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I like trivia, and Chris Brown asked me a good question on twitter yesterday:

The game Brown was referencing was the Patriots performance against the Saints in week 2 of the 2017 season. Here was the receiving breakdown on the New England side:

Player Tm Pass Yd Rec Yd
Rob Gronkowski NWE 0 116
James White NWE 0 85
Chris Hogan NWE 0 78
Phillip Dorsett NWE 0 68
Rex Burkhead NWE 0 41
Brandin Cooks NWE 0 37
Dion Lewis NWE 0 11
James Develin NWE 0 6
Jacob Hollister NWE 0 5
Tom Brady NWE 447 0

Brady threw for 183 yards to his wide receivers (Hogan, Dorsett, and Cooks), 143 yards to running backs (White, Burkhead, Lewis, Develin) and 121 yards to his tight ends (Gronkowski and Hollister). So that means Brady threw for 400+ passing yards with just 40% of his passing yards coming from his wide receivers. [click to continue…]


The Patriots and the Spread, Part I

Since 2001, the Patriots have been favored to win in a whopping 79% of all games, including postseason (giving half-credit as a favorite in games where the spread is zero). The Steelers are second at 73%, the Packers and Colts are next at 69%, the Eagles are at 68%, the Broncos at 67%, and the Saints at 61% are the only other team over 60%. In other words, the Patriots have been in a class by themselves when it comes to being favored.

But even that kind of underrates New England. The Patriots weren’t favored in any of the first 8 games of the 2001 season; the team was only favored in one of its first 12 games, at which point in time New England had a 7-5 record (and an 8-4 mark against the spread). There have also been 19 games since 2001 where Tom Brady was not the starting quarterback, and the Patriots were underdogs in 4 of those games (and a pick’em in a fifth). And there were meaningless week 17 games in 2006 and 2009 that the Patriots were underdogs because they were projected to rest their starters.

The graph below shows how many points the Patriots were expected to win in each game, regular and post-season, since 2001. I have included as red dots games not started by Brady or during meaningless week 17 games: [click to continue…]

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In 5 years, one of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees will be the all-time leader in passing touchdowns. Currently, Manning is the passing touchdown king with 539 touchdowns, but will Brees or Brady catch him?

A year ago, I wrote about the fascinating touchdown race between Brady and Brees: at the end of the 2015 season, both had thrown 428 career touchdown passes. Last year, Brees threw 37 while Brady threw 28 in 12 games, so Brees is currently up 9 on Brady, 465-456.

But when I measured Brees and Brady last year, I measured them by calendar year. Both threw their first touchdown pass in 2001, so I thought a calendar year-by-year chart would be cool. But it probably makes more sense to compare the passers year-by-year by age, as I did yesterday with Brees and Manning for passing yards. That’s because Brees is about a year and a half younger than Brady (in turn, Brady is about a year and a third younger than Manning, but we haven’t compared them by calendar year).

So if we plot their passing touchdowns by age, Brees appears to have a huge leg up on Brady. That is, unless Brady plays until he’s 45: [click to continue…]


Today’s guest post comes from James “Four Touchdowns” Hanson, a relative new reader to the site. As always, we thank our guest posters for contributing.

[Editor’s note: There were a couple of minor bugs in the original data. This post has now been updated.]

There may be no two quarterbacks more often measured against each other than Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. One simply has to do a Google search of the topic to see that fans and sports writers have compared the two numerous times, using a vast array of criteria from the simple counting of championships to using advanced analytics to make their case.

So it’s surprising to me that I still haven’t come across a comparison of Manning and Brady against the same defenses. It’s an idea that occurred to me when Manning critics pointed out that much of his record-breaking 2013 season came against the mediocre teams of the 2013 NFC East and AFC South, while Tom Brady’s record-breaking 2007 was against a tougher strength-of-schedule.1 If we’re genuinely after the fairest assessment possible – which is why I assume fans of advanced analytics prefer to measure individual players by their own production rather than team results like wins and championships – what better way to measure each player than by how they performed against the same competition?

So I decided to take a look at the seasons in which Manning and Brady were both active and played against the same teams in the same season. Of course, like any statistical analysis, this one comes with its own set of flaws. When the two quarterbacks play each other’s divisions or one plays the same team in the regular season and the playoffs, one of them may have played the same team twice or even three times in a single season while the other has played them only once.

This can be good or bad for the player’s results – sometimes it allows the opposing defense to learn from the first encounter and make life difficult for the passer the second time around. One example is Peyton Manning’s encounters with the Steelers in 2005; he defeated Pittsburgh with a 102.9 rating and 8.67 ANY/A during the regular season, only to see his performance suffer the second time around during the post-season with a 90.9 rating and 6.21 ANY/A in a loss. Meanwhile, Tom Brady’s single game against the Steelers, where he won with a 92.7 rating and 6.84 ANY/A, stands alone – could he have done better or worse in a second encounter? We’ll never know.

Other times, it can allow the quarterback another opportunity to do well against that defense. When Brady played the Jets for the first time in 2010, he earned a mediocre 72.9 rating and 5.11 ANY/A in a loss. He bounced back to win with an extraordinary 148.9 rating and 12.00 ANY/A in their second meeting and then fell somewhere in between when they met in the playoffs, losing with an 89 passer rating and 5.08 ANY/A. Meanwhile, Manning met the Jets just once in the post-season, where he suffered a loss despite earning a 108.7 rating and 8.85 ANY/A in his last game wearing a Colts uniform. How would he have done if he played the Jets three times? Again, we’ll never know.

In fact, the sometimes vast difference in which each QB has performed against the same defense in the same season should encourage us to take these results with a grain of salt – in-game conditions, game plans from coaches, the play from supporting casts, how one team’s strengths and weaknesses match differently with an opponent, playing at home or away, key injuries on either side, etc. can all effect a player’s performance in any given game.

And there’s always the possibility that Brady or Manning just had a bad day and their performance isn’t indicative of their true abilities: the small sample size of a football season made even smaller by singling out common opponents isn’t ideal in determining a fair and scientific measurement for how good each player actually is. On the other hand, it’s the only evidence we have available, so we’ll have to roll with it.

I bring this up because I don’t intend this to be a definitive attempt at determining which player is better – most people already have made up their minds (and I personally tend to rate quarterback on tiers anyway). Some say Manning would have more championships if he had Belichick and the Patriots organization at his side, while others say Brady would have bigger numbers if he had the receiving talent Manning had during his career. I think both can be true.

I’d also like to mention that I pulled this list manually and despite several reviews, there still may be errors in the data – this is unintentional and I welcome any corrections.

So without further ado, here’s a list of the common opponents they faced in each season, with both 2008 (Brady played one game) and 2011 (Manning was inactive) removed as both players weren’t active during those seasons:

• 2001: Jets, Bills, Dolphins, Raiders, Saints, Falcons, Broncos, Rams
• 2002: Dolphins, Jets, Steelers, Titans, Broncos
• 2003: Dolphins, Jets, Bills, Browns, Broncos, Jags, Texans, Titans, Panthers
• 2004: Ravens, Chiefs
• 2005: Steelers, Jaguars, Chargers
• 2006: Bills, Jets, Dolphins, Titans, Jags, Texans, Broncos, Bengals, Bears
• 2007: Chargers, Ravens, Jaguars
• 2009: Bills, Jets, Dolphins, Titans, Jags, Texans, Ravens, Broncos, Saints
• 2010: Chargers, Jets, Bengals
• 2012: Texans, Ravens
• 2013: Colts, Ravens
• 2014: Bills, Jets, Dolphins, Raiders, Chiefs, Chargers, Colts, Bengals, Seahawks
• 2015: Colts, Steelers, Chiefs

And here are their career averages against common opponents from 189 total regular season and playoff games played (93 Manning, 96 Brady):

Except for interception percentage, Manning seems to have a slight advantage across the board. Most differences are so small that I personally consider them basically even in most categories. The biggest differences seem to be that Manning’s interception rate is substantially higher, while Brady’s sack numbers are substantially higher – and in Brad Oremland’s TSP and Career Value metrics, where Manning holds a commanding lead.

To delve a little further into the numbers, let’s look at the advanced stats of each player by season. The highlights indicate which player did better that year in each metric, while the bolded numbers indicate that season’s number marks a career best (against common opponents) –

The leader in both ANY/A and Passer Rating match in every season, with Manning’s rates beating Brady’s in 8 of the 13 seasons compared. QBR results are also is very similar, with the only difference being Brady having the edge in 2014, putting them even at 4-4.

Interestingly, it seems that for most seasons, one player clearly played better against common opponents by a substantial amount – in Passer Rating, the two only play at a similar level in 2001 and 2007, while the rest of the time the winner often beats the other by ten points or more! What’s really surprising to me is that Manning surpasses Brady in every metric for 2007, which was when Brady led perhaps the greatest offense of all time to a record-breaking season and an AFC Championship.

I also wanted to compare their performances against common opponents in each season by TSP but since it’s a raw sum instead of an average like the other advanced stats, I needed to take each season’s statistical averages and multiply them to get 16 games worth of production. The results were –

The first thing that jumps out at you is Manning’s preposterous 2013 prorated across 16 games – over 6,500 yards and 75 TDs with only 5 INTs. That alone tells us to take these results with a grain of salt.

But accepting the numbers for what they are, we see that the leader in TSP for each season matches the leader in Passer Rating and ANY/A. We also see that Manning’s highs and lows are quite extreme in comparison to Brady’s – Brady doesn’t have a season that matches Manning’s 2004 and 2013, but Brady’s TSP never dips into negative numbers as Manning’s does in 2002 and 2015.

And again, Manning’s 2007 results manage to top Brady’s numbers for his most legendary statistical season (though that probably means nothing since the sample size we’re working with is so small).

So what does this all prove? Well, nothing really. As said, I think the majority of people already have their opinions set for these players – this is just for fun. Hope you enjoyed!

  1. While I am a Peyton Manning fan, I feel the point is valid and logical. We compare stats so often but don’t always take into account that most of those numbers were earned against different teams of varying quality – after all, it’s not fair to compare passing numbers if one guy is going up against the 2002 Bucs while the other is playing the 2015 Saints, right? []

The two leaders in ANY/A in 2016.

Matt Ryan and Tom Brady finished the season ranked 1st and 2nd in the NFL in Adjusted Net Yard per Attempt. How unusual is that?

  • In 1966, Bart Starr led the NFL in ANY/A and was the NFL MVP. Len Dawson led the AFL in ANY/A, and was the AFL’s first-team All-Pro selection at quarterback (running back Jim Nance was the MVP). The Packers and Chiefs met in the Super Bowl, of course, making it one of just two times that the Super Bowl featured two first-team All-Pro choices at quarterback. The other? Super Bowl III, featuring Earl Morrall and Joe Namath).
  • In 1971, Roger Staubach had a historically great season, producing a remarkable 7.81 ANY/A. The runner-up that year was Bob Griese, at 6.35, and no other passer was over 6.00. Those 1971 seasons from Staubach and Griese both ranked in the top 50 in my era-adjusted passer rating seasons, too. Alan Page was the AP MVP choice that year, Staubach won the Bert Bell Award for Player of the Year, and Griese won the third MVP, given by the NEA. So when the Cowboys and Dolphins met in the Super Bowl, it featured two MVP quarterbacks, a feat that could be matched this year. The PFWA has already named Ryan as its MVP, but the AP or the Bert Bell Award could choose Brady, which would give us another set of dueling MVPs.
  • In 1984 Dan Marino was a unanimous MVP (AP, NEA, PFWA, Bert Bell) on the back of a groundbreaking performance. His raw numbers (48 TDs, 5,084 yards) were remarkable, but so was his 8.94 ANY/A average. Joe Montana had a darn good year, too: his 49ers went 15-1 and his 7.93 ANY/A was 1.24 ANY/A better than any quarterback not named Marino. From an ANY/A dominance standpoint, it’s very similar to what Ryan and Brady have done this year.

[click to continue…]

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Can The Steelers Pass Rush Lead Them To The Super Bowl?

Over the first 8 weeks of the season, the Pittsburgh Steelers had just 8 sacks.  That was the fewest in the NFL, and the corresponding 2.84% sack rate was also the worst in the league.

Since then, things have changed pretty significantly.  Pittsburgh has 36 sacks, most in the league since the start of week 9, five more than any other team in the NFL. 1  And only Arizona’s defense (8.94%) has a higher sack rate than Pittsburgh’s 8.53% since then.

Here’s the sack rate for the Steelers defense in each game this season: in a black horizontal line, I’ve shown the league average sack rate. [click to continue…]

  1. Notably, the Giants are 2nd in sacks over that period, with 31; meanwhile, the Giants had the second-worst sack rate, at 2.85%, and second fewest sacks, with 8, over the first eight weeks. []

There have been four passing touchdown kings in the last 40 years: Fran Tarkenton, Dan Marino, Brett Favre, and Peyton Manning.  I thought it would be fun to plot the number of career touchdown passes each player had on the Y-Axis after each game of their career (shown on the X-Axis):

td pass leaders
[click to continue…]


Tom Brady and Drew Brees ended the 2015 season in a pretty remarkable place: both have 428 touchdown passes, tied for the third most in NFL history.  Both threw their first touchdown pass in 2001, which makes it easy — and fun! — to compare the two players.  The graph below shows the number of career touchdown passes for each player over every week since 2001:

brady brees td

Brady took an early edge, both because he started earlier (he had 18 touchdowns in 2001; Brees had 1) and played better earlier (Brees had 28 touchdowns in ’02 and ’03 combined; Brady had that many just in ’03).  And, of course, Brady’s scorched-earth 2007 season helped see him take his biggest lead.  Consider that through 2007, Brees had thrown fewer than 30 touchdown passes in each of his first seven seasons. Since then? Brees has thrown more than 30 touchdowns in all eight seasons! [click to continue…]


Guest Post: Brady vs. Manning and Playoff Support

Adam Steele is back, this time throwing his hat into the never-ending Brady/Manning debate. Fortunately, this isn’t your typical Brady/Manning post, as Adam brings some new stats to the table. You can view all of Adam’s posts here.

By any statistical measure, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have performed at a nearly identical level in the postseason. Of course, many observers don’t care about passing statistics, and prefer to judge quarterback based on playoff W/L record alone. And as we all know, Brady has a significant edge over Manning in this regard. But if we’re going to judge quarterbacks by the performance of their entire team, it’s only fair to also evaluate the parts of the team the QB has no control over – defense and special teams.

Using PFR’s expected points estimations, I recorded the defensive and special teams EPA for Brady’s and Manning’s teams in each of their playoff games. The “Support” column is the total EPA contributed by defense and special teams. Brady first: [click to continue…]


Manning/Brady 18 will use Manning's uniform number instead of Roman Numerals

Manning/Brady 18 will use Manning’s uniform number instead of Roman Numerals

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have now played seventeen games against each other. Brady has posted an 11-6 record against Manning, which tends to fuel some of the Brady/Manning narrative. The beginning of their “rivalry” was dominated by Brady and the Patriots: from 2001 to 2004, New England went 6-0 against Indianapolis, including two playoff wins in the snow in Foxboro.

Those four seasons anchored the narrative for the 15-year rivalry of the two players. Since then, Manning has a 6-5 record against Brady, including a 3-0 mark in the playoffs. Each player has also won “only” one Super Bowl despite the two quarterbacks dominating the AFC for most of the last decade (Manning, of course, could win another next week).

The table below shows the statistics from both players for each of the 17 head-to-head games: [click to continue…]


This week at the Washington Post, an old topic is relevant again: why pressuring Tom Brady is the key to success against New England.

Completion percentage is often overrated, and it isn’t a critically important stat generally, but the Patriots are a unique offense. As a general rule, completion percentage is highly correlated with winning, but a large reason for that is leading teams tend to throw conservative passes and trailing teams tend to throw aggressive ones. Thus the stat is a result of success even more than a cause of it. (In other words, completion percentage is a lot like rushing attempts, where the best teams tend to fare well in this metric, but in a misleading way.) This season, teams won 58.4 percent of games when completing at least 60 percent of passes, and just 33.3 percent of games when completing fewer than that. But the Patriots were more extreme, winning 11 of 12 when completing at least 60 percent of passes, with the one loss coming in overtime against the Jets. On the other hand, New England lost three of the four games this season when Brady completed fewer than 60 percent of passes, and the one victory came when New England held Buffalo to just 13 points.

The reason completion percentage matters for New England is because the Patriots don’t really have a running game, at least not in any traditional sense. Against Kansas City on Saturday, the Patriots threw on 24 of the team’s first 26 plays. All game, Patriots running backs had just seven carries, with Steven Jackson — signed in December — taking six of those carries and gaining just 16 yards. In the regular season game against Denver, the Patriots began the game by calling 18 passes to just two runs on the team’s first six drives.

You can read the full article here.


How many Super Bowls should the Patriots have won?

Since 2001, New England had made the playoffs twelve times, reaching the Super Bowl, incredibly, in half of those seasons. The Patriots have won the Super bowl four times over this fourteen-year span, which made me wonder: how many Super Bowls *should* the Patriots have won?

This could be measured in a few ways. We could look at say, the team’s pre-season odds of winning it all each year. I don’t have that historical data, but we can be sure that New England significantly overachieved by that measure. We could also look at the team’s Super Bowl chances at the start of each post-season. For example, at the end of the regular season, Bovada had the Patriots at 3/1 to win the Super Bowl. That would imply a 25% chance of winning it all, although after adjusting for the vigorish, the Patriots’ true odds would have been 21.8%. I don’t have historical data of this sort, although I am sure one could use a combination of SRS and home-field advantage to come up with something similar. Hey, if you have ideas, present them in the comments.

Instead, I used the same methodology I used a couple of weeks ago to determine the randomness of each post-season. Remember, a point spread can be converted into an expected winning percentage using the following formula in Excel (if you put the point spread in cell L2): [click to continue…]


Super Bowl XLIX, and Thoughts on ANY/A

Let’s get something out of the way.

In the final minute of the game, the Seahawks had an 88% of winning Super Bowl XLIX. To make grandiose statements about the Patriots passing attack and football analytics based on New England winning the Super Bowl would be silly given the way the game ended.

Okay, whew.  But I do want to talk about the Patriots offense, and more specifically, ANY/A.  As regular readers know, Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt is calculated as follows:

(Gross Passing Yards + 20*PassTDs – 45*INTs -SkYdsLost) / (Pass Attempts + Sacks)

ANY/A correlates very well with winning, and it’s my favorite basic metric of passing play.  But ANY/A, based around yards per attempt, is not perfect.  And I think SB XLIX provides a good example of that.  Tom Brady finished the day with 320 net passing yards, 4 TDs, and 2 INTs on 51 dropbacks, which translates to an ANY/A of 6.08.  Russell Wilson had 234 net passing yards, 2 TDs, and 1 very fateful INT on his 24 dropbacks; that translates to an ANY/A of 9.54. [click to continue…]

Tom Brady has been known to wear Suggs

Tom Brady has been known to wear Suggs

Disclaimer: Quarterbacks don’t have records, teams do. A quarterback’s “record” is simply shorthand for saying “the record of a quarterback’s teams in all playoff games started by that quarterback.” Please forgive me for using that shorthand for the remainder of this post.

Eight years ago, Doug Drinen wrote a fun post in advance of the 2006 AFC Championship Game. At the time, Peyton Manning had gone 0-2 in playoff games against Tom Brady, so Doug looked at quarterbacks who had gone winless against another particular quarterback in the postseason.

Manning wound up beating Brady in that game, and evened his record against Brady in the 2013 playoffs. No pair of quarterbacks have ever met as starters five times in the playoffs, so Brady/Manning are tied for the most playoff meetings. Joining them on Saturday will be Brady and Joe Flacco. This weekend’s game will be the fourth time since 2009 that the Ravens have traveled to Foxboro in the postseason, and Brady and Flacco have been under center for each game. [click to continue…]


In the third quarter on Monday night, I texted my Patriots fan buddy Matt, “Is it possible that we suck? Maybe the run is finally over.” Bill Barnwell mused on this, and Aaron Schatz also wrote about it. It was hard not to think that, given the way the Patriots were manhandled by a mediocre team playing without several key players. It looked every bit as bad as the 41-14 score and maybe worse.

I remember the last time I wondered if the Pats were done. In a 34-14 loss to the Browns in 2010, the Patriots looked pretty impotent. In that game, as in the Chiefs one, the Pats had just under 300 yards of offense. Peyton Hillis ran over the Patriots. Of course, that wasn’t the end. Maybe this time is different, though. If anything the Chiefs game was even worse, so it’s possible this time really is the end.1

Will the Patriots offense be good later this year? To provide a little insight into this, I went back and looked at performance trends for quarterbacks who have had long careers. The first table looks at quarterbacks since 1969 who have the biggest single-season drops in adjusted net yards per attempt (ANY/A) from the previous five year trend. I look just at quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts in a season and I weight by the number of attempts when calculating the average ANY/A over the previous five years.

[click to continue…]

  1. And those Pats were 6-1 at the time of the loss to the Browns. []



Some quarterbacks and wide receivers just go together. Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison. Dan Marino and Mark Clayton and Mark Duper. Joe Namath and Don Maynard. John Hadl and Lance Alworth. But quarterbacks play with lots of receivers, and receivers generally play with several quarterbacks. We don’t remember most combinations, but that doesn’t mean they were all unproductive. So I thought it might be interesting to look at every wide receiver since 1950, find his best single season in receiving yards, and record who was his team’s primary quarterback that season.

Jerry Rice’s best year came with Steve Young, not Joe Montana. Randy Moss set the touchdown record with Tom Brady, but his best year in receiving yards was with Daunte Culpepper. Lynn Swann’s best year was with Terry Bradshaw, but John Stallworth’s top season in receiving yards came with Mark Malone. James Lofton’s best season was with Lynn Dickey, Isaac Bruce’s best year was with Chris Miller, Torry Holt’s top season came with Marc Bulger, and Tim Brown’s top year was with Jeff George.

This is little more than random trivia, but this site does not have aspirations for March content higher than random trivia. In unsurprising news, 25 different players had their best season in receiving yards (minimum 300 receiving yards) while playing with Brett Favre. That includes a host of Packers, but also a couple of Jets and Vikings, too (including one future Hall of Famer).

After Favre, Marino is next with 22 players, and he’s followed by Manning and Fran Tarkenton (20). From that group, I suspect that Tarkenton might surprise some folks. That is, unless they realized that he was the career leader in passing yards when he retired and played for five years with the Giants and thirteen with Minnesota.

The table below shows every quarterback who was responsible for the peak receiving yards season of at least five different receivers (subject to the 300 yard minimum threshold). For each quarterback, I’ve also listed all of his receivers. [click to continue…]


Contest Results: Tom Brady’s 2013 Season

Most Brady projections overshot their target

Most Brady projections overshot their target.

In the summer, I ran a contest to predict the final stats that Tom Brady would produce in 2013. Suffice it to say, nearly everyone was much more bullish on Brady than they should have been: of the 21 contest entries, 19 of them projected Brady to finish with a better ANY/A average than what he actually produced.

The average entry predicted 603 pass attempts, 4,467 yards, 30.8 TDs, 10.4 INTs, 28 sacks, and 139 sack yards lost, for an average ANY/A of 7.09.  In reality, Brady ended the year with 628 attempts, 4,343 yards, 25 TDs, 11 INTs, 40 sacks, and 256 sack yards lost. Basically, the group over-projected his Yards per Attempt by half a yard, expected six more touchdowns, and 12 fewer sacks. Brady’s ANY/A was 6.13, nearly one full adjusted net yard below the average projection.

The winning entry goes to Joe: [click to continue…]


No, Peyton, you're the man

No, Peyton, you're the man.

In 1984, Dan Marino set an NFL record with 48 touchdown passes, but his Dolphins lost in the Super Bowl. Twenty years later, Peyton Manning broke Marino’s record, but he lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Patriots in the playoffs. In 2007, Tom Brady broke Manning’s touchdowns record, but he lost in the Super Bowl, too.

When the greatest quarterback seasons of all time are discussed, these three years dominate the discussion. And with good reason. But if you include the playoffs — and frankly, there’s no reason not to include the playoffs — which quarterback produced the greatest season of all time? I’m going to stipulate that the greatest quarterback season ever has to end in a Lombardi Trophy, because otherwise, I think we’ll end up back in the world of Marino ’84/Brady ’07/Manning ’04. Of course, now another Manning season has entered the mix: and with a Super Bowl win, Manning’s 2013 should and would be remembered as the greatest quarterback season of all time.

So, the question becomes, which season would he knock off the top rung? I think there are six seasons that stand out from the rest, based on regular and postseason performance.

Honorable Mention [click to continue…]


Championship Game Preview: New England at Denver

These two men look important

These two men look important.

Someone needs to say it. I know, I know, it’s Manning/Brady XV. But someone needs to remind people that Peyton Manning threw 30 more touchdown passes than Tom Brady in 2013. He threw for over 1,000 more yards. He threw one less interception. He was sacked 22 fewer times. And did I mention that he threw 30 more touchdowns? If you’re not into stats, Brian Burke has Manning providing 5.83 extra wins this year, compared to 3.82 for Brady. At some point, the analysis should move beyond “a game between two of the greatest quarterbacks ever” and recognize these things, right?

Let’s cut off the Patriots fans before they can begin typing in Boston accents: the fact that Manning’s 2013 numbers dwarf Brady’s 2013 numbers does not mean Manning’s career >>> Brady’s career. And it doesn’t even mean (although it strongly implies) that Manning was a better quarterback in 2013 than Brady was. There’s no doubt that Denver’s supporting cast, at least on offense, is much better than New England’s. Manning has Brady’s favorite target from last year, Wes Welker, along with Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and Julius Thomas. Brady has dealt with a very inexperienced set of receivers following massive turnover. The Patriots have had to replace Welker, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, and Danny Woodhead with Julian Edelman, 12 games worth of Danny Amendola, 8 games of Shane Vereen (although he’ll be around on Sunday), 7 games of Gronkowski (he won’t be around on Sunday), and Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins. Each quarterback is down a star tackle (Ryan Clady, Sebastian Vollmer) but has an All-Pro caliber guard (Louis Vasquez, Logan Mankins).

But whatever the reason for the discrepancy, one conclusion is inescapable: this is not a meeting of equal passing attacks. On one hand, you have one of the greatest passing offenses ever. On the other, you have an above-average passing offense. And that’s the real story. The Broncos averaged 10 more points per game than New England, while Manning (as representative of the Denver passing attack) averaged 2.75 more adjusted net yards per attempt than Brady (as representative of the Patriots passing attack). [click to continue…]


When it comes Patriots/Colts, it’s easy to want to focus on Tom Brady vs. Andrew Luck. Or to marvel at the sheer number of star players these teams have lost in the last 12 months. If you played college in the state of Florida, you’re probably not going to be playing in this game: T.Y. Hilton is the last star standing with Vince Wilfork, Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Spikes, and Reggie Wayne gone. The Patriots also have placed Rob Gronkowski, Sebastian Vollmer, Jerod Mayo, Tommy Kelly and Adrian Wilson on injured reserve, while Devin McCourty and Alfonzo Dennard are both questionable. Also, of course, Brady is probable with a shoulder.

The Colts just put defensive starters Gregory Toler and Fili Moala on injured reserve, adding to a list that already included Wayne, Ahmad Bradshaw, Vick Ballard, Dwayne Allen, Donald Thomas, Montori Hughes, and Pat AngererLaRon Landry and Darrius Heyward-Bey are both questionable, and the latter’s injury caused the team to sign ex-Patriot Deion Branch.

All the injuries and changing parts make this a pretty tough game to analyze. So I’m not going to, at least not from the usual perspective. Instead, I want to take a 30,000 foot view of the game. According to Football Outsiders, the Patriots were the most consistent team in the league this season, while the Colts were the fourth least consistent team. Rivers McCown was kind enough to send me the single-game DVOA grades for both teams this season, and I’ve placed those numbers in the graph below with the Colts in light blue and the Patriots in red. The graph displays each team’s single-game DVOA score for each game this season, depicted from worst (left) to best (right). For Indianapolis, the graph spans the full chart, from the worst game (against St. Louis) to the best (against Denver). As you can see, the portion of the graph occupied by New England is much narrower, stretching from Cincinnati to Pittsburgh. [click to continue…]


How quaint: a quarterback taking snaps form under center

How quaint: a quarterback taking snaps form under center.

With one game remaining, Peyton Manning has already set the new single-season record with 51 passing touchdowns (two months ago, I projected Manning to finish the season with 52 touchdowns). But all records must be viewed in their environment, and NFL teams are averaging 1.58 touchdown passes per team game this year, the highest average since 1948. In 1984, the year Dan Marino threw 48 touchdowns, teams averaged 1.37 touchdown passes per game.

So which season is more impressive? That’s a complicated question, and one that could be answered in many ways. In my view, the question boils down to which performance was more outstanding; in mathematical terms, we could define that as which season was farthest from the mean.

To make life a little simpler, I’m going to analyze this question on the team level, meaning we will compare “Denver 2013” to “Miami 1984.” Of course, this approach is preferable in many ways, since when we praise Manning we really mean “Manning with his offensive line and his coaching staff throwing to Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Eric Decker, and Julius Thomas.” And “Marino in 1984” means “Marino and Mark Clayton and Mark Duper and Dwight Stephenson and Ed Newman.”

This season, the Broncos have 51 touchdown passes. The other 31 teams (through 15 games) are averaging 22.8 passing touchdowns, which means Denver is 28.2 touchdowns above average. The standard deviation of the 32 teams in passing touchdowns is 7.4; as a result, we can say that the Broncos are 3.84 standard deviations above average, also known as their Z-score.

In 1984, the other 27 teams (through 16 games) averaged 21.0 touchdowns, while the Dolphins threw 49 scores (Jim Jenson, a college quarterback who played receiver for Miami, threw a 35-yard touchdown to Duper against the Patriots off a Marino lateral). The standard deviation that season in touchdown passes at the team level was 7.5, which gives Miami a Z-score of 3.72 in 1984.

So the Broncos this season have been more extraordinary, at least by this measure. One nice thing about using the Z-score is we don’t need to adjust for games played. I went ahead and calculated the Z-scores for every team since 1932. The current Broncos are #1, with the ’84 Dolphins in second place. The third place team isn’t the Tom Brady 2007 Patriots; that team is down at #7, because the standard deviation in passing touchdowns among the league’s 32 teams was 8.8 that season. Instead, the third slot goes to the 1986 Dolphins. Few remember that Marino threw 44 touchdowns that season; add in Don Strock’s two touchdowns, a lower league average and a smaller standard deviation, and those Dolphins get a Z-score of 3.70.

Let’s look at the top 100 teams using this metric. The 2004 Colts ranked fifth (if you click on the cell in the team column, the link takes you to that team’s PFR page) in Z-score. That year, Indianapolis threw 51 touchdowns, while the other 31 teams averaged 21.97 touchdown passes. That means Indianapolis was 29.03 touchdowns above average, the highest production above average to date. But that year, the standard deviation among the 32 teams in passing touchdowns was 8.53, giving the Colts a Z-score of “only” 3.41; that’s why they’re 5th, not first.
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Every year at Footballguys.com, I publish an article called Rearview QB, which adjusts quarterback (and defense) fantasy numbers for strength of schedule. I’ve also done the same thing using ANY/A instead of fantasy points, and today I revive that concept for the 2012 season.

Let’s start with the basics. Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt is defined as (Passing Yards + 20 * Passing Touchdowns – 45 * Interceptions – Sack Yards Lost) divided by (Pass Attempts plus Sacks). ANY/A is my favorite explanatory passing statistic — it is very good at telling you the amount of value provided (or not provided) by a passer in a given game, season, or career.

Let’s start with some basic information. The league average ANY/A in 2012 was 5.93. Peyton Manning averaged 7.89 ANY/A last year, the highest rate in the league among the 39 passers with at least 75 attempts. Since the Broncos star had 583 pass attempts and 21 sacks in 2012, that means he was producing 1.96 ANY/A over league average on 604 dropbacks. That means Manning is credited with 1,185 Adjusted Net Yards above average, a metric I simply call “VALUE” in the table below. Manning led the league in that category, with Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and Matt Ryan rounding out the top five. Remember, the ANY/A and VALUE results aren’t supposed to surprise you, so it makes sense that the best quarterbacks finish near the top in this category every year.
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On September 13, 2008, Doug Drinen wrote this post, which I reproduce in full below.

I’m hearing and reading a lot of crazy stuff this week.

So I just want to document my predictions that (a) the Patriots will win at least 11 games this year, (b) the Patriots will clinch the East before week 17, and (c) Matt Cassel will be a top-12 fantasy quarterback from here out.

That is all.

You think I'm going to lose my top 5 receivers next year? Hahaha. Ok

You think I'm going to lose my top 5 receivers next year? Hahaha. Ok.

With the combination arrest/release of Aaron Hernandez stacked upon five surgeries in seven months for Rob Gronkowski and the departure of Wes Welker to Denver, it’s fair to say that many are wondering about the fate of the New England passing game. In addition to those three, Tom Brady is without Brandon Lloyd (free agent) and Danny Woodhead (San Diego), the fourth and fifth leading receivers on the 2012 Patriots. As Jason Lisk pointed out, that puts Brady in historically bad territory when it comes to roster turnover.

So today’s post doubles as a temperature check and a contest entry. Please predict the following for Tom Brady in 2013, based on the assumption that he is responsible for 99.4% of all Patriots pass attempts by quarterbacks for the second year in a row. To the extent he is not, I will pro-rate his numbers for purposes of judging the contest. To enter, simply copy and paste this table below in the comments and fill out each line.

Your name:
Brady’s number of pass attempts:
Brady’s number of passing yards:
Brady’s number of passing touchdowns:
Brady’s number of interceptions:
Brady’s number of sacks:
Brady’s number of sack yards lost:
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[In case you missed it, earlier this week, I created an NFL Draft Pick Value Calculator and provided wallet-sized and iPhone-style copies of the 2013 NFL Schedule.]

I find old newspaper articles very entertaining, so I decided to see how the Boston Globe documented the selection of Tom Brady in the sixth round of the 2000 Draft.

On April 17th, the day after the draft concluded, the Globe provided a full summary of each player. Here’s how they described the 199th pick:

6, 199 – Tom Brady, QB, Michigan

A pocket passer who will compete for a practice squad spot with the Patriots . . . Drafted as a catcher by the Montreal Expos in 1995 out of Serra (San Mateo, Calif.) HS . . . Completed 62.8 percent of his passes with 20 TDs and six interceptions. Only Elvis Grbac had more TD tosses in a season for the Wolverines . . . Throws a great slant . . . At almost 6-4, 214 pounds, has some mobility . . . Platooned with sophomore Drew Henson . . . Was projected to go in the third round, but dropped quickly.

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Those are some clutch shirts

Those are some clutch shirts.

Eight years ago — almost to the day — our old PFR colleague Doug Drinen wrote a Sabernomics post about “The Manning Index”, a metric designed to roughly gauge the clutchness (or chokeitude) of a given quarterback by looking at how he did relative to expectations (he revived this concept in version two, six years ago). In a nutshell, Doug used the location of the game and the win differential of the two teams involved to establish an expected winning percentage for each quarterback in a given matchup. He then added those up across all of a quarterback’s playoff starts, and compared to the number of wins he actually had. Therefore, quarterbacks who frequently exceeded expectations in playoff games could be considered “clutch” while those who often fell short (like the Index’s namesake, Peyton Manning) might just be inveterate chokers.

Doug ran that study in the midst of the 2004-05 playoffs, so it shouldn’t be surprising that Tom Brady (who was at the time 8-0 as a playoff starter and would run it to 10-0 before ever suffering a loss) came out on top, winning 3.5 more games than you’d expect from the particulars of the games he started. Fast-forward eight years, though, and you get this list of quarterbacks who debuted after 1977:
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13-time Pro Bowler

Will Lewis go out on top?

According to the SRS, this is as lopsided as championship games get. The Patriots are 12.8 points better than average while the Ravens have an SRS of just +2.9; therefore, you’d put New England as 13-point favorites at home (in reality, they are 8-point favorites). I’ve been a Ravens skeptic for a couple of months now, and never thought they were one of the best teams in the league.

In my week 11 power rankings, when Baltimore was 8-2, I wrote: “According to Football Outsiders, Baltimore has the best special teams since 1991 through 10 weeks. Schatz tweeted that Baltimore’s the 16th best team based on just offense and defense.”

A few days later the Ravens defeated the Chargers in the famous 4th-and-29 game, which certainly didn’t change my outlook on Baltimore. Then the Ravens tanked down the stretch, seemingly fulfilling their reputation as an average team. And let’s not forget: had Ben Roethlisberger stayed healthy, it’s possible the Ravens don’t even make the playoffs. Without the 13-10 ugly win over Byron Leftwich and the Steelers, both Baltimore and Pittsburgh would have finished 9-7 with the Steelers holding the tiebreaker. To be fair, the Ravens did not compete in a meaningless week 17 game, but the point is that the Ravens were barely above-average team during the season that got a few breaks along the way.
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Reviewing the Divisional Round of the Playoffs

The Best Weekend of the Year lived up to its reputation this weekend, as the divisional round of the playoffs gave us three outstanding games. Here is my reaction, with a disproportionate amount of time spent on the Denver-Baltimore game, because, well, if you saw it, you’d understand.

Baltimore 38, Denver 35

One of the best playoff games in NFL history, and an instant classic. This game could be analyzed for hours and there are countless talking points (Fox playing not to lose, Manning’s playoff failures, Ray Lewis’ retirement tour making at least one last stop, Tim Tebow anyone?) that will fill up the schedules of ESPN and talk radio for weeks. But let’s start with a big picture review of the game from the perspective of the team I expected to win the Super Bowl.

If you want to assign credit and blame to Denver, this is how I would rank the five Broncos units on Saturday, from best to worst.

1) Special teams. Sure, Matt Prater missed a long field goal, but Trindon Holliday’s two return touchdowns were a thing of beauty — especially for fans of excellent blocking. Holliday’s runs were more about textbook blocking by the return unit and poor coverage by the Ravens than Holliday himself, but in any event, the Broncos special teams had a great day. In fact, here is how Pro-Football-Reference broke down the game by unit in terms of Expected Points Added:
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Yesterday, I previewed Saturday’s games with um, mixed results (skip the Denver-Baltimore preview and just read the San Francisco-Green Bay breakdown twice). Let’s take another crack at it by examining Sunday’s matchups.

Seattle Seahawks (11-5) (+1) at Atlanta Falcons (13-3), Sunday, 1:00PM ET

An offense where the star eats Skittle is a young one

Did you know Marshawn Lynch eats Skittles?

Once again, Atlanta is tasked with facing a dominant wildcard team. Is this the year Matt Ryan finally silences his critics?

Atlanta is only a one-point favorite, just the seventh time a home team has been given such little respect this late in the season since 2000. Home teams are 3-3 when underdogs or small favorites over that span in the divisional conference championship rounds, although one of those losses came by the Falcons in 2010 against the Packers when Atlanta was a 1.5-point favorite. But let’s focus on these two teams, because the stats might surprise you.

Russell Wilson edges Matt Ryan in Y/A (7.9 to 7.7), AY/A (8.1 to 7.7), and passer rating (100.0 to 99.1), despite having a significantly worse set of receivers. Ryan does have the edge in NY/A (7.0 to 6.8) but the two are deadlocked in ANY/A at 7.0. Both quarterbacks led four 4th quarter comebacks this year, and Wilson led 5 game-winning drives while Ryan led six. Considering one quarterback has Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Tony Gonzalez, and the other is a 5’10 rookie, I consider this pretty remarkable.
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Is this a thinly-veiled Brady/Manning post?

Is this a thinly-veiled Brady/Manning post?

Last weekend, I looked at career rushing stats in wins and losses; today I will do the same but for quarterbacks.

I looked at all games, including playoffs, from 1960 to 2011, for all quarterbacks with at least 5,000 career passing yards over that time period. The table below lists the following information for each passer:

– His first year (or 1960, if he played before 1960) and his last year (or 2011, if still active)
– All the franchises he played for (which you can search for in the search box)
– His number of career wins, and his touchdown rate, interception rate, yards per attempt and Adjusted Yards per Attempt (which includes a 20-yard bonus for touchdown passes and a 45-yard penalty for interceptions) in wins1
– His number of career losses, and his touchdown rate, interception rate, yards per attempt and Adjusted Yards per Attempt in losses

The table is sorted by AY/A in wins; unsurprisingly, Aaron Rodgers — who is the career leader in that metric — tops this table, too. In fact, Rodgers is also the leader in AY/A in losses. Note that this table includes all games played by the quarterback, not just his starts.

1Aaron Rodgers2005--2011gnb19147497.6%1.3%8.78.3274.3%2.5%7.46.4
2Matt Schaub2004--2011atl-htx17936485.3%1.7%8.78.1533.5%3.3%7.25.8
3Tony Romo2005--2011dal21666606.6%2.1%8.77.9434.3%3.4%75.5
4Kurt Warner1998--2009ram-nyg-crd36296816.8%2.2%8.77.8573.3%4.4%7.25.3
5Daunte Culpepper1999--2009min-mia-rai-det25133457.1%2.2%8.77.8643.3%4%6.95.1
6Bob Berry1965--1975min-atl9197327.4%2.3%8.67.7364.2%7.4%7.13.8
7Steve Young1985--1999tam-sfo364501256.8%1.7%8.37.6602.9%4.2%7.25.3
8Philip Rivers2004--2011sdg26105696.2%2.3%8.57.6394%3.1%7.36
9Ben Roethlisberger2004--2011pit29729905.7%2.2%8.47.6383.7%4.9%7.25
10John Friesz1990--2000sdg-was-sea-nwe8699195%1%7.87.5382.6%4%5.84
11Bart Starr1960--1971gnb22810996.6%2.9%8.67.5412.4%5.9%6.74.1
12Don Meredith1960--1968dal17750518.5%3.3%8.87.5503.5%6%6.23.6
13Drew Brees2001--2011sdg-nor43722976.5%1.7%87.4663.4%3.7%6.75.1
14Ken O'Brien1984--1993nyj-phi25598565.8%1.7%87.4722.1%3.6%6.34.7
15J.P. Losman2004--2011buf-rai-mia6271175.8%1.5%7.97.4282.5%4.4%6.14.1
16Trent Green1997--2008was-ram-kan-mia28794595.3%2.1%8.27.3633.6%3.8%7.15.5
17Rob Johnson1995--2003jax-buf-tam-was-rai5947204.8%1.5%7.97.3252.8%3.6%6.75.1
18Chad Pennington2000--2010nyj-mia19241465.1%1.2%7.77.3493.2%4.1%6.64.9
19Boomer Esiason1984--1997cin-nyj-crd38520896.6%2.4%8.27.31033.3%4.4%6.54.6
20Neil Lomax1981--1988crd23156486.4%2.1%8.17.3593%3.3%6.65.2
21David Garrard2002--2010jax16489455.3%1.4%7.87.3442.7%3.4%6.44.9
22Matthew Stafford2009--2011det8220138.1%1.8%7.97.2173.4%4.4%6.34.4
23Joe Montana1979--1994sfo-kan463231406.4%2.2%8.17.2602.7%3.4%6.34.9
24Eddie LeBaron1960--1963dal53311112.5%5.5%9.47.2314.7%8.7%7.13.3
25Peyton Manning1998--2010clt602171506.3%1.9%87.2773.9%4.1%6.95.2
26Ed Brown1960--1965chi-pit-clt7723357.7%5.8%9.77.2332.9%8.8%6.52.6
27Wade Wilson1981--1998min-atl-nor-dal-rai18605666.1%2.6%8.37.2632.4%5.3%6.23.9
28Jay Cutler2006--2011den-chi18637426.6%2.2%8.17.2382.7%4.6%6.54.5
29Josh Freeman2009--2011tam8898175.6%1.8%7.97.2242.8%4.6%6.14.1
30Tom Brady2000--2011nwe452641406.1%1.6%7.87.2433.6%4.2%6.34.5
31Matt Moore2007--2011car-mia5137176.2%1.8%7.87.1192.8%5%6.24
32Chris Chandler1988--2004clt-tam-crd-ram-oti-atl-chi29212725.9%2.6%8.27.11053.1%4.4%6.44.4
33Len Dawson1960--1975cle-kan301121058.7%3.6%8.67.1643.2%6.3%6.63.8
34Joe Flacco2008--2011rav15348494.6%1.2%7.67.1243%4.4%5.94
35Trent Edwards2007--2010buf-jax6019144%1.6%7.77.1222%4.3%5.73.8
36Jeff Garcia1999--2009sfo-cle-det-phi-tam26894635.4%1.3%7.57.1683.4%3.1%6.45.1
37Ken Anderson1971--1986cin341591006.2%2.4%87.1922.7%4.7%6.74.7
38Rudy Bukich1960--1968pit-chi7865307.5%3.5%8.57353.5%8.6%62.3
39Troy Aikman1989--2000dal367911054.8%2.1%7.97762.1%4.1%64.2
40Damon Huard1998--2008mia-nwe-kan6349204.9%1.1%7.47242%4.3%5.84
41Jim Everett1986--1997ram-nor-sdg35957665.7%2.6%8.17973.2%4.2%6.54.6
42Roger Staubach1969--1979dal254911066.1%2.5%87443.5%6.3%6.73.9
43Bert Jones1973--1982clt-ram18589476.4%3.1%8.27583.6%4.6%6.34.3
44Frank Reich1985--1998buf-car-nyj-det6858398.8%2.1%7.77393.3%4.3%6.34.4
45Jeff Hostetler1986--1997nyg-rai-was17464705.5%1.9%7.77402.3%4.1%6.34.5
46Dan Fouts1973--1987sdg45165915.9%3.2%8.36.9953.1%5.5%7.14.7
47Bill Kenney1980--1988kan17374375.9%2.5%86.9493.2%4.2%6.54.6
48Y.A. Tittle1960--1964sfo-nyg11542408.9%4.3%8.76.9232.5%6.9%5.72.7
49Mark Brunell1994--2011gnb-jax-was-nor-nyj33905994.8%1.8%7.66.9913.2%2.9%6.24.9
50Aaron Brooks2000--2006nor-rai20822415.8%1.6%7.56.9543.3%4.1%6.44.7
51Patrick Ramsey2002--2008was-nyj-den5929165.2%2.3%7.86.9243.1%3.8%5.84.2
52Scott Mitchell1992--2001mia-det-rav-cin15925406%2.1%7.76.9452.6%4.6%5.93.9
53Randy Wright1984--1988gnb7106125.4%3.4%8.36.9332.2%5.5%5.93.5
54Rich Gannon1987--2004min-was-kan-rai30434915.5%1.5%7.46.9713%3.6%6.24.6
55Earl Morrall1960--1976det-nyg-clt-mia17529927.9%4.8%8.96.9444.2%6.9%6.63.6
56Sonny Jurgensen1960--1974phi-was31546747.7%3.9%8.46.9794.5%4.9%6.84.7
57Steve DeBerg1978--1998sfo-den-tam-kan-mia-atl34752725.4%2.3%7.86.91143.2%4.9%6.44.2
58Steve Beuerlein1988--2003rai-dal-crd-jax-car-den24317645.6%2.3%7.86.8663.4%4.2%6.85
59Fran Tarkenton1961--1978min-nyg488061316.8%2.8%86.81173.6%5.5%6.54.1
60John Brodie1960--1973sfo30783786.7%3.3%8.26.8793.3%6%6.13.5
61Doug Flutie1986--2005chi-nwe-buf-sdg15209485.2%2.4%7.86.8452.9%3.9%64.3
62Johnny Unitas1960--1973clt-sdg323351076.3%3.8%8.46.8592.7%7.3%6.53.2
63Joe Namath1965--1977nyj-ram28299686.4%4%8.56.8713.3%6.8%6.53.5
64Matt Ryan2008--2011atl14832436.1%1.9%7.56.8222.4%3%6.14.8
65Craig Erickson1992--1997tam-clt-mia7625184.8%2.7%7.96.8343.2%3.9%6.54.8
66Marc Bulger2002--2009ram23758424.9%2.6%7.86.8573.1%3.3%6.85.4
67Matt Cassel2005--2011nwe-kan11769425.1%2%7.66.8303.5%3.3%5.74.3
68Tom Flores1960--1969rai-buf-kan11960408.3%3.8%8.36.8442.8%6.7%5.72.8
69Phil Simms1979--1993nyg351411025.3%2.5%7.76.7723%4.3%6.44.6
70Derek Anderson2006--2011cle-crd-car9148215.5%2.4%7.76.7322.7%4.6%5.73.6
71Michael Vick2001--2011atl-phi18889655.8%2.4%7.76.7512.8%3.4%6.34.9
72Brett Favre1991--2010atl-gnb-nyj-min776932016.3%2.2%7.66.71253.2%4.9%6.44.3
73Craig Morton1965--1982dal-nyg-den291431186.7%3.7%8.26.7822.6%6.5%6.23.4
74Steve Pelluer1985--1990dal-kan6870173.3%2.2%7.66.7262.9%4.7%6.94.8
75Dan Marino1983--1999mia658711555.7%2.4%7.76.71054.1%3.9%6.85.1
76Donovan McNabb1999--2011phi-was-min408591065.4%2%7.46.7742.9%2.6%6.15
77Dave Krieg1980--1998sea-kan-det-crd-chi-oti400421136.7%3%7.96.7983%4.4%6.54.5
78Warren Moon1984--2000oti-min-sea-kan521951085.5%2.6%7.76.61103.1%4.2%6.84.9
79Jim Kelly1986--1996buf393301106.1%3.2%86.6673.1%4.6%6.64.6
80John Hadl1962--1977sdg-ram-gnb-oti339411037%3.7%8.26.6923.3%7.8%6.12.7
81Bernie Kosar1985--1996cle-dal-mia25254674.8%1.9%7.46.6663.1%3.4%6.65.1
82Jake Delhomme1999--2011nor-car-cle-htx22822655.5%2.9%7.86.6453.1%4.2%6.64.8
83Vince Evans1977--1995chi-rai9511377.1%3.8%8.26.6572.4%6%6.33.6
84John Elway1983--1998den564391635%2.6%7.76.6922.8%3.9%6.34.6
85Drew Bledsoe1993--2006nwe-buf-dal459461025.1%1.9%7.46.6992.4%4.2%5.94
86Jason Campbell2006--2011was-rai14417323.8%1.7%7.36.6393.3%2.7%6.45.3
87Pete Liske1964--1972nyj-den-phi5170167%2.6%7.66.6232.2%8.2%5.92.3
88Jeff George1990--2001clt-atl-rai-min-was28603485.5%2.7%7.76.6853.2%2.9%6.65.4
89Alex Smith2005--2011sfo13038334.4%1.1%76.6392.9%4.3%64.1
90Jim Zorn1976--1987sea-gnb-tam21249524.9%2.9%7.86.6682.8%5.4%6.13.7
91Lynn Dickey1971--1985oti-gnb23914526.5%4.4%8.46.6763.5%6.6%74.1
92Jon Kitna1997--2011sea-cin-det-dal30104565.7%2%7.46.6862.8%4.7%6.34.3
93Eric Hipple1981--1989det11009306.3%3%7.86.6361.8%5.5%6.44
94Bob Griese1967--1980mia265591087.4%3.9%8.16.5623.5%6.4%6.43.5
95Chris Miller1987--1999atl-ram-den19789375.7%2.4%7.56.5633.6%4.2%6.34.5
96Gus Frerotte1994--2008was-det-den-cin-min-mia-ram21666585.1%2.7%7.66.5602.5%4.1%6.24.4
97Matt Hasselbeck1999--2011gnb-sea-oti35891915.1%2.4%7.56.5803%3.4%6.34.8
98Tarvaris Jackson2006--2011min-sea7239274.5%3.1%7.86.5232.8%3.4%5.84.3
99Jeff Blake1992--2005nyj-cin-nor-rav-crd-phi-chi21711425.1%2.1%7.46.5773.6%3.6%6.34.7
100Tony Eason1983--1990nwe-nyj11703355.1%2.8%7.76.5313.3%3.4%6.75.2
101Jim Harbaugh1987--2000chi-clt-rav-sdg27194784.8%2.1%7.36.5932.3%3.6%6.24.6
102Don Majkowski1987--1996gnb-clt-det12906344.8%2.8%7.76.5432.6%4.2%64.2
103Gary Hogeboom1982--1989dal-clt-crd9598315.1%2.6%7.56.5282.7%6.1%6.74
104Joe Theismann1974--1985was26988956%2.8%7.66.5592.4%5.1%6.34.1
105Randall Cunningham1985--2001phi-min-dal-rav32405986.1%2.6%7.66.5733.1%3.6%6.34.7
106Byron Leftwich2003--2010jax-atl-pit-tam10439305%1.6%7.16.5312.6%3.5%6.24.7
107Tony Banks1996--2005ram-rav-was-htx15315435.2%2.2%7.46.5522%3.7%5.94.3
108Bobby Hebert1985--1996nor-atl22331635.2%3%7.76.5553.5%5%6.24.1
109Greg Landry1968--1984det-clt-chi16100556.7%3.9%8.16.5652.5%4.7%6.34.2
110Eli Manning2004--2011nyg30095775.5%2.2%7.36.4543.7%4.5%6.74.7
111Jay Fiedler1998--2005min-jax-mia-nyj12499505%2.6%7.56.4292.5%5.9%63.4
112Stan Humphries1989--1997was-sdg18538554.4%2.3%7.46.4392.2%5.1%5.93.7
113Jim Plunkett1971--1986nwe-sfo-rai28175855.6%3.4%7.96.4823.2%7.1%6.43.2
114Elvis Grbac1994--2001sfo-kan-rav17492614.8%2.4%7.46.4393.1%4.4%6.24.3
115Richard Todd1976--1985nyj-nor21636515.2%3.6%7.96.4703.2%7%6.23.1
116Steve Grogan1975--1990nwe27457806.7%4.3%8.26.4713.5%7.2%6.83.6
117Frank Ryan1960--1970ram-cle-was15833669.3%4.4%8.26.4424%6.1%6.63.9
118Carson Palmer2004--2011cin-rai25659505.9%2.9%7.66.4593.8%3.5%6.95.3
119Shaun Hill2005--2011min-sfo-det6209185.5%1.8%7.16.4163.2%2.8%6.35.1
120Mark Rypien1988--2001was-cle-ram-phi-clt20249585.7%3.3%7.76.4472.9%3.6%6.54.9
121Bubby Brister1986--2000pit-phi-nyj-den-min14801475.7%2.3%7.36.4511.9%4.3%5.93.9
122Kerry Collins1995--2011car-nor-nyg-rai-oti-clt42478924.4%2.1%7.26.41132.7%4%6.14.3
123Steve McNair1995--2007oti-rav330681004.6%2.1%7.26.4722.6%3.4%6.44.9
124Charlie Batch1998--2011det-pit10610405.2%2.8%7.56.3373.1%3.4%6.65.1
125Bill Nelsen1963--1972pit-cle15004466.5%4.1%86.3433%7.2%6.53.4
126Charley Johnson1961--1975crd-oti-den24410687.3%4.7%8.36.3703%5.9%6.33.6
127Steve Bartkowski1975--1986atl-ram24916605.9%3.1%7.66.3733.5%5.2%6.54.3
128Sam Bradford2010--2011ram567684.1%1.5%6.96.3181.9%2.5%5.64.5
129Gary Danielson1977--1988det-cle14000424.9%2.9%7.56.3433.5%5.3%6.74.4
130Brian Sipe1974--1983cle23896606%3.2%7.66.3623%5.4%6.23.8
131Jay Schroeder1985--1994was-rai-cin-crd20854715.2%2.7%7.46.3502.7%5.3%6.64.3
132Virgil Carter1968--1976chi-cin-sdg5127215.7%3%7.56.3242.1%4.7%5.63.5
133Tommy Kramer1977--1990min-nor25651645.9%2.8%7.46.3662.9%5.7%6.23.7
134Brad Johnson1994--2008min-was-tam-dal304571024.6%2.1%7.16.2702.9%3.9%6.24.5
135Kelly Holcomb1995--2007tam-clt-cle-buf-min645395.5%3.4%7.76.2294%4.5%6.54.6
136Quincy Carter2001--2004dal-nyj6491204.7%2.2%7.16.2181.8%5.3%5.93.5
137Ryan Fitzpatrick2005--2011ram-cin-buf10936226.2%2.4%7.26.2342.9%4.5%5.93.9
138Neil O'Donnell1991--2003pit-nyj-cin-oti23399725%2%76.2582.5%2.3%6.35.4
139James Harris1969--1979buf-ram-sdg8479445.8%4.2%86.2341.8%6.6%63.1
140Brian Griese1998--2008den-mia-tam-chi19440535.2%2.8%7.46.2403.3%4.2%6.64.7
141Terry Bradshaw1970--1983pit318221257%4.3%86.2623%7.3%6.12.9
142Bill Munson1964--1979ram-det-sea-sdg-buf12940416.4%2.6%7.26.2582.8%5%6.13.9
143Steve Tensi1966--1970sdg-den5558158.5%4.4%86.1293.5%5.7%5.83.3
144Jeff Kemp1981--1991ram-sfo-sea-phi6403286.7%2.9%7.36.1261.9%5.5%6.33.8
145Ty Detmer1993--2001gnb-phi-sfo-cle-det6499184.9%2.5%7.16.1242.7%4.6%6.54.4
146Billy Wade1960--1966ram-chi11390346.1%3.5%7.66.1333.8%6.3%6.43.7
147Dave M. Brown1992--2000nyg-crd10304294.1%2.5%7.26.1421.9%4.2%5.84
148Mark Sanchez2009--2011nyj10364305.1%2%6.96.1222.9%5%6.24
149Joe Ferguson1973--1990buf-det-tam-clt30631836.4%3.1%7.46.11073%5.8%6.13.5
150Norm Snead1961--1976was-phi-min-nyg-sfo30797576.9%4.3%7.96.11143.5%6.7%6.73.7
151Dennis Shaw1970--1975buf-crd6347125.9%5.3%8.46.1342.8%8.1%6.52.9
152Vince Ferragamo1977--1986ram-buf-gnb12564357.1%3.7%7.66.1422.9%7.1%6.53.4
153Jake Plummer1997--2006crd-den30593744.7%2.5%7.16.1752.9%4.8%6.44.3
154Tommy Maddox1992--2005den-ram-nyg-pit8754275.9%3.2%7.46.1282.6%5.3%6.13.7
155Daryle Lamonica1963--1974buf-rai210821047.8%4.6%86.1373%7.3%62.8
156Kyle Orton2005--2011chi-den-kan14532364.5%1.9%6.86.1353%3.1%6.45
157Roman Gabriel1962--1977ram-phi29780875.7%2.6%7.16.1793.2%4%5.84.1
158Bob Lee1969--1980min-atl-ram5416605.9%4.8%8.16.1241.2%6.2%52.3
159David Carr2002--2010htx-car-nyg-sfo14433323.4%2.2%76.1612.7%3.4%6.24.7
160Jack Trudeau1986--1995clt-nyj-car10494253.2%2.4%7.16432.3%5.2%5.83.5
161Steve Fuller1979--1986kan-chi7454334%3.5%7.56291.9%4%6.24.5
162Danny White1976--1988dal242431245.8%4%7.76594%5.3%6.74.4
163Archie Manning1971--1984nor-oti-min23911374.4%3.2%7.461103.1%5.1%6.34.1
164Ken Stabler1970--1984rai-oti-nor305791106.6%4.6%7.96643%7.3%6.53.3
165Doug Williams1978--1989tam-was18108495.4%2.8%7.26453.1%4.8%6.54.4
166Joe Pisarcik1977--1984nyg-phi5552254.6%4.1%7.86322.1%5.7%5.73.1
167Jim McMahon1982--1996chi-sdg-phi-min-crd-gnb19260864.5%3.3%7.46402.6%3.8%6.44.8
168Milt Plum1960--1969cle-det-ram-nyg13335466.9%4.9%8.16403.1%6%6.33.7
169Ron Jaworski1974--1989ram-phi-mia-kan29859895.4%2.9%7.26793.4%4.8%6.54.4
170Rodney Peete1989--2004det-dal-phi-was-car16636554.3%3.4%7.56482.2%4.3%6.54.6
171Vinny Testaverde1987--2007tam-cle-rav-nyj-dal-nwe-car475531025.3%3.1%7.361373.3%4.5%6.74.7
172Billy Kilmer1961--1978sfo-nor-was21555886.7%3.7%7.56813.3%5.9%6.13.5
173Tim Couch1999--2003cle11131225.5%3.2%7.36402.7%4.3%64.1
174Erik Kramer1987--1999atl-det-chi-sdg16336384.9%2.4%76483.4%4.1%6.54.7
175Trent Dilfer1994--2007tam-rav-sea-cle-sfo21489685.3%2.7%7.16652%5.1%63.7
176Mike Pagel1982--1993clt-cle-ram9593224.5%2.6%7.16532.9%4.9%63.8
177Kordell Stewart1995--2005pit-chi-rav15490763.5%2.1%6.85.9542.7%5.6%5.53
178Chad Henne2008--2011mia7114143.6%1.7%6.65.9202.4%4.6%6.74.7
179Jim Hart1966--1984crd-was35156935.7%4%7.65.91032.9%5.5%6.23.8
180Vince Young2006--2011oti-phi9102354.5%3%7.15.9272.2%4.9%6.54.3
181Josh McCown2002--2011crd-det-rai-car-chi6998154.2%1.6%6.55.9362.9%5.2%6.23.9
182Mark Malone1981--1989pit-sdg-nyj10733296.3%3%7.15.8442.3%5.9%5.83.2
183Babe Parilli1960--1969rai-nwe-nyj18778647.1%4.1%7.55.8473.2%7.5%5.92.5
184Don Strock1974--1988mia-cle5913377.1%3.6%7.35.8304.5%7.3%6.63.3
185Dick Wood1962--1966sdg-nyj-rai-mia7153177.1%3.4%7.25.8282.6%7.3%5.32.1
186Shaun King1999--2004tam-crd5057195.9%2.3%6.75.8161.1%4.1%5.53.7
187Pat Haden1976--1981ram10024414.4%2.9%75.8263.1%7.1%6.43.3
188Bobby Douglass1969--1978chi-sdg-nor-gnb6493166.2%3.5%7.25.8572.1%5.8%5.12.5
189Cotton Davidson1960--1968kan-rai11451306.5%4.1%7.55.7402.9%7.2%6.33.1
190Steve Bono1985--1999min-pit-sfo-kan-gnb-ram-car10576494.6%1.8%6.45.7262.5%3.7%5.74.1
191Marc Wilson1980--1990rai-nwe14526395.8%4%7.45.7422.8%5.8%6.53.9
192Billy Joe Tolliver1989--1999sdg-atl-oti-kan-nor10760245%2.6%6.85.7533%4.1%6.14.4
193Rick Mirer1993--2003sea-chi-nyj-sfo-rai11969273.9%2.4%6.65.6521.8%4.4%5.53.5
194Steve Ramsey1970--1976nor-den6437235.4%5.9%8.15.6282.4%6.5%6.33.4
195Jacky Lee1960--1969oti-den-kan6191309%7%8.55.5294%6.9%6.63.6
196Hugh Millen1987--1995ram-atl-nwe-den644082.3%4.2%7.45.5302.4%3.6%6.85.2
197Jim Ninowski1960--1969det-cle-was-nor6953334.3%4.5%7.55.5272.6%7.4%6.22.9
198Dave Wilson1981--1988nor7007164.2%5.2%7.85.5373.1%5.5%6.23.8
199Kyle Boller2003--2011rav-ram-rai8931304.1%1.7%6.25.5362.6%4.7%5.73.6
200Joey Harrington2002--2007det-mia-atl14693274.4%2.2%6.45.5552.5%3.8%5.53.9
201Todd Blackledge1983--1989kan-pit5366225.2%3.4%6.95.5221.7%5.2%5.32.9
202Mike Tomczak1985--1999chi-gnb-cle-pit16963793.8%3.9%7.15.5593.4%5.3%6.64.2
203Mike Livingston1968--1979kan11295374.4%3.2%6.85.5522.4%5.7%6.23.7
204Danny Kanell1996--2003nyg-atl-den5328145.3%2.5%6.55.5252.2%4%4.93.2
205Steve Dils1980--1988min-ram-atl5816183.5%2.6%6.55.4292.4%3.6%5.74.1
206Jack Thompson1979--1984cin-tam5329155.3%1.8%6.15.4303.5%6.2%6.33.6
207Kent Graham1992--2001nyg-crd-pit-was7801274.4%1.6%65.4331.8%3.1%5.74.3
208David Woodley1980--1985mia-pit9203384.4%3.5%6.95.4243%7.4%6.33.1
209Randy Johnson1966--1976atl-nyg-was-gnb8329147.8%4.4%7.25.4583.2%7.6%6.33
210Rex Grossman2003--2011chi-htx-was11015304.7%3.3%6.85.4272.3%4.3%6.24.3
211Jim Miller1995--2002pit-chi6410203.9%2.9%6.65.3183%3.2%5.64.3
212Dan Pastorini1971--1983oti-rai-ram-phi19469624.6%4.2%7.15.3812.5%6.1%5.42.7
213Paul McDonald1980--1984cle5550123.8%3.4%6.85.3232.8%5.1%74.7
214George Blanda1960--1975oti-rai220291428.4%6%7.85.3793.9%8%6.12.5
215Jack Kemp1960--1969sdg-buf22256714.6%5.2%7.55.2462.2%7.1%6.23
216David Whitehurst1977--1983gnb6205216.1%5.3%7.45.1301.1%5.4%5.73.3
217Zeke Bratkowski1960--1971chi-ram-gnb8005304.7%5.5%7.55.1453.5%8.9%6.62.7
218Steve Spurrier1967--1976sfo-tam6878486.4%4.9%7.15.1532.2%5.2%5.43.1
219Joe Kapp1967--1970min-nwe6746266.6%6.2%7.75.1262.2%8.1%5.72.1
220Bob Avellini1975--1984chi7288304.2%5.9%7.55362.3%6.8%5.72.7
221Frank Tripucka1960--1963den7676135.1%5.9%7.55293.3%6.7%5.22.3
222Pete Beathard1964--1973kan-oti-crd-ram8544404.5%5.3%7.24.9342.5%7.3%5.62.4
223Gary Cuozzo1963--1972clt-nor-min-crd7688474.6%3.9%6.54.9352.9%5.7%63.5
224Al Dorow1960--1962nyj-buf5732145.7%5%6.94.8184.7%8.5%5.82.1
225Steve Walsh1989--1999dal-nor-chi-ram-tam-clt8248273.9%3.2%6.24.8342.4%4.5%5.93.9
226Mike Phipps1970--1981cle-chi10806504.5%3.7%6.44.8511.7%8.4%5.31.6
227Scott Brunner1980--1985nyg-crd6843163.7%3.7%6.34.7293%5.8%6.23.6
228Jack Concannon1964--1975phi-chi-gnb-det6270274.6%4.3%6.54.6322.5%6.8%5.12.1
229Mike Taliaferro1964--1972nyj-nwe-buf5241198.2%4.7%6.34.4412.2%7.2%5.11.9

[click to continue…]

  1. Unfortunately, I excluded sack data from this study due to its general unavailability for most of the covered time period. []

These guys are pretty good.

These guys are pretty good.

After posting about SRS-style quarterback ratings on Monday, I was thinking about other things we can do with game-by-game data like that. In his QBGOAT series, Chase likes to compare QBs to the league average, which makes a lot of sense for all-time ratings — you want to reward guys who are at least above-average in a ranking like that. However, if we want seasonal value, perhaps average is too high a baseline.

Over at Football Outsiders, Aaron Schatz has always compared to “replacement level”, borrowing a concept from baseball. I like that approach, but replacement level can be hard to empirically determine. So for the purposes of this post, I wanted to come up with a quick-and-dirty baseline to which we can compare QBs.

To that end, I looked at all players who were not their team’s primary passer in each game since 2010. Weighted by recency and the number of dropbacks by each passer, they performed at roughly a 4.4 Adjusted Net Yards Per Attempt level. This is not necessarily the replacement level, but it does seem to be the “bench level” — i.e., the ANYPA you could expect from a backup-caliber QB across the league.

Using 4.4 ANYPA as the baseline, we get the following values for 2012:

Tom Brady1888.1
Peyton Manning1708.2
Matt Ryan1453.4
Drew Brees1441.8
Aaron Rodgers1337.4
Robert Griffin III1226.6
Matt Schaub1205.1
Josh Freeman1140.1
Cam Newton1128.2
Tony Romo1120.2
Ben Roethlisberger1082.8
Carson Palmer1011.9
Eli Manning1002.9
Joe Flacco914.8
Russell Wilson890.5
Matthew Stafford834.1
Andy Dalton756.9
Andrew Luck691.6
Sam Bradford616.3
Alex Smith558.5
Colin Kaepernick506.5
Ryan Fitzpatrick481.1
Philip Rivers447.7
Ryan Tannehill409.6
Brandon Weeden320.4
Michael Vick317.5
Jake Locker316.9
Jay Cutler293.8
Chad Henne217.4
Kirk Cousins156.8
Nick Foles152.5
Shaun Hill151.9
Matt Hasselbeck134.0
Kevin Kolb121.4
Blaine Gabbert92.2
Christian Ponder91.0
Mohamed Sanu87.7
Kyle Orton62.8
Matt Moore52.5
Derek Anderson30.1
Matt Flynn23.7
Dan Orlovsky17.6
Greg McElroy11.4
Tyrod Taylor9.2
Rusty Smith9.1
Chase Daniel5.6
Tyler Thigpen2.7
Graham Harrell-1.6
Terrelle Pryor-4.4
Matt Leinart-5.1
David Carr-5.9
Tim Tebow-6.3
Mark Sanchez-13.3
Charlie Batch-17.8
Kellen Clemens-22.4
Ryan Mallett-45.9
Byron Leftwich-46.6
Matt Cassel-47.7
Brad Smith-50.0
T.J. Yates-55.1
Jason Campbell-88.4
Brady Quinn-146.4
John Skelton-309.2
Ryan Lindley-382.0

If we weigh each game by how recent the results took place, we get this list:

QuarterbackWgtd QBYAB
Tom Brady1527.6
Drew Brees1205.4
Peyton Manning1202.0
Matt Ryan1129.8
Aaron Rodgers1109.4
Tony Romo961.1
Cam Newton936.6
Matt Schaub900.3
Robert Griffin III869.5
Eli Manning795.5
Ben Roethlisberger793.9
Josh Freeman790.3
Carson Palmer760.4
Russell Wilson722.9
Matthew Stafford687.5
Joe Flacco666.3
Andy Dalton520.4
Andrew Luck479.9
Sam Bradford459.9
Colin Kaepernick443.0
Alex Smith399.3
Philip Rivers384.9
Ryan Fitzpatrick324.0
Ryan Tannehill313.1
Brandon Weeden266.5
Michael Vick249.9
Jay Cutler236.8
Jake Locker192.4
Chad Henne178.7
Kirk Cousins158.7
Nick Foles150.5
Matt Hasselbeck133.1
Shaun Hill84.4
Kevin Kolb70.6
Matt Moore64.8
Kyle Orton59.8
Mohamed Sanu47.4
Matt Flynn47.4
Blaine Gabbert39.9
Dan Orlovsky26.3
Tim Tebow16.3
Derek Anderson16.3
Greg McElroy10.3
Chase Daniel5.1
Rusty Smith4.8
Tyrod Taylor4.0
Tyler Thigpen-0.8
Graham Harrell-1.4
Matt Leinart-2.8
David Carr-3.3
Terrelle Pryor-4.4
Charlie Batch-7.6
Kellen Clemens-14.0
Matt Cassel-24.2
T.J. Yates-29.7
Brad Smith-33.2
Byron Leftwich-38.3
Christian Ponder-39.4
Ryan Mallett-44.6
Jason Campbell-51.1
Mark Sanchez-91.0
Brady Quinn-113.4
John Skelton-263.6
Ryan Lindley-340.5

This kind of thing isn’t exactly the most advanced stat in the world, but it’s pretty good if you want to sort QBs into general groups based on how good they are (the assumption being that a player who never plays is implicitly a bench-level player by definition).

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