FO 10th Anniversary: Best Quarterbacks

FO 10th Anniversary: Best Quarterbacks
FO 10th Anniversary: Best Quarterbacks
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Danny Tuccitto

Pop quiz, hot shot!

1. Which quarterback owns the record for highest pass DVOA in a single season? What season was it?
2. Which quarterback owns the record for highest pass DYAR in a single season? What season was it?
3. Which quarterback owns the record for highest rush DYAR in a single season? What season was it?
4. Which quarterback owns the record for highest pass DYAR in a single game? What game was it?
5. Which quarterback owns the record for highest rush DYAR in a single game? What game was it?
6. Among quarterbacks who debuted after 1990, who owns the record for highest pass DYAR over the course of his career?
7. Among quarterbacks who debuted after 1990, who owns the record for highest rush DYAR over the course of his career?
8. Among quarterbacks who debuted after 1990, who owns the record for highest total DYAR over the course of his career?

Before reading the rest of this article, write down your answers. And for any cheaters out there, today's special guest proctor is Mr. Selig. His punishments may not be swift, but they can be ruthless enough to make a grown man feign emotion. Consider yourself warned.

Done yet? OK, good.

Moving on, you may be aware that FO is currently celebrating its 10th anniversary. Today's festivities involve a look at the best quarterback performances in Football Outsiders stats, which currently date back to 1991. (1989-1990 are hopefully coming before we start the 2013 season, but we don't have them ready yet.) All of the season stats you'll see are freely available on various pages of the site, and Vince Verhei's weekly "Quick Reads" column details our stats for each game during the season. In short, you could have put most of these lists together yourself.* But seeing as how you probably have a life while I clearly do not, I've gone ahead and done the heavy lifting. You're welcome. And as an infamous "Brain" once said, "You won't offend me with cash."

(*Ed. Note: Actually, if you put the lists together yourself, they would look slightly different because of an error that has misvalued roughly 6-8 interceptions per season. This article contains fixed numbers, which haven't yet been added to our stats pages or the player pages.)

Without further ado, below is the shocking answer to our first question.

Best Pass DVOA, Season, 1991-2012
(min. 100 passes)
Year Player Team DVOA
1992 Wade Wilson ATL 62.3%
2004 Peyton Manning IND 58.9%
1997 Boomer Esiason CIN 58.0%
2007 Tom Brady NE 54.1%
2006 Peyton Manning IND 51.3%
2010 Tom Brady NE 46.7%
2011 Aaron Rodgers GB 46.6%
1992 Steve Young SF 45.1%
1998 Randall Cunningham MIN 45.1%
1998 Vinny Testaverde NYJ 42.2%

As I was watching the Hall of Fame game the other night, and the Cowboys quarterbacks coach got a fleeting moment of camera time, little did I know I was face to face with the single-season record holder for pass DVOA. Now, we can crack wise here in any number of ways, but considering that few of us have contemplated Wade Wilson's career over the past decade, this actually seems like a great time to stroll down memory lane. Outside of Vikings fans and NFL history buffs, who remembers that he led the league in completion percentage and made the Pro Bowl with Minnesota in 1988? Me neither. DVOA doesn't go back that far yet, but just from knowing a little bit about how other advanced stats relate to DVOA, I'm pretty confident in guessing that Wilson's DVOA in 1988 won't be as good as the one in the table; and that makes me start to wonder if I should have appreciated his talent more when I was a kid. (So much for not cracking wise.)

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In all seriousness though, it seemed obvious at first that Wilson's spot at the top was simply a byproduct of FO having a lower-than-standard qualifying threshold for attempts: His 169 pass plays in 1992 were more than 100, but less than 224. Yes, if we bump up the threshold, both he and Boomer Esiason drop out of the top 10, replaced by Mark Rypien's 41.9% DVOA for the best team ever (so far) and Philip Rivers' 41.7% DVOA in 2009. However, consider the reverse. If we drop the NFL's threshold to 100, Wilson would have finished 1992 ranked first in adjusted net yards per attempt (ANY/A), eking out the win over another member of our list, Steve Young. (Do you remember that Wilson was the Vikings starting quarterback in 1987 when Minnesota scored one of the biggest upsets in playoff history? I had forgotten, and would have preferred it to remain that way.)

If we look at all quarterback seasons from 1991-2012 using the 100-pass threshold, Wilson's 8.12 ANY/A in 1992 ranks 16th. In the end, I may not agree that Wade Wilson's nine-game exploits in 1992 represented the most efficient passing season of the past 22 years, but I do think it provides a nice diversion on a Wednesday afternoon.

Onto the answers for Question 2 and Question 3, which you'll find in the tables below:

Best Pass DYAR, Season, 1991-2012
(min. 100 Passes)
Year Player Team DYAR
2007 Tom Brady NE 2,674
2004 Peyton Manning IND 2,434
2006 Peyton Manning IND 2,317
2011 Drew Brees NO 2,259
2011 Aaron Rodgers GB 2,059
2012 Tom Brady NE 2,035
2009 Tom Brady NE 2,021
2011 Tom Brady NE 1,994
2010 Tom Brady NE 1,909
2003 Peyton Manning IND 1,891
Best Rush DYAR, Season, 1991-2012
(min. 8 Rushes)
Year Player Team DYAR
2006 Michael Vick ATL 261
2004 Michael Vick ATL 241
1998 Steve McNair TEN 214
2000 Daunte Culpepper MIN 209
2002 Donovan McNabb PHI 200
2010 Michael Vick PHI 192
2000 Rich Gannon OAK 189
2011 Cam Newton CAR 188
1991 Steve Young SF 186
2000 Donovan McNabb PHI 183

No Wilson-esque surprises here. In this sea of predictable results, one thing may stand out to some readers: Football Outsiders is biased in favor of the New England Patriots. Of course, an alternative explanation of Tom Brady's dominance in pass DYAR over the past six seasons could be simply that it's one of the greatest stretches of valuable quarterback play in NFL history. With a ragtag receiving corps at his disposal this upcoming season, the proof of that clam chowder will be in the eating. Regardless, it's still quite a feat that Brady set the pass DYAR record in 2007, lost 2008 to a shredded knee, and then proceeded to rattle off four more of the top 10 seasons ever upon returning. (Nod to Colts and Broncos fans: Yes, Peyton Manning's comeback season in 2012 was also quite a feat as well.)

Meanwhile, Michael Vick has been the Tom Brady of quarterback rushing value over the past decade or so, but there's a far more interesting conversation to be had once we look at the right side of the next table, which gives you the answers to Question 4 and Question 5.

(UPDATE: For your convenience, I've added links to the PFR box score for each game. If you want to reminisce or see what the quarterback's standard stats looked like, just click on the week associated with that performance in the table.)

Best Pass DYAR, Game, 1991-2012
Year Week Player Team DYAR
1998 5 Randall Cunningham MIN 332
2002 4 Trent Green KC 327
2002 10 Marc Bulger STL 309
2009 15 Ben Roethlisberger PIT 300
2007 11 Tom Brady NE 299
1995 13 Scott Mitchell DET 298
2009 6 Drew Brees NO 294
2009 6 Tom Brady NE 294
2011 15 Drew Brees NO 290
2007 7 Tom Brady NE 290
Best Rush DYAR, Game, 1991-2012
Year Week Player Team DYAR
2002 13 Michael Vick ATL 82
2000 1 Daunte Culpepper MIN 68
2012 6 Robert Griffin WAS 66
2010 15 Michael Vick PHI 57
2006 2 Michael Vick ATL 54
2011 14 Joe Webb MIN 53
2001 8 Steve McNair TEN 52
2001 5 Daunte Culpepper MIN 50
2010 10 Michael Vick PHI 49
2012 15 Russell Wilson SEA 46

As Vince discussed after Week 6 of last year, there have been only eight games of 50 rush DYAR or more by a quarterback. Vick produced three of them, along with four of the top 10 games since 1991. You know who has produced five of the top 10? The Minnesota Vikings, and their repeated appearances on these lists is really starting to freak me out. There's Daunte Culpepper running twice through the okra patch. There's Joe Webb, another forgettable Vikings backup destined to be rediscovered by some intrepid FO writer 10 years from now. Vick's crowning achievement came against the Vikings in 2002. As did the performance by [Redacted] rookie Robert Griffin in Week 6. (Not yet in the table is Steve Young's performance against the 1988 Vikings, which produced this iconic run. Seriously, what's up with Minnesota's run defense against quarterbacks?)

It's actually a nice bit of symmetry that both Vick and Griffin have had their best rush DYAR against the same opponent because they might be the only two quarterbacks who populate the 2023 version of the table. Griffin may only have one game among the best 10 ever (so far), but as a rookie he also amassed at least 35 rush DYAR in Week 2 (45), Week 3 (40), and Week 17 (37). Of course, the real problem for Vick keeping this record for very much longer is that, unlike when he seemed to be the only dog in the fight 10 years ago, today's NFL includes more than just Griffin. Russell Wilson also made the best-ever (so far) table in his first season, while Gang of Four compatriot Colin Kaepernick almost made it in his first half as San Francisco's No. 1 quarterback (37 rush DYAR in Week 10). Elder statesman Cam Newton also just missed the table with 38 rush DYAR in Week 14 last year.

Other than noting that Brady has three of the 10 games in addition to five of the top 10 seasons (so far), I'll leave discussion about single-game pass DYARs to the comments section. Between another Vikings quarterback ranking No. 1 and two of the other games coming against Minnesota's defense (Scott Mitchell's in 1995 and Drew Brees' in 2011), I would really like to finish writing this article without needing a despojo shortly thereafter.

So, let's move on to the best careers since 1991 according to pass DYAR and rush DYAR. It's gotta be Brady and Vick at the top, right? Below are the answers to Question 6 and Question 7. (An asterisk means the quarterback is still active.)

Best Pass DYAR, Career
(Debuted 1991 or Later)
Player No. Years DYAR
Peyton Manning 14* 22,728
Tom Brady 13* 16,291
Brett Favre 20 14,898
Drew Brees 12* 12,950
Kurt Warner 12 7,172
Ben Roethlisbger 9* 7,093
Philip Rivers 9* 7,031
Tony Romo 7* 6,858
Steve McNair 13 6,621
Aaron Rodgers 8* 6,445
Player No. Years DYAR
Trent Green 11 6,357
Carson Palmer 9* 6,150
Jeff Garcia 11 5,827
Mark Brunell 16 5,506
Donovan McNabb 13 5,388
Matt Ryan 5* 5,153
Drew Bledsoe 14 5,043
Eli Manning 9* 5,002
Matt Schaub 9* 4,980
Brad Johnson 15 4,966
Chad Pennington 11 4,472
Daunte Culpepper 11 4,199
Best Rush DYAR, Career
(Debuted 1991 or Later)
Player No. Years DYAR
Michael Vick 10* 1,341
Steve McNair 13 1,143
Donovan McNabb 13 841
Daunte Culpepper 11 719
Kordell Stewart 10 663
Jeff Garcia 11 577
Mark Brunell 16 540
Jeff Blake 13 509
Aaron Rodgers 8* 485
David Garrard 9 446
Player No. Years DYAR
Jake Plummer 10 435
Cam Newton 2* 337
Aaron Brooks 7 291
Matt Hasselbeck 14* 274
Ben Roethlisberger 9* 273
Trent Green 11 248
Rob Johnson 8 247
Josh Freeman 4* 243
Tom Brady 13* 232
Brett Favre 20 231
David Carr 10* 223
Ryan Fitzpatrick 7* 220

Personally, I would have given half-credit for answering that trick question with "Tom Brady," but Mr. Selig overruled me. His exact words were, "Kid, close only counts in horseshoes and Doug Eddings' strike zone."

By virtue of having a two-year head start, and Tom Brady not becoming ROBO-QUARTERBACK until his fifth season in the league, Peyton Manning currently holds the career pass DYAR record. To wit, since 2004, they've played the same number of seasons and are virtually tied: 14,637 pass DYAR for Manning; 14,339 for Brady. Add in the man who retires more often than a pit crew, and you basically have the three individuals that have dominated NFL conversation over the past two decades. I don't think that's a coincidence.

The rest of the pass DYAR rankings are an equal mix of quarterbacks who began applying their skills to NFL football around the same time FO did, and the ghosts of 90s playoff teams. (Also, four former members of the Minnesota Vikings; but I digress.) The most striking thing about this group, however, is that none of them seem to have a legitimate shot at overtaking Manning (or maybe Brady) one day. Tony Romo is over 15,000 pass DYAR behind and on the wrong side of the quarterback aging curve. Ditto Aaron Rodgers, although he's a "young" 30 years old in terms of NFL wear and tear. Even Matt Ryan, who's currently sitting at the peak of the curve, probably needs to average something absurd like 2,000 pass DYAR over the next 10 years. Two problems with that: (1) His career high is 750 pass DYAR less than that; and (2) It assumes Manning and Brady end their careers around 25,000.

When it comes to career rush DYAR, the amazing thing about Vick is obviously not that he's the best ever (so far). No, it's that the No. 2 active player, Aaron Rodgers, is nearly 900 rush DYAR behind him. Granted, Newton (or Griffin or Wilson or Kaepernick) could probably sleepwalk his way to the record by the time we write "FO 20th Anniversary Stats" in 2023, but it's still pretty impressive that Vick has such a lead with one foot in the Daunte Culpepper Commemorative Scoring Tent sponsored by Al and Alma's.

The other deceptively quick thing I'll say about our career rush DYAR rankings is that they certainly have an Ernest Thomason-esque quality to them. When a great like Tom Brady is only the 19th-most valuable running quarterback of the past 22 years, it's definitely time for the CQBAA to start a petition -- which happens to provide a nice segue to this column's final act.

You may have noticed that, in addition to FO's Fleet-Footed Foxboro Flame, nine other quarterbacks in the top 22 for career pass DYAR also appear in the top 22 for career rush DYAR. It seems that, even before the recent trend represented by professional football's Gang of Four, the most valuable quarterbacks weren't just elite passers. Aaron Rodgers ranks among the top 10 in both categories, and he's been Green Bay's starter since 2008. Steve McNair's rankings are even more impressive, to the point of considering whether the public vastly underrated his career. (Not to Wade Wilson levels, mind you, but still.)

This raises one final extra-credit essay question for today's pop quiz: How will the rankings change when we combine pass DYAR and rush DYAR into an aggregate value we'll call "total DYAR?" Intuitively, you probably wouldn't, given that the former is greater than the latter by a factor of 10. In that case, let me make the question a little tougher.

As readers of FO, you're almost certainly familiar with our friends at Pro Football Reference. Five years ago, Doug Drinen saw a glitch in the matrix when he produced all-time rankings based on the total approximate value (AV) players had amassed over the course of their careers: It doubled as a list of who played the longest. To strike a balance between performance and longevity, rather than simply adding up a player's yearly AVs, he instead gave the player 100 percent credit for his best year, 95 percent credit for his second-best year, 90 percent credit for his third-best year, and so on. In Drinen's system, a shorter-career, higher-peak player will have a higher weighted career AV than a longer-career, lower-peak player even if their unweighted career AVs are similar. For instance, Mark Brunell (120 AV) had a slightly more valuable career than Kurt Warner (113 AV) if you just add up their yearly AVs . With weighting, however, the gap completely disappears because Warner climbed two stratospheric peaks in 12 years while Brunell hung on like grim death long after his most valuable years were behind him.

A short time later, Drinen's PFR colleague, Neil Paine, took a different approach in the specific context of ranking quarterback careers. Namely, instead of applying Drinen's weights, he just took the average value produced by a quarterback in his best six seasons. (Those with five or fewer seasons got zeroes plugged in for missing seasons.) The best part: Paine used DYAR's defenseless cousin YAR where possible, and used PFR's other advanced stats to estimate seasonal YAR prior to 1994.

So now the extra-credit question is, "How will the rankings change when we look at career total DYAR and how will they change when we also look at two additional measures of career value: (1) weighted career total DYAR and (2) average DYAR in the player's best six seasons? Quickly write down your answers -- Mr. Selig is running late for his yoga class -- and consult the table below to see how you did.

Best Total DYAR, Career
(Debuted 1991 or Later)
Player Years DYAR
Peyton Manning 14* 22,854
Tom Brady 13* 16,523
Brett Favre 20 15,129
Drew Brees 12* 13,090
Steve McNair 13 7,764
Ben Roethlisberger 9* 7,366
Kurt Warner 12 7,151
Philip Rivers 9* 6,979
Tony Romo 7* 6,954
Aaron Rodgers 8* 6,930
Player Years DYAR
Trent Green 11 6,606
Jeff Garcia 11 6,404
Carson Palmer 9* 6,236
Donovan McNabb 13 6,229
Mark Brunell 16 6,046
Matt Ryan 5* 5,234
Brad Johnson 15 5,116
Drew Bledsoe 14 5,078
Eli Manning 9* 5,061
Matt Schaub 9* 5,000
Daunte Culpepper 11 4,919
Chad Pennington 11 4,581
Best Total DYAR, Weighted Career
(Debuted 1991 or Later)
Player Years DYAR
Peyton Manning 14* 16,669
Tom Brady 13* 13,541
Brett Favre 20 10,872
Drew Brees 12* 10,864
Steve McNair 13 6,533
Kurt Warner 12 6,507
Aaron Rodgers 8* 6,413
Philip Rivers 9* 6,323
Ben Roethlisberger 9* 6,231
Tony Romo 7* 6,168
Player Years DYAR
Trent Green 11 5,976
Jeff Garcia 11 5,662
Carson Palmer 9* 5,520
Donovan McNabb 13 5,275
Mark Brunell 16 5,237
Daunte Culpepper 11 4,827
Matt Ryan 5* 4,772
Brad Johnson 15 4,623
Matt Schaub 9* 4,577
Eli Manning 9* 4,519
Drew Bledsoe 14 4,360
Matt Hasselbeck 11* 4,321
Best Total DYAR, Six-Year Average
(Debuted 1991 or Later)
Player Years DYAR
Tom Brady 6* 2,035
Peyton Manning 6* 2,022
Drew Brees 6* 1,617
Brett Favre 6 1,348
Aaron Rodgers 6* 1,184
Philip Rivers 6* 1,157
Kurt Warner 6 1,156
Tony Romo 6* 1,100
Trent Green 6 1,061
Steve McNair 6 993
Player Years DYAR
Ben Roethlisberger 6* 986
Jeff Garcia 6 936
Carson Palmer 6* 931
Daunte Culpepper 6 922
Matt Ryan 5* 872
Matt Hasselbeck 6* 865
Matt Schaub 6* 838
Eli Manning 6* 817
Mark Brunell 6 796
Donovan McNabb 6 772
Chad Pennington 6 766
Brad Johnson 6 760

As you can see, when we aggregate up to total DYAR (i.e., the table on the left), McNair climbs four spots from where he was in the pass DYAR rankings shown earlier. Three other quarterbacks who ranked highly in rush DYAR earlier move up one spot here (Jeff Garcia, McNabb, and Culpepper), while four statues move down one spot (Warner, Drew Bledsoe, Eli Manning, and Matt Schaub). Otherwise, the total DYAR table's basically the same as the pass DYAR table. In fact, the same 22 quarterbacks appear in both.

Similarly, when we apply the weighting system (i.e., the table in the middle), total DYARs drop but the rankings remain almost identical to the unweighted table on the left. To my eyes, there are only four significant changes, all of which are related to "peak vs. longevity." First, the gap between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady shrinks significantly; Brady's last six years have been that sick. Second, Brett Favre rightly gets penalized for dragging us through multiple retirement sagas. Third, Rodgers essentially switches places with Ben Roethlisberger because his higher peak more than makes up for a slightly shorter career. Finally, Culpepper's big bang of a career allows him to cruise up five rows.

The big changes show up when we average a quarterback's six best seasons to judge the total value of his career (i.e., the table on the right). Brady just barely leapfrogs Manning into first place. More importantly, though, he clearly separates himself from this column's third wheel, Drew Brees. Meanwhile, Rodgers and Roethlisberger continue to go in opposite directions. Considering that none of these systems know how many Super Bowls they've won, this makes perfect sense. And regardless of whether we're weighing better seasons more than worse seasons or focusing only on the best six seasons, I think we end up with a more accurate ranking in this case than when we simply add up yearly DYARs.

Finally, here are two Titans-related observations before class ends. Moving from left to right, Matt Hasselbeck goes from "just off the list" at 23rd to "on the list" at 22nd to "near the middle of the list" at 16th. I guess that trajectory is due to his deceptive speed and having five good seasons in a 14-year career. On the other end of the spectrum, Paine's six-year average really doesn't like Steve McNair, to the point that I think it makes Drinen's weighting system the best method here. Over the course of a 13-year career, McNair finished in the top half of the total DYAR rankings nine times. To me, that's above-average performance and above-average longevity.

And with that, Mr. Selig has informed me that, as much as he'd like to watch us keep batting this around forever, time has expired. Please turn in your quizzes. We'll see you later this week, when the topic will shift to "worst quarterback performances since 1991." There may or may not be a quiz.


125 comments, Last at 29 Nov 2013, 10:33am

#1 by Ryan D. // Aug 07, 2013 - 11:10am

In the past, we have speculated that a hypothetical hybrid QB (named "PeyTom Branning") created from the best parts of the two current (at that time) best QBs, would be the best QB ever assembled.

Would the hypothetical hybrid QB of the future be named something like "RusCam Rodgperluck III?"

Points: 0

#20 by CBPodge // Aug 07, 2013 - 2:31pm

I think there's an argument to be made that the existings versions of either Tom Brady or Peyton Manning is the best QB ever assembled.

Its absurd how good they are according to DYAR.

Points: 0

#2 by dmstorm22 // Aug 07, 2013 - 11:16am

The best single games list doesn't include playoffs, right?

Could you give us a list of the five or 10 best playoff games by DYAR. I believe Aaron has said in the past that single game playoff DYAR isn't calculated all the way back like regular season DYAR, but it will be interesting to see what you have.

I say this because I remember reading after Kurt Warner's 2009 Wild Card Game surgery of Green Bay that it was the best game by DYAR that FO had counted.

Points: 0

#11 by DenverCheeze (not verified) // Aug 07, 2013 - 1:21pm

I would also think that Kapernick vs. Packers in the playoffs last year should be in the top 10 rushing list....but then again his replacement probably would have also run through the gaping hole that was the GB defense that day.

Points: 0

#42 by jimbohead // Aug 07, 2013 - 4:45pm

I'm still confused though. Kaepernick seems to have 63 rushing DYAR in that game, good for 4th on the all-time QB rushing DYAR (single game) list. Does that mean this all-time list is constrained to the regular season?

edit: I really need to start reading the entire thread before commenting. Playoff stats not included.

Points: 0

#3 by bingo762 // Aug 07, 2013 - 11:25am

In the "Best Rush DYAR Game" table you have Vick in '06 as playing for the Eagles.

Points: 0

#4 by Mike B. In Va // Aug 07, 2013 - 11:43am

I had forgotten about the 1987 Vikes, too.

Hassan Jones. Man, there's a name I haven't heard for a while.

Points: 0

#6 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Aug 07, 2013 - 11:50am

I didn't start watching football closely until after that season, but from the boxscore, it looks like Joe Montana had an uncharacteristic Jake Delhomme '08-like performance in that game before getting benched.

Points: 0

#8 by Mike B. In Va // Aug 07, 2013 - 12:01pm

I remembered it as being pretty ugly, but I went back and watched the NFL films recap. Holy crap he was awful that day.

Also, Anthony Carter had the game of his life, but how do you catch 10 for 227 yards and NOT score?

Points: 0

#9 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Aug 07, 2013 - 12:15pm

"how do you catch 10 for 227 yards and NOT score?"

Tackled inside the 5 yard line a lot? Kind of like a microcosm of Calvin Johnson's season last year.

I was also struck by the fact that Steve Jordan had zero catches. Whenever I watched the late 80's Vikings, it always seemed like he caught every 3rd down conversion.

Points: 0

#17 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Aug 07, 2013 - 2:02pm

In case you're curious about A.C.'s game, this blog has a great re-cap:

He had a game like Steve Smith did against the Bears in the 2005 playoffs, supplying Minnesota's entire offense. Except whenever the Vikings got in the red zone, they would either run (and fail) or throw it to someone else.

Points: 0

#18 by coremill // Aug 07, 2013 - 2:26pm

Amazingly, after that game there was a lot of talk in the SF press about how Jerry Rice wasn't clutch and couldn't get it done in the postseason, and how Carter had shown him what a real clutch receiver was.

The footnote to this game is that these two teams played again in the playoffs the next year, and the 49ers blew out the Vikings 34-9, with Rice catching 3 TDs from Montana in the first half.

Points: 0

#5 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Aug 07, 2013 - 11:47am

Great stuff. Is it wrong that I enjoy the "worst of" lists more than the "best of" lists? I guess I enjoy dissecting and reminiscing about a good trainwreck.

Points: 0

#7 by Independent George // Aug 07, 2013 - 11:50am

The most striking thing about this group, however, is that none of them seem to have a legitimate shot at overtaking Manning (or maybe Brady) one day

I'm going to have to put an asterisk next to this assertion, because it ignores the possibility of things like an 18-game season, improved medical technology (i.e., better steroids/ways at evading drug tests), or rule changes (like making it illegal to tackle receivers).

Points: 0

#10 by CStrable (not verified) // Aug 07, 2013 - 1:19pm

But then you have to take into account that Manning and Brady still aren't done. And will be adding onto those leads.

Points: 0

#12 by shah8 (not verified) // Aug 07, 2013 - 1:36pm

I would not count out Joe Webb, because I do think he will return to QB. Despite everyone using his worst game against him, he's fundamentally not a dissimilar prospect to Kaepernick, and I do think this is understood in the league. Moreover, he is the QB with both the good top end speed and great wiggle necessary to accumulate great rushing days. Kaepernick and RG3 are pretty much straight line speed guys, which isn't really quite the quality you need. Cameron Newton probably will outdo both of those guys in the long run.

One thing that really strikes me about DYAR, particularly past the tenth dude, is how much it reflects the quality of the offense. Brad Johnson, for example, is not a particularly talented QB, he just played for some rather prolific offenses and good teams in general. Chris Miller, as an anonymous example, was a better QB, and Matt Hasselbeck is more or less equivalent.

Points: 0

#14 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Aug 07, 2013 - 1:57pm

I'm sorry, but I am counting out Joe Webb, and he is totally dissimilar to Kaepernick, when you take into account the ability to throw a football with consistent accuracy. You can call the Wildcard game an outlier if you want, but there's still enough data to put to bed the concept of Webb as an NFL quarterback.

Points: 0

#25 by shah8 (not verified) // Aug 07, 2013 - 2:58pm

Would you have had the same attitude with Brett Favre when he was in Atlanta?

Anyways, no, I remember Kaepernick when he was a rookie during preseason, and Kaepernick was not exactly a great passer, especially when it came to touch. Anyways, they had similar college careers, and mildly similar playing styles. It's an easy comparison.

And seriously, exactly which data puts the concept of Webb to rest can you really point to? Before the WC game, his worst games were when he replaced TJack, and the two season finales, where everything is sloppy anyways. Put that against his best showings, particularly his dominant play against Washington in 2011, and well, there was a reason Tony Dungy was saying to give Webb a chance before that playoff game. Had Webb had his mechanics working from the start, then yeah, he would have been a pretty minimal drop-off, at a minimum. That's where you, well, need reps, chances to get chemistry, etc.

At the end of the day, there are a lot of teams now that really need passing talent. And next year probably will only have a couple of serious QB prospects

Webb has the arm, and when his mechanics are working, he definitely is capable of being accurate enough, and his mechanics probably would improve if he was getting starting reps day in and day out. Add to the fact that he's probably the best QB rusher today, and well, I think he will have suitors next year for backup QB at least. It's not as if his horrid passing performance (with zero notice, grant) in the WC round wasn't better than Andy Dalton's, you know...

Points: 0

#26 by theslothook // Aug 07, 2013 - 3:00pm

Maybe I'm just cherrypicking, but that wild card game was so some of the worst qb play I've ever seen. It became obvious within the first quarter that webb possessed none of the passing skills you need to be a successful qb.

Points: 0

#31 by shah8 (not verified) // Aug 07, 2013 - 3:14pm

Thing was, he did get better, and he did throw some very nice passes in the second half.

If he was the worst thing ever, do you think he'd have gotten a passing TD? How about 180 yards? Andy Dalton, in two tries, has not had a better postseason game than Webb's horrible game. Matt Cassel, that guy who's gonna be so much a better backup QB, had an infinitely worse game in the postseason. And remember, these two guys were *starters*. They got reps in practice and almost every Sunday. Joe Webb did not throw a pass in a live fire game since the end of the 2011 season. He had all of a couple of hours notice. How many QB really do all that well under the circumstances, with that meaning, better than Graham Harrell or Rex Grossman against Detroit?

Face it. Webb has the best excuse for looking like a bad QB. And people do generally know that, I think.

Points: 0

#51 by Will Allen // Aug 07, 2013 - 6:16pm

Oh, for the love of Otto Graham, Ponder did not practice at all in the week before that playoff game. Webb had all the reps during the week, and he knew he'd be starting, unless Ponder all of a sudden regained the ability to throw the ball harder than a ninth grader, an hour before the game. Webb had been working as a qb since the 2010 season.

Face it. By NFL standards, he can't hit the ocean while standing on the beach. That's why they moved him back to receiver, and added Matt Cassell to the roster.

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#61 by theslothook // Aug 07, 2013 - 9:15pm

Ok, so he got some yardage and a td, he's in the nfl. Being in the nfl itself means you're in the 1 percent of the 1 percent of the population. Compared to the rest of us, he's an awesome qb. If that's the standard you want to judge Joe webb, then so be it. But I prefer to judge him on the standard of what an average qb would be, let alone an effective one or a hall of famer. Given that context, I simply cannot see how webb figures at all. Im not going to rewatch that WC game just to prove a point, but if you really believe webb "showed something" in that game, please rewatch and tell me where and when. The overwhelming message that I got from that game, right from the start, was how abysmal webb was. Take away his running, and I don't think he's in the nfl at all frankly.

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#36 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Aug 07, 2013 - 3:31pm

So if you want to remove last year's Wildcard game as an outlier, then you have to do the same for his 2010 game against Philadelphia in Week 16. What you're left with is a QB rating that barely cracks the 50's and a yards/attempt in the high 4's. (And I don't think you can point to week 16 of 2011 against WAS as a dominant passing performance....when he attempted FIVE passes the whole game).

Don't get me wrong, I had a lot of fun watching him play (except when he played the Lions in 2011 and almost led a comeback win..that wasn't fun for me), but I just don't think he's a sustainable long-term starter.

But wildcat/gadget plays, on the other hand? There are some possibilities.

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#13 by bravehoptoad // Aug 07, 2013 - 1:53pm

Weird to see Jeff Garcia ranking ~12 on the best-of list in the DVOA era. Seems like the guy had to fight to be starter wherever he went. Palmer and Brunell also surprising -- guess I've never gotten to see them play much.

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#15 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Aug 07, 2013 - 2:00pm

Early career Palmer and Ochocinco were a great combination. So was Brunell and Jimmy Smith in Jacksonville in the late '90s. (And Brunell could really run, too...remember his signature run when they upset the Broncos in the '96 playoffs?)

Garcia never had the greatest arm, but he was smart in Pennington sort of way, and could also run.

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#19 by coremill // Aug 07, 2013 - 2:29pm

Garcia actually had a pretty good arm. Not fantastic, but good. Not a great deep ball but he could put real zip on the intermediate throws. Certainly better than Pennington. He got consistently overlooked because he was small, barely 6 ft and under 200 lbs.

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#21 by coremill // Aug 07, 2013 - 2:31pm

QB rushing DYAR raises a question that's come up a few times before but to which I haven't yet seen an answer: where do the baselines come from? What's is replacement-level rushing for a QB and how is it determined?

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#41 by Vincent Verhei // Aug 07, 2013 - 4:41pm

The same way replacement-level passing for quarterbacks was determined:

"Our estimates of replacement level were re-done during the 2008 season and are computed differently for each position. For quarterbacks, we analyzed situations where two or more quarterbacks had played meaningful snaps for a team in the same season, then compared the overall DVOA of the original starters to the overall DVOA of the replacements. We did not include situations where the backup was actually a top prospect waiting his turn on the bench, since a first-round pick is by no means a "replacement-level" player."

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#44 by coremill // Aug 07, 2013 - 5:13pm

So the replacement level for QB rushing is based off the performance of other QBs? How do you avoid sample size issues, since most QBs will have very few rushing attempts (e.g. Peyton Manning averages 23 rushing attempts/year, and a lot of those are probably kneel-downs)? Do you correct for selection bias, in that the QBs who are good at running will tend to run more? What do you do about the problem of widely varying skill sets, i.e., Joe Webb and Jason Campbell are both backup QBs and somewhere around the replacement level, but one is really good at rushing and the other is not?

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#22 by nat // Aug 07, 2013 - 2:34pm

Why no playoff stats? They would be nice to round out the story here.

All of these have some equivalent for playoffs. We're (mostly) adults here, so we could understand about small sample sizes. No one's freaking out about Wade Wilson topping the season DVOA list, for example.

Or just correct the title to say "Best Regular Season QBs". Because no sane discussion of great QBs fails to include playoff games. Although many sane people can disagree about how playoff games should be weighted in the discussion.

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#24 by theslothook // Aug 07, 2013 - 2:45pm

You know, one can't help but notice just how many modern(by that I mean, the last 10 years) qbs populate this list, both in terms of the best seasons and career. Now, dvoa and dyar are admittedly stuck(for now) at 1991, this is somewhat understandable. Still, the 1990s still encompassed nearly all of Aikmen and Steve Young's careers, not too mention big chunks of elways, marinos, and warren moons. All of these passers, reputationally, are way ahead of a player like Matt schaub and Jeff Garcia. Again, I recognize careers are longer now, but there are really only two other explanations you are left with. 1 - that the level of quality at qb is simply better now in every way than it was even 20 years ago and that a player like schaub IS bette than marino and elway were in the 1990s. OR, alternatively, we still haven't gotten a good era adjusting tool to gauge these metrics.

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#45 by JIPanick // Aug 07, 2013 - 5:19pm

The grand total tables (as opposed to single season) are limited to players who debuted in 1991 or later; Favre just sneaks on, Aikman/Marino/Elway/Young are out.

As for the lack of an era-adjustment tool:

I added up Aikman's (no doubt both the weakest of the above, plus he only loses a couple seasons he'd like us to forget anyway before the cutoff) pass DYAR from 1991-2000 real quick by hand.

He doesn't make the single season leaderboard (1995's 1358 was his best).

The career total result is 8107, good enough for fifth place behind Manning, Brady, Favre, and Brees but closer to off the list than turning the "Big Four" into a "Big Five". That should ensure he finishes in the same place on the career total DYAR list barring incredibly awful rush DYAR, since he's got a fair bit of padding on each end.

On the "best six years" chart, his pass DYAR would be good for 9th, just below Romo and ahead of Green.

I can't do DVOA by hand, unfortunately, so this is what we got.

Aikman Pass DYAR
91: 866
92: 1237
93: 1234
94: 887
95: 1358
96: 821
97: 556
98: 781
99: 463
00: -96

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#118 by Edge (not verified) // Aug 13, 2013 - 2:57am

It amuses me that someone thought there was a way to calculate career metrics that placed Steve Young behind Jeff Garcia.

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#27 by Danny Tuccitto // Aug 07, 2013 - 3:01pm

Everyone asking about playoff game DYARs, we didn't post them for various reasons. The best we can do right now is give you the top 10 pass DYARs using the previous version of DYAR (i.e., v6.0) for playoff games from the '94 Super Bowl (i.e., SF over SD) through 2010. Here they are:

1) Kurt Warner, ARI, 2009 WC vs. GB, 385 pass DYAR
2) Peyton Manning, IND, 2004 WC vs. DEN, 323
3) Peyton Manning, IND, 2009 AFCCG vs. NYJ, 316
4) Peyton Manning, IND, 2003 WC vs. DEN, 284
5) Aaron Rodgers, GB, 2010 DIV @ ATL, 273
6) Kurt Warner, ARI, 2008 SB vs. PIT, 259
7) Jeff George, MIN, 1999 DIV @ STL, 249
8) Tom Brady, NE, 2007 DIV vs. JAC, 247
9) Kurt Warner, ARI, 2008 NFCCG vs. PHI, 242
10) Steve Young, 1994 SB vs. SD, 240

My commentary:

1) Seriously, another Vikings QB?
2) Peyton Manning, clutch performer.
3) Kurt Warner's playoff career in ARI: Not shabby.
4) Color me biased, but I think Young's SB performance was better than Warner's.

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#35 by Danny Tuccitto // Aug 07, 2013 - 3:30pm

Nope, that's just pass DYAR. If we add in his 29 rush DYAR he moves up to 6th, with 6-9 sliding down en masse to 7-10. Otherwise, the list stays in the same order except Rodgers' game goes ahead of Manning's 2003 game. Rodgers had 14 rush DYAR in that one.

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#34 by DenverCheeze (not verified) // Aug 07, 2013 - 3:24pm

Wasn't it Warner's pick+6 at the end of the first half that basically lost the SB vs Pittsburgh (granted someone should have made a tackle)? That really needs to take it down a bit in ranking somehow.

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#65 by dbostedo // Aug 07, 2013 - 9:46pm

The "+6" part of that pick six is essentially random and probably doesn't factor in much more than any other interception thrown on other similar plays at that down/distance and part of the field.

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#67 by dmstorm22 // Aug 07, 2013 - 10:13pm

But since the pick occured inside the Steelers 10, it was really costly in terms of lost points for Arizona. Not sure off hand if that gets factored in.

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#47 by dmstorm22 // Aug 07, 2013 - 5:46pm

The #2 game was against the Broncos, although his '03 performance against the Chiefs in the divisional round was probably a ~150 EYAR as well (22/30 for 304 yards 3TDs, no picks).

I have no expectations of this getting answered, but was Manning's '03 Wild Card and Divisional wins the best back-to-back performance in NFL history? His passer rating combined for those two games is in the 150's (though not perfect). I guess by DYAR, Warner's '08 Title Game and Super Bowl would be tough to beat.

Also, only two lost their playoff game (Warner and George). In Jeff George's case, weren't teh Rams up like 49-17? Warner probably had a nice DYAR for that game too.

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#48 by Danny Tuccitto // Aug 07, 2013 - 6:05pm

1) Fixed Manning.
2) As far as I can tell, those are the only 2 candidates, and 2008 Warner wins 501-494 over 2003 Manning. And by the way, Warner's #1 game came in ARI's WC game the following year, so I imagine he's probably got the best 3-game stretch too (886 pass DYAR).
3) Warner had 235 pass DYAR vs. MIN. It ranks 12th.

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#56 by dmstorm22 // Aug 07, 2013 - 7:05pm

I meant a 2-game stretch regardless of postseason or regular season (which is why I didn't expect an answer), but thanks for giving me what Manning's stretch was. My guess is those are still the two best even when you make it regular or post.

Kurt Warner was just an amazing playoff performer his whole career. I think he's only had one bad game, which is his 1999 NFC Title Game. Any ideas if that was a negative DYAR?

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#84 by Eggwasp (not verified) // Aug 08, 2013 - 9:42am

Warner had to play the whole game, Young was looking out for Gatorade soon after halftime, I think that probably had an influence on things - that 49er team could have dropped as many points/DYAR as they wanted on the Chargers.

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#111 by RC-12 (not verified) // Aug 09, 2013 - 6:13am

1) Cunningham and George were done before they got to Minnesota. Denny Green knew how to recharge QB batteries.

2) If only he stopped at those 3 playoff games. How's his 2006 Super Bowl run DYAR?

3) Kurt Warner's entire career was not too shabby (The Terrell Davis of QBs)

4)Young had an incredible 6 TD passes. The thing is, Y.A. Tittle at 68 would have thrown 3 TD passes against San Diego.

Speaking of Cunningham: The 1990 Ultimate Weapon to the 1991 Slop is the epitome of ABOVE REPLACEMENTS.

Speaking of Davis: You can't beat his 8 game playoff resume. Its a complete joke that the Hall of Fame does not know how to handle players like him.

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#114 by dmstorm22 // Aug 09, 2013 - 11:49am

Considering Peyton played three of the best defenses in the NFL, I'm sure his DYAR is fine for his 2006 playoff run.

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#33 by Aaron Schatz // Aug 07, 2013 - 3:16pm

The playoff thing is my fault. Unfortunately, I've never had the time to do playoff individual stats using the current v7.0 of DVOA. Only team stats. Sorry about that. It's on the to do list.

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#63 by nat // Aug 07, 2013 - 9:26pm

No biggie. In the name of truth in advertising, you should ask Danny to correct the title, though. Because you wouldn't stoop to trolling your own site with an intentionally inappropriate use of stats, now would you?

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#38 by Will Allen // Aug 07, 2013 - 4:07pm

I can assure you, Wade Wilson was mediocre. Those Vikings of 1987,88, and 89, however, were really quite talented. Two HOFers on the offensive line, and everybody else very good. A HOFer on the defensive line, with a tackle who played at a HOF level for his brief career, before blowing out his knee, and another tackle who was a multiple pro bowler. Good defensive backs. Good receivers and a good running back.

The biggest difference talent wise between the historically great Niner teams of that era and the Vikings was at qb.

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#52 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Aug 07, 2013 - 6:26pm

I remember those '88 and '89 teams. Those defenses were scary. Instead of trading for Herschel Walker, they should have traded for an at least above-average quarterback.

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#53 by Will Allen // Aug 07, 2013 - 6:43pm

The '87 team was about as good (their record was deceptive because their scabs during the strike were bad), and came within a dropped, albeit difficult, pass from forcing ot in the NFCCG on the Redskins home field. I would have liked their chances against the Broncos in the last game.

If Tommy Kramer, via a combination of getting killed in the 1984 3-13 debacle and alcoholism, had not declined so much from where he was in '82 and '83, they really would have been formidable.

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#69 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Aug 07, 2013 - 10:34pm

"their record was deceptive because their scabs during the strike were bad"

Yea, when I looked it up, the 1987 Vikings non-scabs went 8-4 in the regular season, and the 49ers non-scabs went 10-2, so there wasn't as big a gulf between the teams at first glance. I really wish the NFL would just erase everything the scabs did, because looking at PFR stats for 1987 is one giant mindf*ck.

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#72 by Will Allen // Aug 07, 2013 - 11:13pm

That win over the Niners was one of the easisr massive playoff upsets to pick, because the dummy gamblers moved the line so much by not fully discounting the scab games, even after the Vikings crushed a decent Saints team in the Super Dome in the wildcard round. What caused me to go all in was listening to Hank Stram call another game that weekend, on the radio, when he said that the Vikings roster actually matched up with the Niners' fairly well. For all the stuff that people paid attention to with Stram, the guy could evaluate roster strength like the Hall of Famer he was. When I heard him say this, I knew I wasn't just looking at things through a purple lens.

Fortunately, I did not have nearly as strong a feeling when the Vikings met the Niners in the playoffs in 88 or 89.

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#40 by Vincent Verhei // Aug 07, 2013 - 4:36pm

It's funny to me that the discussion on Wilson has focused on his Vikings career, when his best-ever season in question came in his one season in Atlanta. He started three games that season, all at the end of the year, throwing 13 TDs and 4 INTs. The Falcons were so impressed they let Wilson go after the year so they could sign Bobby Hebert in free agency. Wilson's numbers are small sample size theater gone mad.

On Jeff Garcia: Don't forget that when he started his career, he was throwing to Jerry Rice AND Terrell Owens. That's the top two receivers of all time in terms of career yardage. Obviously Rice was past his peak and Owens hadn't hit his yet, but it would be hard to argue this wasn't the greatest WR duo ever.

On the hysterical notion of Joe Webb, starting NFL quarterback, I refer again to Quick Reads from last year. Yes, when you include rushing value, he had higher DYAR than Andy Dalton. However, as I wrote at the time: "Webb's raw numbers don't really reflect how unsuccessful he was against Green Bay. His last four passes, each thrown while down by at least 14 points in the fourth quarter, were all completed for 119 yards with one touchdown and three other first downs. Those were his four longest completions of the day. Up to that point, he had gone 7-of-24 for 61 yards with two first downs, one interception, one intentional grounding penalty, one fumble, and three sacks."

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#49 by shah8 (not verified) // Aug 07, 2013 - 6:07pm

I actually remembered Wade Wilson, and also went, huh?

At the end of the day, do you really think that *any* backup QB would have done well? Hysterical? I think not. If the idea was hysterical, I don't think there would have been the QB controversy there was, with Christian Ponder.

The yards and the points still count, as a matter of pride, and overall, I saw that Texans-Bengals game, and Dalton had less business playing, simply out of lacking the tools.

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#55 by shah8 (not verified) // Aug 07, 2013 - 7:03pm

Nothing like that. I don't know if, say Joe Webb is a dumb person, or lazy, or some other disqualification.

What I'm really saying is that it's basically crazy to say that a dude who gets receivers on best performances list for the playoffs, who has one of the top QB rushing DYAR games in recent memory, and who sports a 57.2 QBR (even though it's a little dubious) for the year with most activity in 2011, could only be described as hysterical at QB. A 74.6 passer rating. For what is a really raw guy. He's a better passer than Jake Locker, and someone who has much more moxie than Blaine Gabbert.

It's just a basic "Someone's Wrong On the Internet" response from me, which is why this topic tends to get replies from me. I get that some of you all are determined to say that the Wild Card game is what Joe Webb is, instead of the full body of work, but that is insane, because Webb is a way above replacement quality backup QB, and his numbers show that, and explicitly so.

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#57 by Will Allen // Aug 07, 2013 - 7:34pm

Which is why the people who see him every day decided that he should go back to receiver. Yeah, I know, I know, they don't know anything about quarterback play, so they miss what is explicit, that you perceive so well.

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#75 by Will Allen // Aug 07, 2013 - 11:46pm

If somebody wants to say that The Webber is a good qb in their opinion, and everybody else is wrong, fine. It's when they say that it is "explicit" that he is a good NFL backup, after seeing what The Webber has cooked up in a few games, well, that's a little much.

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#77 by shah8 (not verified) // Aug 08, 2013 - 12:07am

I said it's explicit because, you know what? His numbers are actually pretty good for backup QBs. You can test that out yourselves by wandering through pro football reference, if you like. Obviously better than the no-hopers like Rusty Smith, Curtis Painter, and Ryan Lindley. Also better than the likes of John Skelton, numbers wise. Backup QBs who are better than Webb in many stats are basically the likes of Shaun Hill, Matt Moore, and Billy Volek. Again, most backup QBs that put the rough sort of numbers that Webb does, with the sort of effectualness that his QBR of 57 hints at, eventually starts.

I mean, you know, it's not like it was only me--there was a poll of GMs who were talking about the best backup QBs of playoff contending teams (towards the end of the regular season), and Webb was on that list, in a more than desultory way. If Webb was so obviously horrific, do you really think he'd have gotten that credit?

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#78 by Will Allen // Aug 08, 2013 - 12:21am

Tiny sample size don't make anything explicit. In fact, they are just as likely to do the opposite.

Go ahead and give me the cite for the "poll", and I will comment on it. Or not. My interest in the topic "The Wonderfulness of Joe Webb" is finite.

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#79 by shah8 (not verified) // Aug 08, 2013 - 12:36am

Oh really, sample size is all you've got? Particularly when management absolutely refuses to bench Ponder even when his hip doesn't genuinely allow him to play (like that horrific game against NO in 2011), or when he was throwing horrible red zone interceptions last year at Green Bay? Or when Percy Harvin went ape @ Seattle, almost certainly because he thought Ponder needed to be benched? As it was, most backup QBs will have tiny sample sizes, absent serious injury. Matt Flynn has made *bank* off of his tiny sample size, even though he really can't seem to separate himself from rookies and third round supplemental picks.

Here's the link:

You see he's ranked higher than Kaepernick, right? Gadget dude...oh well. Harbaugh, unlike Speilman, didn't play games with trying to make do with an adequate fan favorite QB. He played the better physical talent. And it paid off.

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#83 by Will Allen // Aug 08, 2013 - 8:07am

I knew if I kept you posting, your obsession with Ponder would arise. Like I said more than once, I'm really not interested in a debate as to whether I'd rather hit my right thumb or my left thumb with a hammer.

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#87 by shah8 (not verified) // Aug 08, 2013 - 11:08am

All I said, essentially, wrt Ponder was that Management won't bench him for any reason, even when they *should*, just to prevent injury.

The fact that I loath Ponder wasn't quite material to the comment, which was explaining the small sample size of Webb.

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#90 by Will Allen // Aug 08, 2013 - 11:36am

No, about half of your post has to do with the inadequacy of Ponder, which is irrelevant to the discussion. Look, you made a claim, that, in the use of statistics, or to use your term, "numbers", a small sample size can reveal "explicit" facts. The claim is simply empirically false. One is better served by avoiding empirically false claims.

I'll not take the time to discuss the contrasts in the bodies of knowledge regarding Colin Koepernick, and Joe Webb, prior to Koepernick becoming a starter. You've made it very clear, you really believe that Webb has revealed that he has the passing skill needed to be a good NFL backup, and maybe even a good starter. You just go right ahead and believe that.

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#104 by bernie (not verified) // Aug 08, 2013 - 6:12pm

Are we entirely certain that this Shah8 dude, isn't actually Joe Webb's dad, or possibly even Joe Webb himself?

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#76 by shah8 (not verified) // Aug 07, 2013 - 11:54pm

Management is committed to Ponder. Coaching staff wants Webb on the field. That's my take on it, and I do think Webb is more than an emergency QB á la Armanti Edwards in this situation, because both Ponder and Cassel largely have the same qualities. Vikings coaches think Webb is an inferior backup QB the way Eagles coaches think Foles can challenge Vick.

Seriously, though, look--Webb keeps showing up, the latest in DYAR lists of best QB running, in various measures that FO use. Only, they mostly believe what their preconceptions already are, so they gloss over what their data tells them. This isn't to say that the bulk of Webb's success in the WC game wasn't when the game was out of reach. This is to say that it's basically crazy to take that game as representative of Webb's qualities. I have watched a lot of football in my life, and in general, people who have played as well as Webb has in 2010 and 2011 gets starting QB shots eventually, say Cunningham, or Garrard. Even if Webb is a knucklehead, he can play like Aaron Brooks as long as his youth and health is good. I can reasonably evaluate Webb's physical qualities. They're elite, and as far as accuracy goes, any set of Webb highlight passes would be better than any set of, say, Locker highlights (or Ponder's).

I'm pretty certain that there are coaches in the NFL who think that if Webb got starting reps, day in and day out, he'd be better than trash, like what Oakland has out there, or Jacksonville, and I definitely think that Webb will not have trouble getting another backup job. I mean, do you really think Graham Harrell would have worked out well that night? How about Charlie Whitehurst, Matt Leinart, or Brady Quinn? I mean, Matt Cassel is dubious enough, I mean, did you see that KC-Pitt game? Talk about someone who can't challenge Ponder!

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#81 by Vincent Verhei // Aug 08, 2013 - 1:54am

He's a better passer than Jake Locker, and someone who has much more moxie than Blaine Gabbert.

This is the funniest sentence ever written on our website. Never has anyone been damned so strongly with praise so faint.

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#86 by shah8 (not verified) // Aug 08, 2013 - 11:04am

I prefer to think of it as...

"Why is Jake Locker on my telly, making his WRs look like Spiderman?"

"Dang, Blaine Gabbert got no fight in him, maybe he should be a security guard, at the mall."

Vince, there *aren't* so many legit QBs out there, and of those that are legit, a few are getting old enough to retire, and a couple of others are definite injury concerns. Just from a tools standpoint, and from the fact that he has a track record of turning around lost games, he's far more deserving of a real shot than you seem to think.

Then again, I suppose, since my comments aren't actually crazy, and oh, hey, is supported by Dungy, anon GMs, reporters, stats comparable to other backup QBs, that there is a dire lack of humor on this site. But then, you're basically just trying to laugh off the argument rather than make intelligent comments that clarifies what makes the Wild Card game so central to the question of Joe Webb's talent, rather than the body of work.

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#98 by theslothook // Aug 08, 2013 - 3:32pm

Hmmm..Dungy also said he would draft tim tebow in the top 10 when tebow was in the draft. Whatever your personal opinion of tebow, the fact is, only one team decided to pick him up this offseason and he's now officially a third stringer. So I don't think dungy's scouting skills are anything special at this point.

"Just from a tools standpoint, and from the fact that he has a track record of turning around lost games, he's far more deserving of a real shot than you seem to think."

I'm actually going to try and do this: If you compare Joe WEbb's stats( off his pfr page) to the rest of league, there isn't a single metric where he is above average at anything. And so many areas he's actually well below average. Fact is, sample size or not, none of his stats demonstrate to me that he "has the tools" to do anything other than run. Whether that makes him marginally better than Gabbert or Locker is immaterial. Fact is he, his stats show he deserves no shot.

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#116 by Dales // Aug 11, 2013 - 10:56pm

"there *aren't* so many legit QBs out there"

Strange- I feel as if we have more legit QBs in the NFL now than I remember there being before.

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#107 by theslothook // Aug 08, 2013 - 11:50pm

I would expect you would need somewhere close to a 50 50 divide of opinions to have an irrational thread. Instead...this one feels pretty unanimous, save one.

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#122 by Bobman // Aug 16, 2013 - 4:06pm

Damn, when the Peytom Branning thread started, I think it was more like 60/40, since Brady had two (or three) shiny new Lombardis in three (or four) years. I remember some nights adding to the insanity until 3 or 4 a.m. feeling like I was treading water in a shark pool.

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#123 by nat // Aug 17, 2013 - 9:13am

Ah, those were the days.

It's interesting that one major argument in those days was that Brady did what he did with a much worse cast of characters around him. If only he had a good offense around him, his stats would equal or surpass Manning's.

And here we have the six year peak DYAR showing exactly that. We did a thought experiment, and then did a real one to test it. And, guess what! We were right.

Two great QBs. Manning (and Edgerrin James - see Best RBs article) gave the Colts the luxury of a bad defense. Brady (and a strong defense) gave the Patriots the luxury of a bad offense.

No doubt, Manning will amass the better career stats, unless Denver decides to completely gut their offense. Context matters.

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#70 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Aug 07, 2013 - 10:40pm

"On Jeff Garcia: Don't forget that when he started his career, he was throwing to Jerry Rice AND Terrell Owens"

But Rice was gone after the 2000 season. Garcia (and the whole team) was bad in 1999. 2000 was his best statistical season, but he still had fine seasons in 2001 and 2002 without Rice (albeit when Owens was reaching his peak). Also don't forget his service with Philly in 2006 and Tampa in 2007, who had suspect receiving corps, to be charitable (I mean, Mr. Kendra Wilkinson featured heavily in the Eagles offense in 2006, for God's sake!)

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#54 by John Courage // Aug 07, 2013 - 7:03pm

Just wanted to say really great article!

Oh, and it really is impressive how far Manning and Brady are beyond everyone else on the career/weighted/peak lists. Assuming I did my math right, Manning's average season is better than Aikman's best season. Wow. It will be cool to eventually see how they compare to Marino/Montana/Elway.

I look forward to the upcoming list of Bears and Cardinals QBs since 1991.

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#71 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Aug 07, 2013 - 10:42pm

"I look forward to the upcoming list of Bears and Cardinals QBs since 1991."

Me too. Love me some reminiscing about Henry Burris, Cade McNown, and Dave Brown.

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#58 by Anger...rising // Aug 07, 2013 - 7:49pm

[Redacted] rookie Robert Griffin

It's basically impossible to take this site seriously considering this continued nonsense.

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#59 by Will Allen // Aug 07, 2013 - 8:27pm

It's basically impossible for me to understand why you would give a sh*t. It's the name of bunch of guys who wear the same shirt, and get paid to play football. This site has decided to not use the name. Who cares?

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#62 by Danny Tuccitto // Aug 07, 2013 - 9:22pm

Appreciate the defense, but just wanted to clarify something because I don't want anyone to get the silly idea that I'm speaking for the rest of the staff by using "[Redacted]." As far as I'm aware --and I'm pretty sure I am -- FO has no "official policy" on using the Redskins name. (See, I just used it.)

"[Redacted]" is in the column as a nod to my friend Rivers, and because, as a treat for longtime FO readers, I'm purposefully making all these "FO anniversary" columns (this being my second) very self-aware, meta-FO content. I'm sure that, even beyond specifically referring to old articles, people have probably noticed the numerous allusions to FO inside jokes. Just in this one, there was the "we're biased for NE" thing, the constant references to the Vikings boat scandal, etc.

Anyway, go [Redskins].

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#64 by Will Allen // Aug 07, 2013 - 9:35pm

I can't take you seriously, due to references to the players on the team I follow engaged in maritime carnal relations!

(edit)Not with each other, to be clear. Not that there is anything wrong with that....

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#82 by White Rose Duelist // Aug 08, 2013 - 5:48am

As someone who found this site via TMQ when he was still good, I would love to see them referred to as the Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons.

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#91 by David // Aug 08, 2013 - 12:03pm

As someone who found this site via TMQ when he was still good

Wow, the odds of reading TMQ in that single week :)

I kid, I kid - I actually quite liked TMQ for about a year, but the different team nicknames drove me up the wall. I felt it was, well, juvenile, really. A continual game of "I'm smarter than you" (which he might well be, but I don't need to keep hearing it). I'm guessing Gregg got beaten up a lot as a kid...

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#74 by Aaron Brooks G… // Aug 07, 2013 - 11:41pm

Because your enemies don't care, and your fans won't forgive you.

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#80 by DisplacedPackerFan // Aug 08, 2013 - 1:18am

Rodgers is likely to jump up into the 1300 - 1400 range for 6 year average after this season considering he has a year of 78 DYAR in there since he has only been a starter for 5 years. His weighted is likely to jump into the 7050 - 7150 range as well. That's using 1150 - 1450 estimate for DYAR in 13. It will still have the 708 of his first year as a starter (which really isn't bad, Favre had 6 seasons with the Packers that were worse than that, Brady has a couple of full seasons worse than that, and Mannings rookie year was as well), but dropping that 78 out when he only had 30 plays on the season puts him much more in line with the other QB's who don't have that junk on their 6 year rankings either.

Of course this all illustrates how spoiled I've been by sustained excellent QB play. Sure Colt and Pats fan have had nice long runs, but not 20 years or so of it and counting. I'm also curious as to what Majkowski's 89 season will look like, though what the team had in 90 and 91 was pretty bad so the streak can't quite go back that far.

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#89 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Aug 08, 2013 - 11:32am

"what the team had in 90 and 91 was pretty bad so the streak can't quite go back that far."

Are you saying Packers fans were not satisfied with the QB play of the immortal Blair Kiel and Anthony Dilweg?

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#92 by DisplacedPackerFan // Aug 08, 2013 - 12:10pm

Surprisingly that is what I'm saying. I'll include the stellar stint by Mike Tomczak as well (why any team would think a QB the Bears don't want would even be a serviceable backup....). It's a shocking statement, I know, but I'm putting it out there. Half a season of dinged up Majkowski and then stints by Kiel, Dilweg, and Tomczak were simply not a satisfying experience. I just hope those reading this were doing so in a seated position and not standing using a mobile device, I don't want to cause injury.

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#93 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Aug 08, 2013 - 12:30pm

Haha, as a Lions fan I have no right to poke fun at other teams' journeyman quarterbacks, as from the late 70's to 2009, Detroit's roster has been populated with QB's of roughly equivalent quality as the Kiel/Dilweg/Tomczak 3 headed monster.

I'm probably just jealous of your Stubbleface and Discount Double Check run; facing them has not been fun compared to their predecessors. could I forget Mike Tomzcak? He was under center the last time Detroit won a road game against the Packers. Quite a showdown between him and Erik Kramer. Shockingly, that game was not shown outside of the Wisconsin and Southeast Michigan markets.

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#94 by Will Allen // Aug 08, 2013 - 12:47pm

Remarkable, isn't it? Assuming Rodgers gives us 6 more years of performance at about this level, Cheeseheads will have enjoyed the services of a HOF qb for about 25 straight years. Give Wolf credit for picking up a guy the Falcons gave up on, and hiring the coaches to turn him around, and give McCarthy credit for effectively coaching Rodgers, but there is huge amount of luck in Stubbleface playing so long, and Ryan Braun's bestest buddy falling as low as he did in the first round.

For all the accolades the Packers' organization has been recipient of since Wolf took over, much of it deserved, if they get 6 more years of premium Aaron Rodgers, in this era of qb-centric football, and they don't get to another Super Bowl, I'd say that three Super Bowl appearances, in a quarter century of having a HOF qb on the roster, is a marked underachievement.

(edit) I should add, before the rabid fans of coagulated casein go crazy, that I'd be very surprised if the Packers didn't get to the last game at least once in the next 6 years, and not surprised at all to see them get there multiple times.

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#95 by DisplacedPackerFan // Aug 08, 2013 - 2:05pm

I'm right there with you. I didn't have a problem with Stubbleface being replaced because I felt the team had underachieved several times with him under center. To be fair Mike Sherman had no business being the GM, and the team had to rebuild around the HOF QB's they have had. But it was a HOF QB to build around. I agree with the luck of the longevity and the luck of the slide too. But you give proper credit for capitalizing on it.

I know fans are already grumbling about McCarthy and I think there will be serious noise if the team doesn't go deep in the play offs this year (assuming there aren't obvious injuries that really derail things and Bulaga doesn't count for that). While I think McCarthy and staff are very good at getting the team ready for game day, I find them average at best on game day. It's a combination that leads to a lot of wins, but makes me worried in the playoffs.

I also tell myself this staff believed Allen Barbre could play right tackle and if they had failed to get Tauscher back Rodgers would likely be a drooling bed ridden idiot thanks to the beating he would have received. To their credit they have tried to learn from that and did draft solid players in early rounds for those spots. Of course both of those picks have become injury casualties too frequently and we'll have to see what a 4th round development pick can do now. But at least there was a clear plan to deal with potential issues this time around.

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#96 by Will Allen // Aug 08, 2013 - 2:29pm

I'm really surprised at how the defense has played under Capers, who I always viewed as a good coordinator, culminating in the debacle against the Niners last January. Either that defense isn't coached well, or Thompson needs to be faulted for putting morons on the roster.

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#97 by dmstorm22 // Aug 08, 2013 - 2:56pm

The weird thing about the Packers defense under Capers is how good it was the first two years after the switch to the 3-4 in 2009 & 2010. By DVOA it was pretty good last year as well. 2011 was the huge outlier, but even in 2009 and 2012, their season ended with embarrassing defensive performances, one against the pass the other against the run.

I would have thought over time the players would get more comfortable with the scheme.

I have two reasons that I think could be major parts of why the drop happened, the first is the freak injury and subsequent retirement of Nick Collins, and the other is the loss of Cullen Jenkins. I do think it is a personnel issue, but you see them totally unable to handle the read option (a week after playing some form of it with Joe Webb) and it could be scheme too.

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#100 by DisplacedPackerFan // Aug 08, 2013 - 4:55pm

Capers has admitted that they didn't practice for the read option at all. That's really what I'm getting at with prep vs game day. Green Bay had also seen the fewest read option plays of any team in the league going into the playoffs (I think, there is an FO article about it). While they played San Fran and Seattle, it was Alex Smith San Fran and it was replacement ref, limited playbook Seattle. San Fran had not run that much read option in previous games either so GB prepared for how San Fran played against St. Louis, New England, and Seattle. I haven't watched those games again, but they weren't doing a ton of read option in those games. San Fran came out and realized very quickly that GB hadn't prepped for a couple of plays they knew they could run well, and they took the Madden approach. Run it until you can stop it. Harbaugh made a great game day adjustment. Capers and McCarthy completely failed to adjust. Admittedly that isn't simple when you've never practiced for it.

The Steelers and Cardinals shredding them at the end of the year in 09 had a lot to do with injuries requiring Jarret Bush to play in the defensive backfield, he was worse then than he was in the first game last year against San Fran. Warner also made some crazy good throws at times.

I expect the D to be better again this year. Datone Jones brings a Jenkins like interior presence which takes some double teams off Raji. Getting inside pass rush means a few more flushes into Matthews or away from Matthews more likely which makes that weakness in personnel less of an issue. Burnett will never be Collins but he moved a step closer last year and appears to be making another step in camp so given average health in the secondary that is more solid too.

But like Will speculated about, they do put some morons on the field. Jarrett Bush can not play defense. He's pretty damn good on special teams, but that's it. When he is pressed into service, you're in trouble. During the roster flushing from the Sherman years they also intentionally gambled (I feel) on depth at some positions and lost. I already mentioned the example of Barbre at tackle of a player who shouldn't be on the field too. I could name more.

Of course even with all that, they still do enough other things right, and do tend to give the HOF QB's they have had enough weapons.

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#99 by PantsB // Aug 08, 2013 - 4:36pm

Its imperfect because both Bledsoe and Favre played for other teams but career passing DYAR:

Brady + Bledsoe = 21334 DYAR
Favre + Rodgers = 21343 DYAR

weighted career
pats pair - 17901
pack pair - 17285

6 year Bledsoe isn't listed but Brady + Bledsoe seem like they'd be ~300 ahead based on passing DYAR
pats 21601
pack 22059

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#101 by DisplacedPackerFan // Aug 08, 2013 - 5:53pm

I can fix some of that data for you. I keep forgetting how good Bledsoe was when he had a line that let him be a statue. Of course he didn't start until 1993. Stubbleface was 92.

So I didn't look up the DYARs of the QB committee that NE had in 92. Overlap years between Rodgers / Favre and Bledsoe / Brady as well as Brady / Cassel I simply added. So Rodgers -132 DYAR in 05 on 19 plays is in there, dragging GB down some.

Side by side DYAR

2012 . . . 1276. . . 2035
2011 . . . 2059. . . 1997
2010 . . . 1288. . . 1918
2009 . . . 1106. . . 2020
2008 . . . 708 . . . 469
2007 . . . 1389. . . 2674
2006 . . . 340 . . . 999
2005 . . . 474 . . . 1405
2004 . . . 1284. . . 1345
2003 . . . 654 . . . 698
2002 . . . 584 . . . 780
2001 . . . 966 . . . 525
2000 . . . 742 . . . 558
1999 . . . 728 . . . 280
1998 . . . 812 . . . 881
1997 . . . 1117. . . 809
1996 . . . 1090. . . 799
1995 . . . 1507. . . 7
1994 . . . 1000. . . 584
1993 . . . 134 . . . 72
1992 . . . 540 . . .

. . . . .197898 . . .20855

GB 10 years of 1000+ DYAR, NE 7 (all Brady).

GB had better QB in 10 years, NE in 10 (if we just go back to 93). So the NE peak has been significantly higher, but it looks like GB has sustained a higher minimum.

Years above 1500 -- GB 2 NE 5
Years above 1000 -- GB 10 NE 7
Years above 750 --- GB 12 NE 12
Years above 500 --- GB 17 NE 16
Years above 250 --- GB 19 NE 18

Rodgers has a chance to raise the peak, Bledsoe was decidely worse than either Favre or Rodgers.

6 year weighted averages (1 x best year, 0.95 x 2nd best year, ... 0.75 x 6th best year), work is shown. :)









Packers "combo" - 12587
Patriots "combo" - 14084

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#102 by theslothook // Aug 08, 2013 - 5:54pm

I think, personally, the packers just played poorly defensively in all of their recent playoff losses. And outside of the 2011 game, both were uncharacteristic of their regular season performance. There's a reasonable explanation for last year's game, but 09 was just baffling. I thought woodson got shredded and while warner was sick good, it felt like the cardinals could pass however they wanted and the packers would have no answer. Passes to running backs went for big yards. Passes to Fitz and Bolden was huge. Breaston as well.

Ultimately, the playoffs are a big and total crapshoot, which is why I think its silly for any team, no matter how formidable, to feel comfortable come playoff time.

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#105 by dmstorm22 // Aug 08, 2013 - 6:22pm

The issue with explaining away the '09 loss as a fluke was that the Packers were shredded through the air against Pittsburgh just three weeks prior, and Minnesota twice that season. There was evidence that they were lousy against good passing offenses, apart from one really good perfomrance against Dallas.

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#109 by evenchunkiermonkey // Aug 09, 2013 - 4:47am

I remember the 2 1st quarter turnovers the Packers committed being the primary reason the lost that game. Spotting Arizona 17 first quarter points with TD drives of 22 and 40 yards killed GB.

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#103 by Will Allen // Aug 08, 2013 - 5:56pm

The weighted average difference between Brady and Bledsoe is so huge that it is a little like combining Michael Jordan's best six years, and whomever was next best on the Bulls for six years after Jordan left.

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#117 by Edge (not verified) // Aug 13, 2013 - 2:41am

Chicago had too much turnover to figure out who Jordan's successor or predecessor would have been, no one was around long enough. They did have Elton Brand, Jalen Rose, and Ron Artest all briefly. May I recommend that you claim it's like combining Magic Johnson's best six years with Nick Van Exel's?

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#113 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Aug 09, 2013 - 10:57am

Wow, 50 years old, that's sad. Now I feel bad about poking fun at him (although I really wasn't...being on an NFL roster for multiple years is something 99% of the population would be unable to acheive).

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#119 by Sakic (not verified) // Aug 13, 2013 - 10:17am

"Are you saying Packers fans were not satisfied with the QB play of the immortal Blair Kiel and Anthony Dilweg?"

And don't forget Mike Tomczak. Those three combined with post-injury no arm strength Majik Man made for a couple of really painful years.

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#88 by Kevin from Philly // Aug 08, 2013 - 11:27am

Strange to see Randall on the list of top single game passers but nowhere in the rush lists.

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#120 by bobrulz // Aug 14, 2013 - 8:28pm

Cunningham tore his ACL in the 1st game of the 1991 season and his rushing ability never really recovered, so as the above poster mentioned, his best rushing seasons came before that.

Cunningham had such great potential, but he was never able to shake a pretty consistent history of injury problems, a bit like an athletically gifted Chad Pennington in that regard.

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#121 by Dean // Aug 15, 2013 - 10:19am

I think even moer than the injuries, he was a headcase. Also, after Doug Scovil died, he didn't really have great coaching.

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#124 by Tom A (not verified) // Aug 20, 2013 - 10:46am

Really hope the Steelers o-line and wr corps manages to come together at least nicely in Ben's career so he has at least a shot at having a great peak season to add to his resume.

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