In this week's Varsity Numbers, Bill Connelly takes a page out of baseball's playbook and attempts to isolate power from efficiency.
20 Oct 2003
Guest column by Richie Wohlers
Last week, at the Football Project website, Dan Lewis published an article proposing that teams might be better off spending less money on their quarterbacks. Rather than analyze the statistics for a comprehensive data sample, however, Lewis used a few examples of successful, inexpensive QBs to make his point. What if you looked at all the quarterbacks in the NFL for 2002? Would would the numbers say about expensive vs. inexpensive quarterbacks?
I decided to dig deeper, looking at the statistics for all quarterbacks during the the 2002 season in a few different ways. First, amongst all QBs who passed for at least 1000 yards in 2002, which ones gained the most yards per million dollars of salary? Marc Bulger was the best value, passing for 1,826 yards with a salary cap value of just $320,000. That worked out to 5,694 yards/$million. The worst bargain will come as no surprise: Kordell Stewart, gaining just 1,155 yards on almost $7 million salary (167 yards/$million). Five QBs passed for over 3,000 yards, while earning less than $2 million per year -- Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Trent Green, Aaron Brooks, Daunte Culpepper and Chad Pennington. Despite 4,200 passing yards, Peyton Manning finishes in 35th place. It's very tough to justify that $10+ million salary. Here's the whole list:
|Player||Team||Cap Value||Pass Yards||Yds/Mil $|
|38||Plummer, J ake||Cardinals||$8,679,899||2972||342.4|
Another way to look at these numbers is to compare an entire team's success to the money they spend on all QBs. The Colts and Eagles are the only teams to spend over $10 million on QBs last season. Both teams won at least 10 games, but they both finished in the bottom eight of the NFL in wins per million dollars of QB salary. Philadelphia won 1.2 games per million QB dollars, and Indianapolis won 0.9 games/$million. Six teams won at least nine games while spending less than $5 million on the QB position -- NWE, NOR, SFO, MIA, ATL, and DEN -- but only two of those made the playoffs. Here's the full list:
Eight of last year's playoff teams fall in the bottom half of this table. The conclusion here is that, although the wins/$million value is not great, spending money on quarterbacks works, as far as getting your team to the playoffs is concerned. SFO, OAK, ATL, and TEN were the four playoff teams to rank in the top half of wins/$million. I can't really pick out a common factor as to why they would rank up there. Perhaps they just aren't paying their quarterbacks what they are worth.
Ffinally, here are the rankings of total offensive yards per team, and how much they spent at QB:
Comments? Make them in our discussion thread, or contact Richie at richiewohlers @ hotmail.com. If you are interested in writing a guest column, something that takes a new angle on the NFL, please email us your idea at info @ footballoutsiders.com.