vinatieri also missed a field goal for both.

Drive Success Rate

DSR measures the percent of down series that result in a first down or touchdown

HOU CLE Pitt TB Total
Collins .591 .643 .500 .594
Painter .556 .571 .567
2010 .745

Collins beats Painter.


HOU CLE Pitt TB Total
Collins 4.36 5.91 5.86 5.69
Painter 4.0 4.73 4.5
Painter* 5.33 4.79
2010 6.3

Because Painter had two scoring ‘drives’ that lasted 1 and 3 plays, it’s not fair to penalize him. The asterisk shows Painter’s numbers WITHOUT the two Garcon touchdown drives. That’s to create a fair standard.

Either way, it doesn’t matter, Collins was better.


There is no evidence at all that Painter ran the offense better or generated more spark than Collins.

There is some evidence that Collins was improving.

There is no evidence that Painter ‘did things that Collins had not done’.

I still believe Painter is better than I expected. He’s virtually identical to Collins, and I expected him to be worse.

If you just take Painter’s numbers against Tampa, they are not better in most instances than Collins’ totals.

I still believe there is little chance Painter improves, while there is some chance Collins improves. Painter faced one of the easiest defenses possible this past week.

I still believe Painter is the right move going forward. The season is over. They had might as well play Painter, because the difference between the two players in negligible at best. The team likes Painter, and he should be the guy until he gets hurt.

The Painter hype is mostly selective memory and emotion, however. The numbers are clear: he’s not an improvement.