≡ Menu

Yesterday, I looked at Hall of Fame quarterbacks and All-Pro voting. In that post, I looked at all All-Pro nominations, but today I will limit this to just Associated Press first-team selections. The graph below shows the team winning percentage for AP 1AP quarterback’s team in each year since 1950. In red, I have also included the AFL AP 1AP team’s winning percentage:

Of course, the two dots at the top represent Tom Brady on the 2007 Patriots and Earl Morrall on the 1972 Dolphins.

On average, the Associated Press selected a quarterback on a team with a 0.800 winning percentage, and that number has been relatively stable throughout history. The lowest winning percentage? That belongs to Dan Marino on the 1986 Dolphins, at 0.500. After him, Steve Young (1993) and Drew Brees (2006) both were named All-Pros on 10-6 teams, and every other quarterback was on a team that won at least two-thirds of their games.

  • sacramento gold miners

    It’s a mystery why Don Shula wasn’t able to help Marino with a better running game and defense, the 1988 Dolphins allowed a staggering total of 405 points.

    • sacramento gold miners

      Oops, should have said 1986 Dolphins.

    • Richie

      It looks like he tried drafting the running back. From 1984-1995 (12 drafts), Shula spent:

      – 2 first rounders (Hampton, Smith)
      – 2 third rounders (Craver, Kirby)
      – 2 fourth rounders (Joe Carter, Stradford)
      – 1 fifth rounder (Leroy Holt)
      – 3 sixth rounders (Davenport, George Cooper, Melvin Bratton)
      (He also drafted some RB’s after the 6th round.)

      Of those picks, Terry Kirby had the most rushing yards (2,875), but most of that was for other teams. Lorenzo Hampton was next with 1,949.

      • sacramento gold miners

        Good research. Miami also had a horrible break with the tragic death of David Overstreet after the 1983 season in a car accident. Overstreet was drafted by the Dolphins in 1981, but skipped to the CFL after contract negotiations broke down. Returning to the Dolphins in 1983, you could see the potential, this was a 200 pound back with speed, Faster than Tony Nathan, and Audra Franklin, he could have developed into something special.

  • Brian

    Interesting data. It seems to show that these awards are biased and less useful than I realized in judging QBs.

    • Adam

      Yes and no. The best QB performances tend to result in a high win %, so we’d expect the average AP1 to win a lot of games. But there are certain years where wins have carried too much weight wig voters, like Gannon in 2000 for example.

    • Mr. Dunwich

      I have never been fond of certain awards as there is too much room for bias and lack of critical thought, especially in the Pro-Bowl voting, but also in the MVP. First, I take some offense to the fact a player can not receive the MVP if their team has a .500 or worse record. This goes against the definition of Most Valuable Player, and in fact changes it to MVPFATTIG (Most valuable player for a team that is good). It’s not that I am one of those modern day “participation award” people, it’s because there are clearly times where one player easily was much better than another, but had the misfortune of being on a team bad enough that their greatness could not push the team past it’s own flaws.

      Case in point; 1967. Sonny Jurgensen was the best QB in the NFL that year when looking at efficiency coupled with production. He was tied with Unitas in 4QC, and had 1 fewer GWD. In terms of value to each team, I have no doubt Jurgensen was more important to whatever success the Redskins had that year as opposed to Unitas and the Colts.

      Don’t get me wrong, Unitas was absolutely the best player on the 67′ Colts offense, but what the Colt’s had that the Redskins did not is a quality coach and a historically great defense. Had Unitas been hurt, I could see Shula possibly stringing together a .500 season, maybe even pulling down 8 or 9 wins by relying heavily on the defense and shifting the offense to being heavy on the run. Certainly they would not have achieved the record they did without Unitas, but they likely would have been able to salvage the season.

      Had Jurgensen been out, I honestly can’t see the Redskins winning more than 1, maybe two games, and having a record something like 1-12-1. The Redskins were horribly coached (sorry, Graham may have been a great player, but a coach he was not), and historically had atrocious defenses. 67′ was no different.

      This is but a long ago example of my issue with the MVP, and is one example among many as to why I put little value into it as a grading measure. I likewise give little value to the Pro-Bowl, which I find often times even worse.

      • Adam

        Agreed. It annoys me that the MVP is not usually given to the true most valuable player, but rather the most high profile player on the best team.

        • Josh Sanford

          Same in basketball. Ridiculous.

          • sacramento gold miners

            I just don’t think we can divorce the value of winning in the context of individual accomplishments, Even going back to Jurgensen’s era, QBs could pad their stats in games when their teams trailed by double digits, or the outcome was already decided. It’s easier to accumulate numbers when teams aren’t blitzing as much, or playing conservative defenses. Yes, it’s not a QB’s fault his team may have a lousy defense, but we should look at everything in context.

            • Mr. Dunwich

              “we should look at everything in context”, totally agree with this but I have a feeling many people (not necessarily those here at FP) fail to really dig into the reasons as to why a QB’s team failed or succeeded. Both success and failure need to be really scrutinized and most people fail to do this, instead using simplistic reasoning (e.g. a QB on a losing team must have been a bad QB, or a QB on a winning team must have been a great QB) without looking at the level of support (all levels; coaching, off/def systems and schemes, quality of players around them, etc.) and strength of the opposition.

              In regards to stat padding, I feel that term is too loosely thrown around and ultimately ill-defined and lacking balance. At what point do you as a fan decide that a game is an absolute win or an absolute loss, and thus any extra production of the QB becomes “padding”? When should the QB and team stop trying to win? When they are down 25 points at the half, or up 25 points? Down 14 or up 14 at the start of the 4th? People say stat padding, but would anyone enjoy a game where a QB just decides to sit on the bench because his team is up 14 points or down 25, with a reasonable amount of time left in the game?

              • Richie

                ” At what point do you as a fan decide that a game is an absolute win or
                an absolute loss, and thus any extra production of the QB becomes
                “padding”?”

                Agreed. Look no further than the most recent Super Bowl. Leading 28-12 early in the 4th quarter, Matt Ryan was sacked and fumbled. This was one of the first big plays that started things for New England’s comeback. If, instead of fumbling, Matt Ryan had started chucking the ball on that drive and passed for 65 more yards and a touchdown, the Falcons would have extended their lead to 35-12 and it would look like Ryan was just padding his stats. In hindsight, if he had done that it could have been a game-sealing drive.

                • Mr. Dunwich

                  “Falcons would have extended their lead to 35-12 and it would look like Ryan was just padding his stats. In hindsight, if he had done that it could have been a game-sealing drive.”

                  Exactly. Then imagine that Brady keeps plugging away and trying to win, even as the Falcons continue to pile on some more points, say the Falcons are up 42 to 19 at the end of the 3rd. Would anyone, fan, hater, ambivalent watcher, begrudge Brady for continuing to throw and try to overcome the deficit? Would people say he was only trying to pad his numbers at that point?

              • sacramento gold miners

                Agree about a QB never quitting, even when trailing by a large margin. But it’s far more common for a QB to amass numbers in hopeless games, as opposed to a QB throwing when his team is comfortably ahead. In addition to softer coverages, the losing QB sometimes faces backups as well. In the more rare instances of the eventual winning QB up by a large margin and throwing, the opponent often keeps blitzing.

      • Good post. Also worth noting: in ’67, Fran Tarkenton had a pretty similar claim for the Giants. NY went 7-7 that year and Tarkenton was a sensation. The Giants went 1-12-1 the year before.

        • Mr. Dunwich

          Excellent example, and given the lack of success the Giants had the previous year coupled with Tarkenton’s output, should that not have weighed heavily on voting? Of course we know it didn’t sadly, as the AP does not award it or even consider it for any player that is lacking a winning record. A shame really.

      • FWIW (not much), I named Jurgensen AP1 in 1961, 66, and 67 for an upcoming retro-awards piece over at The GridFe.

        • Mr. Dunwich

          Look forward to reading it when you release it.