## Guest Post: Bryan Frye’s Advanced Quarterback Ranking System Part II: Career Rankings

Bryan Frye, owner and operator of the great site http://www.thegridfe.com/, is back for another guest post. You can also view all of Bryan’s guest posts at Football Perspective at this link, and follow him on twitter @LaverneusDingle.

Last week, I posted a quarterback performance metric that accounts for both passing and rushing. The base stat, Total Adjusted Yards per Play, is easy to comprehend and easy to figure out yourself with basic box score data. My original post only included performance that occurred during or after the 2002 season, because I don’t have spike and kneel data going back further than that. For the sake of consistency, I wanted to maintain the same parameters when calculating career values.

Before we get into the tables, I’d like to first briefly talk about what these numbers are and what they are not.

The formula, in case you forgot:

[Yards + Touchdowns*20 – Interceptions*45 – Fumbles*25 + First Downs*9] / Plays, where

Yards = pass yards + rush yards – sack yards + yards lost on kneels

Touchdowns = pass touchdowns + rush touchdowns

First Downs = (pass first downs + rush first downs) – touchdowns

Plays = pass attempts + sacks + rush attempts – spikes – kneels

The TAY/P stat (and the values based on it) IS a simple, numeric representation of quarterback performance, both passing and rushing. The formula knows only the numbers that are plugged into it. In this regard, it is like every other quarterback rating on the planet – even the most advanced ones.

The TAY/P stat IS NOT a measure of overall quarterback talent or ability. It doesn’t account for strength of schedule, strength of teammates, strength of coaching, or the effects of weather. It doesn’t account for intangibles, whatever you believe those to be (there is no leadership, courage, or moxie component).1

I hope that cleared some things up for both regular readers and the stat-dubious visitors. Let’s look at some numbers.

The first table contains the raw data that went into the ratings.2 If you are interested in reading it, here’s how: Aaron Brooks completed 1248 of 2211 passes for 14915 yards, 88 touchdowns, and 64 interceptions. He took 170 sacks, on which he lost 1030 yards. He spiked the ball 11 times and gained 719 passing first downs. He had 241 carries for 1006 yards and 10 touchdowns. He had 47 fumbles. He took 31 kneels, losing 29 yards in the process. He picked up 79 first downs on the ground. All 76 players are listed in the table, which is fully sortable and searchable.

PlayerCmpAttYdsTDIntSkSkYdsSpk1dPRshYdsTDFmbKnlKnlY1dR
Aaron Brooks124822111491588641701030117192411006104731-2979
Aaron Rodgers22863475285782265726016031713223761831205482-88140
Alex Smith190131492085812276280162113991337144665677-7483
Andrew Luck106218131295786431006349627189905122948-4065
Andy Dalton130121111475899661206954689205624111957-5359
Ben Roethlisberger3157495439057251131419272644192237811621578131-129109
Blaine Gabbert417784439523247451812067619102116-1614
Brandon Weeden462825541926285637522644515401311-1013
Brett Favre2989472833211221164203141417164717628526564-6628
Brian Griese9991554108916361111770952210917312242-4117
Byron Leftwich9301605105325842924523507137415103526-2433
Cam Newton114419231442682541521140106654672571333035-41192
Carson Palmer30714906353652241552531782281745248400760105-10653
Christian Ponder63210576658383695501035012663972021-2438
Colin Kaepernick67111178415502110768703972611576102632-3376
Colt McCoy5018315458252376447227211542321824-2533
Daunte Culpepper1484235917604102772311329128373511760227420-19134
David Carr13532267144526571267156414706305132897136-4194
David Garrard14062281160038954179111587953801746174461-67157
Derek Anderson82515379907585576530114939122752927-2331
Donovan McNabb24494096297301808529818871813644012035217274-72145
Drew Bledsoe1295219914954856820513571773511521185526-2730
Drew Brees492274315581239519429821163427383586721384154-15188
Eli Manning33085609397552591852801980131886243462587118-12944
Geno Smith4668105571253471490226113160471611-941
Gus Frerotte612111673214547814776348689112424-3011
J.P. Losman56495262713334108789928510549033513-1239
Jake Delhomme1699285620454123961621225994716425656168-7233
Jake Plummer12282126146038967105657870822795393453-5573
Jason Campbell15192518167718760170109616827240120465252-5982
Jay Cutler23903871277491831302561627161339324142587596-9298
Jay Fiedler467809545533305738012747524662011-1129
Jeff Garcia13682236151778750116574157162791241153945-46105
Joe Flacco2213365725531148902411709101239267631106298-10986
Joey Harrington142425381469379851247701270914240202533-3427
Jon Kitna1706273118977108982191356993417362475847-5342
Josh Freeman116420201372480671116831164819792243832-4682
Josh McCown97816641103361591481001552017783375419-2354
Kerry Collins18713302217221089215710148105714518225844-4115
Kurt Warner17272667196931107517311201994910411727940-4216
Kyle Boller8611519893148541238022045117657224235-3742
Kyle Orton1613271218037101691651016887612629643546-5631
Marc Bulger196931712281412293254186319110711830084236-4527
Mark Brunell86414959551592998673447512942112824-2232
Mark Sanchez1226217614510828014996912719159429135038-4447
Matt Cassel1397236915727967018210052176624793154755-5659
Matt Hasselbeck28774724327801941403041897111636299106585794-9777
Matt Ryan250839162816618191188124020141424870053395-11263
Matt Schaub204031912431113086175119921118218335244468-7640
Matthew Stafford1848309921714131851611096171075161485113940-4244
Michael Vick17173038213081298428517131710108225721359076-80324
Nick Foles550893675346175737833068433141618-2527
Patrick Ramsey51191359303530795204278478922817-189
Peyton Manning457068235327341915320212701427423032651155180-18544
Philip Rivers30254678366552521222851716111827286512378113-12161
Quincy Carter4527845265273068385523910736821710-932
Rex Grossman86315621023256609269894958110643240-5118
Rich Gannon584911648735165832133036120031413-1112
Robert Griffin6791063809740231017184375244148083214-1573
Russell Wilson79412529950722611971744613081877113144-50106
Ryan Fitzpatrick17522911192731231011861015139413451599115460-59111
Ryan Tannehill10291662112526342139970757914576042839-3446
Shaun Hill7361183803849308251593878232642423-2326
Steve McNair140022561526988589862716801230996104857-5581
Tarvaris Jackson636106772263935895401233416364462439-3944
Tony Romo2743421033270242110242163711160323460756499-11144
Trent Edwards563929603326306948232897833031413-1628
Trent Green154724671918810674147940792914657033241-3641
Vince Young7551304896446518344964452821459124041-4585
Vinny Testaverde630105771743437704405334539632116-166

As before, the above table is merely a reference point. It is offered without further comment.

The second table represents the adjusted numbers for the 76 qualifying players since 2002. It is sorted by value above replacement, but you can search and sort to your heart’s content. Read the table thus: Peyton Manning turned 7134 plays into 52,453 yards, 430 touchdowns, and 2786 first downs. This comes to 73997 total adjusted yards at 10.37 per play. For his career, he has been 2.56 TAY/P above average and produced 18291 TAY of relative value. He has been 4.13 TAY/P above replacement and produced 29432 TAY of replacement value.

RkPlayerPlyTydsTTD1dTAYTAY/PTAY/P Ov AvgValTAY/P Ov RepREPL
1Peyton Manning71345245343027867399710.372.56182914.1329432
2Drew Brees7899545194082826736119.321.45114863.0323911
4Ben Roethlisberger5576376222662031509829.141.1966392.7815507
5Philip Rivers5125355722551888479299.351.3468852.9515094
6Aaron Rodgers40122889424614624084310.182.0983733.7114867
7Tony Romo4576323512471647433419.471.4666913.0614021
8Donovan McNabb4703299502011509401178.530.8740722.411281
9Carson Palmer5274340892311798443378.410.5327792.111091
10Matt Ryan4237277381861477381579.010.8837142.510602
11Eli Manning6001383662641930481408.020.095601.6810076
12Brett Favre5026321482231675406718.090.482400210055
13Matt Hasselbeck5222320452021713419598.040.3317181.879766
14Matt Schaub3460235401341222310428.970.9934272.598950
15Trent Green271218854109970246539.091.6243933.118445
16Michael Vick4052253961641334331768.190.416091.967923
17Jay Cutler4339276391911437349488.050.031401.647101
19Marc Bulger3488212961301134276977.940.3712801.886563
20Joe Flacco4057245621581325326258.04-0.07-3011.556284
21Steve McNair25111569398882208998.320.8822012.375941
22Matthew Stafford3364211451421119279788.320.134281.775938
23David Garrard277116701106952229058.270.4913642.055672
24Jeff Garcia257115890102821211768.240.717922.215669
25Kurt Warner288518732112965232998.080.411601.945587
26Daunte Culpepper290918054124971228427.850.339611.835338
27Cam Newton249715898115857216968.690.4511152.15231
28Jake Delhomme310519557128980239407.710.13101.625036
29Jake Plummer23971495498781191968.010.5412852.034867
30Kerry Collins3552209311101072261997.38-0.22-7711.34623
31Russell Wilson16311116083567152319.341.0517192.714422
32Andrew Luck20451326898692179148.760.489782.134365
33Jason Campbell28601693893909221427.74-0.15-4281.434086
34Kyle Orton294917373105907227117.7-0.24-7161.353969
35Jon Kitna306718298115976224877.33-0.23-6941.293942
36Aaron Brooks25801492098798191257.41-0.03-891.453753
37Andy Dalton237514740110748192378.1-0.14-3361.513579
38Alex Smith3676207571281074270117.35-0.64-23540.963519
39Ryan Fitzpatrick3369199161341052249637.41-0.67-22740.943174
40Colin Kaepernick1453933760473126598.710.426162.083024
42Josh Freeman22851400984730175387.68-0.43-9771.192726
43Drew Bledsoe24761383593765173086.99-0.44-11001.042582
44Rich Gannon101463773831585608.441.0410522.522553
45Byron Leftwich18051051968540133627.4-0.12-2211.382496
46Matt Cassel272215709101825199207.32-0.7-18960.912467
47Robert Griffin1390887448448115998.340.11341.752427
48Nick Foles1013673150333911390.727342.382410
49Mark Brunell1694932160507125397.4-0.08-1281.422405
50Ryan Tannehill19001107667625148487.81-0.46-8831.192263
51Brian Griese17231033564539125957.31-0.25-4341.262172
52Vince Young16221001958530121327.48-0.26-4291.282083
53Shaun Hill1315787253413102227.77-0.25-3261.361784
56Derek Anderson1666962763524118367.1-0.74-12260.831386
58Mark Sanchez24341401495766171037.03-1.11-26900.521269
59Jay Fiedler92953323930366387.15-0.27-2491.211128
60Vinny Testaverde115968463734081237.01-0.55-6320.971119
61Tarvaris Jackson126873694537890917.17-0.74-9410.841065
62Rex Grossman1686969160513114686.8-0.97-16430.58979
63Joey Harrington27591435979736174026.31-1.17-32310.32895
64Trent Edwards106058972931773696.95-0.88-9380.68724
65Quincy Carter94452572927162406.61-0.7-6600.76720
66David Carr27891425774800173016.2-1.29-36090.21573
67Josh McCown19651088868574127976.51-1.29-25280.27537
68Gus Frerotte123569654635979876.47-1.08-13380.43527
69Colt McCoy99654592730570167.04-1.11-11100.52515
70Christian Ponder125768204538886876.91-1.3-16370.34428
71Patrick Ramsey101855173728764576.34-1.1-11200.39395
72Brandon Weeden91352082627764027.01-1.22-11160.42388
73Geno Smith99956943230268346.84-1.43-14260.23226
74J.P. Losman114359843632468916.03-1.53-1754-0.02-25
75Kyle Boller1763873850493102455.81-1.77-3120-0.25-447
76Blaine Gabbert91740842322047125.14-3.05-2800-1.42-1298

Some brief commentary…

• Statistically, Drew Brees and Tom Brady have been much closer than most people probably realize.3 Brady’s stats are superior on a per play basis, and Brees’ advantage in volume is the only thing giving him more replacement value. Brady still leads Brees in value over average, despite seeing over 500 fewer action plays.
• Once again, incorporating first downs pads Peyton Manning’s numbers significantly. Removing those from the equation moves Rodgers to the top of the TAY/P charts.
• Only three below-replacement-level quarterbacks were allowed to be involved in more than 900 plays. Kyle Boller was given nearly 1800 chances to prove his mettle.
• Neglecting stats accrued prior to 2002 really helps Rich Gannon in this exercise. What a weird career arc.
• When you sort by TAY/P Over Average, Trent Green once again pops up in esteemed company. He’s no Hall of Famer, but he deserves a little more recognition than he gets (and probably a little less than I give him).

I could go on, but I’m more interested in what you have to say.

1. If you want to add a dash of Winnersauce to the formula, multiply it by win percentage or something. I don’t know. Keep reworking the formula until it spits out the outcome you were hoping for. []
2. Only players with 900 action plays are included. This number is somewhat arbitrary, but it is based on three seasons of 300 plays apiece. If you want to see number for guys with fewer plays, just ask. []
3. I can’t imagine why people think Brady is so much better. []
4. In the TAY/P Ov Avg column, that is. []
• Jack

O/T Hey football perspective guys, I have a column I’d like to see. I’m arguing with a friend about which position is most important besides QB. I think one way to help flesh it out is to look at the data of team winning percentage of All Pros, by position. I wonder if there’s any trend. Obviously QB should come out on top, but at what other positons does elite play correlate strongly with winning? And the converse, what positions can a guy dominate and still not have much effect on winning percentage?

Thanks

• Bryan Frye

This is a total cop out, but I think the most important person on a football team outside of the quarterback is the head coach. A great HC is almost always going to have his team in contention for the playoffs, if not a title.

If we are judging players only, I don’t believe any position comes anywhere close to having the influence of a QB. With 22 players on the field, each guy would have about 4.5% impact if their roles were equal. However, I think the QB’s influence is probably at least 10% (I say this completely anecdotally and with no evidence to support this assertion at this time).

Let’s take a quick look at some dominant players and how their teams fared recently:

Adrian Peterson has clearly been the dominant HB of his generation, and there were times you could argue he was the best player at any position. The Vikings have been to the playoffs 3 times in the 7 seasons he was their leading rusher. Their deepest playoff run was when Brett Favre had an uncharacteristically efficient season.

Calvin Johnson has generally been regarded as the primus inter pares of wide receivers, and his teams have made the playoffs twice during his tenure.

Rob Gronkowski is undeniably the top TE in the game, and NE is 52-13 when he plays. However, NE is still a good team when he doesn’t play, despite Brady’s obvious struggles. The Pats were 5-1 in 2013 before he played in week 7, and they went 2-1 after he went down for the last three weeks of that season.

Joe Thomas plays for the Cleveland Browns. I’m not sure I really need to elaborate.

Evan Mathis has a pretty ho hum record as a starter, despite doing his job arguably better than anyone else in the league.

Nick Mangold has made the playoffs thrice. Those years, he either had efficient QB play (2006) or a great defense (2009-10).

DeMarcus Ware, Jared Allen, and Julius Peppers are shells of their former selves, but even in their primes they weren’t enough to single-handedly get their teams to the playoffs (or even lead them to great defensive rankings).

JJ Watt is, in my opinion, the best player in the league by a significant margin. He also led his team to a first overall draft pick. That is what bad QB play does for you.

Von Miller is the closest thing in the current NFL to Derrick Thomas or Lawrence Taylor. His team also does just fine without him (except in the Super Bowl, where he would have TOTALLY swung things the other way…)

Patrick Willis was a dominant MLB from the word go. He also didn’t experience team success until the Niners got a good HC who got decent QB play out of indecent QBs.

Darrelle Revis has played for good teams and bad teams. Richard Sherman has played for mostly good teams. Both won Super Bowls, but they happened to do so with good or great QB play.

Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu are probably the top candidates for the “dominant safety” position. Both had tremendous team success, but both also happened to play with a ton of other talented defenders, even sharing the field with DPOYs.

If a QB were as dominant as any of the guys I just mentioned, his team would likely be in the hunt every year. The problem here, of course, is the issue of entanglement. Sure, a lot of these dominant guys have won a lot of games and even titles, but how many did it as the best player on the team or without good play from the QB or their teammates? Alternatively, how many okay but not great players have great win% because they play for great teams (Tom Brady is .773 in the regular season, but the imcomparable Dan Koppen is .794!)?

Granted, sometimes good QBs end up with bad records too. I think Rivers, Romo, and Ryan are among the top QBs in the league, but they ave had some pretty blah teams. Even Brees, a surefire HOFer, has had terrible teams. However, I don’t recall any of these guys having bad records when they also have good individual seasons. JJ Watt can’t say that.

• Jack

Thanks for the thoughts. I fully agree with HC being very important.

My question was mostly sprung from an argument I was having with a friend who insisted that Left Tackle was the next most important position. I told him he’s crazy and even linked him to an old Football Perspective article.

I argued a rangy safety is the next most important besides QB. A guy like a non-injured Bob Sanders, or prime Polamalu can make a difference on every play on defense, whereas a weak safety can get picked apart by TEs, and give up long runs. SB winning teams can have weaknesses but never have poor safety play.

Of course, it is a far drop off from QB to the next most important, so this perhaps a pointless argument.

• sn0mm1s

Offense is greater than defense in almost any situation. This site and several others have about a 60/40 split regarding offensive importance vs. defensive importance. I put QB performance/influence at 30-35% and no other position above 5%. Though on offense WR > RB > TE.

• Jack

Fair point. A counterpoint is that if its a 60/40 split and the QB eats a large chunk of the offensive importance, there may be more “importance” to spread around individual defensive players than the rest of the offensive players, even if defense is a little less important in the aggregate.

• sn0mm1s

True – but the baseline on D in the above scenario is 3.6% “influence” per player. I just don’t see that overtaking a WR or RB (which I put more in the 5-6% range). For that to happen you would need to say that a top S is worth about twice a top CB/DL/LB

• Jack

Well we’d have to hammer home just how important a QB is. Do you mean 30-35% of the offense or 30-35% of team success? I’d argue 35% importance to offense is low… but once again, don’t know how this would be calculated.

Special teams should be incorporated as well since we’re discussing team success and winning. No special teams player will be in the discussion for most important obviously, but its important to include. Football Outsiders like a “4 parts offense, 3 parts defense, 1 part special teams model”, which comes to something like high 40s% offense, high 30s% defense, special teams somewhere in the teens.

• sn0mm1s

30-35% Team success at least. It may be higher but definitely not lower.

• Kibbles

The biggest problem I can see with using All Pros as a measure of player importance is you’re going to have causality running in both directions. Being an All Pro helps make teams good. Being on a good team helps make players an All Pro. I’m not sure which effect would be stronger, or whether that would be more or less true at some positions relative to others. (I’m willing to bet that the punter from a 2-14 team is much more likely to be named an All Pro than the Tight End, for instance.)

Which isn’t to say there’d be no value in such a look, it’s just to say that it would be necessarily be far more suggestive than dispositive.

• Jack

That’s a good point, maybe PFF style +/- grading systems are more likely to give a good assessment, if you believe in that sort of thing. I’d probably be against using AV here as well, for the same reasons you mention.

• Quinton

Blaine Gabbert. Wow. That is some truly terrible QB play. The 49ers backup QB!

• Wolverine

At least he failed quickly. One of my favorite articles from the old PFR highlights that drafting a 1st round QB who is godawful and flames out fast hurts you far less than a QB who is merely bad, but just good enough that his team gives him way more time than they should before cutting bait. Looking at you guys, Joey Harrington and Kyle Boller…

• Jack

and for the Bills fan in me, JP Losman… and possibly EJ Manuel today.

Statistically speaking, it is probably better to draft a QB who dies immediately following the draft than either of those semi-busts.

• Wolverine

“Neglecting stats accrued prior to 2002 really helps Rich Gannon in this exercise. What a weird career arc.”

I assume the Buccaneers thought they had the next Rich Gannon when they gave Josh McCown all that money in 2014.

• Wolverine

This table is another jarring reminder that Matt Schaub and Donovan McNabb were very good starters at one point. It’s kinda sad that they’ll be remembered more for their spectacular failures in their final seasons.

Jeff Garcia will have one of the more forgotten good careers in NFL history, probably because he changed teams so much and never made it past the divisional round.

• James

Pretty crazy that Jake Delhomme (7.71) and Robert Griffin (8.34) played 10 years apart but are both 0.1 above average. Shows how much TAY/P has increased even just in the past 15 years.

• sacramento gold miners

Rich Gannon was a QB out of Delaware who just made himself into a terrific QB later in his career. A neck injury ended his career, along with any HOF consideration, but Gannon was a force with those Raider teams. Had the bad luck of facing Jon Gruden and the Bucs in the Super Bowl, and Gruden’s intricate knowledge of Gannon helped Tampa Bay. There’s practice video of Gruden impersonating Gannon in the days before the SB, and the former Dayton QB was able to duplicate Gannon’s delivery and pump fakes.

• Bryan Frye

I think waiting until his thirteenth year in the league to have a good season probably helps put an early end to any “Rich Gannon for HOF” talk. In order to make an undeniable case for the Hall, he would have had to keep up his 1999-2002 level of play until he was in his forties. What he was able to do between the ages of 34 and 37 was pretty incredible, and he’d be a lock for Canton if that had been part of a more traditional career arc.

It’s impossible to know, but I doubt the Raiders would have won the 2002 Super Bowl against the Bucs regardless of who coached whom. It would have probably been closer and not featured five Tampa interceptions, but it still feature possibly the greatest pass defense of all time. We’re talking about a defense where Simeon Rice may have been the fifth best player.

• sacramento gold miners

Agree about the strength of the 2002 Buc defense, it’s surprising they only reached one Super Bowl during that era. Gannon was looking like a guy who could have played into his forties, not just because of his production, but didn’t have the wear and tear of other QBs who played more often in their 20s. John Riggins is a good RB example of a player who wasn’t overworked in his 20s, and had plenty left in his 30s. No one gave Riggins a HOF shot after his age 29 season.

While some thought the 2002 Super Bowl would be close, I had a feeling the Raiders would be in trouble. The inside knowledge Jon Gruden had on Gannon and the Raider attack was also helped by the unexpected absence of Oakland’s starting center. Add to that the strong TB defense, and their offense was getting better, and it spelled a long day for the Raiders.

• Wilson Zheng

The top 7 players are all active…

• Skyler Montgomery

I cannot imagine why the top seven QBs since 2002 would still be active.

• Bryan Frye

The parameters of the table are such that this is almost inevitable. We’re using only players who have had at least 900 plays since the 2002 season, and, if you sort by total plays, the top 8 players are all active.

Keep in mind that most of Brett Favre’s and Kurt Warner’s best years took place before 2002. Roughly 1600 of Donovan McNabb’s plays happened from 1999-2001 (although you could argue that helps him by pruning two of his worst years).

Trent Green, Chad Pennington, and Rich Gannon have great rate stats (ranking 4, 13, and 11 in TAY/P over average), but they didn’t have enough volume to climb very close to the top.

I do plan on doing this for players dating back to at least 1950 (when fumble data is nebulous if it exists at all), but I will not be able to remove spikes an kneels. In the grand scheme of things, this shouldn’t matter too much. However, you’ll see that the top 7 players will be more varied when the time line expands.