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Dan Fouts, and Winning vs. Stats Part 4

On Thursday, 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. And Friday, I looked at the quarterbacks whose passing stats most greatly exceeded their winning percentage in any given season.  On Saturday, I looked at the reverse: the quarterbacks whose winning percentages greatly exceeded their stats.

Today, let’s look at some career ratings.  One key note: This is a “career” rating but it excludes all seasons where a quarterback started fewer than 8 games, or threw fewer than 150 pass attempts.  So this excludes partial seasons, making it not a true snapshot of a player’s career, but rather a quarterback’s career as his team’s main starter.

The main leader here is Dan Fouts, and it’s not particularly close.  Over the course of his “career” — which spans 13 seasons as a starter with 150+ attempts — Fouts was a total of 13.8 standard deviations above average in ANY/A. However, he was barely above average in winning percentage, at just 0.23 standard deviations. Remember, Fouts had two top-30 seasons and four top-100 seasons in terms of his stats exceeding his record. As a result, his total “Diff” is 13.57, easily the most of any quarterback in this study, with Dan Marino, Boomer Esiason, and Drew Brees.

But since this is a cumulative stat, I wanted to also look at things on a per season basis.  So Fouts was, on average, 1.06 standard deviations above average in ANY/A, and just 0.02 in winning percentage, for an average difference of 1.04.  So is it better to sort the list based on cumulative difference, which is biased towards longevity, or average difference, which can be skewed by players who only played a few seasons? To combine the two ideas, I came up with a third column called Adj Diff.  That’s calculated by adding 6 seasons of average (i.e., 0.00) play to every player’s total diff, and re-calculating their average on a per-season (with 6 additional seasons) basis.  This helps blend both ideas, in my opinion.  If you have only a few seasons, 6 seasons of average play will drop you down significantly, but it also limits the value given to compilers.  Anyway, here’s the list:

RkQuarterbackYrsTotal ANY/ATotal Win %Total DiffAvg ANY/AAvg Win %Avg DiffAdj Diff
1Dan Fouts1313.80.2313.571.
2Boomer Esiason125.24-4.399.630.44-0.370.80.54
3Bert Jones65.55-0.646.190.92-
4Jim Everett103.11-
5Jim Hart116.78-1.578.350.62-0.140.760.49
6Jeff Garcia85.76-
7Daunte Culpepper54.76-0.375.130.95-
8Steve DeBerg101.17-6.287.450.12-0.630.740.47
9Ken Anderson1311.692.918.780.90.220.680.46
10Steve Young914.277.416.861.590.820.760.46
11Drew Brees1513.964.419.550.930.290.640.45
12Greg Landry52.93-2.0750.59-0.4110.45
13Mike Livingston30.21-3.874.080.07-1.291.360.45
14Dan Marino1618.738.839.91.170.550.620.45
15Archie Manning10-4.52-11.256.73-0.45-1.120.670.42
16Kurt Warner89.994.315.671.250.540.710.41
17Jim Zorn71.32-3.915.240.19-0.560.750.4
18Philip Rivers119.582.846.740.870.260.610.4
19Charley Johnson43.12-0.723.840.78-0.180.960.38
20Chris Miller70.31-4.594.910.04-0.660.70.38
21Roman Gabriel63.31-
22Matt Schaub74.810.244.570.690.030.650.35
23Jeff Blake80.14-4.754.890.02-0.590.610.35
24Bob Berry32.03-
25Aaron Rodgers912.567.664.91.40.850.540.33
26Cody Kessler1-0.28-2.532.24-0.28-2.532.240.32
27Marc Bulger7-0.7-4.824.12-0.1-0.690.590.32
28Bill Kenney62.66-1.063.720.44-0.180.620.31
29Jeff George80.71-3.484.190.09-0.440.520.3
30Steve Beuerlein51.72-1.523.240.34-0.30.650.29
31Tony Romo89.315.
32Norm Snead21.71-0.582.290.85-
33Trent Green74.590.93.690.660.130.530.28
34Sonny Jurgensen11.5-0.361.861.5-0.361.860.27
35Warren Moon156.130.635.510.410.040.370.26
36Doug Williams62.55-0.573.120.43-0.10.520.26
37Chris Chandler93.23-0.593.830.36-0.070.430.26
38Steve Pelluer2-0.28-2.292.01-0.14-
39Carson Palmer114.480.224.260.410.020.390.25
40Neil Lomax72.37-0.863.230.34-0.120.460.25
41Roger Staubach813.7310.313.411.721.290.430.24
42Joe Namath4-0.68-3.062.39-0.17-0.770.60.24
43Tommy Kramer71.5-1.583.080.21-0.230.440.24
44Gary Danielson31.33-0.722.050.44-0.240.680.23
45Robert Griffin20.96-0.851.820.48-0.430.910.23
46Tyler Thigpen1-0.53-2.071.54-0.53-2.071.540.22
47Marcus Mariota20.64-1.091.740.32-0.550.870.22
48Peyton Manning1722.517.514.991.321.030.290.22
49Erik Kramer42.07-
50Alex Van Pelt10.16-1.261.420.16-1.261.420.2
51Chad Pennington63.250.832.420.540.140.40.2
52Steve Bartkowski82.06-0.752.810.26-0.090.350.2
53Rob Johnson2-1-2.581.59-0.5-1.290.790.2
54Brian Griese52.440.282.150.490.060.430.2
55Virgil Carter21.740.181.550.870.090.780.19
56John Hadl61.88-0.412.290.31-0.070.380.19
57Craig Erickson20.31-1.21.510.15-0.60.750.19
58Aaron Brooks6-1.63-3.892.26-0.27-0.650.380.19
59Curtis Painter1-1.22-2.531.3-1.22-2.531.30.19
60Jon Kitna8-1.59-4.22.6-0.2-0.520.330.19
61Brian Sipe73.791.382.410.540.20.340.19
62Jason Campbell5-0.9-2.932.03-0.18-0.590.410.18
63Charlie Batch4-0.43-2.271.84-0.11-0.570.460.18
64Billy Volek10-1.261.260-
65Josh McCown4-3.75-5.561.8-0.94-1.390.450.18
66Case Keenum2-1.37-2.811.43-0.69-1.40.720.18
67Jack Thompson1-0.51-1.751.24-0.51-1.751.240.18
68Bernie Kosar73.230.922.310.460.130.330.18
69Doug Johnson1-0.67-1.891.22-0.67-1.891.220.17
70John Brodie23.361.981.381.680.990.690.17
71Tim Rattay1-0.77-1.961.19-0.77-1.961.190.17
72Kirk Cousins21.780.471.310.890.240.650.16
73Mike Pagel4-2.35-3.981.63-0.59-0.990.410.16
74Lynn Dickey8-0.25-2.52.25-0.03-0.310.280.16
75Matt Cavanaugh1-0.8-1.891.09-0.8-1.891.090.16
76Fran Tarkenton99.216.882.321.020.760.260.15
77Steve Spurrier2-0.18-1.41.22-0.09-0.70.610.15
78Marty Domres20.06-
79Mark Brunell113.220.732.490.
80Ken O'Brien71.5-0.381.880.21-
81Ron Jaworski101.7-0.582.290.17-
82Joe Montana1216.2813.782.51.361.150.210.14
83Chris Weinke1-1.22-2.190.97-1.22-2.190.970.14
84Cade McNown1-1.01-1.960.96-1.01-1.960.960.14
85Billy Kilmer87.045.171.870.880.650.230.13
86Vinny Testaverde13-0.96-3.412.45-0.07-
87Seneca Wallace10.27-0.630.90.27-0.630.90.13
88Randy Wright1-0.47-1.260.79-0.47-1.260.790.11
89David Carr5-4.01-5.251.24-0.8-
90Matthew Stafford7-0.13-1.521.38-0.02-
91Blake Bortles3-2.94-3.890.94-0.98-1.30.310.1
92Scott Brunner2-0.71-1.540.83-0.36-0.770.410.1
93Bill Munson21.680.860.820.840.430.410.1
94David Garrard51.480.361.
95Damon Huard20.930.130.80.460.060.40.1
96Matt Ryan95.984.511.460.660.50.160.1
97Timm Rosenbach1-0.3-0.950.65-0.3-0.950.650.09
98Bobby Scott1-0.62-1.260.64-0.62-1.260.640.09
99Colin Kaepernick4-1.18-2.070.89-0.29-0.520.220.09
100Dennis Shaw3-3.14-3.930.8-1.05-1.310.270.09
101J.P. Losman2-1.54-2.210.67-0.77-1.110.340.08
102Bob Griese99.728.521.21.080.950.130.08
103John Friesz1-0.72-1.260.54-0.72-1.260.540.08
104Matt Leinart1-0.15-0.690.54-0.15-0.690.540.08
105Scott Campbell1-0.88-1.40.53-0.88-1.40.530.08
106Scott Mitchell40.33-0.420.750.08-
107Patrick Ramsey1-0.17-0.690.52-0.17-0.690.520.07
108Al Woodall1-0.33-0.840.52-0.33-0.840.520.07
109Kevin Kolb1-0.34-0.840.5-0.34-0.840.50.07
110Chuck Long1-0.76-1.260.5-0.76-
111Tyrod Taylor20.580.030.550.
112Mike Tomczak31.230.610.620.410.20.210.07
113Bobby Douglass2-1.65-2.170.52-0.82-
114Brooks Bollinger1-1.01-1.40.39-1.01-1.40.390.06
115Paul McDonald1-0.56-0.950.39-0.56-0.950.390.06
116Colt McCoy2-1.82-2.230.41-0.91-
117Stan Gelbaugh1-2.17-2.530.36-2.17-2.530.360.05
118Mark Rypien53.472.930.540.690.590.110.05
119Craig Morton93.993.280.710.440.360.080.05
120Richard Todd7-0.7-1.290.59-0.1-
121Shaun Hill3-0.63-1.010.38-0.21-0.340.130.04
122Josh Freeman4-1.29-1.70.42-0.32-0.430.10.04
123J.T. O'Sullivan1-0.97-1.260.29-0.97-
124Blaine Gabbert3-3.37-3.730.36-1.12-
125Rich Gannon843.490.50.50.440.060.04
126David Klingler1-1.12-1.360.24-1.12-1.360.240.03
127Jameis Winston2-0.05-0.320.26-0.03-
128Jim Harbaugh10-0.11-0.610.5-0.01-
129Mike Glennon1-0.76-0.970.22-0.76-0.970.220.03
130Vince Ferragamo3-0.21-0.470.26-0.07-
131Troy Aikman123.823.30.510.320.280.040.03
132Browning Nagle1-1.18-1.360.18-1.18-1.360.180.03
133Neil O'Donnell71.911.60.310.
134Matt Robinson10.370.230.140.370.230.140.02
135Sam Bradford5-2.46-2.660.2-0.49-0.530.040.02
136James Harris33.032.870.151.010.960.050.02
137Jeff Komlo1-1.69-1.80.11-1.69-
138Derek Carr3-0.24-0.380.14-0.08-
139Daryle Lamonica32.992.860.1310.950.040.01
140Gary Huff2-2.45-2.550.11-1.22-
141Byron Leftwich31.040.930.110.350.310.040.01
142Chad Hutchinson1-1.33-1.40.07-1.33-
143Jack Trudeau3-1.41-1.470.07-0.47-0.490.020.01
144Ryan Fitzpatrick9-4.13-4.220.09-0.46-0.470.010.01
145Brandon Weeden1-0.8-0.840.04-0.8-0.840.040.01
146Jack Concannon1-0.55-0.580.04-0.55-0.580.040.01
147Jay Cutler90.530.490.
148Derek Anderson3-1.38-1.40.02-0.46-0.470.010
149Len Dawson40.960.960.010.240.2400
150Jake Locker1-0.7-0.69-0.01-0.7-0.69-0.010
151Joe Ferguson11-1.71-1.67-0.04-0.16-0.1500
152Hugh Millen1-0.61-0.58-0.03-0.61-0.58-0.030
153Tommy Maddox20.220.29-
154Austin Davis1-0.71-0.63-0.08-0.71-0.63-0.08-0.01
155Doug Pederson2-3.41-3.3-0.11-1.7-1.65-0.05-0.01
156Kelly Holcomb2-1.39-1.26-0.13-0.7-0.63-0.07-0.02
157Billy Joe Tolliver1-0.48-0.36-0.12-0.48-0.36-0.12-0.02
158Jim Kelly116.787.1-0.320.620.65-0.03-0.02
159Steve Dils1-0.56-0.42-0.14-0.56-0.42-0.14-0.02
160Joe Reed1-0.150-0.15-0.150-0.15-0.02
161Bill Nelsen20.80.97-
162Matt Moore1-0.170-0.17-0.170-0.17-0.02
163Ty Detmer10.50.69-
164Joey Harrington6-5.1-4.77-0.33-0.85-0.8-0.05-0.03
165Dak Prescott11.381.58-0.191.381.58-0.19-0.03
166Bill Troup1-1.35-1.15-0.2-1.35-1.15-0.2-0.03
167David Whitehurst2-1.04-0.81-0.23-0.52-0.41-0.11-0.03
168Tom Tupa1-0.91-0.69-0.22-0.91-0.69-0.22-0.03
169Don Horn1-1.36-1.12-0.24-1.36-1.12-0.24-0.03
170Eric Hipple4-0.71-0.36-0.35-0.18-0.09-0.09-0.04
171Donovan McNabb116.457.07-0.620.590.64-0.06-0.04
172Bobby Hebert72.623.15-0.530.370.45-0.08-0.04
173Steve Ramsey10.130.42-
174Jimmy Clausen1-2.32-2.02-0.3-2.32-2.02-0.3-0.04
175Bruce Gradkowski1-1.45-1.15-0.31-1.45-1.15-0.31-0.04
176Don Majkowski4-1.92-1.47-0.45-0.48-0.37-0.11-0.04
177Jeff Kemp10.640.97-0.330.640.97-0.33-0.05
178Tim Couch4-2.87-2.39-0.48-0.72-0.6-0.12-0.05
179Steve McNair104.094.85-0.760.410.48-0.08-0.05
180EJ Manuel1-0.84-0.51-0.34-0.84-0.51-0.34-0.05
181Joe Pisarcik2-1.93-1.53-0.4-0.96-0.77-0.2-0.05
182Todd Collins1-0.93-0.58-0.35-0.93-0.58-0.35-0.05
183Jeff Hostetler62.132.74-0.610.350.46-0.1-0.05
184Steve Grogan63.233.85-0.620.540.64-0.1-0.05
185Ray Lucas10.460.84-0.390.460.84-0.39-0.06
186Brady Quinn2-3.75-3.3-0.46-1.88-1.65-0.23-0.06
187Brian Hoyer20.010.47-0.460.010.24-0.23-0.06
188Akili Smith1-2.02-1.61-0.41-2.02-1.61-0.41-0.06
189Charlie Frye1-1.39-0.97-0.42-1.39-0.97-0.42-0.06
190Bart Starr1-0.63-0.19-0.44-0.63-0.19-0.44-0.06
191Eli Manning122.283.47-
192Kerry Collins11-1.89-0.76-1.13-0.17-0.07-0.1-0.07
193Dave Krieg122.433.64-
194Elvis Grbac41.332.02-0.690.330.51-0.17-0.07
195Gus Frerotte50.040.82-0.780.010.16-0.16-0.07
196Trevor Siemian1-0.150.36-0.51-0.150.36-0.51-0.07
197Dave Wilson2-1.79-1.2-0.59-0.9-0.6-0.29-0.07
198Tony Eason31.11.78-0.680.370.59-0.23-0.08
199Pete Liske2-0.330.28-0.61-0.160.14-0.3-0.08
200Drew Stanton10.070.63-0.560.070.63-0.56-0.08
201Ben Roethlisberger139.9911.58-1.590.770.89-0.12-0.08
202Matt Cassel6-3.96-2.93-1.02-0.66-0.49-0.17-0.09
203Brett Favre199.4911.68-
204Nick Foles31.292.09-0.80.430.7-0.27-0.09
205Carson Wentz1-0.95-0.32-0.63-0.95-0.32-0.63-0.09
206Drew Bledsoe12-0.970.7-1.67-0.080.06-0.14-0.09
207Terrelle Pryor1-1.5-0.84-0.66-1.5-0.84-0.66-0.09
208Mike Boryla1-1.7-1.01-0.69-1.7-1.01-0.69-0.1
209Jim Miller2-0.320.49-0.81-0.160.24-0.4-0.1
210Heath Shuler2-3-2.18-0.82-1.5-1.09-0.41-0.1
211Wade Wilson30.491.43-0.940.160.48-0.31-0.1
212Jim Plunkett10-0.631.05-1.68-0.060.11-0.17-0.11
213Jake Delhomme60.962.24-
214Doug Flutie40.661.75-
215Cam Newton60.321.62-1.310.050.27-0.22-0.11
216Pat Ryan1-0.540.23-0.77-0.540.23-0.77-0.11
217Bubby Brister5-0.880.34-1.22-0.180.07-0.24-0.11
218Trent Edwards2-0.60.28-0.88-0.30.14-0.44-0.11
219Chris Simms1-0.280.51-0.78-0.280.51-0.78-0.11
220JaMarcus Russell2-3.16-2.25-0.91-1.58-1.12-0.46-0.11
221Russell Wilson53.945.21-1.260.791.04-0.25-0.11
222Geno Smith2-2.29-1.36-0.93-1.14-0.68-0.46-0.12
223Chad Henne3-2.2-1.14-1.06-0.73-0.38-0.35-0.12
224Shaun King1-0.210.63-0.84-0.210.63-0.84-0.12
225Matt Hasselbeck110.632.71-
226Christian Ponder3-3.13-2.01-1.12-1.04-0.67-0.37-0.12
227Joe Kapp1-2.93-2.02-0.91-2.93-2.02-0.91-0.13
228Tony Banks6-2.67-1.12-1.56-0.45-0.19-0.26-0.13
229Brad Johnson92.994.94-1.950.330.55-0.22-0.13
230Andrew Walter1-2.19-1.26-0.93-2.19-1.26-0.93-0.13
231Ryan Tannehill5-1.85-0.36-1.48-0.37-0.07-0.3-0.13
232Kyle Orton6-1.68-0.06-1.63-0.28-0.01-0.27-0.14
233David Archer2-1.78-0.69-1.09-0.89-0.34-0.55-0.14
234Jake Plummer10-2.060.13-2.18-0.210.01-0.22-0.14
235Kellen Clemens2-2.01-0.91-1.1-1-0.46-0.55-0.14
236Rick Mirer5-5.24-3.69-1.56-1.05-0.74-0.31-0.14
237Michael Vick7-0.191.7-1.89-0.030.24-0.27-0.15
238Pat Haden41.082.55-1.470.270.64-0.37-0.15
239Kent Graham2-0.930.28-1.21-0.470.14-0.61-0.15
240Vince Evans2-1.86-0.63-1.23-0.93-0.32-0.61-0.15
241Mark Malone5-3.14-1.41-1.72-0.63-0.28-0.34-0.16
242Quincy Carter2-1.270-1.27-0.630-0.63-0.16
243Andrew Luck41.413.01-1.60.350.75-0.4-0.16
244Rusty Hilger1-1.96-0.84-1.12-1.96-0.84-1.12-0.16
245Bob Avellini3-1.59-0.12-1.47-0.53-0.04-0.49-0.16
246Dieter Brock10.041.18-
247Danny White62.824.79-1.970.470.8-0.33-0.16
248Tom Brady1517.7521.23-3.481.181.42-0.23-0.17
249Gary Hogeboom2-1.41-0.08-1.34-0.71-0.04-0.67-0.17
250Andy Dalton61.483.57-
251A.J. Feeley1-1.85-0.63-1.22-1.85-0.63-1.22-0.17
252Johnny Unitas10.281.55-
253Dave Brown3-2.74-1.07-1.67-0.91-0.36-0.56-0.19
254Stan Humphries60.662.93-
255Earl Morrall22.413.93-1.521.211.96-0.76-0.19
256Dan Pastorini9-4.12-1.23-2.89-0.46-0.14-0.32-0.19
257Phil Simms112.115.5-
258Joe Theismann82.225.16-2.940.280.65-0.37-0.21
259Ryan Leaf2-4.52-2.81-1.72-2.26-1.4-0.86-0.21
260Vince Young40.392.6-
261Randall Cunningham72.735.64-2.910.390.81-0.42-0.22
262Tim Tebow1-0.890.69-1.57-0.890.69-1.57-0.22
263Scott Hunter2-0.970.83-1.8-0.490.41-0.9-0.23
264Rodney Peete7-2.740.2-2.93-0.390.03-0.42-0.23
265Ken Stabler115.249.11-3.870.480.83-0.35-0.23
266Rex Grossman2-0.981-1.97-0.490.5-0.99-0.25
267Teddy Bridgewater2-1.040.95-1.99-0.520.47-0.99-0.25
268Cliff Stoudt1-1.270.51-1.77-1.270.51-1.77-0.25
269Steve Walsh2-0.681.38-2.06-0.340.69-1.03-0.26
270Jay Schroeder80.243.99-3.750.030.5-0.47-0.27
271John Elway165.6111.53-5.920.350.72-0.37-0.27
272Bob Lee2-2.040.11-2.15-1.020.06-1.08-0.27
273Danny Kanell2-1.940.25-2.2-0.970.13-1.1-0.27
274Tarvaris Jackson2-1.360.84-2.2-0.680.42-1.1-0.28
275Brock Osweiler1-1.580.36-1.94-1.580.36-1.94-0.28
276Steve Fuller2-2.41-0.19-2.22-1.21-0.1-1.11-0.28
277Todd Blackledge2-1.770.63-2.4-0.890.32-1.2-0.3
278Jay Fiedler40.473.49-
279Alex Smith90.274.85-4.580.030.54-0.51-0.31
280Steve Bono2-0.542.16-2.7-0.271.08-1.35-0.34
281Kyle Boller4-4.36-0.95-3.41-1.09-0.24-0.85-0.34
282Joe Flacco9-1.24.04-5.24-0.130.45-0.58-0.35
283Terry Bradshaw123.169.58-6.420.260.8-0.53-0.36
284Mark Sanchez5-3.620.61-4.23-0.720.12-0.85-0.38
285Jim McMahon60.755.42-4.670.130.9-0.78-0.39
286Trent Dilfer7-3.841.9-5.74-0.550.27-0.82-0.44
287Gary Cuozzo2-0.72.95-3.65-0.351.47-1.82-0.46
288Kordell Stewart5-2.452.67-5.12-0.490.53-1.02-0.47
289David Woodley3-1.822.98-4.8-0.610.99-1.6-0.53
290Marc Wilson4-2.83.17-5.96-0.70.79-1.49-0.6
291Mike Phipps5-5.381.19-6.57-1.080.24-1.31-0.6

At the other end of the list, you have Marc Wilson and Mike Phipps.  Modern fans don’t spend much time thinking about those two, but here’s the quick summary.

Wilson was the Raiders main starter for 4 seasons, and he went 27-13 during those years.  The rest of his career? He went 5-15, including a 1-9 record with the Patriots.  Given his career 32-28 record, we don’t think of him as a winner, but he won over two thirds of his starts from ’81 to ’86. He split time over those six years with Jim Plunkett, who posted a slightly worse record but had slightly better stats. Wilson’s biggest problem was a terrible completion percentage and interception rate, even for that era, though he partially offset that with the fourth best yards per completion average of the 30 passers with the most attempts. The weirdest year for him was 1985, when he went 11-2 on the strength of a really good Raiders defense and an MVP season from Marcus Allen. Wilson ranked 23rd in ANY/A out of 30 qualifying passers that year.  In 1981, Wilson ranked 27th out of 30 passers in ANY/A, but thanks to a league-high 4 fourth quarter comebacks, Wilson posted a 5-4 record.

As for Phipps, he was not a very good quarterback, but went 19-4 with the Browns and Bears in ’72 and ’79, despite posting league average ANY/A numbers both seasons.  He also went 7-5-2 with the second-worst ANY/A in the NFL in 1973.

  • sacramento gold miners

    Dan Fouts had a disadvantage of entering the NFL with a terrible team, the 1973 Chargers. San Diego didn’t turn it around until 1978, partly due to Fouts’ improvement. Marc Wilson’s Raiders were much more talented, even though they were 7-9 in 1981.

    • Wow, I didn’t realize Fouts was actually *that* good. I mean, I knew he was a Hall of Famer, but my impression of him was that he was a bit of a compiler. I see that is not so. He was legitimately the best QB in the league (or very close to it) for a good half decade stretch in the late ’70s and early ’80s.

      I remember Marc Wilson well, as he is one of the quarterbacks for the Patriots on Tecmo Super Bowl. Ancient Steve Grogan was the better option on the game, just as was in real life.

      • sacramento gold miners

        Yes, Fouts was absolutely lethal, and had so many weapons around him. There’s no doubt in my mind that attack would have been more potent than the 2007 Patriots, had they been playing under the same rules. Fouts wasn’t mobile, but could hang in there, and unleash those medium to deep passes. It was like a circus show, and as the defensive declined, the Chargers were involved in many shootouts.

      • Richie

        Out of curiosity – how old are you?

        I started becoming an NFL fan right around 1981-1982 when Fouts was at his peak, so I’ve always held him in pretty high regard.

        • The first football game I remember watching was the 1983 AFC Championship Game, so I missed Fout’s prime. I definitely remember him playing (I think I have his football card circa 1985) and knew he was good, but by the time I was a cognizant fan he had been well surpassed by Marino, Montana, et al.

          By the way, that ’83 game was the Seahawks versus the Raiders, you probably remember the previous game when the Seahawks upset the Dolphins in Marino’s rookie year in the playoffs in Miami. I don’t remember watching that game (I’ve since watched it on YouTube — very entertaining), but I remember my dad telling me about it.

          My entire city was abuzz that the Seahawks were playing the Raiders, whom they had beaten twice in the regular season, to go to the Super Bowl. I was so excited for it… and of course the Seahawks got crushed. It really prepped me for the next 30 years of being a Seattle sports fan.

  • It’s unfortunate for Fouts that his best season, statistically, happened during a strike season in which he lost the AP MVP award to a kicker. It’s also unfortunate for both Fouts and Coryell that Gene Klein didn’t have any interest in extending the contracts of his defensive standouts. The team’s defensive decline from 1979 to 1981 and beyond is stark.

    • Paul

      Or he benefited from a abnormal situation where teams weren’t prepared for the season, such as 2011 when passing numbers exploded from the lack of defensive performance from lost practices.

      • For the league as a whole, yards per game, touchdown rate, AY/A, NY/A, and ANY/A were lower in 1982 than in the surrounding years. Interception rate, Y/A, and passer rating were essentially the same in 1982 as they were in 1981. Maybe the lack of practice benefited great QBs differently, but it clearly didn’t benefit passing in the aggregate. Montana, Anderson, and Theismann didn’t see the same level of improvement that Fouts did (although Montana did have the highest Y/G of his career due to trailing more often, and Anderson did set a record for cmp%).

        Even if all of those things don’t matter and the strike somehow really did benefit Fouts, it’s still unfortunate for his legacy. The alternative was likely another season of about 5,000 yards and 30 touchdowns, which also would have improved his standing in the minds of modern fans.

        Either way, there’s no real excuse for the AP giving their highest honor to a kicker.

        • Richie

          “another season of about 5,000 yards”

          So crazy to think that through 1987 (when Fouts retired), there had been 13 seasons of 4,000+ passing yards in the history of the NFL. In the 29 seasons since then, there have been 142!

          There have been 15 seasons of 4,900+ since 1987.

          • It’s pretty crazy how ahead of the pack Fouts was in terms of sheer volume. It’s also crazy that Marino’s numbers were so Ruthian that we’ve all but forgotten about Fouts now. And now everyone’s numbers are so crazy that neither of those HOFers looks significant to the casual fan.

            • Paul

              I think most people assume Fouts wasn’t that great because of his poor TD/INT ratio. I certainly did before reading great historical articles like this.

        • Paul

          That’s a lot of great info, I was just guessing, basing my thoughts on just what happened with 2011. If Fouts improved that much and the rest of the League didn’t then it is truly a lost great season.

          I’ve read your offensive decade analysis and they’re terrific, cant wait for the 2000s, and someday in the future, the 2010s.

          No to sound to abashed, you’re articles are certainly some of my favorites, wish you had one every day lol.

          • I wish I could produce one every day, as Chase does. Unfortunately, life disagrees with me.

            • Richie

              I have no idea how Chase has been able to keep this up for so long.

      • Tom

        Is that what happened in 2011? I’ve always wondered what the hell was the deal with that season? Guys were just going off…

        • Guys haven’t exactly stopped going off though. Passing took a leap in 2011, but it has been steadily increasing since then. The NFL, as a whole, has yet to drop to its 2011 level in yards per game, completion rate, interception rate, AY/A, passer rating, and ANY/A. Meanwhile, YPA has been stable, and touchdown rate dipped in 2012 but hasn’t been as low as the 2011 level since.

        • Paul

          that’s the season the CBA wasn’t ratified till July 25th. No offseason workouts, free agency, or training camp. a lot of articles speculated that offenses weren’t as effected, as the elite ones had a lot of talent and scheme carry over from previous years, or is simply easier to adjusted to quickly then defenses.

  • Four Touchdowns

    Any surprises for anyone? Obviously, we expected the likes of Fouts, Brees, Moon, and Marino on the “not enough wins” and guys like Eli Manning, Flacco and Terry Bradshaw on the “should have less wins”… but how about the guys you didn’t really see coming or think about?

    The guys I’m surprised to see haven’t won as much as they should have: Joe Namath and Joe Montana are surprising, you kinda figured they won at about the right rate for their skills and team quality. Blake Bortles, Colin Kaepernick, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Robert Griffin are also surprising since their skills are denigrated so often.

    For some reason, I thought Jay Cutler would be on the list of QBs who deserved to win more but it looks like he’s right where he belongs.

    The guys I’m surprised to see won more than they should have: Jim Kelly, John Unitas and Bart Starr are pretty surprising, considering how excellent they were. Cam Newton and Andrew Luck are also surprising, I tend to see them as the bright spots on otherwise average to mediocre teams.

    Tom Brady isn’t as surprising considering his ridiculously high winning percentage but I am surprised to see him have the same adjusted differential as Andy Dalton.

    • LightsOut85

      My guess for Luck would be that his W% stands out more due to his late-game heroics in his first couple years, often coming after games with disappointing (relative to his draft status/reputation) passing numbers. (Those wins also helped by his great 1st down rate on scrambles). IND’s defense, and especially their running game, haven’t been anything to write home about, so I think this is just a case where a very specific circumstance wasn’t reflected by this measure. No pun intended, Luck was very lucky. It was happening at an unsustainable rate that seems to have cooled off (& his passing numbers have been improving).

      • Tom

        Agreed…there are so many games, even playoff games, where we can see Luck play poorly in the first half, and then save the day in the second half. Kind of an interesting thing with him…

    • Sorry, I should have made this clear: this list is for post-merger QBs only, so the presence of Unitas and Starr is obviously misleading.

  • Adam

    The most validating part of this study is the fact that there aren’t any real surprises. The QB’s whom we know have been let down by their teams top this list, while the guys blessed with tons of help collect at the bottom. I’m going reference this article when people make QB winz arguments.

    • sacramento gold miners

      Enjoyed the series of articles, but I’m always going to use winning as part of the evaluation process for the most important position on the field. I never claimed Terry Bradshaw was a good QB in 1973, and the fact Pittsburgh faded down the stretch, and was blown out in the first round of the playoffs was proof of that.

      Yes, better defenses would have helped legends like Fouts and Marino win a SB, but those clubs still reached a level of success largely due to the success of those players. Generally speaking, you still need a at least a good QB to reach the playoffs, and a great one for more. I would be aboard with the supporting cast theory if we saw it demonstrated on the field, but I seriously doubt the Patriots win a SB with Drew Bledsoe at the controls.

      • Paul

        Well, the patriots were 5-13 in 00′ and 01′ before he was injured. So the chance of them even making the playoffs in 01 wasn’t great with him as the QB.

        • Mike Brown

          So what? That’s was BB’s first season with the team (2000) and Bledsoe got hurt two games into BB’s second. NE started out 1-1 and 2-2 in 2004 (I think it was 2004) then went on to win 12 straight games and the SB. Judging the 2001 team by their 0-2 start is silly. They were 5-5 at one point that year then got hot.

          For all the hype Brady gets as “the best ever” his team is 14-6 without him as a starter. As someone else already pointed out Brady didn’t even win the 2001 AFC Title game, Bledsoe and the Pats D did. The D also,shut down Kurt Warner and in later seasons Peyton Manning. Brady is great but don’t get the legend mixed up with the facts. In the 2001 season and the SB Brady was a game manager. If his fumble had actually stood instead of them changing it (and it was most definitely a fumble, he had both hands on the ball when he lost it…..was he going to shotput it?) the Pats wouldn’t have even made the SB that year.

          • sacramento gold miners

            I’m down on Bledsoe because of the way his career deteriorated after leaving New England, I think Brady would have eventually beaten him out for the starter’s job later. Yes, the Pats have an excellent record without Brady in the regular season, but how many playoff teams did they beat? I just don’t see any scenario where a non-Brady team wins a playoff game.

            • Mike Brown

              Did you even read my post? They won the 2001 AFC Title game basically without Brady. Brady accounted for zero of their 24 points in that game. There was a punt return for 7, Bledsoe threw a TD pass, a blocked F.g returned for a TD and an AV FG. Brady didn’t score any points in that game lol.

              So what are you even talking about? Besides that why would you think a team that’s gone 14-6 without Brady couldn’t win a playoff game? That’s just dumb. You really think the Pats couldn’t have beaten the Texans in the playoffs without Brady last year? THEY BEAT THE TEXANS 27-0 LAST YEAR IN THE RS lol.

              If you’re going to argue at least have an argument based on logic and not nonsense like “I just don’t see any scenario where a non-Brady team wins a playoff game.” because that’s just stupid.

              • sacramento gold miners

                The 14-6 record was helped by the schedule in those games, I still think NE would have been in big trouble with the likes of Matt Cassell under center against a quality opponent in the playoffs. Bledsoe’s career did head south, after a very promising start. You an I have a difference of opinion, I think a HOF QB like Brady would have had better results with those Buffalo and Dallas teams. By contrast, I don’t think Bledsoe would have been good enough in those tight SB wins for NE.

                • Mike Brown

                  Who cares what you think? Facts are facts. You said you can’t imagine the Patriots winning a playoff game without Brady lol. That absurd. They beat the Texans 27-0 last year WITHOUT BRADY. So explain to me why a team that beat the Texans 27-0 in the RS couldn’t beat that team in the playoffs?

                  And Bledsoe was a Pro Bowler his first year in Buffalo. He had arguably his best season his first year with the Bills. He certainly didn’t drop off. See….those are what are commonly called “facts”.

                  What you “think” is irrelevant. The FACT is the Patriots went 14-6 without Brady…..and they won the 2001 AFC Title game without a single point from Brady. They also crushed the Texans….27-0….WITHOUT BRADY last year. There is absolutely zero reason to think the Patriots couldn’t win playoff games without Brady.

                  Last year they went 3-1 and they were down to their 3rd string rookie QB who was hurt the last two games. Cassel was a 7th round pick that hadn’t started a game SINCE HIGH SCHOOL .and Belichick had him playing at a Pro Bowl level and won 11 games with him.

                  Brady is a great QB but the Patriots are going to be fine without him as long as BB is in charge.

                  • sacramento gold miners

                    BB has a grand total of one playoff win by a non-Brady starter in the postseason, so we’ll see what happens. He’s a great coach, but other coaching greats have reached conference title games with other QBs. So much of NE’s postseason success in these narrow wins have been due to Brady, the playoffs are different than the regular season. The backups usually haven’t beaten contenders, feasting on weak competition. Matt Cassel has shown to be the journeyman QB he was, I have no doubt the 2008 Patriots overachieved, and would have been exposed in the postseason.

                    Drew Bledsoe’s 2002 Pro Bowl berth was dubious, he may have been a substitute that season. Ranked fifth in the AFC in passer rating, his 1997 year as a Patriot was better. He just faded, that’s all.

                    Let’s pick up this discussion in 2018, or whenever Brady retires.

                    • Jason Allen

                      BS dude, you’re full of excuses. BB took over a 2-14 Browns team that was absolutely awful, I believe they were dead last in defense and 27th or so in offense (I might have that backwards) out of 28 teams. Within two seasons he’d turned them into a playoff team and he did it with Vinny Testeverde who was awful up to that point in his career and who was the epitome of “journeyman”. They fell apart and BB was fired after all the turmoil of them moving to Baltimore happened.

                      BB also had two SB rings as defensive coordinator for the Giants who had one of the greatest defense in NFL history while he was there so that crap about him having 1 playoff win without Brady is BS. People (including you apparently) forget that the Patriots first three SB teams were defensive oriented grind it out teams and Brady was a glorified game manager. It wasn’t until 2007 they became pass oriented.

                      BTW have you noticed how every Patriots SB team has either had a very good or a great defense? I have. They were number 1 in points allowed last year. Brady isn’t winning on his own.

                      I don’t know why you state Bledsoe 97 season was better than his 2002 as if it’s a fact. He threw 4 more TDs, but 600 less yards, he had a lower completion percentage and had a higher INT%. The only thing better about his 97 season was 4 more TDs.

                      And you still haven’t explained why you think the Patriots couldn’t win without Brady when the FACT is they won the 2001 AFC Title game without him scoring a point AND they beat the Texans (their first opponent last postseason in case you forgot) 27-0 without Brady last year.

                      You just make excuses. The only reason the Pats didn’t make the playoffs in 2008 without Brady is because of the way the NFL divisions are set up. They won 11 games and SD only won 8 but SD got i because they won their division. The Pats were playing great by the end of the year, they destroyed the Cardinals late that year and the Cardinals went to the SB.

                      Like I said, Brady is a great QB but he’s always been surrounded by a good to great team and he’s never won a SB without a great defense.

            • Mike Brown

              And Bledsoe career didn’t “deteriorate” after he left NE. He had a few more good seasons but he was 30 when he left NE and he went to Buffalo and Dallas which just weren’t very good teams. That was also when QBs were allowed to be hit and most didn’t last as long as they do now.

              If you took Tom Brady and stuck him on the Browns or Jaguars how much winning do you think he’d do? Look at Drew Brees in NO, that guy is amazing but the Saints go 7-9 every season because their D is horrible.

      • “I seriously doubt the Patriots win a SB with Drew Bledsoe at the controls”

        I’m inclined to think the opposite. Bledsoe had already brought the team to a Super Bowl once, and Brady wasn’t even that good in the 2001 playoffs. In fact, it was Bledsoe who played most the game in the Pats win in 2001 AFC Championship Game against Pittsburgh.

        Brady was clearly the better choice, especially in the long-run, but for a few more seasons, I definitely think the Pats could have been contenders with Bledsoe at the helm.

        • Richie

          “In fact, it was Bledsoe who played most the game in the Pats win in 2001 AFC Championship Game against Pittsburgh.”

          Bledsoe didn’t have the pressure of knowing he would play that day. That’s the only way he was able to lift himself from the doldrums and lead the Patriots into a Super Bowl.

          • Mike Brown

            That’s just dumb. The guy had already been to a SB.

      • Tom

        I tend to think Bledsoe *might* have been able to get them back to a Super Bowl (just from looking at a few numbers and watching some games), but there’s no doubt Brady was “better” and was the right choice.

  • Tom

    I’m surprised to see Matt Schaub at #22 (would have though he would have been about equal to his team’s wins), definitely not surprised to Aaron Rodgers at #25…I would have thought he would have been even higher.

    • Paul

      Its amazing how far the Packers fell on team support, they had very good defenses in 09 and 10′, but since Rodgers became arguably the best QB in the league, they’ve been pretty bad.

      • Tom

        Agreed, and the game that for me kind of encapsulates what’s been going on with them lately is that 2014 NFC Championship game against Seattle. The Packers were HANDED that game…5 turnovers. The botched on-side kick recovery, the fluke 2-point conversion…passing up TWO 4th-and-1’s on the goal line, and another 4th-and-1 on the Seattle 22 when they were AHEAD 13-0.
        Regarding our discussion yesterday, perhaps it’s this game that just sticks out in my mind when thinking about the difference between McCarthy and Belichick, as it relates to their QB’s success (so yes, small sample size bias!). The Patriots simply do not lose that game…you give that team even a sliver of hope and they’ll take it.
        (But enough of that, we tore that apart yesterday)
        In any event, yes, while there are some issues with Rodgers – Scott Kacsmar has noted that he might not be that great in the clutch as is perceived, and I’ve seen some numbers as well – there’s just no doubt that he is a freaking insane talent and he should probably have at the very least one more Super Bowl appearance at this point.

        • Paul

          Certainly the most gifted QB in the league, perhaps ever. I think it has more to intangibles than anything else, you never saw Manning’s or Brady’s teammates calling them selfish. Maybe it has more to leadership, perhaps the poor quality of his supporting cast. but its certainly strange in 2013 when Matt Flynn started 2 games for the Packers they won 2 comebacks of 11+ points, as Scott Kascmar points out the packers were at one time 0-29 in games where they trailed by 9 or more points(not sure what it is now). Maybe Rodgers doesn’t have that leadership quality to fight the hardest in adverse conditions, or the team has simply failed him, pretty hard to tell.

          • Four Touchdowns

            I’d assume the small sample size of games where a QB has a reasonable chance of coming back might play into this.

            That said, I saw this article about his low interception rate and how it might correlate to his infrequent comeback successes — to come back from a deficit, you must take chances with the ball and he doesn’t seem to.


            • Paul

              That’s also something Scott Kacsmar postulated, that he’s so risk averse he wont take chances, plus he takes a lot of drive killing sacks. But it is a small sample size, though the Packers 0-29 record is pretty bad. that might not all be on Rodgers, its hard to tell.

              • WR

                Part of the problem with the weak Rodgers comebacks stats is that they ignore that the Packers had a 19 game win streak in 2010-11. None of those games was counted as a fourth quarter comeback. Of course, it’s hard to win every week when you have to keep coming back at the end. Would those wins by the Packers have been “better” if they had included coming back from a 4th quarter deficit?

        • WR

          Rodgers just wasn’t very good in that Seattle playoff game. McCarthy was awful, but if Rodgers puts up better numbers, the Packers probably win.

  • Paul

    Bert Jones and his amazing 3 year span of 75-77, shame that’s such a little discussed period of greatness.

  • Richie

    Interesting. A lot of Super Bowl appearances by guys in the bottom 40 of this list.

  • Four Touchdowns

    If you’d like to see and learn more about Fouts outside of raw numbers, this documentary is excellent (as are all the America’s Game ones are):