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Drew Brees Announces Retirement

Drew Brees announced his retirement with social media posts today, on the 15th anniversary of the day he originally signed with the New Orleans Saints in 2006 free agency. Brees retires as the NFL's all-time leader in passing yards, second in passing touchdowns and completion rate. In Football Outsiders' stats, Brees finishes with 11 different years ranked in the top 4 of passing DYAR, including No. 1 in 2008 and 2011. He had an additional five seasons ranked in the top 8 of passing DYAR. His only years with less than 1,000 passing DYAR were 2001-2003, 2005, and 2020.

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50 comments, Last at 26 Mar 2021, 5:21pm

3 Is he a top 10 QB? I think…

Is he a top 10 QB? I think that's an interesting discussion to have. 

I can name maybe 4-5 QBs who will be remembered as better QBs. Manning, Brady, Montana, and Unitas. I personally would add Fran as well, but apparently such a view is some lunatic Fringe opinion.

I think Marino and Elway are also probably held in higher regard. So that's 6

Then there are the real debates:

Young, Favre, Rodgers, Staubach. Which means Brees is either the 6th best or the 11th best qb depending on your weighting of peak vs longevity

8 Including Graham, Staubach,…

Including Graham, Staubach, and Unitas is a bit silly. Look at his original list: 8/10 from the 2nd half of modern football's existence?

Rules changes give us a nice separation of pre-1978 and post-1978. Realistically we're going to need another one for 2015+-ish, too, as rules changes make a class of QBs viable that weren't before.

So if we treat 1978-2018 as an era, is Brees top 10 in that era? Yeah, think that's safe.

12 Look I agree with you, we…

Look I agree with you, we should be doing this by era. But people never do and I've noticed that everyone pre Unitas gets severely discounted as coming from a bygone period where the game itself was fundamentally different.

The names I listed above are probably names that will carry greater cache than Brees and I actually think not having the all time records anymore will hurt Brees even more. 


18 "and I've noticed that…

"and I've noticed that everyone pre Unitas gets severely discounted as coming from a bygone period where the game itself was fundamentally different."

Soo.... people never do it by era, except when they do it by era?

You're discounting the pre-Unitas guys because "that's what people do," but the game in the 1980s was easily just as close to the modern era as the 1970s were to the older guys.

What I'm saying is that we're at the point when it's time to stop trying to include guys like Unitas/Staubach/Tarkenton up till now. If you're going to include Unitas, not including guys like Luckman/Baugh/Graham is weird.

15 When the NFL did their 100th…

When the NFL did their 100th anniversary celebrations and included 10 quarterbacks, Brees squeezed into my top 10 -- last spot.

I went for:
The five quarterbacks who I felt had the best arguments for GOAT at some point in their careers (Graham, Unitas, Montana, Manning, Brady)
The best pre-1950s passer (Baugh)
The guy who re-wrote the record books in the '80s (Marino)
The best quarterback of the '70s (Staubach)

And that left me with two slots.  I filled 'em with three-time MVP Favre and the (at the time) leader in the counting stats, Brees.  Those last two spots were very tough and could easily go any way -- Tarkenton, Young, Elway, all entirely legitimate choices.  But he's right there in the conversation.


17 Elway and Favre appear to…

Elway and Favre appear to have suffered the most, reputation wise, since the start of the century. Elway and Favre were both getting legitimate goat love. Since then, they have fallen towards the fringes.

Elway is going to be the most complicated case because his numbers are a case of what ifs and context. Favre I think gets hurt by the interceptions and the general direction team's have gone to mitigating them. 

A lot of what you think of Brees comes down to how harsh you are with era adjustments and how you balance peak and longevity. 

I personally lean more towards peak than longevity

25 Elway is clearly better than…

Elway is clearly better than Favre in my opinion.  Around the turn of the century, I considered Elway arguably the best ever.  5 Super Bowls, 2 wins, and he was considered one of the top QBs in the league his entire career.  Favre had a lot of down seasons and killer INTs in the playoffs.

Brees is definitely an all-time top 10 QB, but I wouldn't say top 5 for him.

It's so hard to compare earlier eras though.

27 Cleary?

Over the guy that had already had 3x more MVPs by the time Elway even retired? By the end of his 7th season? Nah fam. Gonna disagree on that because SBs are a heavy team stat. 

This comment cements Elway as the most overrated QB of the 20th century, at least. Dude lives off his hype coming out. His only MVP was pretty debatable too (wasn't even the consensus All Pro considering Montana)

47 A bit late to the…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

A bit late to the conversation, but I completely agree. Elway is the most overrated QB of all time. He looked great. Could maybe have been great. Was never that great except for two-minute situations in a few high-profile games.

48 Glad I'm not the only crazy one

Not gonna act like I've watched every Elway game but man his mythos is crazy too. The first can't miss prospect lingers forever. Same with Andrew Luck. At least Peyton lived up to the hype. We'll see with Lawrence. The Mount Rushmore of prospects.

Even when they were both in the league together (91-98) Favre had a higher passer rating, NY/A and ANY/A in both the regular and postseason. And Elways only MVP, he led his team to an 8-3-1 record while a...Ken...Karcher went 2-1. Edged out Montanas 102.1 passer rating with his...83.4. Wild. Yeah, his team was worse but still...whatever I wont fight that but prime Brett won 3 straight MVPs, leading the league in ANY/A in 95 with Robert Brooks as his top pass catcher (fine but 0x pro bowler/all pro), something Elway never did. 

Was waiting for a rebuttal on why Elway was clearly better. Especially if he was considering, at the turn of the century, Elway the GOAT, over not just Favre (guess it was the middle of his career) but also Montana? Whew. Suppose I won't get that context. 


49 So, to be clear, I totally…

So, to be clear, I totally agree the idea that Elway's "clearly better" than Favre is nuts, but suggesting that Elway didn't live up to his hype is overkill. You're waaaay overestimating what a top pick should turn out to be. Elway was a 15-year starter going to the Pro Bowl in 60% of his seasons. That's a massive hit for a #1 overall pick. The issue with Luck was injury and early retirement, he was definitely on pace to be worth his hype as well.

Manning ludicrously overshot his hype. I mean, ridiculously overshot it. Remember there were debates on him vs another QB in his draft. His hype would've been too low if they had said "Manning's the best prospect in the past decade." He would've lived up to the hype of "Manning is the best prospect of our generation."

Top overall picks aren't expected to have Manning, or even Elway careers. They're expected to have Eli Manning careers. If a team knew that Elway or Manning would turn out the way they did, they should've traded their whole freaking draft for him. Note that I'm not saying Eli Manning was some great success - but he was a 13 year starter with a peak as a top-half QB.

50 I didnt say that.

I said compared to the hype he got (and continues to get). Even at the time, his contemporaries were better. He wasn't even the best QB from his class (ala Luck-Wilson)! Marino and him ironically were both primary starters for 16 years and made the pro bowl 9 times. Except Marino made a lot more all pro teams. And of course they were also competing with the likes of Montana, Young, etc. who Elway wasnt as good as either. It's not compared with other #1 picks which vary widely due to a bunch of different factors, but due to the aura he holds (strong enough to will his way out of Baltimore, but unlike Eli, who is properly thrashed).

Manning is properly regarded. Most do and should have him above Elway. 

28 Aikman, really? You can make…

Aikman, really? You can make a pretty strong case that Romo was better than Aikman. Hell, you could reasonably argue that Danny White was better than Aikman (although Aikman started a lot more games).

Modern (meaning post-1980) QBs who could be argued to be better that Aikman include Moon, McNabb, McNair, Romo, Warner, Wilson, Rivers, Roethlisberger, Ryan. It's a long list.

30 Since I limited the list to…

Since I limited the list to ten QBs there's inevitably going to be deserving QBs left out, and maybe I shouldve gone with Rivers or Roethlisberger(purposely leaving out QBs that still have several years left like Wilson or Mahomes)


But Lol McNabb?  Surely you jest.



31 Surely I jest? Here's the…

Surely I jest? Here's the case for McNabb over Aikman:

Both made 6 Pro Bowls. Aikman maybe had 1 other year when he was very good (1998) but only started 11 games. McNabb had 3 other years when he was very good (2006-2008), including one in which he only started 10 games but he was really good that year (2006). So being generous, Aikman has 7 quality years, McNabb has 9.

Aikman: 32,942 yards, 165 TDs, 141 INTs, +/- is +24, rating 81.6, ANY/A 5.66, rushing yards 1,016, rushing TDs 9.

McNabb: 37,276 yards, 234 TDs, 117 INTs, +/- is +117, rating 85.6 ANY/A 5.89, rushing yards 3,459, rushing TDs 29.

McNabb is better in every cumulative stat, nearly identical rating (McNabb is slightly higher) in almost exactly the same number of games played/started, and a slightly higher ANY/A. Obviously McNabb was a much more prolific runner. He has more than triple the career rushing yards that Aikman has, and more than triple the rushing TDs.

They both have 8 years with ANY/A+ greater than 100. Aikman has 1 year exactly at 100, McNabb has one year at 99. That's more or less a wash. Aikman's top 2 years are 129 and 126. McNabb's top 2 years are 130 and 128 (although Aikman's 3rd best year is better than McNabb's 3rd best, and he generally performed better by this stat overall).

Aikman threw to star pass catchers Irvin and Novacek, had the best O-line of his era, and a HoF RB to occupy defenses. McNabb had garbage pass catchers other than RB Brian Westbrook and a year and a half of TO, a decent RB (the aforementioned Westbrook was more dangerous as a receiver) and an O-line which was generally decent but not dominant. McNabb's teams were also much more pass-happy than Aikman's teams, meaning that defenses were much more concerned with stopping McNabb than with stopping Aikman.

Finally, playoffs!

Aikman: 16 G, 3,849 yards, 23 TDs, 17 INTs, rating 88.3, ANY/A 6.21, 87 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD, 3 rushing 1Ds.

McNabb: 16 G, 3,752 yards, 24 TDs, 17 INTs, rating 80.0, ANY/A 5.05, 422 rushing yards, 4 rushing TDs, 30 rushing 1Ds.

So their raw playoff passing stats are nearly identical. Aikman was definitely a more efficient passer in the playoffs, but McNabb provided way more rushing value.


In summary, McNabb has better counting stats, more quality seasons, roughly equal or better regular season passing efficiency depending on the stat, lower efficiency in the playoffs but was far more effective as a runner in both regular season and playoffs, and all with a vastly inferior supporting cast, and in an offensive system than relied on him more heavily than Aikman, and with defenses more keyed on stopping him than Aikman. Honestly, It's a stronger case than I even thought.


32 Stats-wise the passing…

Stats-wise the passing difference between Aikman and McNabb is all era: by DYAR Aikman is very very far ahead. Aikman started off with 2 bad years, and then ranked 6, 3, 3, 4, 4, 6 before declining (11, 10, 14, 32).

Whereas McNabb started off with 1 bad year, then 15, 18, ~21 (prorated), 12, 6, (injured), ~6 (prorated, 14, 9, 16, with a useless two final seasons. I prorated up to 14 games in two of those seasons since that's about Aikman's average (and I excluded 2005 completely since he those games were playing injured). I mean... that's 3 top 10 DYAR seasons vs Aikman's 7. Really, the only reason you'd even talk about McNabb and Aikman in the same sentence is just McNabb's rushing ability for his early career, and it's not nearly enough.

Obviously it's worth noting that McNabb had garbage receivers, but he also had a vastly better coach for the majority of his career. I mean: Barry Switzer vs Andy Reid. Really.

But really, like I said, the only reason they even look comparable is just era. McNabb's best QB rating season came when the league average was 82.8. In Aikman's best, it was 76.7.

33 This is a fair point, and…

This is a fair point, and probably accounts for why Aikman looks equal to/better than McNabb by ANY/A+, which is era-adjusted. But DYAR is not the be-all, end-all stat of QB performance. McNabb deservedly made a lot of Pro Bowls in years when his passing DYAR was not indicative of a Pro Bowl season, for the reasons we both noted: Rushing value and lack of talent around him.

For a stat that attempts to balance all these factors (era, rushing value, and surrounding talent), let's try Approximate Value:

Aikman: 121 total AV, best 5 seasons: 17, 16, 15, 12, 11 (avg 14.2)

McNabb: 138 total AV, best 5 seasons: 16, 16, 15, 14, 13 (avg 14.8)

So by both peak and total value, McNabb comes out on top by AV. This same trend is evident if we look at the next 5 seasons for each player:

Aikman seasons 6-10: 10, 10, 9, 9, 7 (avg 9.0)

McNabb seasons 6-10: 12, 11, 11, 10, 8 (avg 10.4)

Bottom line, AV (which is better at accounting for context than DYAR) favors McNabb.

34 ...I have no idea why you…

...I have no idea why you think AV accounts for any of those things. It accounts for changes in *scoring environment*, yes, but I have no idea how AV would account for quality of teammates. The AV split is equal for all teams.

But most importantly, because AV tries to "split up" a team's value between players, the QB pass/rush split is arbitrary: it's pretty obvious it's easier to accumulate AV as a rushing QB. The reason for this is straightforward: QBs get a fraction of the AV for passing, and a fraction of the AV for rushing. That fraction's determined as a guess from a number of sources, but it's still a guess, and the fractions aren't equal.

Basically, short answer is that comparing rushing QBs and passing QBs with AV is rough. Just look at Vick's 2006 season for that. Anyone who thinks Vick had a better season than Brady, I've got a bridge to sell you.

Edit: Another way you can think about this is QBs get more credit for rushing - about 2x the value/yard - because it's only them rushing, vs receiving, where the receivers are involved and the receivers get credit. But this generates less total offense for the *team*, because passing yards overall are 2.5x the rush total.

35 This is my understanding of…

This is my understanding of how AV works, which may be wrong:

AV divides the total points scored by a given offense among the various players (accounting for scoring environment). It accounts for quality of teammates (imperfectly) because it gives more credit to some players on an offense than others based on stats and things like Pro Bowls/All Pros. If Aikman is on an offense loaded with guys with big stats and a bunch of Pro Bowls and All Pros, he is getting less credit by AV than McNabb who is on an offense with few guys with big stats, Pro Bowls, or All Pros, even if McNabb's offense scored fewer total points than Aikman's did. Obviously this doesn't work perfectly on a season to season basis, but over the balance of a career it provides at least some disambiguation between a QB and his surrounding talent.

As for 2006 Vick vs. Brady, compare the following stat:

Vick 2006: 178 combined 1Ds (passing+rushing)

Brady 2006: 189 combined 1Ds (passing+rushing)

Not much difference there. Numerically, it's roughly equivalent to giving Brady a score of 15 and Vick a score of 14, which is exactly their AV totals reversed. And why shouldn't Vick get more credit for rushing than passing, since QB rushing is something he can contribute more independently than passing? In any case, in one given season, there's not much difference in a single point of AV. AV says they were roughly the same, good but not great. Is it so obvious that Brady was better? Yeah, OK, DYAR hates Vick's passing performance. We know DYAR is biased in favor of shorter, higher percentage throws. Vick threw deeper than Brady that year, so DYAR doesn't like his results (yards/completion is 1.0 yards higher, and Vick was #1 in the league in ALEX at +7.0, Brady was at +3.3). Their yards/attempt is not much different (6.4 for Vick vs 6.8 for Brady).

As for whether rushing or passing is more efficient, in Vick 2006's case rushing was far more efficient than passing. He averaged over 8 yards per rush that year! So yeah, it was more valuable to the offense when he ran.

36 Unless the AV methodology's…

Unless the AV methodology's changed (v1.1, 2013), it doesn't do anything with regards to Pro Bowls/All Pro/etc. for anyone except offensive linemen and defensive players. All skill position players get the same split. QBs get the same fraction of offensive points regardless of who their teammates are.

It also doesn't actually adjust for era - just scoring environment. The relative run/pass weights are historical, and static. That is, teams from 1970+ got ~37% of their yards from rushing, so that's used to "baseline" the assignment to blocking. (To be honest even the scoring environment adjustment's fairly simplistic, just basing off of points/drive).

"And why shouldn't Vick get more credit for rushing than passing,"

This was originally way longer, but let me try to boil it into a few points:

  • Value fractions for rushing are based on running back plays. Quarterback rushes aren't RB plays - the value splits shouldn't be the same. Why do you think WRs aren't partly responsible for QB rush yards? They're the reason the linebackers are downfield!
  • If you don't like the Brady/Vick comp, do Brees/Vick in 2006, which is just ludicrous: equal AV when Brees's team was a dramatically better offense. Brady's 2006 is a bit weird because his yardage is depressed since they were always working with short fields.

Yes, Vick racked up yards in 2006. But the reason he had a low DYAR wasn't because DYAR likes "short, high efficiency" plays. Hell no. It likes plays that lead to scoring, and Vick didn't have those. That's why Atlanta's offense had nearly 15% fewer first downs than the Patriots, even with roughly equivalent yards. The Falcons in 2006 were a massive "boom/bust" team and they were practically all "bust." 12th in total yards, 25th in total points. 

But ignoring Vick, the basic problem is just treating the value split for QB runs like RB runs. If QB runs were RB runs, they'd have the same yards/carry. They don't (and it isn't even remotely close, it's like 7 yards vs 4), so the value split can't be the same. Look at it more simply: don't compare passes and rushes separately, just look at yards per snap. If you do that, Brees's yards/snap are way above Vick's.

You've got the same problem with McNabb in 2001/2002. Below-average passer, well above-average rusher, but AV equal to quarterbacks with higher yards/snap (e.g. Favre 2001: 7.26 yards/snap, McNabb 6.67 yards/snap).

Bottom line is that rushing QBs that can't pass accumulate AV faster because AV gives them a larger fraction of the credit, even though the team is doing worse.

37 I will defer to you on AV…

I will defer to you on AV methodology, because you seem to understand it better than I do.

Your basic argument seems to be that AV systemically overrates QBs who accumulate a lot of rushing value relative to passing value. That is possible, but if so, It's not something I've ever seen anyone mention as a critique of it. It is certainly possible that you're correct, especially in regards to Michael Vick. But this didn't start as a conversation about Vick. Here's another stat:

Vick's career pass yards to rush yards ratio is 3.7:1.

McNabb's career pass yards to rush yards ratio is 10.8:1.

So, even in AV is overrating QB rushing yards, that's still having a much smaller effect on McNabb's career numbers than someone like Vick. Even if I concede that AV is slightly overrating McNabb due to his rushing yards, he's still roughly equivalent to Aikman in value. Some guy above thought it was ludicrous to suggest that McNabb could be better than or equal to Aikman. I submit that it is not ludicrous at all.

38 I mean, the AV stuff's all…

I mean, the AV stuff's all online, you can read it, it's totally straightforward.


Honestly, I'm surprised I've never seen it mentioned elsewhere, too, but I think it's primarily because rushing QBs "self-limit" - they just get injured and typically transition to passing QBs. So you get shortened seasons due to the injuries, and the overall AV doesn't seem that crazy. But it's a really obvious issue, especially if you look on a per-snap basis.

"So, even in AV is overrating QB rushing yards, that's still having a much smaller effect on McNabb's career numbers than someone like Vick"

Vick's AV is wacko high, so that's not exactly a high bar, he's easily 30% overrated by AV. But it's not that insignificant for McNabb either - it's easily a 15% effect for McNabb. Those first 4 years are likely overrated by 20 AV total. 

And yes, that means that it puts Aikman roughly equal to McNabb by total AV, but leaves Aikman well above for weighted career AV, because it slices McNabb's 2/3/4th best seasons.

I'd still maintain that Aikman's clearly better than McNabb. I mean, even if you accept that they're roughly equal in weighted AV, Aikman's DYAR lead is so large that it's hard to ignore. Really the best argument for them being equal is the talent differential, but at this point my opinion of McNabb is that Reid was boosting him up way more than I thought.

39 "Really the best argument…

"Really the best argument for them being equal is the talent differential, but at this point my opinion of McNabb is that Reid was boosting him up way more than I thought"

I think this really undersells McNabb. As Reid showed with Alex Smith, if he has less faith in his qb, he will resort to hide the quarterback. Only when the receiving talent got embarrassingly rich did Reid have faith in Smith to air it out and even then, it was tepid faith at best.

The fact that Reid did not hide McNabb in spite of the receiving talent being so thoroughly godawful is at least a testament to what kind of QB McNabb was. I also have way more confidence that McNabb could go to any offense and replicate what he did in Philly because a lot of his abilities weren't tied to receivers or scheme. 

I think what hurts McNabb is the fact that his numbers paled in comparison to his contemporaries(two of the greatest qbs that ever lived) and his longevity sucked. But in his prime, he was absolutely a terrific player and easily a top 5 QB. When he had a healthy, motivated, and non mercenary season out his star receiver, he was excellent. He even did well without him to get to the Superbowl. 

I didn't watch Aikman so I have no dog in the fight between who was better. But too many people seem to have this view that McNabb was a slightly better version of Alex Smith. This is just flat wrong. 

40 I'm way more of the opinion…

I'm way more of the opinion that Reid did hide McNabb. That's what I think Reid's "late game clock management" issues were. You had the same thing with Smith, and then as soon as Mahomes shows up, Reid's like "we got 30 seconds? Sure, let's go for a field goal."

I think a lot of it was that McNabb's breakout passing season was 2004, when Owens arrived - but that was *also* when illegal contact rules were tightened, and *everyone* became a better passer. McNabb's weapons improved a ton after that, but he never really had a top 5 season by any measure.

Top 5 is just way high. Top 10, sure, but you've already got Brady and Manning, and then the end of Favre, McNair, and Green's careers and the emergence of Brees and Rivers. That's squeezing out McNabb *really* strongly. And I've ignored a *lot* of guys there.

41 How would you rank Russel…

How would you rank Russel Wilson among the names you've mentioned?

I think he's easily behind prime Brady, Manning, and Brees. He's probably also behind prime Rivers.

Is he better than Green? Probably but I think Mcnabb was as well( the Chiefs offense was pretty stacked). Was Wilson better than McNair or Favre? Certainly more debatable. 


I just think you are seriously discounting McNabb. If you want to hold this view, then you should be similarly discounting Mahomes

42 I'm not sure which side of…

I'm not sure which side of the coin I fall on this, but Mahomes is a bad counter example. Mahomes doesn't run that much, I really don't know why he keeps getting considered a running QB.

First 3 years as starters, rushing numbers, tell me who is who.

QB 1
Y1 : 56-207-4
Y2 : 58-316-5
Y3 : 64-356-4

QB 2
Y1 : 86-629-6
Y2 : 82-482-2
Y3 : 63-460-6

QB 3
Y1 : 60-270-2 
Y2 : 43-218-2
Y3 : 62-308-2

QB 1 is Aaron Rodgers, who ran about as much (though scored more) than QB 3, Patrick Mahomes. QB 2 is McNabb, and Y3 was only 10 games. McNabb ran more in a 10 game season than Mahomes ever has. I should have put up the Alex Smith in KC numbers too. Smith in his first 3 years in KC had 79, 49, and 84 attempts (431, 254, 498 yards, 1,1,2 TD). So Smith ran more than Mahomes.

McNabb looks a lot like Wilson so that's a valid question. Guys like Brady/Brees tend to be in the 25 - 40 attempt and 30-80 yards range with a couple of 100+ yard seasons. Manning was a pure pocket guy so his numbers are even lower than that.

So yeah the Rodgers and Mahomes do run more than that being in the 50-60 range but they mostly do more with the same attempts. I mean Brady hit 49 attempts in 06 and only managed 102 yards and no TD so giving Mahomes more credit for 218 yards and 2 scores on 43 attempts SHOULD happen.

But I think the point about McNabb and Wilson is that they got in 80 attempts range and were often near the top of the league in rushing attempts by a QB. So the effect that rushing has on AV is going to amplify more and more as you get above that 25-40 attempt range, it's not exponential but it is more impactful.

This of course will affect your Watsons, Allens, Murrays, Newtons, and Jacksons even more. Your Mahomes and Rodgers and Bridgewaters and Tannehills would be right on the edge of the effect.

Personally I think combined rushing/passing DYAR does a better job than AV for this though there are issues with DYAR as we all know, but I think those are smaller and I think it handles other issues better.


Long reply I know, but I was just thrown by Mahomes as the example. Maybe I just got way too used to mobile QBs. I mean Favre was also in that 40-60 attempt and 150-200 yard with 1 or 2 TD range for much of his early career as well. Though he tailed off considerably once he hit 30 and ended his career in the 15-25 range. So maybe that's why I don't think of Mahomes as much of a running QB.  He runs a bit better than a young Favre and a bit worse than a young Rodgers. Guys who I think of as just a bit more mobile than average, but nothing super scary.

43 Thanks for that detailed…

Thanks for that detailed response. I will say, my overarching point was not about the rushing value factor for QBs. I myself haven't spent that much time thinking about it at all.

My point was to note that if Pat is going to discount(severely?) Mcnabb based upon having Andy Reid as a coach, he should also do the same level of discounting for Mahomes. You could even argue it should be even more severe considering the team around him is also awesome (see Alex Smith for further proof).


44 I do! But honestly that…

I do! But honestly that drops Mahomes from "holy cow GOAT" to "Hall of Fame QB." You're talking about a QB that went 1-2-1 in DYAR his first 3 years with ANY/As above eight and already cemented a place in the history books. I can derate him a *ton* and he's still elite.

46 Ah gotcha! I wasn't thinking…

Ah gotcha! I wasn't thinking about the coach discount factor, your post makes complete sense to me now. We were focusing on different parts of his arguments.

And with Pat s responses in other posts now I've got a clearer picture of his thoughts too.

45 Wilson's early career is…

Wilson's early career is something like McNabb's, but not entirely. McNabb in 2001/2002 was simply an average or below-average passer, so rushing doesn't add nearly the value that's being lost by having a poor passer.

But Wilson's always been a significantly above average passer, in some cases bordering on elite. I do think Wilson's been overrated a bit as well, but his career is well above McNabb's, and it's harder to discount the rushing. You might say "wait, now rushing's a worse decision, because he would've been better off passing" but again, given that Wilson's an above average passer, it's easier to credit the rushes as coming on plays that would have been failures otherwise.

Is he better than Green?

Man, I seriously think you're discounting Trent Green (and McNair, for that matter). Green and McNair had relatively short careers (although normal-ish for the time: Green didn't get a start until way late, McNair took 2 years too and ended early), but Green/McNair were absolutely top QBs, although probably not over a similar time period.

Don't buy the idea that those teams had stacked offenses. Weapons-wise they weren't great: the Chiefs OL was pretty damn good, but that's a necessary but not sufficient condition for practically any QB. Obviously Gonzalez was Hall of Fame, but that doesn't make them any different than, say, the Colts. 

All of this, though, is really just the "short career" problem. You'll note that neither of us included Warner as well, and Warner's a Hall of Fame QB! Same problem - career's just too short to definitively say "top 5!" at any point. Manning's career stretched over a decade. Brady's is going over two decades. Brees's was past a decade. Favres's was past a decade. Rivers's was past a decade. Rodgers's is past a decade. Even looking earlier, Montana, Young were all past a decade.

Those guys are just "well freaking duh." Everyone else - Aikman, McNabb, Green, McNair, Warner - their "peak" careers are just way shorter. And Wilson's is still in that short category now.

So looking at career totals is just going to be harder for those guys. I mean, I don't really care about Aikman's "slow decline" years. That's like caring about Eli Manning's career (who, by the way, has a higher career weighted AV than either McNabb or Aikman, proving that those "weights" drop way too slow). For those short career guys it's muchmore about looking at the peak and length of peak.

4 Young is top 10 minutes…

Young is top 10 minutes easily.  If Bill Walsh sticks around, Young would have won a few more rings easily.

14 I don't know about 'easily';…

I don't know about 'easily'; the Cowboys of that era were utterly stacked (maybe the last true super-team in the NFL), and the cap would take its toll on dynasties until Brady/Belichick broke the system.

5 Great career. One of the big…

Great career. One of the big football what ifs in my mind is, what if Philip Rivers hadn't missed camp by holding out? Do the Chargers start him over Brees, who clearly they didn't have high hopes for, since they took Rivers (well they drafted Eli, so I guess you could ask the same question about him). And if that happens and Brees doesn't have his breakout 2004, do we ever even see him as a starter again or does he ride the pine for a while behind established QBs and eventually wash out of the league?

6 "Brees finishes with 11…

"Brees finishes with 11 different years ranked in the top 4 of passing DYAR, including No. 1 in 2008 and 2011. He had an additional five seasons ranked in the top 8 of passing DYAR. His only years with less than 1,000 passing DYAR were 2001-2003, 2005, and 2020."

How does this rank him among other QBs though? 11 years in the top4? How does that rank him all time. Who beats him?

I've seen a lot of Brees. And honestly, he's 123 with Manning, Brady and himself.

9 Top 5 DYAR

Here are the most seasons in the Top 5 for passing DYAR:

  • Peyton Manning 14
  • Drew Brees 12
  • Tom Brady 12
  • Dan Marino 11
  • Brett Favre 8
  • Joe Montana 7
  • Philip Rivers 6
  • Steve Young 6

10 Brees and Rivers, Montana…

In reply to by Aaron Schatz

Brees and Rivers, Montana and Young, Favre and Rodgers (not on the list but still):  that's 3 pairs of HoF-caliber* QBs who were on the same teams.  Without a lot of thought I can name Waterfield and Van Brocklin.  Excluding pairs where one was past his prime (Unitas-Fouts), any others?

*Rivers is the only "maybe" on that list. 

16 The 2004 Chargers…

The 2004 Chargers quarterback room (Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Doug Flutie) has to rank up there with the best all-time rooms; you rarely go three-deep with that caliber of talent.

Only other team I can think of off the top of my head would be the 1988-1990 49ers (Joe Montana, Steve Young, Steve Bono).  The Packers never had a quality third QB in the Favre/Rodgers overlap, though you could make an argument for the Favre-Hasselbeck-Aaron Brooks room in 1999, maybe?

22 The 1994 Packers had Favre,…

The 1994 Packers had Favre, Mark Brunell, Kurt Warner, and Ty Detmer. Though that was only during preseason. Warner didn't make the roster because they kept the Heisman winner. Warner clearly ended up better but Detmer did at least start 25 games in his forgettable 8 year career.

2001 New England was a lot like 94 GB with Bledsoe, Brady, and Huard. Huard started 27 games in an 8 year career.

The Favre, Hasselback, Brooks was a decent 3rd. Though Brooks while starting more games (90) did only have a 7 year career so shorter than the Detmer and Huard.

I know you can't count Warner but if you could it's about the only one that I can think of that would come close to Brees, Rivers, Flutie or the Montana, Young, Bono (42 starts, 14 years)


24 It's an old one, but it's an example nonetheless.

The 1948 Bears had Sid Luckman starting, Bobby Layne was third on the team in pass attempts, and Johnny Lujack was second. The next year, Layne was gone and Lujack took over as the primary QB but Layne was replaced by George Blanda.

Lujack, in spite of being nothing short of an absolute phenom in 1948-9, ended up having the worst career of all four QBs involved. He only played four years for the Bears, though he put up some absolutely prodigious numbers and accomplishments.

26 Arbitrary cutoffs ftw!

In reply to by Aaron Schatz

Arbitrary cutoffs ftw!

As arbitrary cutoffs go, top 5 in a league of 32 teams isn’t too nutty. But it’s fun to see how that arbitrary cutoff colored your post. What if we used top 25% of the league’s main starters (top 8 for this century and some time before that).

Brees and Brady would equal or surpass Manning. Rivers would move up, I think. I didn’t check before 1998, so who knows what else would change.

Fun to think about. Excellent QBs all.

23 Drew Brees


too short

why are we even talking?

(i'm pretty sure not all will pass the litmus test.  no worries.  first amendment and all that)