Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

26 Jul 2005

Manning's 2004 Season Is Only No. 2

The Indianapolis Star gives Football Outsiders and Pro Football Prospectus a mention in today's paper. And even though Peyton Manning didn't top the list of quarterbacks to have the best season ever, according to the paper, at least FO kept it in the Colts family.

Posted by: P. Ryan Wilson on 26 Jul 2005

34 comments, Last at 28 Jul 2005, 1:46am by mactbone


by Ray (not verified) :: Tue, 07/26/2005 - 11:09am

Well, this might get a few more rabid Colts fans in here. Nothing brings 'em in like a little controversy. ;^)

by Catholic Samurai (not verified) :: Tue, 07/26/2005 - 11:28am

As good as this site is, I don't think it has ever addressed if Manning or Brady is better.

I really don't see this site going anywhere until that is discussed.

by Ray (not verified) :: Tue, 07/26/2005 - 11:35am

Heaven help you, Catholic Samurai, if you bring the apocalypse down upon us...

by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 07/26/2005 - 12:00pm

But what if Manning had played for the Steelers in 2000? Hmmmmmmm...

by OMO (not verified) :: Tue, 07/26/2005 - 1:25pm

For those uninformed...the Indy Star/News might be the worst newspaper in the history of the printed text.

The other interesting thing about the paper is that the Star/News sports writers in general, don't like the Colts.

Before the last Denver/Indy playoff game, the 5 Indy "sports writers" (I use this term loosely with these guys) were asked to pick the score. 4 picked Denver.

My Father than cancelled his subscription for the rest of "his natural born life".

Good times, good times.

by Jim A (not verified) :: Tue, 07/26/2005 - 1:55pm

The Web site is driven by statistics, analysis and complex formulas that allow it -- in theory -- to compare players from different generations.

I guess that's better than saying it's a fantasy football site, but why is it so difficult for those in the mainstream media to understand and summarize what FO is all about?

by Matt (not verified) :: Tue, 07/26/2005 - 2:05pm

Sadly, FO is only able to compare players from different eras "in theory". Not like more prominent sports sites like sportstimemachine.com and realityshapers.org

by MDS (not verified) :: Tue, 07/26/2005 - 3:04pm

Yeah, sportstimemachine.com is pretty cool. I once lined up Jim Thorpe in the single wing behind the current Chiefs' offensive line, with Don Hutson and the 1987 vintage of Jerry Rice split wide. Even with only eight players on the field, I was still able to beat the 1970 Alabama Crimson Tide.

by White Rose Duelist (not verified) :: Tue, 07/26/2005 - 4:32pm

I think the real question is whether the Indianapolis Star or the Boston Globe is the worse paper.

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Tue, 07/26/2005 - 7:17pm

Well, I think if we put the appropriate writers from the Globe and the Star into a room, locked the door, and lost the key ...

... it would be a good start.

by Richie (not verified) :: Tue, 07/26/2005 - 7:50pm

Speaking of Colts QBs, click my name to read an article about Gary Hogeboom being on the next Survivor. Sweet!

by MikeT (not verified) :: Tue, 07/26/2005 - 8:28pm

I was going to nominate the Arizona Republic as the worst regional paper in the nation.

Then I saw the name Gary Hogeboom, and I got scared and left...

by Paul (not verified) :: Tue, 07/26/2005 - 10:22pm

What do you think about Lance Armstrong?

by senser81 (not verified) :: Tue, 07/26/2005 - 10:43pm

Bert Jones' 1976 season is the greatest of all time? Seriously?! Didn't Ken Stabler have a higher completion percentage, higher yards per attempt, more TDs, and a higher QB rating than Jones THAT VERY SAME YEAR? Is that like saying Joe Frazier was the greatest heavyweight of all time, he just happened to lose to Ali and Foreman a few times?

by AndyNH (not verified) :: Wed, 07/27/2005 - 9:57am

RE #14: Having just finished that chapter of the book this morning, it comes down to Bert having better numbers across the board overall than Stabler; but with Jones coming out on top in terms of interceptions (fewer), yards per completion, and running.

by Makula (not verified) :: Wed, 07/27/2005 - 11:58am

I tried sportstimemachine.com and it didn't work, and I can't seem to find it in google either. It sounds interesting, could someone please post a link?

by solarjetman (not verified) :: Wed, 07/27/2005 - 1:14pm

"The other interesting thing about the paper is that the Star/News sports writers in general, don’t like the Colts.

Before the last Denver/Indy playoff game, the 5 Indy “sports writers� (I use this term loosely with these guys) were asked to pick the score. 4 picked Denver."

The ironic thing is, Bob Kravitz used to write for a Denver paper several years ago; he was a pessimist hack then too. Bad-mouthed Elway left and right. Every once in a while I pop over to the IndyStar to see what he's up to, and sure enough he's up to his same old tricks.

A lot of sports columnists like Kravitz don't get paid to write intelligent, reasonable, or correct opinions. They get paid to write inflammatory opinions. The more people they can troll, the better.

by senser81 (not verified) :: Wed, 07/27/2005 - 1:32pm

re: #15

Thanks for the info, and this isn't directed at you, but I didn't know yards per completion had any real significance. Stabler had a higher yards-per-attempt than Jones, and IMO that is a much more meaningful stat. I don't think Jones' 216 yards rushing should make that much of a difference. In fact, if you are going to include rushing, than what about Waterfield's INTs on defense or Baugh's punting statistics?

Jones does have the lower INT%, but in the postseason Jones wasn't very effective (11-25, 144 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs, 3 yards rushing) as his Colts lost in the first round 40-14, whereas Stabler was flawess in the postseason (41-67, 501 yards, 5 TDs, 0 INT) and won the Super Bowl. The postseason HAS to count for something when analyzing which QB had the greatest season ever.

by MikeT (not verified) :: Wed, 07/27/2005 - 2:45pm

18: You may want to read the article in the book before trashing the pick.

Stabler's season ranks 7th all time. Aaron says:

"Stabler had a season nearly as great as Jones, but very different. He had a higher completion percentage, but three more interceptions. Stabler had more yards per attempt, Jones more yards per completion . . . Of course, when it comes to perrsonal achievement, Stabler had the better season period, because he got a ring at the end."

Sounds like the article addresses most of your complaints.

And while Stabler won a Super Bowl, Jones won the MVP Award from the Football Writers, the AP, and the Newspaper Enterprise Association. UPI named him Offensive Player of the Year. And he was consensus first team All AFC, while Ken Stabler was 2nd team. Sounds like contemporary writers from the 70s would agree with the PFP analysis that Jones had the better year.

by TMK (not verified) :: Wed, 07/27/2005 - 3:18pm

If that listing of writers includes Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun, it would be complete. Preston's ability to manufacture controversies, then have them reported as fact, puts Ron Borges to shame.

But really, nothing compares to the ongoing feud between the Chicago Tribune and Mayor Daley, where the modernization of Wriogley Field has become hostage to Daley's pique with Tribune coverage of city scandals. I suspect some of the Colts/Star hostility comes from a similar source -- the Star printing uncomfortable things about the Irsays and the stadium situation.

by TMK (not verified) :: Wed, 07/27/2005 - 3:21pm

After reading the blurb, it's nice to see that the Indy Star agress with the Irsays at least on the issue of never mentioning just where Bert Jones played that season. It's revisionism of the "la,la,la I'm NOT listening!" school.

by Rufus J. Bizzleborbor (not verified) :: Wed, 07/27/2005 - 4:15pm

"Thanks for the info, and this isn’t directed at you, but I didn’t know yards per completion had any real significance."

Someone tell Senser about Goode.

by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Wed, 07/27/2005 - 4:34pm

The rankings are only since 1960. And it isn't really fair to include playoff performance, because you're penalizing players whose defense was just too lousy to get them in the playoffs, or who played when fewer teams made the playoffs.

On the other hand, I do wonder about a formula that has only 1 season from the 1980s in the top 20. (Neil Lomax in 1984.)

by senser81 (not verified) :: Wed, 07/27/2005 - 4:43pm

re: #19 & 22

Maybe I am missing something here, but isn't yards per attempt more important than yards per completion? A QB who goes 1 of 10 for 20 yards will have a higher YPC than a QB who goes 10 of 10 for 150 yards. And again, if a QBs rushing stats are taken into account, how about Danny White's punting or Spec Sanders' defense?

And as you know, the MVP and all-AFC stuff does not take into consideration postseason performance, which was my initial point. Interestingly, both the Sporting News and PFW selected Stabler as player of the year over Jones in 1976 without taking into account Stabler's superior postseason.

I guess I find it odd that something as important as postseason performance can be dismissed as mere 'personal achievement' that evidently does not factor into the greatest season equation, and I also find it odd how the greatest season by QB was arguably not even the greatest QB performance of that particular season.

by MikeT (not verified) :: Wed, 07/27/2005 - 4:46pm

23: Well, two seasons from the 1980s: we didn't forget Marino in 84.

Aaron's method tends to reward players who performed in years when there was a wide range of QB play. The mid-70s were like that, as was 2004. In the 1980's, the range of QB performances wasn't that high, so the best seasons don't leap super high above the average.

In the Top 100, the 80s are fairly well represented.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 07/27/2005 - 5:28pm

I thought it was customary in lists like these to only count regular season performance. Otherwise the list would be the greatest QBs on superbowl winners, and QBs would be punished for things not under thier control, which should be a big no-no.

by senser81 (not verified) :: Wed, 07/27/2005 - 5:40pm

All QBs have things that are not under their control. Things like their supporting cast and quality of WRs influence stats. Bert Jones had 3 other pro bowlers on offense in 1976, whereas Archie Manning was the lone pro bowler on his team in 1978.

You make it sound as if I am committing heresy, or I am bringing up a brand new idea. When you look at the greatest teams of all-time, you look at postseason performance. When you talk about the greatest QBs of all-time, postseason performance is usually part of the discussion. I guess since postseason performance in 1976 is an area that Stabler was superior to Jones, it has been omitted.

And if Marino and Lomax are the only two QBs represented from the 1980's, and Joe Montana's brilliant 1989 season (unanimous MVP, unlike Jones) isn't even on the list, I should probably not even bother trying to discuss things.

by MikeT (not verified) :: Wed, 07/27/2005 - 7:13pm

Well, Senser81, I think I was just pointing out that selecting Bert Jones over Ken Stabler in 1976 was actually the judgment made by many, many football experts in 1976.

You then proceded to drag Archie Manning and Joe Montana into the conversation. Since you brought up Manning's zero Pro Bowl teammates, I should point out that Stabler had four Pro Bowl teammates to Jones' three. That, therefore, hurts your original "argument" that Stabler had a better year.

Manning's 1978 season ranks 35th all time, which is pretty darn good. Montana's 1989 season ranks 28th. It was, of course, a magnificent season by a great player (who had 4 seasons in the Top 100), and it was also a 1989 season in which Jim Everett had 4300 yards and 29 TDs, Don Majkowski had 4,300 yards and 27 TDs, Mark Rypien and Randall Cunnigham and Warren Moon and Boomer and Marino all had great years.

In other words, it was a season when scoring was up, so Montana's season doesn't look as great by our methods.

by senser81 (not verified) :: Wed, 07/27/2005 - 7:47pm

My initial point was that postseason performance was overlooked, to which you responded with a litany of awards won by Jones in 1976, none of which took into account postseason performance (which was my second point). Also, you say that many, many sportswriters chose Bert Jones as the top QB of 1976, to which I say many, many sportswriters chose Ken Stabler as the top QB of 1976.

I didn't drag Manning and Montana into the discussion...people are saying that postseason performance shouldn't count because a QB can't control whether or not his team makes the postseason. Manning v. Jones was mentioned as a way to illustrate that there are innumerable things a QB can't control, like your surrounding offensive talent for instance.

Joe Montana was mentioned because part of his reputation as a great QB stems from his postseason performance. Again, when people talk about the greatest QBs of all-time, postseason performance is usually part of the discussion. I don't see why its such a struggle to illustrate this point. No one can say how exactly (if at all) postseason performance was used in this analysis. Furthermore, I am still interested in hearing an explanation as to why yards per completion were used rather than yards per attempt.

by Richie (not verified) :: Wed, 07/27/2005 - 8:17pm

I think there is a big difference between talking about the greatest QB of all time, and the greatest QB-season of all time.

I think playoff performance should count in greatest QB of all time (equally weighted to regular season games).

But in looking at a single great season, I don't think adding playoff games is fair, because in the day of the 14-game schedule, one additional game could spike stats by roughly 7%.

by senser81 (not verified) :: Wed, 07/27/2005 - 8:28pm

Re: post #30
I agree that you can't really just add postseason totals to regular season totals; they would have to be accounted for differently. Also, I think 1 postseason game is far more important than 1 regular season game in the grand scheme of things, but I don't know really how to "rate" postseason performance...but just because I don't know how to rate it doesn't mean I deny its existence.

by Aaron (not verified) :: Wed, 07/27/2005 - 11:21pm

OK, let's try this again.

Flame war deleted. Mike apologizes for anything taken personally. Let's keep this thread for people who have read the article and wish to discuss it.

by Santiago Torres (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 1:15am

What about Kurt Warner's MVP seasons?

by mactbone (not verified) :: Thu, 07/28/2005 - 1:46am

I saw Aaron on ESPNews today. The guy for ESPN wanted to argue this issue too. Very nice performance. Congrats on the success you've had especially in such a short period of time.