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Manning didn’t have much help during his career

Yesterday, I looked at quarterbacks from 2016 who started at least 8 games and threw at least 150 passes. For those passers, I calculated how many standard deviations above average they were in Relative ANY/A (i.e., how much better they were, statistically, than average) and in winning percentage. I sorted the list by the difference between the two, to find the quarterbacks whose stats and winning percentages diverged by the largest amounts.

What about historically? I performed the same study going back to 1970. And the season that stands out the most is Archie Manning’s 1980 season. That year the Saints were the worst team in the league: New Orleans went 1-15, and every other team won at least 4 games.1 Manning started every game for the team because he actually had a strong season, at least statistically: he ranked 9th out of 30 qualifying passers in ANY/A, and had a Relative ANY/A of +0.53. That, of course, is pretty unusual given his team’s 1-15 record.

That stands out as the biggest example of a divergence of stats being more impressive than team record. The best 100 seasons (although by default, the table only lists the top 20) are below:

RkQuarterbackTeamYearStWin %RANY/AStDv Win%StDv RANY/ADiff
1Archie ManningNOR1980160.0630.53-2.210.442.65
2Steve YoungSFO1991100.5003.100.002.612.61
3Jim HartSTL1973120.2921.68-1.051.422.47
4Charlie BatchDET200190.000-0.07-2.53-0.062.47
5Jeff GarciaSFO2000160.3752.13-0.631.802.43
6Vinny TestaverdeBAL1996160.2501.23-
7Roman GabrielPHI1973140.3932.06-0.541.742.28
8Jeff GeorgeOAK1997160.2501.16-1.260.982.24
9Cody KesslerCLE201680.000-0.34-2.53-0.282.24
10Peyton ManningIND2004160.7504.141.263.492.23
11Virgil CarterCIN1971100.4001.97-0.511.662.17
12Case KeenumHOU201380.000-0.47-2.53-0.402.13
13Steve DeBergTAM1985110.0910.06-
14Steve DeBergSFO1979150.1330.31-1.850.262.11
15Joe MontanaSFO198290.3331.50-0.841.272.11
16Marc BulgerSTL200580.2501.00-1.260.842.10
17Bill KenneyKAN1985100.3001.28-
18Josh McCownCLE201580.1250.19-1.890.162.05
19Kurt WarnerARI2005100.2000.61-1.520.522.03
20Daunte CulpepperMIN2004160.5002.390.002.012.01
21Mike LivingstonKAN1976140.3571.50-0.721.261.98
22Bert JonesBAL1981150.1330.15-1.850.121.98
23Rodney PeeteDET1992100.2000.54-1.520.461.97
24Philip RiversSDG2008160.5002.330.001.971.97
25Dan FoutsSDG1983100.5002.330.001.961.96
26Donovan McNabbPHI2006100.5002.330.001.961.96
27Dan FoutsSDG1974110.2730.94-1.150.791.94
28Kyle OrtonDEN2010130.2310.67-1.360.561.92
29Neil O'DonnellCIN1998110.1820.37-1.610.311.92
30Mike LivingstonKAN1977110.091-0.20-2.07-0.171.90
31Sonny JurgensenWAS1970140.4291.78-0.361.501.86
32Steve PelluerDAL1988140.2140.49-1.440.411.86
33Jeff GarciaSFO1999100.2000.37-1.520.311.83
34Jim KellyBUF1986160.2500.66-1.260.561.82
35Colin KaepernickSFO2016110.091-0.29-2.07-0.251.82
36Vinny TestaverdeCLE1995120.3331.16-0.840.971.82
37Dan MarinoMIA1988160.3751.40-0.631.181.81
38Ken AndersonCIN1974130.5382.360.191.991.80
39Steve DeBergTAM198780.2500.62-1.260.531.79
40Chris MillerATL199280.3751.31-0.631.101.74
41Warren MoonHOU1984160.1880.18-1.580.151.73
42Dan MarinoMIA1986160.5002.030.001.711.71
43Bert JonesBAL1976140.7863.721.443.131.69
44Boomer EsiasonCIN1987120.2500.49-1.260.411.68
45Jim HarbaughIND1997110.1820.05-1.610.041.65
46Jim ZornSEA1981130.3080.80-0.970.681.65
47Bill KenneyKAN198780.3751.20-0.631.011.64
48Boomer EsiasonCIN1985140.5001.950.001.641.64
49Dan FoutsSDG198290.6672.940.842.481.64
50Jeff GeorgeIND1993110.1820.03-1.610.021.63
51Jon KitnaCIN2002120.167-0.08-1.68-0.071.62
52Joe NamathNYJ1972130.5382.140.191.801.61
53Archie ManningNOR197790.111-0.43-1.96-0.361.60
54Tommy KramerMIN1986130.5382.120.191.791.59
55John BrodieSFO1970140.7503.371.262.841.57
56Chris MillerATL1989150.2000.07-1.520.061.57
57Mike PagelBAL198290.056-0.80-2.25-0.681.57
58Greg LandryBAL1979120.167-0.14-1.68-0.121.57
59Greg LandryDET1971140.5362.070.181.751.57
60Bob BerryATL1971100.4501.56-0.251.311.57
61Drew BreesNOR2008160.5001.850.001.561.56
62Tyler ThigpenKAN2008110.091-0.62-2.07-0.531.54
63Gary DanielsonDET1984140.2500.33-
64Jim EverettRAM1990160.3130.68-0.950.571.52
65Warren MoonHOU1990150.5331.990.171.671.51
66Mark BrunellWAS200690.3330.79-0.840.661.50
67Trent GreenKAN2004160.4381.41-0.321.191.50
68Jeff BlakeCIN1999120.2500.27-
69Matt SchaubHOU2010160.3751.01-0.630.851.48
70Roman GabrielPHI197590.2220.08-1.400.071.47
71Elvis GrbacKAN2000150.4671.54-0.171.301.47
72Steve SpurrierTAM1976120.000-1.26-2.53-1.061.46
73Archie ManningNOR1978160.4381.36-0.321.141.46
74Steve BartkowskiATL1983140.4291.28-0.361.081.44
75Chris MillerATL1990120.2500.21-
76Craig MortonDAL1970110.7273.061.152.581.43
77Jason CampbellCLE201380.125-0.55-1.89-0.471.43
78Jim PlunkettRAI198680.3750.94-0.630.791.43
79Steve McNairTEN2005140.2860.41-1.080.341.43
80Dan MarinoMIA1984160.8753.941.893.321.42
81Steve YoungSFO1993160.6252.440.632.051.42
82Alex Van PeltBUF200180.2500.19-
83Ken AndersonCIN1979150.2670.29-
84Philip RiversSDG2015160.2500.19-
85Matt RyanATL2016160.6882.810.952.371.42
86Boomer EsiasonCIN1989150.4671.48-
87Aaron RodgersGNB2008160.3750.93-0.630.781.42
88Trent GreenKAN2002160.5001.680.001.411.41
89Richard ToddNYJ1977110.2730.31-
90Philip RiversSDG2010160.5632.040.321.721.40
91Erik KramerCHI199880.3750.91-0.630.771.40
92Lynn DickeyGNB1983160.5001.660.001.391.39
93Dan FoutsSDG1985120.5832.150.421.811.39
94Brian SipeCLE1978160.5001.630.001.371.37
95Bob GrieseMIA1976130.3850.94-0.580.791.37
96Boomer EsiasonCIN1991140.214-0.09-1.44-0.071.37
97Steve BartkowskiATL1984110.2730.26-
98Kerry CollinsOAK2005150.2670.22-
99Drew BreesNOR2012160.4381.24-0.321.041.36
100Jim EverettRAM1991160.188-0.27-1.58-0.221.36

Number 2 on the list is Steve Young’s 1991 season, which might surprise you because he had a .500 record.  But that year, Mark Rypien had an ANY/A of 8.34, Young was at 8.28, and no other passer was above 7.00.  Rypien, of course, went 14-2 (really, 14-1, as the final game was a meaningless one for Washington and Rypien rested for some of the game), while Young went .500.  That’s one Young stands out, in an interesting contract to Manning, as the second biggest divergence between stats and record.

  1. The Saints’ troubles continued into the draft; New Orleans selected George Rogers first overall, when two of the top four, and three of the top eight players went on to be Hall of Famers. []
  • sacramento gold miners

    Manning had to be devastated in 1980, after the franchise seemed to have finally turned the corner after the 1978-79 seasons. By 1980, Manning wasn’t the running threat he had been earlier in his career, neither Peyton or Eli had that dimension. There’s a clip of Archie with the Oilers near the end of his career showing some of that ability on a crazy play against the Eagles.

    I think trading Chuck Muncie to San Diego in 1980 was the reason for the Rogers pick. When healthy, Rogers played like the Heisman Trophy winner he was, but the wear and tear limited him to roughly 8000 career rushing yards. He also had a cocaine problem, like many other pro athletes in the early 1980s.

    • John

      Coke was an epidemic on the late-70’s and early-80’s Saints, from what I heard. Also, that loss to the Raiders on MNF in Dec. 79 may have had an affect on that team moving forward as well.

  • Richie

    The 2015 Browns’ QB, Josh McCown, made the list at #18. Coincidence that the last 2 seasons the Browns put 2 players in the top 18?

  • Tom

    That Steve Young 1991 season (among others) shows how these things can happen: his wins are by blowouts by more than two scores (sometimes 3), and the losses are close ones by less than 5 points (mostly 3). So, his numbers are getting a good lift from the blowouts and a 34-39 shootout loss to the Falcons, and he probably played well enough in those close losses. Interesting stuff here…certainly wins correlate well with good QB play, but QB wins as a stat certainly needs to looked at with raised eyebrows at times…

  • I am not surprised to see Dan Fouts with 4 top-100 seasons. I am a little surprised to see Boomer on there, and even more surprising is it was in four consecutive odd seasons: ’85, ’87, ’89, ’91.

    Here is Boomer’s ANY/A+ (not to be confused with RANY/A) from PFR in each year from ’85 to ’92, plotted in blue against the LEFT Y-Axis. I also have his winning percentage, plotted in red against the RIGHT Y-Axis. As you can see, the blue is noticeably ahead of the red in ’85, ’87, ’89, and ’91. But his ANY/A was pretty darn good during most of that stretch: it was just that he won a bunch in ’86 and ’88, too.

    • Ryan

      Nice post, hoping a cumulative career mark is in the works sometime 🙂

  • Corey

    Young was 5-5 in 1991, not 8-8. He missed six games with an injury.

  • Paul

    Hey chase, how often do you use EPA in your calculations. I have to admit im not too versed in how it all works, gotta do some research, but sometimes i feel traditional stats understate how a game is played out. For instance, in 2013 tom brady had his worst statistical year since 2006, with the patriots (as a team) ranking 13th in ANY/A (6.1), but had the 4th most passing EPA with 124.17(not a post about tom brady, just a example thats shows a large disparity between epa and passing performance). Mavbe that says more about situational plays and factors i dont really understand and are hard to quantify. Anyway, do you have any thoughts on it.

    • A few notes.

      The Patriots averaged 6.1 NY/A, not 6.1 ANY/A. The former is just average yards gained per pass attempt including sacks; the latter adjusts for TDs and INTs. And New England ranked 12th in NY/A, not 13th.

      But because the Patriots were top 10 in both TD% and INT%, New England ranked 9th in ANY/A.

      Now, as for EPA, remember, is still a counting stat. The Patriots ranked 7th in EPA. Washington was .01 ANY/A better than NE, but threw 57 fewer attempts, so ranked lower in EPA. The other team NE “jumps” if we switch to EPA is Philadelphia. That’s a little “weird” because the Eagles were 2nd in ANY/A, but there are probably some game situations that could explain it.

  • Ryan

    Interesting to see the nomadic Steve DeBerg as the only QB with 3 top 40 years, although the last of which was the bizarre 1987 year.

  • Paul

    Steve youngs’s 1991 is kinda a good representation of why season totals are misleading:

    5 wins: 96 of 134, 72% compl. 1307 yds. 9.8 yds/att. 11 tds 0 ints. 129.8 qbr

    5 losses: 82 of 141, 58% compl. 1189 yds. 8.43 yds/att. 6 tds 8 int. 76.2 qbr.

    As a whole its impressive, but game by game its clear why the 49ers won and loss. Young plays great = win, young plays lousy = loss.

    I dont think its a coincidence the best qbs in history have also oversaw the best franchises. 49ers, patriots, colts, denver, cowboys, steelers, and so on. Obviously a qb doesnt account for 100% of the wins, but with the talent level in the nfl being largely equal, a great qb makes a great team. It takes truly rare circumstances for a great team to succeed without great qb play. There are alot of factors in qb play, but when drew brees, peyton manning, tom brady, aaron rodgers, and ben roethlisberger can succeed with vastly different levels of supporting casts and team quality and still produce winning seasons almost every year, i think the obvious explanation is those qbs make teams better. They dont come close to doing everything themselves, but if they account for the difference in a team being an average team and a great one, thats a huge difference. Qb wins is obviously a flawed stat, but that doesnt mean qb quality dosent have a huge influence on wins. New orleans would be a bottom dweller without drew brees, so is it fair that he gets stuck with a mediocre win total because his team is terrible, no, but he plays for a far below average team that he creates a ton of wins for.