Brad Oremland is a longtime commenter and a fellow football historian. Brad is also a senior NFL writer at Sports Central. There are few who have given as much thought to the history of quarterbacks and quarterback ranking systems as Brad has over the years. Today, he’s contributed this guest post, but also is asking for your feedback. So please, help Brad and help us, in the comments, with your thoughts.
In recent weeks, Football Perspective has hosted some lively discussions about the greatest quarterbacks of all time. I like to think my approach to these issues is balanced, but it begins with statistics. I am always looking for ways to improve my analysis, and Chase has graciously invited me to post the results of my statistical rating system for quarterbacks.
This is not my personal list of the best quarterbacks in history. My subjective list differs, at time significantly, and I’ll post that next month. The list below is purely statistical, with three notable limitations:
1. It measures regular-season statistics only.
2. It covers the years 1946-2014. The modern quarterback position didn’t really exist prior to the mid 1940s.
2b. QBs who played prior to 1946 are omitted, even if they continued to play after the end of World War II. I don’t want a ranking that shows Sammy Baugh 65th, since it’s missing the first decade of his career. Players like Baugh, Sid Luckman, and Bob Waterfield are deliberately excluded.
3. Only seasons in the NFL, AFL, and AAFC count toward these rankings.
My purpose in posting this list is to ask for help. There are a lot of smart readers and commenters at this site, and I want you to critique my results.
I’m not showing my work yet: I’m not looking for a critique of my process, but of my results. Who’s too high? Who’s too low? You can identify individual players, or patterns. Wherever you think I messed up, I want to hear about it. Please keep in mind, though, that this is purely a stat-based list. It doesn’t represent my opinion, and it’s not slanted toward or against individual players or teams.
But just because this system is unbiased, that doesn’t make it perfect. It is definitely not perfect. But I’m comfortable making subjective adjustments, and that may create blind spots that prevent me from improving the formula. I’m asking you to evaluate the list below and judge where you think it is counterintuitive or inaccurate.
Are players from the ’70s overrated? Are contemporary players underrated? What about players from good teams, and players from bad teams? Are running QBs overrated? Underrated? How about game managers vs. downfield bombers? Is the system fair to them? Are one-year wonders overrated? Are compilers overrated? Players who threw a lot of TDs, a lot of interceptions, players who got sacked a lot? Wherever you think the system is off, I’m eager for your feedback.
Hopefully you find this list interesting, and you can expect a fuller explanation of my rankings in the future, but in the meantime, I appreciate your input and assistance. I included each player’s numerical score, which I realize isn’t in context yet, but it can give you a more precise idea than a simple ranking. Troy Aikman, Donovan McNabb, and Joe Namath, for instance, are effectively tied. Below are the top 125 QBs of the modern era, as ranked by my stat-based system: [click to continue…]