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Matt Ryan Is Having A Historically Great Season

Matt Ryan leads the NFL in the following categories:

  • Touchdown Rate, at 6.8%
  • Yards per Attempt, at 9.3
  • Adjusted Yards per Attempt, at 10.0
  • Yards per Completion, at 13.3
  • Passer Rating, at 115.5
  • Net Yards per Attempt, at 8.21
  • Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt, at 8.90

Ryan also ranks 3rd in passing yards and 3rd in passing touchdowns, despite leading in the rate versions of those categories, because Ryan only ranks 18th in pass attempts, and that’s despite not missing any games. The Falcons rank 27th in pass attempts.  The Falcons rank 12th in rushing attempts, but only rank 25th in total plays.

Why is that? Well, Atlanta only ranks 27th in offensive drives.  And why is that? One reason is that the Falcons defense isn’t good at getting off the field. The Falcons defense is allowing 6.1 plays per drive, at a 2:45 minute clip per drive, and resulting in 2.18 points per drive. All three of those metrics place Atlanta in the bottom quarter of the league, as does Atlanta’s 41.6% third down rate.  Even worse, the Falcons have the worst red zone defense in the league.

The Falcons have also scored 5 return touchdowns this year, which negated five potential possessions for the offense.  But there’s another reason Atlanta has so few drives and plays this year: the offense is really, really good. Just 55 drives have ended in a punt or turnover this year, the fewest in the league.  The Falcons are also the only team to have over half of its drives end in a score. If Atlanta had more three-and-outs, they’d have more drives and maybe more plays, but completed passes keep the clock running.

If the Falcons had a better defense, Ryan would probably have more pass attempts this year, and he might be producing some better raw numbers. If he had 5,200 passing yards, it would be clearer to the average fan that this is a historically great season. And because Atlanta tends to run near the goal line, the team ranks 3rd in rushing touchdowns, which depresses Ryan’s touchdown totals (though provides some assistance to his yards per attempt numbers). Instead, we have to focus on his rate numbers.  So, which league-leading rate number is the best?

  • Touchdown Rate, at 6.8%. This would actually be the lowest touchdown rate to lead the league since 2009. It’s unusual to lead the league with a touchdown rate of less than seven percent, so while it’s impressive, it’s hardly historically noteworthy.
  • Yards per Attempt, at 9.3. Nick Foles was at 9.1 in 2013; Aaron Rodgers was at 9.2 in 2011, as was Peyton Manning in 2004. There may not be a large practical difference between 9.1 and 9.3, but it is historically noteworthy: since the NFL merger, just three quarterbacks have averaged 9.3 yards per attempt in a season on at least 150 passes: Ken Stabler in 1976, Chris Chandler in 1998, and Kurt Warner in 2000.  None of the had even 350 passes, while Ryan is at 498 entering week 17. From a pure yards per attempt perspective — albeit without adjusting for era — Ryan’s season is remarkable. Among quarterbacks with at least 450 pass attempts since the merger, Ryan stands atop a number of other historically great seasons.
  • Adjusted Yards per Attempt, at 10.0. Ryan has an awesome TD rate, but not an absurd one. His INT rate is very good, at 1.4%, but doesn’t crack the top five even in just 2016. As a result, adding in more variables to yards per attempt is only going to hurt Ryan, though a 10.00 AY/A average is hardly unimpressive. It would have been enough to lead the league in each of the last ten years, save Foles in 2013 and Rodgers in 2011. But his yards per attempt average is so dominant that Ryan is still only the 3rd player since 1970 to crack double digits in AY/A on 450+ passes.
  • Yards per Completion, at 13.3. In this era of declining yards per completin averages, Ryan’s 13.3 stands out as great.  But it would still be very low by typical standards: the previous five leaders were all over 13.5.
  • Passer Rating, at 115.5. Ryan’s 115.5 rating ranks as the 5th best in NFL history, although you need significant era adjustments here.  Honestly, I think we are at the point where we should expect the passer rating leader to crack 110: Tom Brady is at 110.7 this year.
  • Net Yards per Attempt, at 8.21. Ryan’s sack rate is not great, so he will necessarily fare worse here than in yards per attempt. Still, at 8.21, that’s remarkable: in the last 10 years, only Rodgers 2011 — at 8.22 — can top that.
  • Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt, at 8.90. This is the king of our traditional passing stats. At 8.90, this still stands out as a historically great year.  Yeah, his sack rate isn’t great, and his TD and INT numbers aren’t off the charts good.  But this still ranks as the 4th best (5th if you include Foles) average since 1970 among passers with at least 450 attempts.

In the end, what’s really driving it is Ryan’s remarkable yards per completion average while still completing 69.5% of his passes. Even with a 200 pass attempt minimum, among all players with an average of at least 13 yards per completion, Ryan’s completion percentage is over a full point ahead of the next best player (Rodgers 2011), and 1.5% above everyone else.  From a Pareto Efficiency standpoint, Ryan looks pretty impressive when it comes to completing passes (without adjusting for era) and completing them for a lot of yards (again, without era adjustments).

Ryan will be the 5th person since 1970 to have his completion percentage rank and yards per completion rank (min 14 passes per team game) equal 4 or less. The first four? Kurt Warner in 2000 and 2001 (1st in both metrics, both years), Tony Romo in 2006 (2nd in both), and Manning in 2004 (3rd in completion percentage, 1st in yards per completion). It’s been a remarkable year for Ryan.

  • Hopefully he just goes off on the Saints, like 400 yards and 4 TD. In a Falcons win, of course. Would get him to 5000 yards, 30 more TD than INT, and a first-round bye for his team (and also likely assure league leads in all those rate stats). Just make it as hard as possible for the MVP voters to screw it up.

    • Adam

      Even if Ryan throws for 500 yards and 6 TD’s this week, I think the MVP will still go to Brady or Zeke. The pundits barely even mention Ryan in this discussion. On NFLN Heath Evans literally said that most fans are too ignorant to understand how special Tom Brady is, and that he is the only choice for MVP. This is the level of inertia we’re up against.

      • Does that weekly ESPN vote involve just voters? If so we’re doomed. If Peter King (even though he had Carr of all people first, Ryan was second before last week) is a more accurate predictor, there is hope. Although we’re pretty much doomed anyway if we’re looking to Peter King for answers.

        Brady over Ryan for MVP would be like Montana and Everett swapping every number in 1989 except starts, and Montana still winning the award.

        • Adam

          I sure hope not. Among their 13 “expert” panelists, Ryan only received one first place vote. Yep, we’re doomed.

          Whatever Peter King says, it’s usually safe to go with the exact opposite view.

        • WR

          hscer, I’ve always been meaning to ask, but is there anything about Brady that you see as positive? And what is it about him that you hate so much? Because I’ve never heard you say anything good about him, and you’ve always provided very inconsistent and unconvincing positions to back up your arguments. If Brady finishes with better rate stats than Ryan-though he probably won’t-it would be hard to convince me that Ryan has outplayed him on a per-game basis. Ryan’s advantage over Brady is volume, which counts for a lot. I would vote Ryan for MVP, but you make it sound like there is some vast gulf between the two.

          • Richie

            “Ryan’s advantage over Brady is volume”

            …and rate. That’s what this post was all about. Ryan leads the league in TD%, Y/A, AY/A, Y/C, Rating, NY/A and ANY/A.

            Brady of course has the big edge in Int%.

            Agree that the difference in MVP credentials between Ryan and Brady is very small. Earlier this year, I liked Carr for MVP. Matt McGloin’s performance in week 17 might help me decide how critical Carr has been to the Raiders’ success.

            Incidentally, I just noticed that PFR notes that Sam Bradford’s nickname is “Sleeves”. I had never heard that before.

            • Richie

              I just noticed Aaron Rodgers has a career interception rate of 1.56%. Only 39 other QB’s have ever had a single season (min 250 attempts) of 1.56% or less.

            • WR

              Right now, Ryan is at 142 ANYPA+, Brady 138. Nobody else is above 126. So the margin between the two per play is small. If Ryan has a stinker, and Brady lights it up against Miami, he may well finish ahead of Ryan in ANYPA+ for the season. That was my point. Ryan’s big advantage is volume. This exercise illustrates why MVP awards are a bad metric for rating quarterbacks all time. Brady will finish the season with historically strong rate stats, and if he finishes 2nd to Ryan because Matty Ice had a truly historic season, we shouldn’t lose sight of how good Brady was this year.

              • That’s a generous definition of “historically strong rate stats”. His INT% is the only figure that’s really exceptional. Brady’s had a very good season, and he’d certainly be the MVP front-runner without the stupid Deflategate suspension — he might be anyway — but in a historical context, this isn’t exactly 2007.

                • WR

                  Brady’s 138 ANYPA+ figure puts him in a tie for the 12th best season since the merger, with 1984 Joe Montana, minimum 350 attempts. I’d say that’s good enough to be “historically strong”. Ryan’s season puts him within the top 8. So if Ryan’s season is historically strong and Brady’s isn’t, it’s an awfully thin margin you’re applying.

                  • In an earlier comment on this post, I wrote that “I think ‘historically great’ is overstating things” for Ryan. There’s no inconsistency here.

                    ANYPA+ is not my preferred metric. Rushing, fumbles — these things matter. Low INT% can camouflage unexceptional positive production, which is more important than avoiding negative plays. I dislike per-play stats. Volume matters, as I wrote in the Nick Foles comment earlier. I think Brady’s suspension this year was juvenile and ridiculous, but it did happen and it necessarily affects our evaluations.

                    • WR

                      Right, but my point is that if we stop looking at volume, and look at performance per play and per game, Brady and Ryan are very close. I’ve already conceded that Ryan should win the MVP. But if Ryan’s 2016 isn’t good enough, your standards may be a little too high. Brady has 5 fumbles, Ryan 4. Ryan has 57 more rushing yards. I don’t see how that changes things much.

                      “Low INT% can camouflage unexceptional positive production”

                      Brady’s iNT% isn’t just low, it’s extraordinarily so, even by his lofty standards. I don’t get how you see his positive production as unexceptional, when he’s tied with Rodgers for 2nd in the league in TD%. And if he wanted to pad his stats, Brady could easily have picked up 5-6 more TD passes instead of handing it to Blount near the goal line. I’m confident that by any metric you want to use, Ryan and Brady will rank, by a considerable distance, as the two best QBs in the league.

                    • Before this conversation continues, I would ask that you read my previous comments to this thread. I’ve been defending Brady until you came in here backing a particular horse.

                      Perhaps we have different definitions of “historically great”. TSP is my preferred metric for QBs, and Ryan’s is very good but not historically significant. Ryan has 4 fumbles in 567 plays (0.71%), Brady has 5 fumbles in 441 plays (1.13%): that’s a substantial difference, about 60%. The Falcons have more rushing TDs than New England; Ryan could easily have picked up 5-6 more TD passes instead of handing it to Freeman near the goal line. Let’s keep this intellectually honest.

                      “I’m confident that by any metric you want to use, Ryan and Brady will rank, by a considerable distance, as the two best QBs in the league.”

                      Here’s a metric: passing yards. Brady ranks 21st. Here’s another: TDs. Brady’s tied (with Blake Bortles) for 13th. First downs? 23rd.

                      Rate stats only? Brady ranks 8th in completion percentage, 8th in yards per completion, 6th in first down percentage, 3rd in TD%, and 7th in sack percentage.

                      He’s 6th in QB-TSP, which combines efficiency and production. I think that underrates him, because of the suspension, but you’re substantially overrating his case.

                    • WR

                      First of all, I have already said I would vote Ryan for MVP. So I’m not backing Brady’s horse. The point you missed about the rushing TDs, is that of Blount’s 17 rush TDs this season, 12 have been within 5 yards, and 10 have been 1 yard long. If you look at short-yardage rush TDs since 2004, NE has the most in the league. So Brady’s pass TD totals have been consistently suppressed by this factor, and that holds true in 2016 as well. Nothing I said was intellectually dishonest. We weren’t talking about Ryan’s TD total. I simply pointed out that if you’re criticizing Brady for not throwing enough TDs, the Blount factor goes a long way to explaining the answer.

                      Most of the metrics you mentioned are volume stats. Brady missed 4 games, so of course he’s doing poorly by some of those. I meant that by rate stats, Ryan and Brady are the two best in the league. You also said that ANYPA+ was insufficiently comprehensive, yet now you’re using less comprehensive metrics like completion percentage to discredit Brady’s season.

                      Brady is 3rd in QBR, 2nd in ANYPA+, 3rd in DVOA, 1st in PFF grade, 2nd in TAY/P, and 2nd in marginal TAY, despite missing four entire games. So fine, he’s top 3 in all of those things. And he’s done all of that with the support of a rushing attack that ranks 25th in yards per attempt, and after losing his best receiver to injury. That looks like a mighty fine season to me, and I stand by my original assertion: Ryan’s edge over Brady in rate stats, is small. If Brady isn’t the MVP, he’s definitely the runner-up, and the only guy ahead of him is having a historically great season.

                    • You’re a Patriots fan and a Brady fan — of course you’re backing Brady’s horse. Why did you use 2004 as a cutoff for short-yardage rush TDs?

                      When I wrote about positive production, that includes TDs, but also yards and first downs, where Brady’s rates are good but not special.

                      ” I meant that by rate stats, Ryan and Brady are the two best in the league.”

                      Brady ranks 8th in completion percentage, 8th in yards per completion, 6th in first down percentage, 3rd in TD%, and 7th in sack percentage.

                      “I’m confident that by any metric you want to use, Ryan and Brady will rank, by a considerable distance, as the two best QBs in the league.”

                      What did I misunderstand about this statement?

                      “You also said that ANYPA+ was insufficiently comprehensive”

                      Not true. I said I don’t like it. I don’t like ANY/A, and I think per-play stats are stupid. You keep saying that Ryan and Brady are having “historically great seasons”. What do you think is a historically great season? I think your standard is much, much lower than mine.

                      Ten years from now, are you going to remember Matt Ryan’s 2016 as anything other than a very good season? I’m not. Manning in ’04, Brady in ’07 — these are historically great seasons.

                    • WR

                      Clearly I’ve struck a nerve. Brad is very knowledgable, but clearly has a subjective dislike of Brady, which sometimes hurts the quality of his arguments. What’s wrong with being a Brady fan? And as I’ve already explained, I’m not backing the Brady horse. I would vote Ryan for MVP over Brady. Happy?

                      The point about the metrics is that you said anypa wasn’t comprehensive enough, but now you’re using less comprehensive metrics to build your case against Brady. That’s inconsistent. I used the 2004 cutoff for the rush TDs because prior to that point, the trend didn’t exist. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but the Patriots have by far the most short yardage rush TDs in the league since the start of the 2004 season. The implications of that fact on Brady’s stats are obvious. Sorry if that’s not the answer you want.

                      “I’m confident that by any metric you want to use, Ryan and Brady will rank, by a considerable distance, as the two best QBs in the league.”

                      What did I misunderstand about this statement?”

                      I was talking about any comprehensive metrics, since you had previously declared ANYPA and ANYPA+ insufficiently so. I then provided several examples, like TAY/P and DVOA. He’s merely top 3 in some of those, so you’ve got me there. But my underlying point, that Brady is near the top of the league in every comprehensive rate metric I can find, still stands.

                      Here’s what you said about ANY/A: “ANYPA+ is not my preferred metric. Rushing, fumbles- these things matter.” This statement clearly implied that ANYPA isn’t comprehensive enough, but it’s true you didn’t use that word.

                      To close, I think your standards are artificially high. If you’re only going to consider 2-3 seasons as historically great, you’re missing the bigger picture. Ryan has had a fantastic season, as has Brady. I don’t know what more, within realistic expectation, you want these guys to do.

                    • Struck a nerve? What makes you think so? I clearly have a subjective dislike of Brady? That’s laughable. I’ve been defending Brady throughout this thread, until you started making untenable arguments on his behalf. You’re a Brady fan; I don’t have a dog in this fight. You have no credibility on this subject.

                    • WR

                      What, specifically, makes my arguments untenable? My claim that you have a subjective dislike of Brady (perhaps I should have said that in the past, you have judged his career too harshly) is based on things you have previously written here and elsewhere.

                      Ryan has been the best QB, statistically, in the NFL this season. Brady has been the 2nd-best, and the margin between the two, on a per-game and per-play basis, is small. What part of that statement do you disagree with?

                    • WR

                      This exchange with Oremland is another example of how, if you come into a forum like this one and point out something like that Brady’s having an MVP-level season, you’ll be treated like a raving lunatic. Brad won’t accept the evidence I’ve already provided that shows Ryan and Brady are close per play, such as the ANYPA+ figures. Brad wants to focus on other things, like the fact that Brady’s fumble rate is 0.42% higher than Ryan’s. That means very little in the grand scheme of things, and it’s a tiny advantage for Ryan.

                      It just seems like Brad is upset that I have made strong arguments against his own. I don’t appreciate having my credibility questioned simply for having a different opinion. I’ve backed up everything I’ve said with numbers and substance, so I don’t know what the source of my credibility problem is, other than the fact that we disagree.

                    • Not that Brad needs anyone standing up for him, but from an outside observer who just read the entire exchange from start to finish:

                      Brad said he disliked ANY/A for a number of reasons. He then listed 3.
                      1. it doesn’t include rushing.
                      2. It places equal emphasis on avoiding negative plays and making positive plays, while he thinks the latter is more important than the former.
                      3. He dislikes all rate stats in general and thinks volume should be incorporated.

                      You latched onto that first reason, restated it as “ANY/A is insufficiently comprehensive”, and completely ignored points #2 and #3. This is a straw man argument.

                      It seems there was also some confusion over something you said. You said “I’m confident that by any metric you want to use, Ryan and Brady will rank, by a considerable distance, as the two best QBs in the league.”

                      I believe you meant this as “I’m confident that by your preferred metric”, with “you want to use” being the operative part. I believe Brad O. interpreted it as “I’m confident that by any reasonable metric”, with the “any metric” being the operative part. I believe that that confusion underpinned much of the following argument, because Brad O. demonstrated several statistics that might not have been his preferred ones, but nevertheless had Brady outside of the top 2. Regardless of this confusion, Brad O. has already stated that BY HIS PREFERRED STATISTIC, QB-TSP, Brady ranked 6th. It seems you have dismissed that because that incorporates volume, but this does not change the fact that (A) Brad believes volume should be incorporated, and (B) this is Brad’s preferred statistic.

                      Is incorporating volume unfair to Brady? No, I don’t think so; simple Bayesian inference says that the more evidence we have, the more confident we should be in our conclusions, so even if Ryan and Brady had identical rate stats– and they don’t– we should be more confident that Ryan’s rate stats represent his true level of play because of his higher volume. It’s not Brady’s fault that he doesn’t have the volume. The NFL’s suspension was a bullshit witch hunt to make up for the fact that they don’t understand how science works and can never admit they were wrong. But whether it’s Brady’s fault or not is irrelevant to the conclusion that we can have more confidence in Ryan’s performance.

                      There was also some back-and-forth about how great something has to be to be “historically great”, which is really just silliness and doesn’t change the fact that, while you disagree with Brad O.’s definition of historical greatness, he has been perfectly consistent in applying it over the years and therefore it shows no bias against Tom Brady.

                      Now, to address the substance of the post to which I am directly replying.

                      * At no point have you been treated like a raving lunatic, although I suppose raving about how you have been might seem kind of lunatic-y to someone.
                      * At no point has Brad O. rejected any evidence that Brady and Ryan are close per-play. In fact, he has acknowledged as such several times during this thread, but he is less swayed by that fact than many others given his stated belief that volume is underrated in QB comparisons.
                      * At no point has Brad O. “focused” on things like Brady’s fumble%. He has offered them in response to arguments you were making, (in this case, calling out the fact that you wanted to compare Brady’s passing stats to Ryan’s on a per-play basis, but compare Brady’s fumbles to Ryan’s on a per-season basis, which is the worst kind of statistical cake-having-and-also-eating there is.)
                      * At no point has Brad seemed particularly upset to me.
                      * As a third party reading the exchange willing to be swayed, I would suggest you are overrating the strength of your own arguments, and believe Brad O. has made the more persuasive case, (especially as regards e.g. the cake-having-and-also-eating moment on fumbles).
                      * Your credibility was not called into question because you had a different opinion, but rather because your arguments were weaker than you were giving them credit for and it appeared you were engaged in a case of motivated reasoning, a belief that is only strengthened by the observation that you definitely are motivated.

                      I’ve disagreed with Brad O. in the past. There’s an entire post on Football Perspective dedicated to one of our disagreements. (Perhaps ironically, the source of that disagreement is how much weight we give to entanglement, and his lower weight given would predispose him in this instance to be more sympathetic to Tom Brady as a player than I would be.) But while I think he’s wrong at times, I have yet to see him exhibiting the kind of emotional / irrational bias against a player that you are accusing him of here with Brady, and I have certainly never seen him react to disagreement with a reflexive need to discredit.

                      My take is that he has a lot of opinions, but those opinions flow perhaps more than anyone else’s I’ve seen from the evidence of his studies and not vice versa, (i.e. the evidence of his studies flowing around his preexisting opinions).

                    • Adam

                      Well done, sir.

                    • WR

                      Ok Kibbles, since you’re now part of this discussion, first of all, I don’t agree with your take on Brady’s INT rate at all. You should acknowledge that over the last 9-10 seasons, Brady and Rodgers have been by far the best in the league at avoiding interceptions. The numbers suggest it is skill related, and that those two are the best.

                      Now, to what you said in response to my post. First, I want to say that I really respect Brad’s knowledge of the game and its history. I’ve learned a lot from reading his material in the past. The fact that I disagree with him in this instance does not change any of that. We disagree about the standard necessary for a season to be historically great, and that’s fine. Let’s set that aside. When I used the term raving lunatic, I was frustrated and exaggerating. I should have used less colorful language. But I wasn’t referring to just this one encounter, but others on this same forum that also left me frustrated.

                      I think you are confused about the fumble stats. Both anypa and the QBs fumble rates were presented as rate stats for the entire season. There was no inconsistency on my part. They are all per-play stats. Brad’s claim that ANYPA+ is incomplete, but that we should focus on the fact that Brady’s fumble rate is 0.42% higher than Ryan’s, and that Ryan gains 2 more rush yards per game. Those facts have almost no value in trying to separate the two. I didn’t want to talk about the fumble stats, Brad did.

                      Here’s the quote from Brad that I particularly disagree with: “you’re substantially overstating his case.”

                      Brad is talking about Brady’s case for MVP. I believe Brady is a close 2nd to Ryan, and I think Brad is being unrealistic in his assessment. Oremland is saying that Brady can’t be the MVP because he’s only 6th in TSP. If that’s the only stat Brad wants to use, fine. I guess we will just disagree. But expecting a guy who missed 25% of the season to outperform his peers not just in rate stats, but also volume, is hopelessly unrealistic. If you look at other stats besides TSP, Brady is very close to Ryan in many of them. He’s right behind Ryan in QBR, 2nd to Ryan in TAY/P, 3rd in DVOA (and 1st in unadjusted VOA), 1st in PFF grade, and second in marginal Total Adjusted Yards per Play. This last example is particularly illuminating, because it encompasses both rate stats and volume. Brady is ahead of Drew Brees in marginal TAY/P, despite the fact that Brees has had 223 more plays. That’s insane.

                      So Brady’s rate stats are excellent, though in some cases, not quite as good as Ryan’s. But Brady has done all of that despite playing with Gronk for just 5 games, relying on a rush offense that is 25th in yards per attempt and 19th in rush DVOA, and has even played through injury against the Jets and Rams. That sounds like an MVP-caliber season to me, and I think Brad is really selling Brady short. If Brady’s not the runner-up for MVP behind Ryan, who is?

                      Part of what got me frustrated, Kibbles, is that I didn’t appreciate having my credibility questioned and being accused of being intellectually dishonest, when I’ve worked very hard to back up my arguments with substance that is well-researched. If you guys disagree with me, fine. But be respectful.

                      While I have your attention Kibbles, I’d like to ask what you were once asked on twitter. What would Brady have to do to move past Manning all time for you? Brady is very close to Manning in rate stats, and will likely move much closer to him in volume stats. But Manning played nearly half his games in a dome or retractable roof stadium, Brady just 8%. Brady has played in cold weather far more often, and Peyton has had star receivers downfield every year of his career. For most of his career, particularly 2004-2015, Brady consistently played tougher opposing defenses.

                      So given that all of those things are true, how can Manning still be ahead of Brady by a significant margin? Even if Manning is number one, Brady has to be at least top 3 right? I don’t see how it could be otherwise. Also, I would like to ask Adam Steele if he’s willing to retract his previous claims that Brady can’t throw downfield effectively, or that he needs Gronk or Moss in order to put up big numbers. Adam, are you now willing to admit you were wrong about those things? I don’t particularly care about all-time rankings, but so many of the rest of you do. So I’d appreciate answers to those questions.

                    • eag97a

                      TB probably has to match the number of reg. season MVPs and All-Pros before PM supporters can admit that they are somewhat equal. TB also has to break all PM career records. We all know that those won’t happen.

                    • You’re taking the conversation in two separate directions. Rather than Fiske the whole thing, I’m going to make two separate replies to keep things clean.

                      “Here’s the quote from Brad that I particularly disagree with: “you’re substantially overstating his case.”

                      Brad is talking about Brady’s case for MVP. I believe Brady is a close 2nd to Ryan, and I think Brad is being unrealistic in his assessment. ”

                      I agree with Brad. Suggesting that Brady is close to Matt Ryan is substantially overstating his case.

                      I believe that Matt Ryan has been better than Tom Brady on a per-play and per-game basis. DVOA has Ryan 1st at 38% and Brady 3rd at 31%. QBR has Ryan 1st at 82.2 and Brady tied for 2nd at 81.9. ANY/A has Ryan at 8.90 and Brady at 8.72 (despite a huge SOS difference in Brady’s favor). Brian Frye has Ryan ahead in TAY/P, VAL/P, NTAY/P, and NVAL/P. PFF grade is the only stat I’m aware of where he leads Matt Ryan.

                      So given that Matt Ryan has been better than Tom Brady on a per-play and per-game basis, even if by just 0.00001%, the fact that he will finish the season with 33% more games played means he will be at a minimum 33% more valuable than Tom Brady. This is not a “close second”. This daylight second. This is a boat race.

                      Marginal TAY is the perfect illustration of that. You were effusive in your praise of Tom Brady for managing to rank second in this statistic because it incorporates volume. You kind of failed to mention that he’s second by SIXTY PERCENT, as Matt Ryan has added more value than Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers combined.

                      And Tom can’t blame this on his missed time. Matt Ryan averages 121.7 Marginal TAY per game. Tom Brady averages 103.5. That alone is a 17.5% difference. Even on a per-game basis Marginal TAY doesn’t think the MVP race should be close. But when the better guy is also playing 33% more games, we’re left with the second-place guy getting absolutely blown off the map. There are no adjustments you can make to overcome this kind of crushing advantage, and the ones you’d be most tempted to make, (*cough* schedule adjustments), favor Ryan anyway.

                      “But expecting a guy who missed 25% of the season to outperform his peers not just in rate stats, but also volume, is hopelessly unrealistic.”

                      Congratulations on perfectly summing up why guys who miss 25% of the season don’t win MVP.

                    • “While I have your attention Kibbles, I’d like to ask what you were once asked on twitter. What would Brady have to do to move past Manning all time for you?”

                      I believe I’ve answered this for, but Twitter searches are awful, as are character limits, so I’m happy to go in-depth.

                      For starters, the fact that Brady is close to Manning in rate stats doesn’t mean too much to me. Passing efficiency has been on an inexorable upward trend for decades now, with two quantum leaps forward in 2004 and 2011. Only 63.9% of Manning’s passing attempts came after that first quantum leap, and only 23.1% have come after that second. For Brady, those figures are 81.2% and 42.5%, respectively. They’re viewed as contemporaries, but the average Tom Brady pass attempt has come in a noticeably more pass-friendly environment than the average Peyton Manning pass attempt.

                      How much difference does this make? Not a ton, but it’s not nothing, either. For his career, Tom Brady’s ANY/A is 7.08 and Peyton Manning’s is 7.17. Tom Brady’s ANY/A+ is 118 and Peyton Manning’s is 120. They overlapped as starters from 2001 to 2015, but the rest of Manning’s career numbers came from 1998 to 2000 while the rest of Brady’s will come from 2016+, and there’s no doubt that 2016 is a significantly friendlier passing environment than the late ’90s.

                      Someone could argue the dome / retractable roof stuff, but I’d need to see some numbers on that. I’ve seen people point out that Manning / Brees etc. have better numbers in dome games. Most of the time they fail to account for the fact that dome games are home games and non-dome games are road games, which I suspect drives much of the difference. It’s like “Manning’s performance in cold-weather” narrative really just being “Manning’s performance in late-season road games against the Patriots/Steelers”, because that was the bulk of the cold weather games he played.

                      Manning’s schedule might have been easier, (I haven’t looked at it before, TBH), but Manning also showed a lot better in schedule-adjusted stats. Manning and Brady both played in twelve seasons between 2001 and 2014. Manning had the better DVOA in eight of them, (Brady won in 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2012). QBR adjusts for schedule now, too, and Manning is the king of QBR.

                      Manning also dominates in 1st down percentage, which is the single most important stat that gets totally ignored in QB evaluation. From an offense’s standpoint, the only three things that matter are yards, first downs, and touchdowns; insofar as touchdowns are a special category of first downs, you could really say it’s all about the yards and the first downs. And yet all player analysis is hyper-focused on yards and completely ignores first downs, even though they’re probably the more important of the two. (PFR’s play query was bogging down on me, but Bryan or Adam could give you details on the first down disparity between the two.)

                      When comparing their advantages and disadvantages, you neglected to mention that Brady played on a team that was content to run up the score, while Manning routinely rested late in the season. Brady set the TD record with 50 in a season where his coach routinely had him in and throwing late into the 4th quarter with a 20+ point lead. Peyton Manning set it with 49 in a season where his coach sat him for basically the entire season finale, as well as for stretches of blowouts throughout the season. In 2007 alone, Brady had three TD passes while up by 21+ in the fourth. For his entire career, Manning has four of them, (Brady’s mark stands at 13). That’s not a gerrymandered cutoff, that’s the first query that came to mind– I’m confident that similar queries will return similar results.

                      You also neglected to mention Tom Brady’s biggest advantage. He spent his entire career, from day 1, playing for arguably the greatest coach in the history of football.

                      If you followed my NVB / Graham debate with Brad O., you know that one of the biggest things for me is entanglement. Football is by far the most entangled sport, so I place a high value on someone who has excelled in a variety of situations, because I have more confidence that this excellence is something intrinsic to the player himself. The big example I use is Jake Plummer: from 1998 to 2002 he had an ANY/A+ of 89, which ranked 35th of the 36 passers with 800+ attempts ahead of only Tim Couch. From 2003 to 2005 he had an ANY/A+ of 116, which ranked 4th of the 34 passers with 600+ attempts, (behind Peyton, Green, and Culpepper).

                      What happened? Plummer changed teams. So that’s the illustration of just how much of an impact supporting cast and coaching staff can make– it can result in a swing from a bottom-5 to a top-5 quarterback. Entanglement is *huge*.

                      Part of the reason I like NVB over Graham is that Graham spent his entire career playing for one of the top 5 coaches of all time with one of the most consistently-great defenses ever assembled and surrounded by a cadre of Hall of Famers on offense. NVB had plenty of help of his own– Hall of Famers at WR, some of the most influential coaches in history. But he still succeeded on two different teams, with two sets of teammates. Prior to Manning, he was the only player to win an NFL championship on two different teams. He basically was his own coach in his stint with the Eagles. (One of the conditions the Eagles granted Buck Shaw to get him back into coaching was that he wouldn’t have to do anything during the offseason; Van Brocklin would run things during that span.)

                      So, given how close their rate stats were, (practically identical, really), I give a slight edge to the guy who had less entanglement.

                      The problem for Tom Brady is there’s little realistic chance he can demonstrate he’s entanglement-proof at this point. We’re not going to see him without Bill Belichick. And that’s not his fault, but this isn’t about blame or fault. This is about how confident I can be in someone’s intrinsic greatness, and I’m more confident in Peyton’s intrinsic greatness. The dude won MVP on two different teams. He went to four Super Bowls with four different coaches! How does Brady match this? How does anyone match this?

                      The other problem for Tom Brady is that I tend to be very peak-heavy when evaluating players. Peyton isn’t the GOAT for me because he owns the career records. He’s the GOAT because I’ve never seen any QB play better than Peyton played in 2004, and then he came back as an old man a decade later, returning from a surgery that no one has ever come back from, and put up another of the top 10 or 20 QB seasons of all time.

                      In seasons they both played, Peyton Manning had 6 AP All Pros to 2 for Brady. Peyton had 5 MVPs to Brady’s 2, and that’s ignoring the fact that I think his 2006 season was also as good as any season of Brady’s career to this point, including 2007. In the ten years he played from 2003 to 2013, Peyton Manning received 44% of all MVP votes, which is incomprehensible. (If you want to exclude 2008 because Brady was out, Manning hauled in 41.8%. And again, this is despite only getting 2 MVP votes for 2006 in one of the top-10 QB seasons of all time.)

                      So it’s hard for me to say what Brady would have to do to pass Manning. Leaving New England and winning MVP with another team and another coach would go a long way. If he stays in New England, it might take another four MVP-caliber years, especially if one of them was better than 2007. It’s hard to say.

                      As for whether I rank him top-3 all-time… like I said, it’s hard to say especially while he’s still playing. I’m inclined to say no, just because entanglement weighs that heavily for me. I’m not sure I’d rank Joe Montana that high, either, for the same reason, and Joe Montana *did* give us a successful stint with the Chiefs! People think that’s crazy, which is fine. I have my methods, they have theirs. I’m less concerned with whether it’s crazy and more concerned with whether it’s intellectually consistent.

                      Oh, one last point regarding entanglement. You said you wanted Adam to admit that Tom Brady is not reliant on Rob Gronkowski to put up huge numbers. Since 2010, Brady averages 291 yards, 2.22 TDs, 0.45 INTs, and 8.01 yards per attempt in the 86 games Gronk played. He averages 260 yards, 1.81 TDs, 0.67 INTs, and 6.86 yards per attempt in the 21 games Gronk missed. That’s “only” 4155 yards and 29 TDs per 16 games, which when paired with a sub-7 YPA average do not, to me, qualify as “big numbers”. Not in today’s NFL.

                      This year alone, Brady is on pace for 5123 yards and 37 TDs with 9.1 yards per attempt in games Gronk played and 4342 yards, 35 TDs, and 7.47 yards per attempt in games Gronk missed. Per Football Outsiders, Tom Brady averages a DVOA of 138.6% on throws to Gronk and 20.9% on throws to everyone else; Gronk alone added 10% to his DVOA for the year. (Matt Ryan, by comparison, averages 64.2% DVOA on throws to Julio, 30.8% on throws to everyone else, and 38.3% overall; he’s been about as good throwing to his non-Julio targets as Brady has been throwing to everyone, including Gronk.)

                      A) This is the power of entanglement.
                      B) This is why Adam is reluctant to retract his previous claim that Brady needs Moss or Gronk to put up big numbers.

                      If Gronk missed an entire season and Brady was still in the MVP discussion, that would also be a strong point in his favor in the comparison to Peyton Manning.

                    • Adam

                      Career Marginal First Downs:

                      Manning – 629
                      Brees – 339
                      Brady – 322

                      Manning has the four highest 1D% seasons since it was first recorded in 1991:
                      45.5% (2004)
                      42.7% (2013)
                      42.2% (2006)
                      41.9% (2005)

                      Matt Ryan’s 41.7% this year is higher than any Brady season (40.6% in 2011). Brady in 2016 was a distant fourth at 36.5%

                    • Thanks, Adam. I didn’t even realize it was that pronounced. I’m assuming “marginal first downs” = (1D% – lg avg 1D%) * attempts, right? Is league average calculated on a season-by-season basis? How stable is first down percentage from year to year?

                      Also, if you don’t mind, what’s the career 1D% for Manning, Brees, Brady, (as well as any other notable QBs you can think of like Rodgers, Steve Young, etc.)

                    • Adam

                      No problem. You have the calculation right, except that I use dropbacks instead of attempts. The baseline is established individually for each season, excluding all passes by non-QB’s. So for Matt Ryan this year, (.417 – .328) * 571 = 50.7 Mrg1D

                      Notable Career 1D% (Mrg1D):

                      Peyton – 37.7% (+629)
                      Young – 36.7% (+217)
                      Rivers – 36.2% (+253)
                      Romo – 36.0% (+183)
                      Ben – 35.7% (+236)
                      Warner – 35.7% (+201)
                      Brees – 35.5% (+339)
                      Brady – 35.4% (+322)
                      Ryan – 35.4% (+168)
                      Rodgers – 34.5% (+115)
                      Palmer – 34.5% (+164)
                      Favre – 33.3% (+267)
                      Elisha – 31.9% (-7)
                      Flacco – 31.1% (-55)
                      McNabb – 30.0% (-60)

                    • (Also, would I be correct in assuming Ryan’s 41.7% is the fifth-highest average since 1991, or are there other seasons that squeeze into that tiny gap?)

                    • Adam

                      Actually, Kurt Warner’s 2000 comes in fractionally ahead at 41.7%

                    • Bruddog Tecmo

                      The big difference has been in the defenses they’ve faced…when you adjust for those the net numbers are not as close. In Football Outsiders VOA its basically a dead heat with Brady at 34.5% and Ryan at 33.4%. ESPN’s QBR also has it as a virtual dead heat.

                      However in the defense adjusted DVOA Ryan is at 38% and Brady is at 31%

                      When everyone is healthy ATL has the slightly better skill players but its close honestly. NE has the better coaching and defense by far.

                    • Richie

                      The Patriots also have by far the most short yardage *plays* in the league since 2004. Looking at just plays from the 1-yard line, only Denver and Detroit have attempted more *passes* from the 1-yard line than New England. There are quite a few teams that attempt runs more frequently than New England’s 75% (Buf, Was, NYJ, Car, Cin, Chi, Tam, SF, KC).

                      If you expand “short yardage” to include anything from inside the 5-yard line, then New England ranks 5th in pass attempts (behind Ind, NO, GB, Den). New England ranks 6th in run frequency (behind SF, KC, Car, NYJ, Hou).

                      So, while New England does run more often than anybody else in short goal-line situations, it’s because they are inside the 5-yard line more often than anybody else. I guess Brady could have more touchdown passes if they chose to pass more often. But it’s not like he’s hurting for opportunity.

                      Of course, we have to give Brady credit for being the QB who gets his team down to the goal line so often.

                      Incidentally, Tampa Bay has the best TD% (55.5%) on pass plays inside the 5-yard line. New England is second at 48.2%. The difference between TB and NE ( 7.3%) is larger than the difference between New England (2nd) and Cleveland (24th).

                    • WR

                      Those are some interesting numbers Richie, thanks. If you wanted to take this further, you could try to determine how frequently across the league teams produce rushing TDs within five yards of the end zone. Then, you could look at how frequently each team gets to within five yards of a TD, and create something like Expected Rush TDs. Once you had those numbers, it would tell you which teams hand off near the goal line more often than the league average, and which less often.

                      I don’t have the time to undertake that study, but if you produced the numbers, I would be interested to see the results.

                    • Adam

                      “Low INT% can camouflage unexceptional positive production, which is more important than avoiding negative plays.”

                      This is very important. Sam Bradford is currently hovering around league average in ANY/A, but that greatly overstates his production. His ANY/A is only that high because he obsessively avoids interceptions; this style of play is a detriment to his team, as the Vikings rank near the bottom in yards and points per drive. As for Brady, my hunch is that he could throw twice as many INT’s without really hurting his team’s success at all.

          • Yes, I see plenty of positives in one of the five best QB’s ever. It’s less that I “hate” him as it is that I can’t stand his fanboys who take it as a personal affront not to opine that he’s the greatest ever. Passing no judgment as to whether you qualify, of course.

            As for this season, I don’t know whether a slight efficiency edge in a 33% larger sample amounts to a “vast gulf.” It’s enough of a gulf that the headwinds the other way, e.g. in the ESPN mock vote, are deeply irritating.

            • WR

              Saying Brady is one of the 5 best ever, at this point, amounts to a bare minimum. Who are the 4 guys you would put ahead of him? I’m not saying Brady has to be ranked number one, but I’ve felt for a long time that he will likely be deserving of the top spot by the time he’s finished playing, and I still feel that way. Montana and Manning have set the bar very high, but I believe Brady is capable of clearing it.

              Saying that Brady might be the best ever isn’t the product of some fanboy delusion. It’s just facing reality, and if you want me to take the time to lay out my case, I’d be happy to do so.

              • There’s been plenty of the all-time talk elsewhere that needs no rehashing in the comments of a post about Matt Ryan.
                And I didn’t say I minded people having him #1. I mind the people who have him #1 and throw around insults at those who don’t. You can’t say those people don’t exist.

      • Richie

        I really hate the Zeke argument, since some people think Prescott is also a candidate. It seems to me that if any potential MVP candidate is on a team with another potential candidate, then neither of them is realistically the most valuable player in the league.

        And I don’t see how Brady can be the MVP if the team went 3-1 in his absence, with Garoppolo putting up similar rate stats. I’m not saying that Brady is less than great, but the rest of the team must be pretty strong for Garoppolo to look nearly as good.

        • Adam

          That’s my primary argument against Brady, both this year and in a historical sense. NE would still have a good shot at winning the SB with Garoppolo, whereas ATL would fall flat with Schaub replacing Ryan. It’s worth noting that NE is 14-6 with Brady’s replacements since 2008, which still puts them among the best teams in the league. That says a great deal about the dominant team Brady has had around him for years.

          • Tom

            Hate to be the one to further this discussion – God knows the “Brady or Belichick’s System?” topic has been beaten to death – but my take on this is that there’s just no solid answer to this (if we’re in fact looking for one). Adam’s point can’t be argued, the numbers are there – when Brady is out, the Pats somehow still win a majority of their games. OK, so maybe they’re not crushing teams, but they still win. But it’s also true that Brady is really, really, really good…there is no discussing that either. So you just have this ridiculous situation where a QB, who might possibly be the GOAT, is on a team that can still win when their QB, who might possibly be the GOAT, isn’t on the field. It’s insane, and it’s why they win, year after year after year.

            The only thing I feel comfortable saying (and I haven’t looked at the numbers as closely as you and Brad have) is that Brady is probably slightly less “great” than his wins indicate (while other QB’s might be slightly better than their wins indicate).

            Getting back to the point, I’m in agreement that Matt Ryan is more valuable to the Falcons than Brady is to the Pats. By how much, I don’t know, maybe not much, but there’s no question in my mind.

          • WR

            You’re focusing on the fact that the Patriots have a very good team, particularly a very good defense, this season. But this is the best defense NE has had since probably 2006. In fact, in the period between 2001-2015, Peyton Manning’s defenses have ranked slightly higher in DVOA than Brady’s defenses. And Manning has had much more talented offenses around him, for most of his career, than Brady.

            The common thread since 2001 has been the QB. You’re also ignoring the fact that the Patriots only became a juggernaut after Brady took over, and after his individual passing stats improved in the 2nd half of 2003. That’s not a coincidence.

            Critics like Adam have previously said that Brady can’t throw deep, and that he only succeeds because of Gronkowski. But this year he has continued to put up big numbers after Gronk got hurt, and is rated by football outsiders as the best deep passer in the league this season. And he would rate even higher if he had a deep threat as talented as Julio Jones. I don’t know what you want the guy to do. Brady is not the overrated system QB you say he is.

            • Tom

              WR – your comments are directed towards Adam, and so he can answer them, but I have to ask: how in the hell was it possible for the Pats to go 11-5 in 2008 with Matt Cassel? This doesn’t “prove” anything, but it sure sticks out to me…it’s almost like we were given an opportunity to test out a theory – “Since we suspect Brady might be a system QB, let’s see what happens when we put a mediocre QB in the same system”. And then ask yourself what would have happened if Manning was injured in the same year or 2007, etc., and Cassel was put in as Colts QB. Do we honestly think the Colts would go 11-5? Did the Pats just get lucky that year? Was Cassel just lucky that year?

              So, Brady isn’t overrated…but we can’t ignore that 2008 season, or the first 4 games of this year. These things possibly give us a clue as to how/why Brady is so good, and I don’t think it diminishes his greatness at all…it just makes him human, I guess!

              • WR

                In 2008, the Patriots went 11-5 against a very easy schedule. With many of the same receivers and coaches as Brady had the year before, the offense went from 3.19 points per drive to 2.31. They beat all the weak teams on their schedule, and lost to the good teams. Cassel was very good, but he was also very good in 2010 in Kansas City, so we know it wasn’t just the Patriots system that made him so.

                What makes you think Cassel couldn’t succeed with the 2007 Colts? That team had the number one scoring defense in the league, and featured weapons like Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Anthony Gonzalez, and Joesph Addai, along with a HOF coach. I think Cassel would be just fine with that bunch. The reason the Colts were so terrible in 2011 was because their QBs were awful. With even replacement-level QB play, that team would have won a few more games.

                Judging players by what happened when they were injured is a terrible method of evaluation. Michael Jordan isn’t overrated because the Bulls won a lot of games while he was playing baseball. Montana isn’t overrated because Steve Young stepped in and put up better rate stats. Judge a player by what they did on the field. A blind man on a galloping horse can see that the Bulls and 49ers had great teams, that were made better by Jordan and Montana. The same is true of the Patriots and Brady. The Patriots are a good team without Brady. With him, they’re one of the greatest dynasties in sports history.

              • Adam

                That’s the thing – New England’s success without Brady doesn’t mean Brady isn’t an all time great QB. It just means that Bill Belichick has built an amazing roster and team culture that is strong enough to withstand even its best player being out. For what it’s worth, I have Brady at #5 on my all time ranking, so despite my criticism of him, I believe Tom Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play.

              • eag97a

                We always forget that the Pats went 5-11 in 2000 when BB was already coach. We also need toremind ourselves what BB’s record during his Cleveland years. It was ok with a playoff win but not spectacular.

          • sacramento gold miners

            I’ll concede New England is the number one seed in the AFC, but with Gronk out, they don’t have much margin for error. If something happens with Brady, and Garoppolo has to step in, the Patriots are in trouble in the playoffs. In 2008, Matt Cassel and NE hosted the eventual SB champ Steelers, and Pittsburgh won by 23.

        • I largely agree with you. But to play Devil’s Advocate for Brady— during that 3-1 start, the Patriots averaged 20.3 points per game, compared to 29.5 with Brady. Their average margin of victory was +5.0, compared to +13.6 with Brady. Some of that is SOS, but I don’t think scheme and personnel should negate Brady’s excellence. Besides Malcolm Butler, who else on that team is all-pro worthy? Maybe Marcus Cannon?

        • eag97a

          You can say he same for Joe Montana and his 1989 MVP season. He missed 3 games and Young and the 49ers went 3-0.

          • Adam

            Yes, and it’s fair to question Montana’s ’89 MVP. He had even more help than Brady, and I doubt Joe was ever truly the most valuable player in the league.

            • I don’t necessarily disagree, but whom would you suggest as the MVP in ’89?

              • Adam

                I’d go with Jim Everett. He was the second best QB statistically and went 11-5, but had far less help than Montana. IMO Bill Walsh was the most valuable person to the 49ers even after Seifert became the head coach. It’s hard for me to reconcile Montana being MVP when Young filled in and followed him with equally great (or better) performance.

                • There’s certainly a case to be made for Jim Everett. I’ve written more than once about how underrated Everett is. I’d probably go with Montana, but it’s close.

                  Curious about Walsh being the most valuable person on a team he wasn’t on. I feel like a lot of credit gets unfairly deflected from Seifert. He went 98-30 (.766) in San Francisco, had eight consecutive seasons of double-digit wins, and won a Super Bowl six years after Walsh retired.

                  • Adam

                    I view Seifert as a rich man’s Barry Switzer. He should be applauded for keeping a great thing going, but he didn’t build the 49ers dynasty. I question how much success Seifert would’ve enjoyed had he not been preceded by Walsh.

                    • I think you’re dramatically underselling Seifert. His teams in the ’90s — which would have made the Super Bowl every year in the AFC — didn’t have Joe Montana or Roger Craig or Ronnie Lott. Seifert took a distinct group of players and made them perennial contenders. There was still a lot of talent on those teams, but it takes a pretty good coach to reach five NFC Championship Games in six years and win two Super Bowls.

                    • Richie

                      Who do we blame for the 2001 Carolina Panthers having Chris Weinke and Matt Lytle as its QB’s?

                    • Is this a quip or a serious question?

                    • Richie

                      I guess mostly a quip. But relying on a 4th round rookie and an undrafted guy who never attempted a pass seems like a suicide mission.

                      On the other hand, I can’t even figure out who Peyton Manning’s backup was in 1998, so it’s not entirely unprecedented to 100% rely on a rookie QB.

                    • Kelly Holcomb

                    • Adam

                      Fair points, especially about Seifert having to fight through the superior NFC for all those years. Admittedly, I’d probably view him in a more positive light had he made five Super Bowls from the AFC instead of “just” five NFC championship games, but that’s really not fair considering the imbalance between the conferences during that era. It is indeed a slippery slope trying to figure out where one coach’s influence ends and another coach’s begins.

                      Do you give Jon Gruden credit for Tampa Bay’s SB win, or do you believe it was still Tony Dungy’s team? How about offensive-minded Brian Billick winning a SB after inheriting a world class defense? Or even Mike Martz taking over the GSOT from Vermeil?

                    • I think the coaching records of Dungy and Gruden support the idea that Gruden “won with someone else’s team”, especially since he retained Dungy’s defensive staff. But that was one year later; Bill Walsh retired in 1988 and Seifert won a Super Bowl in 1994.

                      I don’t have anything nice to say about Brian Billick, but he didn’t inherit a world class defense: he hired Marvin Lewis. That was smart. Mike Martz was a genuinely great offensive coordinator in the GSOT era. He was not a good head coach. But I don’t think 2001 had anything to do with Dick Vermeil’s legacy.

                      All these examples are guys who had a couple of good years. Seifert had eight straight seasons — out of eight — with double-digit wins, and he won two Super Bowls six years apart, with substantially different personnel. He won more regular-season games and more playoff games with the 49ers than Walsh did. And as a defensive coordinator with a lot of authority, he played a role in Walsh’s success. I might even suggest that as Walsh’s top assistant, Seifert played more part in Walsh’s success than vice versa. Probably not, but you could certainly make the argument.

                    • Adam

                      You’re winning me over on Seifert being better than I’ve previously thought.

                      The Billick / Lewis tandem brings up an interesting question: Should we give more credit to the HC for hiring a great coordinator, or do we give most of the credit to the coordinator himself? I can see both sides of this.

                • Montana at least held all the rate stat leads by huge margins (e.g. a 8.31 ANY/A vs. Everett’s second-best 7.15). Despite the missed time he held a slim DYAR lead over Everett, too. Brady just has a shiny INT%.

                  • I agree that Ryan’s season has been better, but that INT% is really shiny; Ryan throws basically three times as many. Do you think Brady’s supporting cast is as good as Ryan’s? I think the Falcons are better at every offensive position except tight end.

                    • Adam

                      I think Ryan has better offensive teammates, but Brady has a far better defense, which allows him to take fewer risks. If Brady was forced to score 30+ almost every week, it’s very likely that his INT% wouldn’t be quite as shiny.

                    • “Three times as many” doesn’t mean much when the base rate is so tiny. If my odds of getting hit by an asteroid were three times as high as yours, I wouldn’t really be losing any sleep over it.

                      According to PFR, Tom Brady’s INT%+ is 132, which is awesome. According to PFref, there are 12 guys who have had an INT%+ of 132 or better on 300 or more attempts. The list is nowhere near as impressive as one might think, because interceptions are the single most random statistic related to QB play and are a really poor measure of QB quality, especially over a single season.

                      How unimpressive of a list are we talking about? Bartkowski ’83, DeBerg ’90, Foles ’13, Unitas ’64, Garrard ’07, Griese ’00, O’Brien ’85, Simms ’90, Tarkenton ’76, Brady ’16, Gabriel ’69, Brad Johnson ’02. This might be the most garbage “all-time single-season” leaderboard I’ve ever seen, to be honest. Only three seasons by a Hall of Famer (counting Brady). Eight of the twelve players appeared in two or fewer Pro Bowls during the course of their career, (including DeBerg, who owns the record for career passing yardage by a player who never made the Pro Bowl).

                      Matt Ryan’s INT%+ is 116 this year. So Tom Brady has a lead of one standard deviation in the single statistic that is least related to the intrinsic quality of quarterback play. That plus a really nice hat rack would give him something really nice to hang his hat on.

                    • WR

                      Are you trying to argue that Brady’s success at avoiding interceptions is due to randomness? In the last 10 seasons Brady has played, he’s finished in the top 8 in the league in lowest INT pct every single year, with 7 top 5 finishes. Aaron Rodgers has 8 seasons with at least 300 pass attempts. In 6 of those seasons, Rodgers has been in the top 5 in the league in lowest INT %, and in one of the other seasons he finished 10th.

                      Rodgers is currently on a streak of 206 passes without an interception, and Brady has thrown two all season in 399 attempts, which would be the lowest figure in history for a season with at least 300 attempts. None of that suggests that interception percentage is a “random statistic”, or a “really poor measure of QB quality”.

                    • No, those hand-picked statistics do not suggest that INT% is a “random statistic”, as is true of much anecdotal evidence, which is why we say that anecdote is not data.

                      But people have performed actual analysis using real data with sample sizes larger than “Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers”. And that real data tells us that INT% is the statistic that stays least constant when a QB switches teams, which suggests it “belongs” to the QB less than any other performance stat.

                      And INT% is the statistic that stays least constant when a team switches QBs, which suggests it “belongs” to supporting cast / scheme / coaching less than any other performance stat.

                      And year-over-year correlations in a QB’s INT% are lower than correlations with every other performance stat, which suggests it’s most random and prone to fluctuations, which is consistent with what we know of INT% as a stat that doesn’t really “belong” to anyone.

                      We know that INT% takes longer to “stabilize” than any other QB stat, (with “stabilize” in this instance meaning reaching a point where it represents 50% QB skill and 50% random chance), by a factor of four or more depending on what other stat you’re comparing it to.

                      We know from confirmatory factor analysis that not only is INT% the least reliable statistic, but that insofar as it *IS* reliable it appears to be measuring something distinct from what we think of as “greatness” entirely.

                      We know that INT% routinely produces the least-impressive leaderboards. The top 25 quarterbacks all-time in era-adjusted YPA is stocked with the best quarterbacks to ever play. The top 25 quarterbacks all-time in era-adjusted INT% is… not.

                      This Storify contains a link to all research cited: https://storify.com/AdamHarstad/why-i-don-t-like-int

                    • WR

                      I agree with what Brad said about interception percentage. The career list in INT%+ includes players like Montana, Rodgers, Brady, Staubach, McNabb, Anderson, Steve Young, Gannon, Tarkenton, Dawson, Wilson, and Marino. That’s not a bunch of stiffs. What Kibbles doesn’t seem to understand about Brady and Rodgers is that it’s not just avoiding interceptions that makes them great. It’s doing that in addition to all the other stuff they do to help their teams.

                      Are the amazing td-int ratios (Brady just broke the season record again today) achieved by Rodgers and Brady partly a function of their teams and offensive schemes? Sure. But that’s also true of the TD rates achieved by Manning and Marino, as well as the yards per attempt figure Ryan is putting up this year. Julio Jones has really helped boost that particular number, though I’m well aware that Ryan’s numbers throwing to other guys is still very impressive.

                      Kibbles is also ignoring that even if you leave out interceptions, Brady’s stats this year are still fantastic. His rate stats are almost as good as his 2007 16-0 season.

                    • WR

                      I also just noticed that Kibbles said this on twitter: “Both rode a phenomenal INT% and solid everything else to high showings in all compound stats that incorporated INT%.” He’s talking about Brady’s 2016 season and Brian Griese’s 2000 season.

                      Brady came into week 17 ranked 2nd in the league in net ypa, at 7.71, and a NYPA+ figure of 130. I’d say those numbers, which don’t include interceptions, are a lot better than “solid”, and by any reasonable definition, count as a “high showing”.

                    • Here’s your obsession with arguing definitions again. Brad O. wasn’t appropriately respectful because he didn’t call Tom Brady’s rate stats “historically strong”, (nevermind that he was perfectly consistent in his application of the term). I’m being disrespectful because on a platform where my characters are limited to 140 I lumped Brady’s z-scores of 114, 124, 122, 120, and 130 together, (those are all stats other than INT% and those that directly incorporate it), and collectively called them “solid”.

                      Nevermind, of course, that I literally included a screenshot of every single statistical finish for both Tom Brady and Brian Griese to let readers draw their own conclusions.

                      Nevermind that Brian Griese netted a 125 in both comp% and NY/A as well and you don’t seem to object to me calling those solid. I suppose it’s that the breakpoint between “solid” and “high showing” occurs between 125 and 130, and not because you’re motivated by fandom to enhance Tom Brady’s greatness. Had Griese’s comp% been a percent or two higher, doubtless you’d be here defending him, too.

                      If it makes you more comfortable, insert a mental “or better” after “solid” in that tweet. As I said, with a 140-character limit, I typically strive to be understandably concise rather than pedantically accurate, and I think my meaning came through just fine. If not, my apologies.

                      Actually, here, just to avoid any confusion whatsoever, I’ll reproduce the full chart that I already screenshotted right here.

                      Brady – 11 g, 399 Att, 114 C%+, 124 Y/A+, 122 TD%+, 132 INT%+, 131 Rate+, 120 Sack+, 132 AY/A+, 130 NY/A+, 138 ANY/A+
                      Griese – 10 g, 336 Att, 125 C%+, 123 Y/A+, 121 TD%+, 133 INT%+, 135 Rate+, 113 Sack+, 134 AY/A+, 125 NY/A+, 135 ANY/A+

                      Once again, I’ll leave any inference-drawing as an exercise for the reader.

                    • Yea, but Brady got dem rings tho.

                    • The career list *includes* those guys, but it does not *consist* of those guys. There are a lot of pretty good, decent, and outright JAG QBs on it, too. In fact, here’s the top 10 players in career era-adjusted INT%, (minimum 3000 attempts, a value I selected randomly just to have some sort of filter. This cutoff gave me 95 names).

                      1. Roman Gabriel
                      2. Joe Montana
                      3. Aaron Rodgers
                      4. Tom Brady
                      5. Bernie Kosar
                      6. Neil Lomax
                      7. Neil O’Donnell
                      8. Ken O’Brien
                      9. Donovan McNabb
                      10. Ken Anderson

                      Yes, Montana / Rodgers / Brady all show up in the top five, and they’re all arguably among the top 10 QBs to ever play. (Brady and Montana inarguably, Rodgers is the arguably.) But Roman Gabriel is your #1 all-time? Bernie Kosar and Ken O’Brien and two different guys named Neil? Does this really look like an all-time top-10 list?

                      Here’s the same list for era-adjusted AY/A, (which, it should be noted, incorporates INT%. I would have used ANY/A, but we only have sack data back so far).

                      1. Steve Young
                      2. Aaron Rodgers
                      3. Joe Montana
                      4. Tom Brady
                      5. Len Dawson
                      6. Peyton Manning
                      7. Tony Romo
                      8. Kurt Warner
                      9. Ben Roethlisberger
                      10. Ken Anderson

                      Now, obviously that’s not a perfect list, either. But it’s a hell of a lot better, right? I mean, if I gave someone that first list and said it was my top 10 QBs in NFL history, I’d get institutionalized. If I gave them my second list, they’d be asking where Johnny Unitas and Dan Marino were and laughing at the inclusion of Tony Romo, but it’s at least a credible list, right?

                      In Brad O.’s all-time QB rankings, all ten of those guys finished in the top 40: Manning (1), Montana (5), Brady (7), Young (8), Rodgers, (21) Dawson (23), Anderson (29), Warner (32), Romo (34), and Roethlisberger (39), for an average ranking of just under 20.

                      The guys on the INT% list? Montana (5), Brady (7), Rodgers (21), McNabb (24), Anderson (29), Gabriel (37), Kosar (53-101), Lomax (53-101), O’Brien (53-101), O’Donnell (outside the top 101). So again, if INT% is measuring something intrinsic to player quality, that something is far less correlated with actual greatness than yards per attempt or TD%.

                      What Kibbles doesn’t seem to understand about Brady and Rodgers is that it’s not just avoiding interceptions that makes them great. It’s doing that in addition to all the other stuff they do to help their teams.

                      No, what you don’t seem to understand about Brady and Rodgers is that all of that other stuff they do to help their teams is what makes Brady and Rodgers great, and the avoiding INTs part is a (much less important) cherry on top. Rodgers has the highest era-adjusted TD% and the 5th-highest era-adjusted YPA of any QB with 3000 pass attempts. That’s why he’s great. If he had the sterling TD%/YPA without the sterling INT%, he’d still be great. If he had the sterling INT% without the sterling TD%/YPA, he would not be great.

                      Case in point: the four highest era-adjusted INT%s by a QB with a below-league-average TD% are Roman Gabriel, Neil O’Donnell, Bernie Kosar, and Ken O’Brien. The four highest era-adjusted TD%s by a QB with a below-league-average INT% are Terry Bradshaw, Brett Favre, Kurt Warner, and Jim Kelly. You tell me which is the important statistic here.

                      Kibbles is also ignoring that even if you leave out interceptions, Brady’s stats this year are still fantastic. His rate stats are almost as good as his 2007 16-0 season.
                      I am not and have not ignored that. Several times I have acknowledged that they’re very nearly– but not quite– as good as those of the guy who should be league MVP in a landslide this year.

                    • WR

                      Interception percentage probably isn’t as useful as more comprehensive metrics, which is what your example lists show. I agree with that. Where you lose me is with the claim that INT % is a “really poor measure of QB quality”. That suggests INT % is misleading, which I don’t agree with. I think TD% is more reliable than INT %, but that list has some flaws, too. The top 10 since 1950 with at least 2000 attempts includes Frank Ryan, Lamonica, Dawson, Bradshaw, and also rates guys like Danny White, Bob Griese, Grogan, and Krieg ahead of Tarkenton, Fouts, and Unitas. So clearly ay/a or any/a work better. I don’t see why that means we have to disregard the historic things Rodgers and Brady are doing with regard to interceptions.

                      I don’t understand why you tried to show how INT% was weak by using a stat, ay/a, that incorporates interception percentage. That’s a poor argument, and your underlying point is one I agree with anyway. I’m not arguing that Rodgers is great just because of the INT %. But the fact that he has a historic int rate in addition to everything else, is what makes him and Brady the two best QBs in the league over the last 10 seasons. He’d still be great without the INT%, but not AS great.

                      I don’t agree that Ryan wins the MVP vote by a “landslide”. In summarizing Brady’s season, I agree with what Michael Renner of Pro Football Focus said:

                      “Tom Brady may still come up short in the MVP voting after missing the first four games of the season, but he did everything in his power over the 12 games he saw the field this year to win the award.”

                    • Interception percentage probably isn’t as useful as more comprehensive metrics, which is what your example lists show. I agree with that. Where you lose me is with the claim that INT % is a “really poor measure of QB quality”. That suggests INT % is misleading, which I don’t agree with.

                      It suggests nothing of the sort. It suggests only that the correlation between INT% and QB quality is far weaker than the correlation between virtually any other QB statistic and QB quality. I’m not suggesting there’s some sort of negative correlation or anything, which is what I interpret your “misleading” comment as implying. I didn’t even mean to suggest that there was no correlation whatsoever. The top of the INT% leaderboard may not be stocked with all-time greats, but it’s still stocked with quarterbacks who definitely didn’t suck. The relationship there is positive, even if it’s weak.

                      I linked a 38-tweet Storify that went into detail with all of my thoughts on this as well as providing eleven links to further reading on the subject with all of the relevant math and background. If my position on INT% is still unclear at this point, I’m not sure I know what else to do, because to this point it’s the most thoroughly sourced thing in this discussion.

                      I think TD% is more reliable than INT %, but that list has some flaws, too. The top 10 since 1950 with at least 2000 attempts includes Frank Ryan, Lamonica, Dawson, Bradshaw, and also rates guys like Danny White, Bob Griese, Grogan, and Krieg ahead of Tarkenton, Fouts, and Unitas.

                      I see you dropped my minimum attempt threshold from 3000 to 2000 and then criticized the list by citing three players who would have been excluded under my initial threshold, as well as three more players who are currently in the Hall of Fame. I’ll give you Grogan and Krieg, but I never claimed TD% was perfect, and when you’re talking about the 15th and 17th ranked guys (using my initial 3000-attempt threshold), we’re kind of getting into small potatoes.

                      I don’t understand why you tried to show how INT% was weak by using a stat, ay/a, that incorporates interception percentage. That’s a poor argument, and your underlying point is one I agree with anyway. I’m not arguing that Rodgers is great just because of the INT %.

                      If I had one with just TD% and YPA, I’d be glad to use that instead. According to Danny Tuccito’s confirmatory factor analysis of ANY/A, (one of the sources cited in my 38-tweet storify), those are the two stats that correlate with QB “quality” (as ANY/A is designed to measure), while INT% and Sack% together correlate with some undefined second quality.

                      I don’t agree that Ryan wins the MVP vote by a “landslide”. In summarizing Brady’s season, I agree with what Michael Renner of Pro Football Focus said:

                      “Tom Brady may still come up short in the MVP voting after missing the first four games of the season, but he did everything in his power over the 12 games he saw the field this year to win the award.”

                      For the sake of clarity, I didn’t say that Matt Ryan will win MVP in a landslide. I said he should win MVP in a landslide. From your response it was ambiguous which formulation you were debating, so I wanted to clarify just in case.

                      As long as we’re clear that I’m talking about “ought” and not “is”, I agree with what I’ve been saying so far. Matt Ryan was better than Tom Brady even on a per-game and per-play basis. Had Tom Brady played a full 16 games, the MVP race should be close with a small edge to Matt Ryan. Since Tom Brady missed a quarter of the season, the MVP race should instead by not-at-all close with a not-at-all small edge to Matt Ryan.

                      I’ve discussed before the concept of Pareto Optimization. Something is said to be Pareto optimal if there is no other data point that outcompetes it on every dimension of competition. For instance, in the 1989 MVP race, Joe Montana outcompeted Jim Everett on efficiency, and Jim Everett outcompeted Joe Montana on playing every game. Neither one was Pareto-optimal over the other; arguments could be made for both players. (Montana wound up collecting 88.6% of the vote, with the remainder going to Majkowski and defensive tackle Keith Millard.)

                      But this is not such a situation. Matt Ryan outcompetes Tom Brady on the efficiency dimension *AND* the volume / games played dimension. In Pareto efficiency terms, Tom Brady is said to be dominated by Matt Ryan.

                      In a race where one player is completely dominated by another, (from a Pareto optimality standpoint, not from a common-usage standpoint), the dominated player should receive zero MVP votes. There is literally no argument in his favor. The QB who was not as good but also didn’t play as many games is unambiguously less valuable than the QB who was better and played 33% more games. This is a pretty simple thing for me.

                      Or, if we’re quoting NFL analysts, I’ll go with Bill Barnwell:
                      Instead, the argument for Brady has to revolve around the idea that he’s been better on a snap-by-snap basis than the other quarterbacks. It’s true that he has protected the football, throwing 28 touchdowns and just two picks, the best touchdown-interception ratio in league history, but that stat seems less impressive when you remember Brady is breaking a record held by Nick Foles. Brady’s 0.5 percent interception rate is also great, but the difference between his interception total and that of Rodgers (seven) over a 610-pass season is four picks. Is that really enough to make up the gap between Brady and the, um, bunch?

                      Pro-football-reference.com found that the “value” of a typical interception in terms of field position is about 45 yards and built a formula called adjusted yards per attempt (AY/A) to account for that figure. The value of a passing touchdown by this same measure is 20 yards. After filling in those values, Rodgers’ typical pass has been worth an average of 8.1 AY/A. Brady is well ahead of him, at 9.3 AY/A. And Ryan is lapping them both, at 10.1 AY/A.

                      To be honest, this is where it gets hard to build suspense for the MVP vote. I don’t really see a strong argument for either of the other quarterbacks to win over Ryan. Ryan has been more effective than Brady on a per-play basis by every metric besides interception rate and has done so while throwing 102 more pass attempts. Ryan also has played the league’s toughest schedule of opposing defenses.

                    • Barnwell, it should be noted, is no Tom Brady hater. He named Brady as his midseason MVP after just four games back, (after naming Matt Ryan his quarter-season MVP).
                      http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/page/Barnwellx161107/bill-barnwell-nfl-midseason-awards-new-england-patriots-qb-tom-brady-really-mvp-already-2016

                    • WR

                      Is this post an admission that you are yourself a Tom Brady hater? Because no one ever suggested that Barnwell hated Brady, and picking a different guy for MVP doesn’t suggest that he hates him.

                    • You have an annoying habit of inserting things into my posts that I never said.

                      No, I am not a Tom Brady hater. I am not a fan of some hard-luck team that is jealous of his success– with three SB championships and four more appearances in my lifetime, my team has had more of its own success than any fan could hope for or deserve. I’m not bitter that he’s ruined any promising seasons or any such; I root for the only team against which he has a losing career record, including 1-3 in the playoffs and 0-2 in the AFCCG.

                      I am a fan of the NFL and football history. I am a fan of greatness and appreciative of the chance I’ve had to watch Brady play. Ten years from now, when my kids are old enough to appreciate football more, I will tell them about him. Forty years from now, God willing, I’ll be able to tell my grandkids about him.

                      I believe Tom Brady has at times received an undeserved level of praise, and I’ve pushed back on that where I encounter it, but it’s not personal. I believe Matt Ryan has received undeservedly little attention for his season, and I push back on that, too, even though Matt Ryan has never lent me money or shined my shoes.

                      If I think Tom Brady is “only” the sixth best QB in NFL history, or the fourth best, or the eleventh best, or wherever I’d have him ranked, it’s not because I have a personal grudge against Tom Brady, or can’t stand his roguish good looks, or envy his supermodel wife. It’s because I’ve studied and I’ve reasoned and this is the resulting opinion of that studying and reasoning. And if I think Fran Tarkenton might have been a better quarterback, that’s no more an insult to Tom Brady than thinking Johnny Unitas is better than Fran Tarkenton is an insult to Fran Tarkenton.

                      But I’ve gotten the impression during the course of the discussion that you think I’m on some sort of witch hunt, that I’m refusing through stubborn pride to give Tom Brady his proper due. And since you believe that, it’s a lot easier to dismiss my opinions as the ravings of a hater and go about your day. So I find it valuable to highlight the fact that Bill Barnwell has been explicitly and publicly complimentary towards Tom Brady this season, naming him his midseason MVP after just four games played, to make it more difficult to dismiss his reasoned opinions.

                    • WR

                      Ok Adam, I appreciate you taking the time to respond to me with so much detail. Clearly, you have a lot of time to devote to this stuff, and mine is ultimately limited. I haven’t gotten the chance to read your missive until now, but I”ll try to be as thorough as I can in response.

                      The arguments you’ve made in defense of Manning are ones I’ve seen before, and I don’t find them convincing. There are several points I’ve previously raised, none of which you’ve adequately addressed. Brady has played far fewer dome games than Manning, the ratio is about 6:1. So if we accept that domes help passing stats, this would be a major point in Brady’s favor.

                      “Someone could argue the dome / retractable roof stuff, but I’d need to see some numbers on that. I’ve seen people point out that Manning / Brees etc. have better numbers in dome games. Most of the time they fail to account for the fact that dome games are home games and non-dome games are road games, which I suspect drives much of the difference.”

                      If you haven’t seen the numbers, you’re not in a position to make definitive declarations on the subject. Dan Marowni did a study that suggested that QBs playing indoors saw significant boosts to their passing stats

                      http://www.patspulpit.com/2014/10/22/7036067/mythbusting-with-mr-marowni-pudge-controls-the-weather

                      Manning and especially Brees have huge indoor/outdoor splits, which are more significant than league-wide home/road splits over the period they have been playing for dome teams. This clearly suggests that those guys have received a consistent boost from playing indoors, though I don’t think anyone has done a truly comprehensive study on the subject.

                      “It’s like “Manning’s performance in cold-weather” narrative really just being “Manning’s performance in late-season road games against the Patriots/Steelers”, because that was the bulk of the cold weather games he played.

                      Manning’s schedule might have been easier, (I haven’t looked at it before, TBH), but Manning also showed a lot better in schedule-adjusted stats. Manning and Brady both played in twelve seasons between 2001 and 2014. Manning had the better DVOA in eight of them, (Brady won in 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2012). QBR adjusts for schedule now, too, and Manning is the king of QBR.”

                      The point is that Manning has rarely had to play in cold-weather cities late in the season. Even accounting for the fact that most of Brady’s have been home games, Brady’s rate stats go down noticeably in December and January. Manning shows no such drop off, and given that those two players have very similar rate stats prior to December 1, I believe it’s because of weather effects.

                      Manning’s schedule has been easier, particularly since the start of 2004. That’s why Brady consistently beats him in DYAR. Look at how much Brady is helped by the YAR to DYAR adjustment between 2004-2015. Manning has had a few seasons where he’s faced a tough schedule, but overall, it’s not close. Between 2004-2015 Brady’s adjustment was +1444, suggesting he played difficult defenses. Manning’s total adjustment was -497, suggesting he played defenses that were significantly easier than league average. And Manning isn’t the king of QBR, since it’s been revamped before the 2016 season. Brady rates ahead of Manning in QBR in 2007, 2010, 2011 (Manning injured), 2014, and 2015, and was right behind him in 2012. He finished 2nd behind Ryan in 2016. It’s very close overall between the two.

                      I’ll grant you that the Patriots did run up the score in 2007. But Manning has padded his stats, too. Remember when he threw 7 TDs against Baltimore in 2013? I don’t see this as a major factor either way, to be honest. Brady’s teams are also more likely to hand the ball off near the goal line, which has limited Brady’s pass TD totals.

                      “You also neglected to mention Tom Brady’s biggest advantage. He spent his entire career, from day 1, playing for arguably the greatest coach in the history of football.”

                      You’re forgetting that Belichick wasn’t regarded as a great coach before Brady showed up. He had a losing record prior to that point, in fact. Now, Brady has certainly benefitted from Belichick, but the reverse is true, as well. I’ve already addressed the Matt Cassel argument elsewhere in this forum, but suffice it to say that the production of the Patriots offense with Cassel, strong as it was, wasn’t close to what the Patriots achieved the year before with Brady.

                      “So, given how close their rate stats were, (practically identical, really), I give a slight edge to the guy who had less entanglement.”

                      I agree with you that the entanglement problem is difficult, and that Brady has had better teams overall. However, when it comes to compiling individual numbers, Manning has clearly had the advantage of playing with guys like Harrison, Wayne, Demariyus, Decker, Sanders, Stokley, Garcon, Clark, Julius Thomas, and Welker. In addition to that, he’s had star running backs like Faulk, James, Addai, and some really talented guys in Denver. Playing with that kind of skill-position talent every year won’t necessarily help a QB win more games. But it will absolutely help him put up impressive passing stats. Put Brady, Brees or Rodgers in Manning’s stadiums, against his schedules, and with the same teammates on offense, and I have no doubt those other guys could match his numbers.

                      I don’t agree with holding it against Brady that he’s played for just one team. Look at how many receivers Brady has thrown a pass TD to, and compare it to Manning’s list. Brady is the one who has had to deal with much greater receiver turnover and many more changes in offensive scheme. This is one of the key reasons why I’ve never bought the “system” argument against Brady. What does the New England system even consist of, at this point?

                      Manning’s career has been very impressive. I agree with that. You rate Brady lower than I rate Manning, I think. They’re both fantastic. If you put a huge amount of value on peak performance, I can see why you might prefer Manning, but you ought to ask yourself whether you might be overemphasizing that factor, given how close they are overall. Manning’s award achievements are impressive, no doubt. But are you really sure Manning was the MVP in seasons like 2008 or 2009, because other players had equally strong cases in those years. Willie Mays only won 2 MVP awards in his career, but that doesn’t change how I feel about Mays, who I think is the best player in baseball history. MVP awards are an imprecise way to evaluate players.

                      Brady with four more MVP-caliber years is unrealistic, and you know it. Again, Brady may get very close to Manning in career ANYPA+ before he’s done, and may even surpass him, and may also pass Manning’s career totals, as well. Only time will tell. If he comes even close to doing those things, it would be very difficult to keep Manning ahead of him on a ranking list, given everything else Brady has accomplished.

                      Clearly, I rate the Brady/Montana type player higher than you do. That’s fine, and I think we just disagree. I understand your arguments, I just don’t find them as convincing as you do. And of course Brady has better numbers with Gronk than without. No one denies he is a stud. I bet Montana and Young were better with Jerry Rice than without, does that make them overrated? It doesn’t. Ryan is at 30% DVOA without Jones, and Brady 20% without Gronk. Ryan’s having a historic season, so that doesn’t surprise me. That chart also shows that a higher pct of Ryan’s DYAR has come from Jones, than Brady’s has come from Gronk. It doesn’t change the fact that Brady has still put up outstanding numbers, both this year and in years like 2012, when Gronk has been injured.

                      Also, when has Peyton Manning ever put up impressive passing stats without a star receiver like Harrison, Wayne, Demariyus? The answer is never. Does that reduce your estimation of Manning’s achievements? I agree this proves entanglement, though I still think Adam should retract his previous claims that Brady is overly team-dependent.

                      “If Gronk missed an entire season and Brady was still in the MVP discussion, that would also be a strong point in his favor in the comparison to Peyton Manning.”

                      When has Manning, who has had at least one star WR on his team every season, ever done anything like that?

                      I’ve hope you give consideration to my points. I’ve enjoyed our debate. If you want to keep it going, do you think we could arrange to do so off-site? I won’t have time in the future to check these boards as often as I have been doing lately.

                    • WR

                      Don’t just give me a bunch of tweets. That’s painful to read. Why not publish it somewhere else? Ok, I just picked 2000 attempts as the TD threshold, forgetting that you had used a different one. It doesn’t invalidate what I said about the names on the list, and I’ve already conceded that td% is more reliable than int%. I still don’t agree that int % is a “really poor measure of QB quality”. That is what you said, and I think you’re wrong, for the reasons I’ve already explained.

                      I still think anypa is better metric than those that don’t include sacks and interceptions. I believe you agree with me on this, since you said earlier that the best top-10 list based on any one stat would be based on era-adjusted anypa, and it was only the timeframe that prevented you from doing this.

                      I understand that you were saying that Ryan should win in a landslide, and that it wasn’t a prediction. That doesn’t mean I have to agree with you. Your take on the MVP race is an opinion, and a solid one. I just think you’re exaggerating the margin between the two players, and understating how close Brady has been to Ryan per drop back. Both guys finished with at least 140 anypa+, which is fantastic. I’ve already conceded that because of his volume advantage, Ryan should win the award. That’s what I’ve been arguing this entire time. You don’t seem to have the ability to admit that Brady’s season has been fantastic, which it has.

                      When one guy has an ANYPA+ figure of 143, and the other 140, it’s hard for me to believe that per game played, there’s a massive amount of difference between them, which is what you seem to think. It suggests that both guys have been performing at an amazing level of efficiency, which in my view, makes the race a lot closer than a “landslide”. I don’t know what part of that is unclear. And whether you like it or not, many people agree with me on this point.

                      I’ve noticed Adam, that you still claim that Peyton is significantly better than Brady. Given that Brady has played far less often in a dome, far more often in cold weather (compare their rate stats after November), played with less talented receivers, and generally faced tougher defenses, how do you account for those factors? Because once you adjust for those things, I don’t see how anyone can still argue that Manning has outperformed Brady per game. Just curious.

                    • Don’t just give me a bunch of tweets. That’s painful to read. Why not publish it somewhere else?

                      Oh FFS, I’m the only person here who has spelled out his position in painstaking detail and backed it up with copious research, and you tell me “Eh, I didn’t feel like reading any of that before arguing those opinions. Could you possibly do me a solid and take hours out of your day to write up the same exact stuff you already gave me in a format that’s more convenient for me?” Get 100% of the way out of here with this.

                      I’ve put in the time, I’ve crafted my arguments, I’ve provided links to my research. If you don’t want to engage with those arguments, then kindly stop wasting my time.

                      I still don’t agree that int % is a “really poor measure of QB quality”. That is what you said, and I think you’re wrong, for the reasons I’ve already explained.

                      Translation: “That is what you have said and also provided copious research to support, and I think you’re wrong because I haven’t read any of it.”

                      I understand that you were saying that Ryan should win in a landslide, and that it wasn’t a prediction. That doesn’t mean I have to agree with you. Your take on the MVP race is an opinion, and a solid one. I just think you’re exaggerating the margin between the two players, and understating how close Brady has been to Ryan per drop back. Both guys finished with at least 140 anypa+, which is fantastic. I’ve already conceded that because of his volume advantage, Ryan should win the award. That’s what I’ve been arguing this entire time. You don’t seem to have the ability to admit that Brady’s season has been fantastic, which it has.

                      I’ve repeatedly admitted Brady’s season has been fantastic. He’s been close behind Matt Ryan in efficiency, and given that Matt Ryan’s season is arguably historically great, that’s pretty strong praise of Tom Brady. You’ve just ignored my entire point about Pareto optimality and dimensions of competition. Tom Brady has been close behind Matt Ryan in efficiency, which means he’s been behind Matt Ryan in efficiency, a point even you seem to be conceding. So if Matt Ryan has been better per play and has also had more plays, Brady has literally no argument for the MVP this year.

                      In 2004, Daunte Culpepper had one of the greatest QB seasons of all time. It was also, unfortunately, clearly just the second-best QB season of 2004. As a result, Daunte Culpepper received zero MVP votes, which is exactly how many Tom Brady deserves for his historically-great season that was unambiguously worse than Matt Ryan’s.

                      In 2011, Drew Brees had one of the top 10 QB seasons of all time, probably. He received two MVP votes. This isn’t a diminishment of his absolute greatness, it’s a recognition that MVP isn’t about absolute greatness in the slightest, but relative greatness.

                      When one guy has an ANYPA+ figure of 143, and the other 140, it’s hard for me to believe that per game played, there’s a massive amount of difference between them, which is what you seem to think. It suggests that both guys have been performing at an amazing level of efficiency, which in my view, makes the race a lot closer than a “landslide”. I don’t know what part of that is unclear. And whether you like it or not, many people agree with me on this point.

                      Are you even reading what I’m writing? I’m inclined to say no. Allow me to quote myself in the (perhaps vain) hope that you’ll actually read it this time.
                      “So given that Matt Ryan has been better than Tom Brady on a per-play and per-game basis, even if by just 0.00001%, the fact that he will finish the season with 33% more games played means he will be at a minimum 33% more valuable than Tom Brady. This is not a “close second”. This daylight second. This is a boat race.”

                      I think you have two guys who have been incredibly close on a per-game and per-play basis, but with Matt Ryan clearly ahead. Not by a huge margin, but by a definitive margin. Call it 10%, call it 5%, call it 1%, call it 0.00000000000001%, it doesn’t matter. It’s a margin, and it favors Ryan. If Matt Ryan’s value per play has been X, and Tom Brady’s has been Y, this can be expressed with the inequality “X > Y”.

                      Now, let’s translate per-game value into total value. X’ = X * 16, Y’ = Y * 12. Without solving for X or Y at all, we can now say that X’ is at a bare minimum 33% greater than Y’. Matt Ryan’s season has been *at the absolute, positive, mathematical minimum* been 33% more valuable than Tom Brady’s.

                      When one person’s season was at least 33% better than another’s, I consider that a landslide. We can argue definitions if you want, but let’s ignore the word landslide altogether. Matt Ryan’s season has been at a bare minimum 33% more valuable than Tom Brady’s.

                      I’ve noticed Adam, that you still claim that Peyton is significantly better than Brady. Given that Brady has played far less often in a dome, far more often in cold weather (compare their rate stats after November), played with less talented receivers, and generally faced tougher defenses, how do you account for those factors? Because once you adjust for those things, I don’t see how anyone can still argue that Manning has outperformed Brady per game. Just curious.

                      If you were really curious, you would have read my 1600 word missive on this exact subject elsewhere in this thread, a post which I have had privately described to me as “the single biggest post [he] had ever seen on Football Perspective”.

                      As a favor, I’ll reproduce it in its entirety for you, making this the new longest post in the history of Football Perspective. Hopefully this is enough to satisfy your curiosity, because I’m done arguing with someone who clearly has no respect for me, my opinions, or my time.

                      “While I have your attention Kibbles, I’d like to ask what you were once asked on twitter. What would Brady have to do to move past Manning all time for you?”

                      I believe I’ve answered this for, but Twitter searches are awful, as are character limits, so I’m happy to go in-depth.

                      For starters, the fact that Brady is close to Manning in rate stats doesn’t mean too much to me. Passing efficiency has been on an inexorable upward trend for decades now, with two quantum leaps forward in 2004 and 2011. Only 63.9% of Manning’s passing attempts came after that first quantum leap, and only 23.1% have come after that second. For Brady, those figures are 81.2% and 42.5%, respectively. They’re viewed as contemporaries, but the average Tom Brady pass attempt has come in a noticeably more pass-friendly environment than the average Peyton Manning pass attempt.

                      How much difference does this make? Not a ton, but it’s not nothing, either. For his career, Tom Brady’s ANY/A is 7.08 and Peyton Manning’s is 7.17. Tom Brady’s ANY/A+ is 118 and Peyton Manning’s is 120. They overlapped as starters from 2001 to 2015, but the rest of Manning’s career numbers came from 1998 to 2000 while the rest of Brady’s will come from 2016+, and there’s no doubt that 2016 is a significantly friendlier passing environment than the late ’90s.

                      Someone could argue the dome / retractable roof stuff, but I’d need to see some numbers on that. I’ve seen people point out that Manning / Brees etc. have better numbers in dome games. Most of the time they fail to account for the fact that dome games are home games and non-dome games are road games, which I suspect drives much of the difference. It’s like “Manning’s performance in cold-weather” narrative really just being “Manning’s performance in late-season road games against the Patriots/Steelers”, because that was the bulk of the cold weather games he played.

                      Manning’s schedule might have been easier, (I haven’t looked at it before, TBH), but Manning also showed a lot better in schedule-adjusted stats. Manning and Brady both played in twelve seasons between 2001 and 2014. Manning had the better DVOA in eight of them, (Brady won in 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2012). QBR adjusts for schedule now, too, and Manning is the king of QBR.

                      Manning also dominates in 1st down percentage, which is the single most important stat that gets totally ignored in QB evaluation. From an offense’s standpoint, the only three things that matter are yards, first downs, and touchdowns; insofar as touchdowns are a special category of first downs, you could really say it’s all about the yards and the first downs. And yet all player analysis is hyper-focused on yards and completely ignores first downs, even though they’re probably the more important of the two. (PFR’s play query was bogging down on me, but Bryan or Adam could give you details on the first down disparity between the two.)

                      When comparing their advantages and disadvantages, you neglected to mention that Brady played on a team that was content to run up the score, while Manning routinely rested late in the season. Brady set the TD record with 50 in a season where his coach routinely had him in and throwing late into the 4th quarter with a 20+ point lead. Peyton Manning set it with 49 in a season where his coach sat him for basically the entire season finale, as well as for stretches of blowouts throughout the season. In 2007 alone, Brady had three TD passes while up by 21+ in the fourth. For his entire career, Manning has four of them, (Brady’s mark stands at 13). That’s not a gerrymandered cutoff, that’s the first query that came to mind– I’m confident that similar queries will return similar results.

                      You also neglected to mention Tom Brady’s biggest advantage. He spent his entire career, from day 1, playing for arguably the greatest coach in the history of football.

                      If you followed my NVB / Graham debate with Brad O., you know that one of the biggest things for me is entanglement. Football is by far the most entangled sport, so I place a high value on someone who has excelled in a variety of situations, because I have more confidence that this excellence is something intrinsic to the player himself. The big example I use is Jake Plummer: from 1998 to 2002 he had an ANY/A+ of 89, which ranked 35th of the 36 passers with 800+ attempts ahead of only Tim Couch. From 2003 to 2005 he had an ANY/A+ of 116, which ranked 4th of the 34 passers with 600+ attempts, (behind Peyton, Green, and Culpepper).

                      What happened? Plummer changed teams. So that’s the illustration of just how much of an impact supporting cast and coaching staff can make– it can result in a swing from a bottom-5 to a top-5 quarterback. Entanglement is *huge*.

                      Part of the reason I like NVB over Graham is that Graham spent his entire career playing for one of the top 5 coaches of all time with one of the most consistently-great defenses ever assembled and surrounded by a cadre of Hall of Famers on offense. NVB had plenty of help of his own– Hall of Famers at WR, some of the most influential coaches in history. But he still succeeded on two different teams, with two sets of teammates. Prior to Manning, he was the only player to win an NFL championship on two different teams. He basically was his own coach in his stint with the Eagles. (One of the conditions the Eagles granted Buck Shaw to get him back into coaching was that he wouldn’t have to do anything during the offseason; Van Brocklin would run things during that span.)

                      So, given how close their rate stats were, (practically identical, really), I give a slight edge to the guy who had less entanglement.

                      The problem for Tom Brady is there’s little realistic chance he can demonstrate he’s entanglement-proof at this point. We’re not going to see him without Bill Belichick. And that’s not his fault, but this isn’t about blame or fault. This is about how confident I can be in someone’s intrinsic greatness, and I’m more confident in Peyton’s intrinsic greatness. The dude won MVP on two different teams. He went to four Super Bowls with four different coaches! How does Brady match this? How does anyone match this?

                      The other problem for Tom Brady is that I tend to be very peak-heavy when evaluating players. Peyton isn’t the GOAT for me because he owns the career records. He’s the GOAT because I’ve never seen any QB play better than Peyton played in 2004, and then he came back as an old man a decade later, returning from a surgery that no one has ever come back from, and put up another of the top 10 or 20 QB seasons of all time.

                      In seasons they both played, Peyton Manning had 6 AP All Pros to 2 for Brady. Peyton had 5 MVPs to Brady’s 2, and that’s ignoring the fact that I think his 2006 season was also as good as any season of Brady’s career to this point, including 2007. In the ten years he played from 2003 to 2013, Peyton Manning received 44% of all MVP votes, which is incomprehensible. (If you want to exclude 2008 because Brady was out, Manning hauled in 41.8%. And again, this is despite only getting 2 MVP votes for 2006 in one of the top-10 QB seasons of all time.)

                      So it’s hard for me to say what Brady would have to do to pass Manning. Leaving New England and winning MVP with another team and another coach would go a long way. If he stays in New England, it might take another four MVP-caliber years, especially if one of them was better than 2007. It’s hard to say.

                      As for whether I rank him top-3 all-time… like I said, it’s hard to say especially while he’s still playing. I’m inclined to say no, just because entanglement weighs that heavily for me. I’m not sure I’d rank Joe Montana that high, either, for the same reason, and Joe Montana *did* give us a successful stint with the Chiefs! People think that’s crazy, which is fine. I have my methods, they have theirs. I’m less concerned with whether it’s crazy and more concerned with whether it’s intellectually consistent.

                      Oh, one last point regarding entanglement. You said you wanted Adam to admit that Tom Brady is not reliant on Rob Gronkowski to put up huge numbers. Since 2010, Brady averages 291 yards, 2.22 TDs, 0.45 INTs, and 8.01 yards per attempt in the 86 games Gronk played. He averages 260 yards, 1.81 TDs, 0.67 INTs, and 6.86 yards per attempt in the 21 games Gronk missed. That’s “only” 4155 yards and 29 TDs per 16 games, which when paired with a sub-7 YPA average do not, to me, qualify as “big numbers”. Not in today’s NFL.

                      This year alone, Brady is on pace for 5123 yards and 37 TDs with 9.1 yards per attempt in games Gronk played and 4342 yards, 35 TDs, and 7.47 yards per attempt in games Gronk missed. Per Football Outsiders, Tom Brady averages a DVOA of 138.6% on throws to Gronk and 20.9% on throws to everyone else; Gronk alone added 10% to his DVOA for the year. (Matt Ryan, by comparison, averages 64.2% DVOA on throws to Julio, 30.8% on throws to everyone else, and 38.3% overall; he’s been about as good throwing to his non-Julio targets as Brady has been throwing to everyone, including Gronk.)

                      A) This is the power of entanglement.
                      B) This is why Adam is reluctant to retract his previous claim that Brady needs Moss or Gronk to put up big numbers.

                      If Gronk missed an entire season and Brady was still in the MVP discussion, that would also be a strong point in his favor in the comparison to Peyton Manning.

                    • Adam

                      “If I had one with just TD% and YPA, I’d be glad to use that instead.”

                      It just so happens that I’ve done two studies using this exact formula (the first one uses straight Y/A, the second gives half credit for YAC):

                      http://www.footballperspective.com/guest-post-questioning-anya/

                      http://www.footballperspective.com/positive-yards-per-attempt-updated/

                    • In this context, who cares about randomness? For single seasons, we should use retrodictive metrics. Of course a 0.5% INT rate is unsustainable, but in naming an MVP, I look for what players actually did, and this season Brady actually did throw a lot fewer INTs than any other all-pro or MVP candidate. When we’re discussing the 2016 season, who cares if the stat isn’t predictive? All other factors being equal, limiting interceptions is objectively positive, a trait of effective quarterbacks.

                      I also think that list of QBs is more impressive than you apparently do. There are some great seasons in there, and if the Patriots make the Super Bowl, then 5 of the 12 led their teams to a championship appearance. That’s not random: there’s a huge correlation with team success. Overall, those teams went 133-51-1 (.722). Whether they benefitted from randomness or not — and of course they did — those QBs had great seasons.

                    • Adam

                      In my opinion, INT% is a suspect metric not only for predictive purposes, but also for measuring how well a QB played in the past. Interceptions are influenced (in the past) by many things the QB has no control over – a handful of lucky or unlucky breaks can radically alter a QB’s INT rate for a given season.

                      Nick Foles’ 2013 is a great example. He only threw two picks, but according to charting data, he threw 11 more interceptable passes that were dropped by the defense. Foles’ super low INT% was not an accurate reflection of how played in 2013, and this has nothing to do with predictive value. All QB stats are influenced by dumb luck to some degree, but INT% is by far the most susceptible to distortion. IMO the majority of extreme INT rate seasons are fools gold.

                      However, when we’re looking at a QB like Tom Brady, he has sustained his excellent INT% for a very long time. That gives me more confidence that his INT rate is reasonably close to matching his true performance. That said, I agree with Kibbles that a threefold increase in a tiny quantity doesn’t mean a whole lot. I’m not sure that a 1.4% INT rate is appreciably different in true quality than 0.5%. If you could eat a certain food that would reduce your risk of cancer from 3 in 100,00 to 1 in 100,000, would you even bother?

                    • To begin with, I agree completely that MVP and other awards should be all about descriptive statistics and not predictive statistics. I don’t think you’re on Twitter, but I’ve argued this on that platform in recent weeks, as well.

                      With that said, I think even descriptive stats should be weighted in our consideration based on how much they’re actually telling us about the play of the QB in question. If a QB threw a 99-yard game-winning touchdown that was actually a 1-yard screen and a 98-yard RAC featuring eight broken tackles, I think it’s fair to say both “descriptively, this was about the most valuable play the QB could have possibly made” and “this play tells us very little about how well the QB played”. Not nothing, by any stretch. But not as much as if the QB had instead completed nine straight 10-yard completions and then tossed a 9-yard touchdown as time expired.

                      I have reached a point where I begin to question to what degree interception percentage is even a result of a quarterback’s play. Obviously the link is not nothing. But I also think it’s much, much smaller than the link at other statistics. And as a result, I consider a 1-standard deviation lead in INT% much less impressive than a lead of a quarter or a third of a standard deviation in pretty much every other statistic. (I’m not implying that you don’t agree, I’m merely expounding on why the int% alone isn’t really shifting my opinion of Tom Brady’s quality of play this season very much.)

                      As for the list: I think it’s a list of pretty good QBs having really good seasons. But from an “all-time greatness” standpoint, it is sorely lacking. If you pull up an all-time leaderboard of any QB stat, INT% will continually give you a much less impressive list. Fewer all-time great QBs on the career list. Fewer all-time great seasons on the single-season list. More than any other QB stat, you’re going to get “pretty good” rubbing elbows with “truly great” to an astounding degree.

                    • Adam

                      Agreed. Frankly, I prefer to leave INT’s out of QB performance altogether. I think including INT% generally adds more noise than signal. Of course there is some link between QB talent and INT rate, but the correlation is very small and takes an enormous quantity of attempts before we can feel confident that we’re not just being fooled by noise.

                      And to echo your other point, I’m not convinced that avoiding INT’s is necessary a reflection of great QB play, even if the sample is large enough to discern a reasonably strong signal. Why? I believe it’s because INT’s are highly situational, and in many instances throwing a pick isn’t even bad. A disproportionate percentage of INT’s are thrown on 3rd-and-long, 4th down, and during desperate comeback attempts. These scenarios demand a high risk strategy, and tossing an INT has very little impact on win probability.

                    • Richie

                      One of the holy grail stats, IMO, is if interceptions could be classified differently based on situation. For instance, hail marys at the end of halfs shouldn’t count against a QB. (Likewise, I wonder if a scored TD on those shouldn’t count either.)

                  • Adam

                    The only reason I’d tip the scales toward Everett is because of a massive supporting cast adjustment. But statistically, Montana was in a league of his own in 1989.

                    • There’s no question San Francisco had the all-around better team, but I do want to give Henry Ellard and Flipper Anderson their due as a receiver pair: Ellard was great in his mid-30’s catching passes from Heath Shuler and Gus Frerotte, and of course Anderson has the all-time single-game receiving yards record.

                  • eag97a

                    And Brady has a better W-L record and a likely #1 seed in the AFC. MVP voters put strong emphasis on W-L record.

            • eag97a

              What I’m saying is there is a precedent for situations like Brady 2016. And yes individual stats are very important in determining the MVP but football is a team game and all stats are definitely team stats, the media can rightly say that team record is as important as stats in the MVP race. They definitely have an argument IMO.

          • Corey

            This is silly. That the team played well with Young is hardly an argument against Montana — Steve Young was easily a top-5 QB at that time and might have been the league’s 2nd best QB. There could be an argument that Montana had a lot of help, but the fact that the team also won games under Young isn’t evidence for it.

            • eag97a

              Well Jimmy played very well in his absence. It is nit an argument against Montana, it’s pointing out that there is precedence if Brady winds the MVP since Montana did it before in similar circumstances.

  • sacramento gold miners

    Lots of things to like about Matt Ryan, I didn’t realize he’s 31 years old already. The issue for him has always been the postseason, but this could be the year the Falcons finally break through. The concern would be Ryan pressing in a playoff game when that Falcon defense is having problems with a Dallas or Seattle.

    • Adam

      I hope people don’t hold it against Matt Ryan if ATL loses to DAL in the playoffs. But I’m sure they will, even if his defense gives up 35+ points.

  • Adam

    Ryan’s 2016 reminds me of Esiason’s 1988 – historic Y/A supported by good but not great TD / INT.

    • Uh, Adam? Boomer led the NFL in TD / INT differential.

      The better comparison is 1990, when Warren Moon had outstanding stats and lost to Joe Montana’s reputation and skin color.

      • Adam

        I meant that his TD and INT numbers don’t stand out historically, even if they were among the best during the season in question. 28/14 was great by 1988 standards, but doesn’t wow you like Bert Jones’ 24/9 in ’76.

        Hadn’t thought about 1990, but that’s a very apt comparison. The MVP was tipped in favor of the lesser performance due to non-playing reasons, just as it probably will be this year.

      • sacramento gold miners

        Quickly checking PFR, Stabler was a leader in five categories, and Anderson six in 1974. The difference had to be team success, Oakland had a much better year than Cincinnati. In close individual statistical battles, team success is a fair tiebreaker.

  • Some of you have expressed interest in QB-TSP, the statistical rating system I use. Ryan scores 2361 right now, on pace for 2518. Ignoring era adjustment, here are the top 10 since realignment:

    1. Tom Brady, 2007 — 2931
    2. Peyton Manning, 2004 — 2915
    3. Peyton Manning, 2013 — 2815
    4. Aaron Rodgers, 2011 — 2752
    5. Drew Brees, 2011 — 2657
    6. Daunte Culpepper, 2004 — 2506
    7. Tom Brady, 2011 — 2463
    8. Peyton Manning, 2006 — 2345
    9. Aaron Rodgers, 2014 — 2276
    10. Drew Brees, 2008 — 2265

    Ryan should come in 7th or so from the last 15 years. I think “historically great” is overstating things a bit, but it’s an excellent season. I do think there’s a case to be made for Brady, but at the moment, Ryan would be my pick for all-pro QB and NFL MVP. He suffers from the assumption of greatness bestowed on Brady and Rodgers, the regard for Julio Jones, and the Falcons not being on national TV very often.

    • Thanks for sharing that, Brad. Love to see those numbers.

      As for “historically great” — yeah, I think saying his season is historically great is an overstatement. But obviously his Y/A is historically great. The distinction is that he is just good and not great in the other things that matter, like TD rate and INT rate, and actually mediocre in sack rate.

  • Richie

    I don’t know what to make of the fact that Nick Foles is at the top of so many of these leader lists. His 2013 season was such an outlier.

    • That’s why it’s so important to balance efficiency metrics with volume/production metrics. TSP rates Foles (317 att) fourth that season, and not of historical interest.

  • Richie

    I think maybe you were talking about the wrong Matt.

    Matt Moore is having a historically great season and should be the MVP.

    Best TD%:
    Matt Moore 11.3%
    Matt Ryan 6.8%

    Best Rating:
    Matt Ryan 115.5
    Garoppolo 115.1
    Moore 113.4

    Yards/Attempt
    Moore 9.74
    Ryan 9.26

    AY/A
    Moore 10.3
    Ryan 10.0

    ANY/A
    Moore 10.11
    Ryan 8.9

    • Extend Tannehill.

  • Here’s another stat that shows how insane the Falcons offense has been. Nearly as many drives this year have ended in a touchdown as in a turnover or punt. That’s nuts. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5b64738e3d148b050aa51842a1ca823e3512a09d5b7f11ccd063c3154189c544.png

  • ..

  • Figured I’d throw in a few stats of my own. The two attached images are based on Total Adjusted Yards per Play and New Total Adjusted Yards per Play (half credit for YAC). Looking at per-play and per-game stats, Matt Ryan has a sizable lead over second-place Tom Brady. Brady, in turn, has a decent lead over third place in per-play stats and a large lead over third in per-game stats.

    If we are trying to determine statistical dominance, the columns to view are “Val” and “Nval,” which are similar to Chase’s RANY (except I remove each player from the league average when finding is delta). Here, Ryan’s lead is colossal.

    If, instead, we are looking for greater value (using a lower baseline), the columns to view are “Rep” and “Nrep,” which represent value over replacement. Ryan once again leads in a runaway, while Brady’s low volume hurts him.

    I believe Tom Brady is a better quarterback than Matt Ryan. I don’t think it’s particularly close. I believe the A-Game of Aaron Rodgers is by far the best in the NFL. I also believe Matt Ryan deserves this year’s MVP award. I don’t think any of these belief is in conflict with another.

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C07wNciW8AAnWF0.jpg
    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C07vkGbXgAAVosj.jpg

    • Adam

      Agreed. Rodgers and Brady are better QB’s than Ryan, but Ryan has legitimately outplayed them in 2016. Since MVP is a one year award, Ryan is the only choice.

  • I recently ran New TAY/P trough the SRS model to get a feel for each QB’s real strength of schedule and each defense’s ability to stop QBs. I have attached the results.

    The first chart shows Denver’s defense has a NTAY/P SRS of 1.76, which is equivalent to a true NTAY/P allowed of 5.40.

    The second chart shows that Drew Brees has faced the toughest set of defenses (by this particular metric), and that Ryan has faced the fifth toughest.

    The third shows that Ryan has outperformed his SRS-adjusted expectation by a significant margin.

    The fourth is similar to RANY and shows that, after adjusting for opponent, Ryan is way ahead of anyone else.

    Make of these what you will.

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C0oQBl7XcAAe-kc.jpg
    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C0oW_N_XEAAMvt5.jpg
    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C0oQp_XWIAAQyhA.jpg
    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C0oRfWcWEAAo-ma.jpg