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08 Feb 2018

Postseason QB Stats: 2017 Update

by Scott Kacsmar

As I looked at last year's update to the quarterback postseason stats, one of the first comments from a reader called "justanothersteve" stood out. It was in reference to the lofty stats compiled by Colin Kaepernick in his six playoff starts with the 49ers in 2012 and 2013. The comment read: "Somewhere out there is a GM who will see that stat and will sign Kaepernick thinking he just needs the right coach and players to replicate that performance."

After this latest postseason, aren't we in the same spot with Nick Foles, and didn't his run with the Eagles to a Super Bowl MVP just validate that line of thinking? We'll never know if the Eagles could have made this run if Foles had been the Week 1 starter instead of Carson Wentz, but pressed into action in Week 14 for the stretch run, Foles did a great job of executing Doug Pederson's offense. With the right coach and talented players around him, Foles just had an incredible postseason after recently contemplating retirement before he took another backup role.

We always get plenty of reminders of how success in the NFL is heavily dependent on the supporting cast. When Kaepernick had Jim Harbaugh as his head coach and a very talented roster in San Francisco, the team was in contention for a championship. After Harbaugh left and the roster was stripped of its talent, we saw how quickly things deteriorated. We also saw Foles flop in St. Louis with Jeff Fisher and the Rams before finding his way back to some of his 2013 magic this season with the Eagles.

The 2017 season was loaded with unique quarterback stories thanks in part to so many injuries. Beyond Foles, we saw how Case Keenum (Vikings) and Jared Goff (Rams) were able to excel once given a great scheme and talent around them. Tyrod Taylor (Bills), Blake Bortles (Jaguars), and Marcus Mariota (Titans) also made their postseason debuts this year -- which is why we don't have too many players to update this year.

We are using the same sample of 35 quarterbacks for drive stats and 51 quarterbacks for DVOA. So you won't see Foles in any of the main tables below, because he doesn't meet the requirements of six playoff starts for drive stats or 150 pass attempts for DVOA. We will put his historic postseason into context below, but first up are the drive stats, which means it is time for a disclaimer.

Disclaimer: While passing stats are not entirely individual stats, drive stats are even more teammate-focused. There are, of course, drives where the quarterback never drops back and just hands the ball off every play. The entry "Cam Newton" is another way of saying "2013-15 and 2017 Carolina Panthers," and also an abbreviation for Greg Olsen, Jonathan Stewart, Kelvin Benjamin, Ted Ginn, Ryan Kalil, offensive coordinator Mike Shula, etc. Drive stats are not adjusted for opponent.

Most of these stats will be familiar to users of Football Outsiders' drive stats -- my inspiration for collecting this data in the first place years ago. Yards per drive still measures net yards, including penalties. As always, kneeldown drives are excluded, and any kneeldown is removed from the drive stats. Generally, only games started by the quarterback are included, but there are some significant backup performances included for Steve Young, Troy Aikman, John Elway, Mark Brunell, Dave Krieg, Bernie Kosar, and Randall Cunningham. Every quarterback included has at least six playoff starts and the data goes back to 1981 at this time.

Drive Stats for 1981-2017

Our first table includes general drive stats for things like yards (Yds/Dr), points (Pts/Dr), and starting field position (LOS/Dr) per drive. The average scoring margin at the start of each drive is also included in the final column. The 13 active players are in bold, and the average of the sample is included at the bottom.

Quarterbacks: General Postseason Drive Stats
Quarterback Games Drives Yds/Dr Pts/Dr LOS/Dr Plays/Dr Avg. Lead
Colin Kaepernick 6 60 41.48 (1) 2.75 (1) 27.20 (33) 6.08 (3) -2.42 (28)
Aaron Rodgers 16 169 35.77 (2) 2.54 (2) 27.83 (31) 6.03 (5) 1.01 (10)
Drew Brees 13 151 35.52 (3) 2.38 (5) 27.44 (32) 5.87 (11) -2.30 (27)
Steve Young 15 141 34.63 (4) 2.46 (3) 31.44 (14) 6.01 (7) 0.66 (12)
Andrew Luck 6 69 34.58 (5) 1.90 (21) 24.03 (35) 5.87 (10) -7.19 (35)
Matt Ryan 10 102 34.46 (6) 2.23 (9) 27.03 (34) 6.02 (6) 1.58 (8)
Russell Wilson 12 124 34.10 (7) 2.27 (8) 30.63 (19) 5.74 (15) -2.45 (29)
Tom Brady 37 408 34.05 (8) 2.31 (7) 30.52 (21) 6.04 (4) 1.29 (9)
Kurt Warner 13 144 33.65 (9) 2.35 (6) 32.69 (5) 5.26 (31) 2.50 (4)
Peyton Manning 27 293 33.14 (10) 1.95 (20) 28.06 (29) 6.00 (8) -0.09 (14)
Ben Roethlisberger 21 229 33.04 (11) 2.18 (11) 30.26 (23) 5.85 (12) -0.72 (16)
Cam Newton 7 79 32.82 (12) 1.97 (17) 28.51 (27) 5.82 (13) 0.67 (11)
Troy Aikman 16 164 32.81 (13) 2.44 (4) 33.12 (4) 5.82 (14) 1.59 (7)
Joe Montana 23 248 32.41 (14) 2.15 (12) 31.62 (12) 5.53 (19) 2.64 (3)
Warren Moon 10 107 32.37 (15) 1.87 (23) 28.01 (30) 6.35 (2) -1.13 (20)
John Elway 22 239 32.03 (16) 2.13 (13) 31.79 (11) 5.53 (20) -0.10 (15)
Tony Romo 6 62 31.10 (17) 1.81 (27) 28.4 (28) 5.98 (9) -2.27 (26)
Neil O'Donnell 7 78 30.92 (18) 1.85 (24) 33.33 (1) 6.56 (1) 3.26 (2)
Quarterback Games Drives Yds/Dr Pts/Dr LOS/Dr Plays/Dr Avg. Lead
Jim Kelly 17 195 30.89 (19) 2.08 (14) 33.18 (3) 5.57 (17) 1.73 (6)
Bernie Kosar 8 93 30.60 (20) 1.98 (16) 29.14 (26) 5.27 (30) -1.62 (22)
Alex Smith 7 81 30.26 (21) 2.19 (10) 31.30 (16) 5.52 (22) 3.51 (1)
Jeff Garcia 6 64 29.98 (22) 1.89 (22) 29.92 (24) 5.55 (18) -6.97 (34)
Brett Favre 24 274 29.97 (23) 2.03 (15) 33.22 (2) 5.37 (25) 0.18 (13)
Mark Sanchez 6 65 29.75 (24) 1.85 (25) 32.28 (7) 5.45 (23) -1.86 (24)
Philip Rivers 9 96 29.74 (25) 1.83 (26) 31.25 (17) 5.35 (26) -1.88 (25)
Eli Manning 12 132 29.63 (26) 1.72 (30) 29.64 (25) 5.63 (16) -1.00 (19)
Jake Delhomme 8 93 29.61 (27) 1.78 (29) 30.35 (22) 5.04 (34) -0.96 (18)
Dan Marino 18 205 28.64 (28) 1.79 (28) 30.56 (20) 5.42 (24) -5.62 (32)
Joe Flacco 15 173 28.56 (29) 1.97 (18) 31.32 (15) 5.35 (27) 1.82 (5)
Matt Hasselbeck 11 133 28.22 (30) 1.95 (19) 32.08 (9) 5.32 (29) -1.77 (23)
Donovan McNabb 16 187 27.48 (31) 1.68 (31) 31.99 (10) 5.33 (28) -1.56 (21)
Steve McNair 10 117 26.97 (32) 1.54 (33) 32.34 (6) 5.52 (21) -0.88 (17)
Mark Brunell 11 113 26.42 (33) 1.56 (32) 31.16 (18) 5.26 (32) -3.29 (30)
Randall Cunningham 10 125 25.64 (34) 1.46 (34) 32.09 (8) 5.02 (35) -6.58 (33)
Dave Krieg 11 105 23.36 (35) 1.31 (35) 31.57 (13) 5.11 (33) -5.62 (31)
AVG 13.3 146.2 31.28 2.00 30.44 5.64 -1.02

It was good to see Drew Brees return to playoff action with the Saints this year, but even a solid two-game run did not do much to change his already impressive numbers here. Matt Ryan also remains in the top 10 in yards per drive and points per drive after hitting double-digits in playoff starts. This is the first time I've done this update without Aaron Rodgers having any new games to add. The Packers missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008 after Rodgers broke his collarbone in Week 6. This was also the first time that Russell Wilson did not lead Seattle to the playoffs, his sixth year in the league.

The amusing development here is how Alex Smith has taken the field with a study-high average lead of 3.51 points in the playoffs, but is only 2-5 as a starter. That's because his only comfortable win was a 30-0 shutout against the 2015 Texans, and he has watched a 38-10 lead evaporate against the 2013 Colts and a 21-3 halftime lead disappear against Tennessee last month. Smith has only turned the ball over four times in the playoffs, but his offenses have frequently punted and gone three-and-out. We have those stats, as well as penalty differentials, touchdowns per drive, and the average length of a quarterback's touchdown drive in a supplemental table. The QBTO/Dr column is for turnovers (interceptions and lost fumbles) committed by the quarterback only.

Quarterbacks: Supplemental Postseason Drive Stats
Quarterback Games Drives PEN +/- 3Outs/Dr Punts/Dr QBTO/Dr TD/Dr Avg. TD Dr
Colin Kaepernick 6 60 1.07 (1) .217 (13) .300 (1) .100 (13) .317 (1) 69.4 (7)
Steve Young 15 141 0.38 (12) .199 (8) .333 (7) .128 (27) .312 (2) 58.8 (30)
Aaron Rodgers 16 169 0.75 (3) .219 (15) .379 (14) .083 (7) .302 (3) 71.9 (2)
Troy Aikman 16 164 -0.31 (27) .159 (1) .329 (5) .116 (22) .293 (4) 58.3 (34)
Kurt Warner 13 144 -0.69 (34) .194 (7) .354 (10) .118 (24) .292 (5) 61.7 (23)
Drew Brees 13 151 -0.36 (29) .185 (4) .325 (3) .079 (6) .285 (6) 67.5 (9)
Tom Brady 37 408 0.44 (9) .228 (19) .387 (19) .086 (9) .272 (7) 64.0 (17)
Joe Montana 23 248 -0.27 (26) .226 (18) .395 (20) .089 (10) .266 (8) 60.8 (26)
Matt Ryan 10 102 0.72 (4) .216 (12) .402 (23) .108 (17) .265 (9) 66.0 (13)
Russell Wilson 12 124 -0.37 (30) .194 (6) .347 (9) .097 (12) .258 (10) 63.4 (19)
John Elway 22 239 0.63 (5) .205 (10) .385 (16) .109 (18) .255 (11) 63.7 (18)
Alex Smith 7 81 -0.15 (22) .272 (31) .444 (29) .049 (1) .247 (12) 65.9 (14)
Ben Roethlisberger 21 229 0.21 (16) .179 (3) .345 (8) .118 (23) .245 (13) 62.6 (22)
Bernie Kosar 8 93 0.44 (10) .237 (24) .387 (17) .108 (16) .237 (14) 67.10 (10)
Brett Favre 24 274 -0.04 (20) .204 (9) .358 (12) .128 (28) .237 (14) 64.6 (16)
Jim Kelly 17 195 0.55 (7) .231 (21) .328 (4) .159 (33) .236 (16) 58.4 (33)
Mark Sanchez 6 65 -0.32 (28) .262 (28) .523 (34) .062 (2) .231 (17) 59.8 (29)
Joe Flacco 15 173 1.00 (2) .272 (32) .434 (27) .075 (5) .225 (18) 58.5 (31)
Quarterback Games Drives PEN +/- 3Outs/Dr Punts/Dr QBTO/Dr TD/Dr Avg. TD Dr
Philip Rivers 9 96 -0.64 (33) .229 (20) .469 (33) .104 (14) .219 (19) 70.7 (5)
Jeff Garcia 6 64 0.25 (15) .266 (29) .438 (28) .125 (26) .219 (19) 71.4 (4)
Matt Hasselbeck 11 133 0.33 (13) .278 (34) .451 (30) .068 (4) .219 (19) 57.0 (35)
Dan Marino 18 205 0.04 (19) .234 (23) .380 (15) .141 (32) .215 (22) 63.20 (20)
Cam Newton 7 79 0.19 (17) .215 (11) .354 (11) .139 (31) .215 (22) 62.9 (21)
Tony Romo 6 62 0.05 (18) .161 (2) .387 (18) .065 (3) .210 (24) 71.4 (3)
Warren Moon 10 107 -0.79 (35) .224 (17) .308 (2) .168 (34) .206 (25) 68.5 (8)
Jake Delhomme 8 93 -0.15 (23) .269 (30) .452 (31) .129 (29) .204 (26) 66.2 (11)
Andrew Luck 6 69 -0.22 (24) .217 (14) .333 (6) .188 (35) .203 (27) 72.6 (1)
Peyton Manning 27 293 0.53 (8) .239 (25) .358 (13) .106 (15) .198 (28) 70.2 (6)
Neil O'Donnell 7 78 -0.38 (31) .192 (5) .410 (24) .115 (21) .192 (29) 58.5 (32)
Eli Manning 12 132 -0.27 (25) .250 (27) .462 (32) .083 (8) .182 (30) 66.2 (11)
Donovan McNabb 16 187 0.27 (14) .219 (16) .401 (22) .134 (30) .182 (30) 60.2 (27)
Mark Brunell 11 113 -0.52 (32) .274 (33) .398 (21) .124 (25) .168 (32) 61.7 (24)
Steve McNair 10 117 0.57 (6) .248 (26) .410 (24) .111 (19) .162 (33) 64.8 (15)
Dave Krieg 11 105 0.41 (11) .324 (35) .543 (35) .095 (11) .152 (34) 61.2 (25)
Randall Cunningham 10 125 -0.06 (21) .232 (22) .432 (26) .112 (20) .152 (35) 60.1 (28)
AVG 13.3 146.2 0.09 0.228 0.386 0.109 0.231 64.3

Passing DVOA for 1986-2017

We've put together the playoff passing DVOA for all 51 quarterbacks with at least 150 passes since 1986.

Postseason Passing DVOA Leaders, 1986-2017 (Min. 150 Passes)
Rk Player Passes Games DVOA Rk Player Passes Games DVOA
1 Joe Montana 440 14 50.9% 27 Dan Marino 470 12 6.6%
2 Kurt Warner 481 13 42.3% 28 Tony Romo 207 6 6.6%
3 Drew Brees 559 13 34.5% 29 Randall Cunningham 393 12 6.6%
4 Troy Aikman 536 16 31.0% 30 Chad Pennington 233 6 6.1%
5 Mark Sanchez 161 6 28.3% 31 Rich Gannon 258 10 5.4%
6 Steve Young 498 20 27.8% 32 Dave Krieg 204 6 5.3%
7 Philip Rivers 292 9 27.5% 33 Michael Vick 152 6 4.0%
8 Matt Ryan 377 10 26.1% 34 Neil O'Donnell 290 9 3.8%
9 Tom Brady 1530 37 25.6% 35 Brad Johnson 232 7 3.3%
10 Aaron Rodgers 639 16 24.8% 36 Jake Delhomme 242 8 3.2%
11 Peyton Manning 1071 27 22.7% 37 Jeff Garcia 227 6 2.4%
12 Mark Rypien 241 8 21.5% 38 Steve McNair 325 10 2.2%
13 Bernie Kosar 269 9 21.0% 39 Jim Everett 183 5 1.3%
Rk Player Passes Games DVOA Rk Player Passes Games DVOA
14 Vinny Testaverde 196 7 20.0% 40 Wade Wilson 212 7 -0.6%
15 Colin Kaepernick 173 6 19.9% 41 Alex Smith 273 7 -0.6%
16 John Elway 636 20 19.9% 42 Andrew Luck 268 6 -1.2%
17 Brett Favre 827 24 17.1% 43 Donovan McNabb 625 16 -1.3%
18 Joe Flacco 475 15 16.8% 44 Jake Plummer 207 6 -6.5%
19 Matt Hasselbeck 425 11 14.9% 45 Mark Brunell 326 11 -6.7%
20 Eli Manning 427 12 14.3% 46 Stan Humphries 240 6 -13.0%
21 Warren Moon 432 10 13.4% 47 Jim Harbaugh 176 5 -14.0%
22 Kerry Collins 251 7 12.1% 48 Kordell Stewart 153 6 -16.3%
23 Russell Wilson 372 12 11.2% 49 Drew Bledsoe 269 7 -25.4%
24 Ben Roethlisberger 729 21 10.8% 50 Andy Dalton 170 4 -34.9%
25 Cam Newton 245 7 10.1% 51 Jay Schroeder 173 7 -41.4%
26 Jim Kelly 570 17 9.4% (Passes include sacks and DPI)

It looks like the best shot of getting Mark Sanchez out of the top five is for Nick Foles to start another playoff game. Foles comes up just short of qualifying for this table with 146 passes in four playoff starts, but his DVOA would lead everyone at 56.6%. Fittingly enough, Foles trails only Jeff Hostetler (58.1%) for the highest passing DVOA for anyone with at least 50 playoff passes since 1986. Both quarterbacks won a Super Bowl after taking over for an injured starter late in the season. Hostetler also had two highly efficient playoff starts for the 1993 Raiders. We'll see what the future holds for Foles after one of the best postseasons by a quarterback.

Here are the top 10 postseasons in passing DYAR and passing DVOA (minimum 50 passes) since 1986.

Quarterbacks: Top 10 Passing DYAR Postseasons Since 1986
Rk Player Year Team Passes Games DYAR DVOA Result
1 Joe Montana 1989 SF 84 3 784 130.4% Won Super Bowl
2 Tom Brady 2017 NE 143 3 681 61.1% Lost Super Bowl
3 Joe Flacco 2012 BAL 132 4 618 56.0% Won Super Bowl
4 Nick Foles 2017 PHI 111 3 586 69.7% Won Super Bowl
5 Peyton Manning 2009 IND 132 3 584 54.4% Lost Super Bowl
6 Kurt Warner 2008 ARI 140 4 562 51.2% Lost Super Bowl
7 Troy Aikman 1992 DAL 96 3 553 83.0% Won Super Bowl
8 Jim Kelly 1990 BUF 83 3 536 82.5% Lost Super Bowl
9 Drew Brees 2011 NO 111 2 526 54.8% Lost NFC-DIV
10 Aaron Rodgers 2010 GB 140 4 517 45.9% Won Super Bowl
Quarterbacks: Top 10 Passing DVOA Postseasons Since 1986 (Min. 50 Passes)
Rk Player Year Team Passes Games DYAR DVOA Result
1 Joe Montana 1989 SF 84 3 784 130.4% Won Super Bowl
2 Troy Aikman 1992 DAL 96 3 553 83.0% Won Super Bowl
3 Jim Kelly 1990 BUF 83 3 536 82.5% Lost Super Bowl
4 Phil Simms 1986 NYG 62 3 346 80.2% Won Super Bowl
5 Kurt Warner 2009 ARI 61 2 380 77.2% Lost NFC-DIV
6 Nick Foles 2017 PHI 111 3 586 69.7% Won Super Bowl
7 Joe Montana 1988 SF 100 3 505 67.9% Won Super Bowl
8 Peyton Manning 2004 IND 77 2 430 64.9% Lost AFC-DIV
9 Troy Aikman 1995 DAL 84 3 421 64.1% Won Super Bowl
10 Steve Young 1994 SF 91 3 448 63.5% Won Super Bowl

Foles had the fourth-most DYAR and sixth-highest DVOA. You can also say that this was Tom Brady's best postseason yet with his 681 DYAR trailing only Joe Montana's epic 1989 run. Brady's 61.1% DVOA was also a personal playoff best, topping his 50.5% DVOA in 2011, another season the Patriots lost the Super Bowl to an NFC East team (Giants). Brady has actually had five postseasons with a DVOA above 30.0%, but 2004 was the only one of the five where the Patriots finished with a Super Bowl win. The following table recaps Brady's eight Super Bowl starts and the stats for his opponent's quarterback.

Super Bowl Tom Brady Opposing QB Outcome
No. Year DYAR DVOA Player Team DYAR DVOA Winner Final
XXXVI 2001 95 45.5% Kurt Warner STL 26 -2.4% NE 20-17
XXXVIII 2003 189 47.0% Jake Delhomme CAR 127 44.6% NE 32-29
XXXIX 2004 102 32.0% Donovan McNabb PHI 59 6.2% NE 24-21
XLII 2007 56 6.8% Eli Manning NYG 46 8.8% NYG 17-14
XLVI 2011 112 30.0% Eli Manning NYG 111 26.3% NYG 21-17
XLIX 2014 123 24.5% Russell Wilson SEA 42 14.1% NE 28-24
LI 2016 98 10.7% Matt Ryan ATL 78 31.6% NE 34-28 OT
LII 2017 294 82.5% Nick Foles PHI 160 42.7% PHI 41-33
Total 1069 32.6% Total 649 20.4% NE: 5-3

Turnovers have often hurt opposing quarterbacks against the Patriots in Super Bowls, and you can really see that in the numbers of Kurt Warner, Donovan McNabb, and Russell Wilson. Brady's fumble on Sunday night lost 41 DYAR, or else he may have had more than 300 DYAR in the Super Bowl. His 294 passing DYAR is a Super Bowl record going back to 1986, edging out the 283 DYAR Joe Montana had against the 1989 Broncos.

This was easily Brady's best losing performance of his playoff career, and in fact the 294 passing DYAR is the most by any quarterback in a playoff loss since 1986. This was a notable postseason on that front. Ben Roethlisberger's 267 DYAR against the Jaguars in the divisional round loss stands as the third-most passing DYAR in a playoff loss, and even Cam Newton's 169 DYAR effort against the Saints ranks 16th since 1986.

Overall, Super Bowl LII was Brady's 10th playoff loss. We looked at how every quarterback with at least four playoff losses and 100 passes in said losses has fared since 1986.

Quarterbacks: DYAR and DVOA in Playoff Losses
Player Losses Passes DYAR Rk DVOA Rk
Russell Wilson 4 146 352 8 25.0% 1
Drew Brees 6 309 644 1 20.6% 2
Kurt Warner 4 161 291 11 17.9% 3
Warren Moon 7 325 548 4 14.2% 4
Philip Rivers 5 185 265 12 13.1% 5
Bernie Kosar 4 124 191 15 11.4% 6
Aaron Rodgers 7 295 434 5 10.4% 7
Matt Hasselbeck 6 264 355 7 9.6% 8
Tom Brady 10 463 636 2 9.6% 9
Matt Ryan 6 230 297 10 8.2% 10
Steve McNair 5 182 217 14 7.6% 11
Ben Roethlisberger 8 357 421 6 7.1% 12
Steve Young 8 259 298 9 6.6% 13
Peyton Manning 13 550 596 3 5.0% 14
Dave Krieg 5 203 183 16 3.3% 15
Alex Smith 5 202 166 17 1.6% 16
Randall Cunningham 7 291 229 13 0.9% 17
Jake Plummer 4 143 101 19 -0.4% 18
Cam Newton 4 160 111 18 -1.2% 19
Player Losses Passes DYAR Rk DVOA Rk
Neil O'Donnell 5 189 75 20 -1.6% 20
Michael Vick 4 110 58 22 -3.3% 21
Jeff Garcia 4 150 53 24 -6.0% 22
Joe Montana 5 136 64 21 -7.1% 23
Jim Kelly 8 308 52 25 -7.8% 24
John Elway 6 224 48 26 -8.1% 25
Kerry Collins 4 170 42 27 -8.4% 26
Brett Favre 11 440 56 23 -9.2% 27
Tony Romo 4 133 6 29 -9.7% 28
Joe Flacco 5 188 29 28 -9.9% 29
Donovan McNabb 7 302 -58 32 -13.7% 30
Chad Pennington 4 171 -32 30 -14.1% 31
Mark Brunell 6 196 -55 31 -15.4% 32
Dan Marino 7 313 -67 34 -16.5% 33
Eli Manning 4 125 -62 33 -19.2% 34
Troy Aikman 5 206 -126 35 -19.6% 35
Rich Gannon 5 134 -171 36 -28.9% 36
Andy Dalton 4 170 -256 37 -34.9% 37
Minimum requirements: four losses and 100 passes

Brady's 9.6% DVOA ranks ninth, but is less than half of that of Drew Brees (20.6%), who also edges out Brady for the most DYAR (644) in losses despite having four fewer losses. This postseason, Brees and Brady joined Peyton Manning as the only three quarterbacks in NFL history to lose multiple playoff games after throwing a go-ahead touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.

Brees was upstaged by Alex Smith in 2011 and of course the Minnesota Miracle from Case Keenum to Stefon Diggs this year. Manning's defeats came against the Chargers with Billy Volek filling in at quarterback (2007) and after Rahim Moore made Joe Flacco filthy rich (2012). Brady's two lost comebacks have been in Super Bowl losses to Eli Manning (XLII) and now Foles.

That's arguably the three most prolific passers in NFL history falling short against six guys who have been the punchline to countless jokes over the years (before and after said wins). But that's really how the NFL playoffs work. Anyone can be a hero for one game, or even one postseason run. Surviving a three- or four-game playoff run usually comes down to winning what amounts to a few coin flips. The Patriots survived Jacksonville, but did not close out the Eagles. Philadelphia was a play away from falling to Atlanta right out of the gate, but benefitted from a terrible red-zone sequence by the Falcons, and Foles went on to have the two best games of his career.

Time will tell if Foles can ever come close to repeating this effort, or if he even gets to start another playoff game in his career. Remember, we're only talking about this because of an injury to Wentz. As one famous auteur once put it, eighty percent of success is showing up. The fact that we haven't added any new quarterbacks to our playoff data the last couple of years shows how difficult it is to continuously make the tournament and have some success once you are there.

Posted by: Scott Kacsmar on 08 Feb 2018

22 comments, Last at 10 Feb 2018, 10:33pm by Aaron Brooks Good Twin

Comments

1
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 5:26pm

There's a lot of recent years in those top DVOA/DYAR numbers.

Passing has gotten too easy.

4
by renangms :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 6:35pm

DVOA is compared to average. Average numbers have improved as well.
The same thing can be said to DYAR and replacement level.

5
by Aaron Schatz :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 7:15pm

Right. There's more DYAR now because there's more passing, and DYAR is a volume stat. But there's no reason why playoff *DVOA* should be higher now than 10 or 20 years ago.

15
by JIPanick :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 3:05pm

It doesn't seem to be any higher, at a quick glance. Only 3 of the top 10 DVOA seasons are from a year starting with 2.

2
by renangms :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 5:47pm

removed

3
by coremill :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 6:05pm

Those Joe Montana numbers really jump out. His 1989 is a gigantic outlier, and his 1988 is in the top 10 as well. We don't have his whole playoff career yet, but we've got his two worst games (86 and 87) and we're still missing some of his best performances (Super Bowl XIX). You can see where the Montana clutchiness legend came from.

8
by Fatfootballfan :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 11:33pm

I would wager DVOA wouldnt rate the 1981 and 1984 San Fran SB runs very highly. Montana threw 13 tds to 9 ints and took 15 sacks for 86 yards on 211 dropbacks, or a 7.1% sack rate. He averaged 8.3 yds/att, but thats still alot of negative plays that would likely bring down his DVOA outside the all time great postseason rangea.

6
by eagle97a :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 7:50pm

Getting feedback that the link here is redirecting to an ad or something... I can't confirm since I'm on desktop.

17
by Aaron Schatz :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 3:39pm

Yes, we run into this problem with our ad networks. It's a problem all around the Internet and there's nothing we can do about it. Yesterday I had the same redirect problem with a Mike Reiss article on ESPN, which is the biggest site yet that's had this issue.

18
by The Ninjalectual :: Sat, 02/10/2018 - 2:19am

There IS a possible solution (short of installing an ad blocker and hurting a site's revenue). Now all I get is a "redirect blocked" notification. Unfortunately I didn't note the name of the original author, but I archived a comment describing the fix from another recent thread:


This could help you on the redirect problem, assuming you're using Android.

The process only involves toggling a flag in Chrome's settings to 'Enabled,' and it works on both desktop and mobile. Just copy chrome://flags/#enable-framebusting-needs-sameorigin-or-usergesture and paste it in the address bar (you can't click/tap on it due to security concerns). Then just tap/click the highlighted dropdown menu, change it to 'Enabled,' and restart the browser when asked.

7
by nat :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 10:11pm

For games in January and February, you really need to do indoor/outdoor splits for this kind of thing to be very useful. You could argue that it's okay to ignore them in the regular season, since it balances out somewhat. Not so in the playoffs.

9
by eagle97a :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 11:40pm

Weather adjustments here would really affect the numbers given the sample sizes and the one and done playoff format. With that said the numbers generally reflect the playoff reputations of the players except for a few (e.g. Sanchez)

19
by The Ninjalectual :: Sat, 02/10/2018 - 2:21am

Doesn't DVOA already account for that? Or are you saying the adjustment isn't enough? What games in particular make you say that?

21
by nat :: Sat, 02/10/2018 - 8:37pm

No, it does not. There are small adjustments to special teams DVOA based on average - think late October - conditions. You could read the fan. Aaron could give more specifics, no doubt.

The simplest thing would be to show the splits. Rodgers has got to look amazing. Aren't you curious?

10
by Fatfootballfan :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 11:42pm

Good to see peyton manning with the positive DVOA in losses, really jives with common sense that he, for the most part, played well in his teams postseason losses, instead of the common narratitive he struggled. Also, how is Tony Romos DVOA so bad in losses? He put up respectable stats when the Cowboys lost.

Cant believe Brady posted a higher DVOA in superbowl XLVI then Eli Manning, his traditional stats aren't that impressive and Eli lead a game winning score whereas the patriots didnt score once in the 4th qtr.

11
by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 11:43pm

I believe most of that was due to opponent adjustments. NE's defense was garbage that year by DVOA.

Same thing happened in the title game when Flacco seemed to clearly outplay Brady by conventional numbers.

13
by SandyRiver :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 9:49am

I think that "common narrative" grew out of his first 2 PS games in Foxboro (15-24 with 4 INT, 3-20), with some reinforcement in SB50.

14
by dmstorm22 :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 11:09am

He wasn't great in the losses before that either.

Where it becomes dicey is when he's criticized for the losses from the 2005 Divisional through the 2012 Divisional. In basically each one of those losses inclusive of those two, he played rather well, and the team lost.

I think 4 or 5 times in a row the defense gave up 4th quarter leads.

16
by JIPanick :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 3:27pm

Tony Romo lost four playoff games:

Against the Seahawks in 2006, he put up a pedestrian 17-29 189 1-0 with 2 sacks against a lousy Seattle pass defense - This was in the era where Seattle kept winning a miserable NFC West with underwhelming 9-7 sqauds. Overall, the Dallas offense produced only one TD and three field goal attempts. I'd guess this one has slightly positive VOA but negative DVOA.

Against the Giants in 2007, he put up an underwhelming 18-36 201 1-1 and 2 sacks against a slightly above-average Giants defense. It's worth noting the Giants played much better in the playoffs than the regular season, proceeding to whomp on Favre and Brady after Tony, so this game probably isn't as bad as it looks. I'd bet this one is negative by both VOA and DVOA however.

I've long suspected that Romo played through a hand injury in the Giant game, although I have no evidence other than him banging his hand good on an Eagle helmet in week 16 and playing well below his usual standard in week 17 and the playoffs.

Against the Vikings in 2009, the Cowboys just got whipped up and down the field for 60 minutes in every phase of the game. The Viking pass defense was ranked only 23rd on the season, so 22-35 198 0-1 and 6 sacks is probably badly negative by both VOA and DVOA.

Against the Packers in 2014, Romo went nuts: 15-19 191 2-0 and 4 sacks against an above average defense. This is going to be his best playoff loss by a country mile by both measures.

12
by wiesengrund :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 4:49am

Interesting to see Matt Ryan's 2016 not make the Top 10 of postseaons in neither DYAR and DVOA. I think he had 478 DYAR, still around 40 DYAR off of 10th place, but I wonder where his DVOA ranked. The SB (and there probably only 3rd down) dragged it down I guess but the two other games gotta be fine DVOA standards I guess.

20
by drobviousso :: Sat, 02/10/2018 - 8:19pm

"Beyond Foles, we saw how Case Keenum (Vikings) and Jared Goff (Rams) were able to excel once given a great scheme and talent around them."

I think you meant "were able to excel once they got the heck away from Jeff Fisher."

22
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Sat, 02/10/2018 - 10:33pm

Foles was also responsible for Kelly's good year.