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Tim Tebow's prayers are answered: He's #1

Tim Tebow's prayers are answered: He's #1

With the Jets releasing Tim Tebow, it appears that his NFL career may be over. If that’s the case, it’s time to reflect on a great career that never ceased to captivate the nation. While there are many ways to grade a quarterback, probably the best and simplest measure would be “production in last home start.” After all, the NFL is a ‘what have you done for me lately’ league.

The table below lists the final home start for over 400 retired (or close to retired) quarterbacks (the default is to show just 25 quarterbacks, but the table is fully sortable and searchable, and you can change the number of players displayed by using the drop-down box on the left). For each quarterback, I have provided a link to the boxscore from that game, the result of the game, and the quarterback’s passing and rushing statistics. If Tebow is in fact retired, he will have finished with the highest Adjusted Yards per Attempt (minimum 10 attempts) of any player in his last home start:
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In 2011, the Broncos scored 309 points and allowed 390 points. Despite being outscored by 81 points, the Tim Tebow express still made it into the post-season. In June, I speculated that the 2012 Broncos might set the record for the largest increase in pass completions in one year, and they did just that on Sunday. They also moved into fourth place on another list.

With 481 points and 289 points allowed, Denver outscored its opponents by 192 points in 2012. Peyton Manning and Von Miller have turned the Broncos into one of the best teams in the league a year after they were one of the worst (at least, as measured by points differential). Denver improving their points differential by a whopping 273 points this year relative to 2011, the fourth largest increase in football history.

RankYearTeamPFPADiffN-1 PFN-1 PAN-1 DiffImpr
11999St. Louis Rams526242284285378-93377
21929New York Giants3128622679136-57283
32001Chicago Bears338203135216355-139274
42012Denver Broncos481289192309390-81273
51998Minnesota Vikings556296260354359-5265
61975Baltimore Colts395269126190329-139265
72004San Diego Chargers446313133313441-128261
82006New Orleans Saints41332291235398-163254
91965Chicago Bears409275134260379-119253
102008Baltimore Ravens385244141275384-109250
111955Washington Redskins24622224207432-225249
121976New England Patriots376236140258358-100240
131963Oakland Raiders36328281213370-157238
141997New York Jets34828761279454-175236
151923Columbus Tigers119358424174-150234
161987Indianapolis Colts30023862229400-171233
171991Cleveland Browns293298-5228462-234229
181967New York Giants369379-10263501-238228
191969Atlanta Falcons2762688170389-219227
202010Detroit Lions362369-7262494-232225
211976Chicago Bears25321637191379-188225
222001Cleveland Browns285319-34161419-258224
231999Indianapolis Colts42333390310444-134224
242000New Orleans Saints35430549260434-174223
252010St. Louis Rams289328-39175436-261222
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Checkdowns: Most Game Winning Drives in First 12 games

Scott Kacsmar, friend of Football Perspective and the leading writer on quarterback comebacks, noted that Andrew Luck has 5 game-winning drives in his first 12 games. Where does that rank historically?

To be clear, game-winning drives are not an official statistic, and while Kacsmar has gone through thousands of games to record data on the subject, we can’t confirm that the below list in 100% complete. With that disclaimer out of the way, the table below displays all quarterbacks with at least 3 game-winning drives in their first 12 NFL games:

Tim Tebow led a game-winning drive in half of his first twelve starts.

If we look just at quarterbacks in their first 12 starts, well, a different name vaults to the top of the list. Tim Tebow launched a phenomenon known as Tebow-mania last year, thanks to his dramatic comebacks seemingly every week last November and December.

Luck’s career trajectory looks to be on a much better path than Tebow, Jay Schroeder or John Skelton, but hey, I don’t make the trivia, I just present it.

The table below shows how many game-winning drives were led by quarterbacks in their first 12 starts. Thanks to Scott Kacsmar and Pro-Football-Reference.com for the data.
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Game Scripts, Part II: Analyzing team seasons

Yesterday, I rolled out Game Scripts, a way to measure the flow of every game since 1940. The sum of each team’s Game Script in each game can be used to give us an average Game Script score on the season. You might think that this number would be a good proxy for how dominant a team was, and that’s largely true: the teams with the highest game script scores tend to have been the most dominant teams. However, there are some reasons to be cautious with this approach: game scripts are not adjusted for strength of schedule and in any given game, the losing team can end up with a better score than the winning team. That said, here are the teams with the highest Game Scripts since 1940:


The teams with the highest game scripts last year? Green Bay (7.4), New Orleans (5.6) and Houston (5.4), while the Rams (-6.4), Colts (-7.2), and Bucs (-8.7) were at the bottom of the league. But let’s get to the real point of using Game Scripts — to help put passing and rushing ratios in context.

Last year, the Buccaneers had the second highest effective pass/run ratio in the league (defined as total pass attempts divided by rushes plus total pass attempts, but with all kneels and spikes excluded). But that’s misleading, because Tampa Bay had the worst Game Script in the league. Conversely, were Houston and San Francisco really the second and third most run-heavy teams in the NFL last year? The table below lists each team from highest to lowest pass/run ratio:
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I spent the weekend in Cortland, New York covering Jets training camp. So what should we expect from the Jets this year? As the team enters its fourth season under Rex Ryan, it’s impossible to look at the 2012 season without putting it in the context of the Ryan’s other Jets teams. And while the Sanchez/Tebow stories will dominate the media’s attention, in reality, the defense and the running game will be the key elements of the 2012 Jets.


The table below lists the 15 major contributors for the Jets for each year since 2009. Ryan’s defenses are some of the most exotic in the league, and the Jets often have placed six or seven defensive backs on the field at one time. In addition to nickel corner and the third safety, I’m including a fourth defensive lineman slot and a “Designated Pass Rusher” position, a third down specialist and staple of the Ryan defense.

DEShaun Ellis (32)Shaun Ellis (33)Muhammad Wilkerson (22)Muhammad Wilkerson (23)
NTSione Pouha (30)Sione Pouha (31)Sione Pouha (32)Sione Pouha (33)
DEMarques Douglas (32)Mike DeVito (26)Mike DeVito (27)Mike DeVito (28)
4DLMike DeVito (25)Vernon Gholston (24)Marcus Dixon (27)Quinton Coples (22)
OLBBryan Thomas (30)Bryan Thomas (31)Jamaal Westerman (26)Bryan Thomas (33)
ILBBart Scott (29)Bart Scott (30)Bart Scott (31)Bart Scott (32)
ILBDavid Harris (25)David Harris (26)David Harris (27)David Harris (28)
OLBCalvin Pace (29)Calvin Pace (30)Calvin Pace (31)Calvin Pace (32)
DPRVernon Gholston (23)Jason Taylor (36)Aaron Maybin (23)Aaron Maybin (24)
CB1Darrelle Revis (24)Darrelle Revis (25)Darrelle Revis (26)Darrelle Revis (27)
CB2Lito Sheppard (28)Antonio Cromartie (26)Antonio Cromartie (27)Antonio Cromartie (28)
CB3Dwight Lowery (23)Drew Coleman (27)Kyle Wilson (24)Kyle Wilson (25)
S1Jim Leonhard (27)Jim Leonhard (28)Jim Leonhard (29)Yeremiah Bell (34)
S2Kerry Rhodes (27)Brodney Pool (26)Eric Smith (28)Laron Landry (28)
S3Eric Smith (26)Eric Smith (27)Brodney Pool (27)Eric Smith (29)

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I’ll be spending the weekend in Cortland, New York, covering Jets training camp. The big story there, of course, will be how the Mark Sanchez/Tim Tebow drama unfolds. The party line among media members is that the duo is doomed to fail, because a team with two quarterbacks doesn’t have one.

Last year, Mark Sanchez ranked 27th in Net Yards per Attempt, so the Jets were behind the 8-ball at the quarterback position well before the Tebow trade. Not that he’ll necessarily help things: Tebow averaged even fewer net yards per attempt than Sanchez in 2011, although arguably his numbers should be viewed in a more positive light.

In my view, the Tebow trade simply gives the Jets more chances to succeed, not unlike when a team throws multiple late round picks at the same position. The most tired complaint regarding the situation is that if Sanchez has a bad drive, quarter or game, fans will call for Sanchez’ head and the Jets will bring in Tebow. But such analysis never goes beyond that. If the Jets do make Tebow the starting quarterback, and he does well, that’s a good thing. If the Jets bring in Tebow, and he fails, New York can go back to Sanchez. At that point, even if Sanchez has some struggles, the calls for Tebow will be muted. However, some will argue that if Sanchez is benched even once his confidence will be shot.

You may find it absurd to suggest that benching a professional athlete may be enough to derail a great career; in fact, that’s what I originally thought. But after combing through the annals of NFL history, I’m unable to find any proof in the other direction. Truth be told, I do think having two quarterbacks is essentially the football kiss of death. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a stroll down memory lane.

Can you believe McElroy thinks the girls at Alabama are better than the coeds at Florida and USC?

In the early ’50s, the Los Angeles Rams alternated Norm Van Brocklin and Bob Waterfield as their quarterbacks. In 1950, the team averaged 38.8 points per game while each quarterback started six games, and Los Angeles won the championship the next season. But while both Van Brocklin and Waterfield would end up in the Hall of Fame, neither player is well known today by most fans.

A few years later, the Giants would have Don Heinrich as the nominal starter for the first series or two before having Charlie Conerly come in and replace him one the coaching staff had a better read on the opposing defense. Sure the team won the NFL championship in 1956 using this method, but New York ultimately lost the championship to Baltimore in both ’58 and ’59, and neither Heinrich nor Conerly were able to slow down Johnny Unitas in either gmae. In John Eisenberg’s great book on the late ’50s Green Bay Packers, he explained how Vince Lombardi treated Bart Starr like a yo-yo, inserting him and out of the lineup. And while Starr would achieve some success in the ’60s, he ultimately failed as head coach of the Packers in the ’70s and ’80s, going 52-76-3 in 9 uneventful seasons.
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Franchise leaders — passing stats

Happy 4th of July! Before you head to your barbecue, I’d recommend you take a look at the incredible document our founders signed 236 years ago.

As far as football goes, today’s a good time for a data dump. The table below shows the career passing leaders for each franchise, organized by when the current leader last played for that team.

TeamYardsQuarterbackLast Yr
NWE39979Tom Brady
NOR28394Drew Brees
HOU16903Matt Schaub
BAL13816Joe Flacco
IND54828Peyton Manning2011
SEA29434Matt Hasselbeck2010
PHI32873Donovan McNabb2009
CAR19258Jake Delhomme2009
GNB61655Brett Favre2007
JAX25698Mark Brunell2003
DAL32942Troy Aikman2000
MIA61361Dan Marino1999
DEN51475John Elway1998
BUF35467Jim Kelly1996
TEN33685Warren Moon1993
NYG33462Phil Simms1993
STL23758Jim Everett1993
SFO35124Joe Montana1992
TAM14820Vinny Testaverde1992
SDG43040Dan Fouts1987
CIN32838Ken Anderson1986
WAS25206Joe Theismann1985
ATL23470Steve Bartkowski1985
ARI34639Jim Hart1983
PIT27989Terry Bradshaw1983
CLE23713Brian Sipe1983
OAK19078Ken Stabler1979
MIN33098Fran Tarkenton1978
NYJ27057Joe Namath1976
KAN28507Len Dawson1975
DET15710Bobby Layne1958
CHI14686Sid Luckman1950

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Largest increase in pass completions

And then John said to Peyton, 'Tim Tebow.'

Fifteen days into its infancy, Football Perspective has published fifteen posts. If you are enjoying the site, be sure to check back every day for a new post. You can also become one of the 850+ people to “like” Football Perspective on Facebook. You can also follow me on twitter. Enough of a site update: on to today’s post.

Unlike most sports writers, I don’t know a lot about what will happen this season. But there’s one thing I do know: the Denver Broncos aren’t going to rank 32nd again in pass attempts again. The Tebow Broncos, an offense with an inexperienced quarterback and a confused offensive coordinator, completed just 217 passes last season. That was the lowest in the league, and the lowest since the ’09 Jets, a team that boasted the number one rushing attack and defense in the league — and Mark Sanchez.

Setting aside those years where the league scheduled more games in the following season, the table below shows the teams with the largest increase in completions from one year (that’s the year listed in the table) to the next:

YearTmCmp NCmp N+1DifferenceQB Year NQB Year N+1HC Year NHC Year N+1
1978SFO190361171Steve DeBergSteve DeBergPete McCulley1Bill Walsh
2000TAM237362125Shaun KingBrad JohnsonTony DungyTony Dungy
2004ARI299419120Josh McCownKurt WarnerDennis GreenDennis Green
1998CHI284404120Erik KramerShane MatthewsDave WannstedtDick Jauron
1993NWE289405116Drew BledsoeDrew BledsoeBill ParcellsBill Parcells
2000CIN207322115Akili SmithJon KitnaDick LeBeau2Dick LeBeau
1957PHI99214115Bobby ThomasonNorm Van BrocklinHugh DevoreBuck Shaw
2006ATL222336114Michael VickJoey HarringtonJim MoraBobby Petrino
1983MIA254367113Dan MarinoDan MarinoDon ShulaDon Shula
1994DET250362112Dave KriegScott MitchellWayne FontesWayne Fontes
1978BAL202313111Bill TroupGreg LandryTed MarchibrodaTed Marchibroda
2008MIN267377110Gus FrerotteBrett FavreBrad ChildressBrad Childress
2008SEA262372110Seneca WallaceMatt HasselbeckMike HolmgrenJim Mora
1989HOU295399104Warren MoonWarren MoonJerry GlanvilleJack Pardee
2001SEA258361103Matt HasselbeckMatt HasselbeckMike HolmgrenMike Holmgren
1988NWE199302103Doug FlutieSteve GroganRaymond BerryRaymond Berry
1979HOU195296101Dan PastoriniKen StablerBum PhillipsBum Phillips
1996SEA26135998Rick MirerWarren MoonDennis EricksonDennis Erickson
1999PHI23533196Doug PedersonDonovan McNabbAndy ReidAndy Reid
1993MIN31540994Jim McMahonWarren MoonDennis GreenDennis Green
1985CLE22231593Bernie KosarBernie KosarMarty SchottenheimerMarty Schottenheimer
1993NOR27436692Wade WilsonJim EverettJim MoraJim Mora
1992DEN25835092John ElwayJohn ElwayDan ReevesWade Phillips
1972PHI18427591John ReavesRoman GabrielEd KhayatMike McCormack
1950GNB14023191Tobin RoteBobby ThomasonGene RonzaniGene Ronzani
2011DEN217Tim TebowPeyton ManningJohn FoxJohn Fox

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  1. In 1978, the 49ers fired McCulley after 9 games and Fred O'Connor coached the rest of the season. []
  2. In 2000, Bruce Coslet was the Bengals coach to start the season, but he resigned after three straight blowouts to begin the year. []