Regular readers will recall that in 2014, I looked at how Eli Manning’s stats compared to other Hall of Fame passers. I used a quick-and-dirty method to measure quarterback dominance, reprinted below.
- Step 1) Calculate each quarterback’s Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt (ANY/A) for each season of his career where he had enough pass attempts to qualify for the passing title (14 attempts per team game). ANY/A, of course, is calculated as follows: (Passing Yards + PassTDs * 20 – INTs * 45 – Sack Yards Lost) / (Pass Attempts + Sacks).
- Step 2) For each quarterback, award him 10 points if he led the league1 in ANY/A, 9 points if he finished 2nd, 8 points if he finished 3rd, … and 1 point if he finished 10th. A quarterback receives 0 points if he does not finish in the top 10 in ANY/A or does not have enough pass attempts to qualify. This is biased in favor of older quarterbacks to the extent he is playing in a smaller league. For example, Charlie Conerly
- Step 3) For each quarterback, add his “points” from each season to produce a career grade.
Romo ranked in the top 10 in ANY/A in all but one season from 2006 to 2014. He finished 2nd in ANY/A in 2014 (9 points), 4th in ANY/A in 2009 (7 points), 5th in both 2006 and 2007 (6 points), 6th in 2011 (5), 7th in 2008 (4), and 9th in 2013 (2). That gives him a total of 39 points. How does that rank historically? Take a look: in the table below, I’ve included the number of “points” for each quarterback with at least 8 points, the last year they played (to help sort by era), and whether or not they are not yet eligible for the HOF, in the HOF, or have not been inducted.
Romo is tied for 28th with three other quarterbacks with borderline Hall of Fame stats: Boomer Esiason, who is arguably a top three non-HOF quarterback, Kurt Warner, who just was inducted, and Troy Aikman, who perhaps would not be in the Hall of Fame if not for his outstanding postseason play.
Of the 27 passers with at least 40 points, 6 are not eligible for the Hall of Fame, though at least 4 are HOF locks (Manning, Brady, Brees, Rodgers), a fifth is a likely HOFer (Roethlisberger), and the sixth (Rivers) is another borderline case.
Of the other 21 quarterbacks? 18 are in the Hall of Fame. The other three? One is Ken Anderson, widely recognized as the best quarterback to be passed over by the HOF. The other two retired before 1960 — Charlie Conerly and Tommy Thompson — so their rankings are inflated by playing in smaller leagues.
In addition to Warner and Aikman, a number of other quarterbacks are in the HOF with rankings lower than Romo, including three players that retired in the ’90s: John Elway, Warren Moon, and Jim Kelly. And for the Eli Manning fans, he has just 9 points.
From an efficiency standpoint, Romo is a Hall of Famer. Whether or not his efficiency truly reflects his ability, his less-than-stellar postseason reputation, and his relatively short career are key questions that the Hall of Fame voters will have to answer. But his statistical case after adjusting for era is probably stronger than most people think. That’s because while Romo only had four seasons with 4,000+ yards, he was extremely efficient for much of his career. From ’06 to ’14, Romo joined Rodgers, Manning, Brady, and Brees as the top 5 passers from that era.
- For purposes of this post, I have combined all AFL, NFL, and AAFC Stats. [↩]