Today’s guest post comes from hscer, a frequent commenter here at Football Perspective. Hscer is starting a project on his website, MVPQB.Blogspot.com, where he is working on his most valuable quarterback for each season since 1951. Here’s a sample chapter today: as always, we thank our guest posters for their contributions.
“When Fifth is First” – Maybe fifth is unkind to Gannon’s 2000 season, but he certainly wasn’t the best or even top three.
Gannon’s win here is baffling when you look at the stats in this context: he ranks 5th in DYAR, and 6th in Y/A, ANY/A, Passer Rating, and DVOA. So why did the Associated Press, along with Pro Football Weekly / Pro Football Writers of America and The Sporting News select Gannon as their first-team All-Pro quarterback?
Well, four teams went 12-4 or better, including Gannon’s Raiders. The other three teams had Kerry Collins, Steve McNair, and the
Tony Banks–Trent Dilfer combo at quarterback, and Gannon had the best numbers of that group. But even for media types, it usually takes a little more than wins to clinch these awards. McNair, with 2847 yards and 15 TD on the 13-3 defending AFC Champion Titans, was likely not considered by anyone.
Gannon’s 2000 season also lacks any run of dominance that might have caused voters to lock up their choice early. Compare his season progression to Manning’s. Oakland started the year 8-1 as Gannon had 1849 yards, 14 TD, and a 91.8 passer rating. But Indianapolis was 6-3 and Manning had 2740 yards, 20 TD, and a 100.3 rating.1 On November 13, the Colts won to improve to 7-3 (Manning: 21-35-210-1-0) and the Raiders lost (Gannon: 30-53-382-1-2). However, the Colts lost their next two games and the Raiders went 2-0, with Gannon doing better than Manning, although the latter was by no means terrible (83.4 passer rating). Both teams lost the game after that. Then the Colts won two more and the Raiders split their next two (with Gannon going 5-17 for 136 yards and 1 TD with 3 INT in the loss), which set up the final week, where both quarterbacks dominated. Oakland defeated Carolina, 52-9, as Gannon was 26-32 for 230 yards and 5 touchdowns with no interceptions. Meanwhile, Indianapolis won against Minnesota, 31-10, and Manning was 25-36 for 283 yards and 4 TD with 1 interception. It’s hard to find any narrative that would have suggested Gannon over Manning, as great as Gannon’s season finale was.
Culpepper was in his first year playing and the AP is generally unwilling to name such players to the All-Pro team. However, Culpepper’s claim to the MVQB throne is legitimate, even if he was throwing to Randy Moss. Culpepper’s 33 TD passes are still the most a QB has ever thrown in his first year of play, since he sat for his entire rookie season. Marino and Warner were the only ones with more in their second season in the league, and only Blake Bortles (!) has since passed Culpepper.
Then there’s the matter of Kurt Warner. The reigning 1999 MVP, All-Pro, and MVQB missed 5 starts and still threw 18 interceptions, yet even he might have been a superior 2000 All-Pro selection than Gannon, considering Warner averaged a whopping 9.9 yards per attempt. Gannon threw for one more yard — one (!) — in 5 games and on 126 more attempts.
Had the 49ers fielded a better defense, Gannon’s cross-bay counterpart might have gotten some recognition from the AP. He was essentially tied with Culpepper for the best passer rating among 16-game starters. But the 49ers were outscored 422-388 (ranking 6th in scoring, 28th in points allowed) while going 6-10.
Griese was the NFL’s official passing leader with his 102.9 rating, but he only started 10 games. Of these six quarterbacks, however, he ranked second on a per-play basis by DVOA, behind Manning.
Best that I can tell, Gannon’s All Pro award was decided entirely by having by far the best passing numbers among the teams with 12+ wins.
It comes down to the alternatives, then. Warner and Griese get eliminated first — Manning, Culpepper, and Garcia were simply all too valuable to give the nod to someone who missed 5-6 games. San Francisco’s 6-10 record would be by far the worst of any MVQB’s team. That record can’t really have been Garcia’s fault given how well he played, but it serves as a tiebreaker, leaving Manning and Culpepper. Those two were basically equally effective, but Manning threw almost 100 more passes than Culpepper did.
Peyton Manning is the MVQB of 2000.
Signature Game: The Colts crush the Jaguars in the RCA Dome, 43-14, as Manning goes for 440 yards and 4 touchdowns on 23-36 passing.
- Through 7 games (as opposed to the 9 cited for Gannon and Manning), Minnesota began the year 7-0 behind 1671 yards, 14 TD, and a 99.6 rating for Culpepper. [↩]