Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

08 Jul 2006

FO Ranks All 32 Teams on FOX: Quarterbacks

Yes, it's time for that fun debate, ranking all 32 teams at every position. What, you say, some other website just did this too, even on television? Ah, yes, but FOX has been doing this for years, and they won't let anyone stop them from doing it again in 2006. Even better, they're letting Football Outsiders do it for them. First, quarterbacks, where we solve the Manning-Brady debate with two simple words: Jim Sorgi.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 08 Jul 2006

112 comments, Last at 21 Jul 2006, 1:10pm by Wanker79


by JasonK (not verified) :: Sat, 07/08/2006 - 2:11pm

I can see how the starters track their DPAR rankings fairly well, but how much of the rest of the ratings is really objective? Is there a consistent amount of weight being given to the backups on each team? Is there a consistent methodology for determining and accounting for 'injury-prone-ness?'

by Rocco (not verified) :: Sat, 07/08/2006 - 2:21pm

I think it's Mike McMahon who's the backup for the Vikings, not Mike Mahon.

by CA (not verified) :: Sat, 07/08/2006 - 2:42pm

Giving the nod to Indianapolis based on Jim Sorgi's superior skills as the backup is cute, but it is definitely a cop-out. Aaron writes, "If we assume that Brady and Manning are equivalent..." Well, they're not. An article like this is supposed to tell us who is better. Instead, let's assume that the backups are equivalent between the Patriots and the Colts (an equally faulty assumption, granted, but a much less crucial one). Then which team has the best QB unit? I understand that Aaron wants to avoid this particular debate, but the main point of this kind of article is to generate precisely this type of argument.

by Craig (not verified) :: Sat, 07/08/2006 - 2:54pm

The undrafted QB for the Patriots is Corey Bramlet, not Casey Bramlet. Granted, they both went to Wyoming, but Casey is on the Redskins' roster.

by Curt (not verified) :: Sat, 07/08/2006 - 3:12pm

I can't believe you guys have Jake Plummer ranked higher than Trent Green. Do you jokers even know what football is? Give me a break.

by Yaxley (not verified) :: Sat, 07/08/2006 - 3:36pm

Koy Detmer likes to hold things.

I don't know if that was meant to be as funny as I found it to be, but I laughed. It's sad when your NFL career can be summed up in a sentence like that.

by Daniel (not verified) :: Sat, 07/08/2006 - 3:44pm

Jake Plummer beat the two time defending champs in the playoffs. How did Trent Green do in the playoffs?

by Adam H. (not verified) :: Sat, 07/08/2006 - 3:48pm

RE #6 Oh how soon we forget the "spank dance".

by Israel (not verified) :: Sat, 07/08/2006 - 3:50pm

If this is all based on advanced statistics, which ones were used to discount Carson Palmer and the others for their injuries. You dropped Palmer from third to sixth, but how did you decide that and what advanced stats set him at sixth rather than fifth or eighth?

by mattman (not verified) :: Sat, 07/08/2006 - 3:51pm

#3 - I disagree. First off, if Aaron is copping out, he's very upfront about the fact that he's copping out. Second, backup depth does mean something; it's a legitimate dividing point. Neither team is likely to win a Superbowl with its backup (Yes, I'm aware of what happened in 2001.), but Sorgi is a better choice to go 2-1 over a three game stretch of the regular season, keeping playoff hopes alive. The ranking doesn't assume Brady and Manning to be equal, it merely assumes the gap between them is small. If Tom Brady is ten magic quarterback points better than Peyton Manning, but Jim Sorgi is fifty magic quarterback points better than Matt Cassell, then the Colts' ranking will be higher.

by Charles (not verified) :: Sat, 07/08/2006 - 4:08pm

I think Charlie Frye is better than the stats predict. Remember, he faced some decent defenses, and it's not like he had an offensive line or receivers last year.

By the end of last year, the remaining "skill" players that were any good were Frye and Droughns. The rest were third-stringers.

Last year, he was sent into battle with a BB gun. While adding Bentley, Shaffer, Edwards, and Winslow doesn't mean that he's in a tank, he at least has an M1 now.

by admin :: Sat, 07/08/2006 - 4:12pm

Just to point out, it doesn't say we only use the advanced stats, just that we use the advanced stats. That's the starting point, but then there is some wiggle room for subjective opinion on the backups and our best educated guess on the injury situation. And I think I make it fairly clear that with all these important quarterback injuries, there's a good amount of educated guessing going on.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Sat, 07/08/2006 - 4:41pm

I'd have to say that Brad Johnson's odds of starting twelve games are less than 25%, and McMahon certainly hasn't shown anything as of yet to have confidence in his chances of being a mediocre quarterback. It seems the new coach has decided to run an extremely run-heavy West Coast offense. IF Birk and Kleinsasser come back fully healthy, the addition of Hutchinson and FB Tony Richardson indicates that Childress is going to try to line up and put the hammer to the anvil. Kleinsasser's health will be extremely important; when he is right, he can take on most defensive ends one on one, which really opens up the running game. I think the Vikings are depending too much on the health of guys who all too often have been injured. It may work out, but that isn't the way to wager.

by matt r (not verified) :: Sat, 07/08/2006 - 4:56pm

not to comment on a lousy team, or anything, but i do have to argue the lions' rating...24th? look, i know kitna isn't a long-term solution, and he's not exactly challenging for the pro bowl, in any case. but right now, there's no reason to think he won't be a semi-productive player this season. to say he's in the bottom quartile of the league is a bit of a stretch.

by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Sat, 07/08/2006 - 4:58pm

"Michael Strahan and Osi Yumenora may accidentally kill Rob Johnson."

Plausible deniability, that's the ticket....

by Independent George (not verified) :: Sat, 07/08/2006 - 5:01pm

What, no link to the Irrational Brady-Manning Arguments thread?

by Israel (not verified) :: Sat, 07/08/2006 - 5:29pm

And I think I make it fairly clear that with all these important quarterback injuries, there’s a good amount of educated guessing going on.

"A calculation is only as valid as its least accurate component." (Miss Maloney, sixth grade, Linden School)

by FantasyStooge (not verified) :: Sat, 07/08/2006 - 6:17pm

"This year, the debate comes with a little twist, as our rankings are grounded not in the conventional wisdom but in the advanced statistics of Football Outsiders."
I read that quickly, and I thought that it said ..."advanced sarcastics of Football Outsiders".

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Sat, 07/08/2006 - 6:59pm

Jake Plummer makes Denver fans too nervous to rank him 6. That's too high.

Byron Leftwich is going to get killed one of these days unless he delivers the ball quicker... but at least they've got Gerrard.

One of the few places where I've seen Jake Delhomme not considered a great QB... the other website was all over this guy. I think you guys might rank him a little low though.

by centrifuge (not verified) :: Sat, 07/08/2006 - 7:51pm

14: It's not just Kitna. I mean, Kitna is fine. I follow the Steelers, so I've seen plenty of him, and nobody should be ashamed if he starts for them. After him, though...McCown? Really?

If Jon Kitna (current) was starting, and was backed up by Jon Kitna 2 (age 26), they'd probably be rated somewhere between 12th and 18th.

by Kaveman (not verified) :: Sat, 07/08/2006 - 8:16pm

#5: Please read before passing judgement. The rankings are for the QB unit, not the individual QBs. And the article says outright that Trent Green was ranked higher in DPAR than Plummer over the last three years. Seems quite obvious that the Chiefs are ranked lower because Green is older, and because of the lack of a reliable backup.

Aaron: Minor detail: the Broncos' depth chart doesn't really mean much, especially at this time of year, but Bradlee van Pelt is actually second string and expected to stay there. Jay Cutler is third string.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Sat, 07/08/2006 - 8:44pm

All I have to say about the Irrational Debate is that anyone who wants to say that rings make a quarterback better need to consider that they are esssentially saying that Trent Dilfer is better than Dan Marino because Dilfer has a ring.

by Robert Z. (not verified) :: Sat, 07/08/2006 - 9:00pm

Nice to see som love for Rivers. I find it interesting that FO sees both Rivers and Whitehurst as good pros, and the Chargers have both players:

For controversial predictions, you need to go to the second and third rounds. The system projects that Clemson's Charlie Whitehurst will be a good pro, Bowling Green's Omar Jacobs a solid starter, and Alabama's Brodie Croyle a bust. But the most interesting projection is for a player who isn't even in this year's draft. According to this projection system, Philip Rivers will emerge as one of the top quarterbacks in the league over the next couple of years. It turns out that letting Drew Brees go to New Orleans may not have been a mistake after all.

by MJK (not verified) :: Sat, 07/08/2006 - 11:56pm

Jake Plummer beat the two time defending champs in the playoffs. How did Trent Green do in the playoffs?

Jake Plummer did not beat the Pats in the playoffs. The Broncos did. Especially their defense (with maybe a little help from the refs and from the Pats themselves). Plummer played well and didn't turn to his former game-imploding tendencies of years past, but excepting Brady's one horrible pass to Champ Bailey, it certainly seemed to my (admittedly Patriots homer) eyes that Brady was the better QB in that game.

And the last Trent Green playoff game I remember was one where the Chief's offense was almost completely unstoppable. The only problem was that Indy's offense was completely unstoppable.

by MJK (not verified) :: Sun, 07/09/2006 - 12:01am

I imagine that the reason why the rookie projection system that Aaron mentioned only works well for first and second round draft pick QB's and not further rounds is that it looks heavily at games started. (Admittedly, I'm not overly familiar with it, and am only going on what Aaron wrote in this column). First and second round pick QB's are players who were pretty much undisputed starters on their teams, at least for their junior and senior years. Whereas QB's picked in later rounds are often picked in later rounds because they weren't consistent college starters. In many cases, they weren't because they shared time or were behind other very good players. To cite some Pats examples, Brady shared time with Drew Henson, and so was picked late. Matt Cassel spent time behind TWO Heisman winners and never started. In such cases, it's hard to know how good a player is based on number of starts because you would also have to know how good the people they were competing with for starts were.

by Darrel Michaud (not verified) :: Sun, 07/09/2006 - 12:06am

Aaron, I checked the mailbox and saw about 6 hate mails. "Damn, we must have put up another power ranking," I said to myself...

by ZS (not verified) :: Sun, 07/09/2006 - 1:07am

#6 - Yeah, maybe because it's midnight, but I giggled too.

Anyway, I'm surprised about a few things. The Jets being higher then the Bears, for one, since I'd say the choice of Griese-Grossman-Orton is better then the quad of Clemens-Pennington-Ramsey-Bollinger. I'm pretty sure with the exact same staff around them, most of the time the Bear QB will beat the Jet QB. This isn't bias, I'm in New Jersey.

"Cody Pickett is a fun name to pronounce." Another winner as I read.

I also share the belief that Detroit is too low, but I have nothing to add to the arguement. Maybe it's just because "Josh McCown" is fun to say. Dallas is too high, but that might just be Giant-fan-bias. Also, I think Kurt Warner drives down the Arizona average a bit more. Maybe switch Arizona and Carolina.

So... yeah. Good list otherwise.

by Moses (not verified) :: Sun, 07/09/2006 - 1:08am


I'd like to see your formula because I find it interesting and I'd like to try it out. However, I also believe your conceptualization contains a fallacy:

"Jason Campbell does very well in our rookie quarterback projection system. You can predict the NFL performance of first- and second-round quarterbacks with astonishing accuracy using just two college stats: games started and completion percentage. No other recent high draft pick ranks above Campbell in both categories."

Smith, Rodgers and Campbell all started as Sophmores. Smith & Rodgers both came out as Juniors. Campbell came out as a Senior.

There's no reason Smith and/or Rodgers couldn't have gone back and played his Senior year. There's no reason to believe they'd have not continued on with thier 66%/64% completion percentages and started an additional 11-12 games as a senior HAD THEY CHOSE.

Smith & Rodgers starting just two years is not, from the scouts perspective, the same as not starting two years from your junior year. Or starting just in your senior season.

The latter scenarios are more indicitive of having lesser talent and penalizing those players in your formula would be "fair." Whereas, coming out as a Junior is indicitive of having greater talent. Yet your formula is penalizing the more talented QBs that left as Juniors as if they were along the lines of the lesser talented.

Another issue arises from some QBs start as Freshman because the quality of QBs on the college roster is so poor that there really is nobody else. Look at Ken Dorsey, there's a pathetic old screw if I ever saw one. Yet he started for four years. Any formula that gives a nag like Dorsey a leg up needs some conceptual tweaking.

by David Lewin (not verified) :: Sun, 07/09/2006 - 2:41am

Check link on my name for the original college projection article. To answer the questions posed:

Completion percentage basically represents the best measure of how good a QB was in college, and hence how good he will be in the pros. Games started represents the sample size which applies in two ways. One it means that we are more sure the the completion percentage achieved was not a fluke (i.e. a guy who started 1 game and went 15/20 is probably not really a 75% passer). Two it means that scouts have seen more from the player and therefore have a stronger idea of how good he is.

First and second rounders are the only ones considered because after that you run into problems with system quarterbacks and guys who didn't play much and therefore can't be evaluated statistically. First and second rounders are expected to succeed, and therefore when there are more games played scouts tend to make better assessments. One example might be Chris Rix who looked pretty good his first two or so years at FSU, but after seeing a full four years of him the scouts knew he didn't have it. So basically I'm not saying Rodgers or Smith would have been worse if they had gone back to school like say Brady Quinn did this year, I'm just saying that if Brady Quinn sucks this year for some reason then he is going to slip in the draft because more information came to light, not because he got worse. The same could have happened to Smith or Rodgers if they went back. Because they didn't, scouts have 12 games less to look at, and therefore are much less likely to be right when they say this guy is a franchise quarterback, although they could still be right.

There is much much more (like 10,000 words more) on this in PFP 2006.

by Riceloft (not verified) :: Sun, 07/09/2006 - 2:45am

He stated that there are some players who completely break the rule. I'd imagine Dorsey is one of them, although I don't know what kind of completion percentage he had in college. You also have to take into account what kind of team a player goes to. A good QB won't turn a team with zero talent into a condender.

I can't wait to read PFP2006 about this projection system, and especially about the guys who break the system ;).

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Sun, 07/09/2006 - 2:48am

Re #19: Jake Plummer makes Denver fans too nervous to rank him 6. That’s too high.

I'm a Denver fan, and Plummer doesn't make me nervous in the slightest. People give too much weight to what he did in Arizona. Look at what he's done in Denver. Jake "The Mistake" has an INT rate of 1 every 37.6 passes over the last 3 years. To compare, Brady has been intercepted 1 every 38.2 passes over the same span. Hasselbeck is at 1 every 36.8 passes over that span. Ben Roethlesberger, Mr. Efficient, throws an Int every 28.2 passes.

Jake isn't any more mistake prone than any other elite QB in the league (except Manning, who has been unreal at avoiding turnovers over the last 3 seasons). The reason he's "Jake The Mistake" is because everyone remembers his Arizona years.

Oh, also, remember that time he threw that left-handed INT and got crucified in the national media? Trent Green threw an INT 3 weeks later. Guess which hand he threw it with? Guess how many media outlets ran with THAT story?

Re #28: The formula used to predict QB success looked at past QBs. In the past, there have been QBs who could have started their senior season, but came out anyway- and the data compiled USING THOSE QUARTERBACKS still suggested that games started was a valuable tool to determine future success. I mean, if games started correlates strongly with quality of professional career (which, as was stated when they unveiled the results originally, it does), then obviously that suggests that some of those QBs who were "super-talented" and came out early went on to have lackluster professional careers.

by Daniel (not verified) :: Sun, 07/09/2006 - 3:52am

I understand that Elway set the bar pretty high in Denver, but didn't Plummer have a decent season? He had a pretty bad game against the Steelers in the Conference Championship, but he wasn't the only one. If I had to pick a team that might be ranked too low it would be Baltimore at 12. I know it is fashionable to blast Kyle Boller as being the wort QB since Ryan Leaf, but at least he has started and won some games. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't want him to start for my team. And I wouldn't say that McNair is necessarily better than any of the QBs ranked above him (especially at this point in his injury riddled career). I guess I could see Boller winng a few games as a fill in before Seneca Wallace, Anthony Wright, Doug Johnson, Brodie Croyle, or Adrian McPherson would.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Sun, 07/09/2006 - 3:59am

I have two small nits to pick (and am eternally amused by the PeyTom Branning bits).

#1, you footwork experts out there, does that shot of McNair really show him crossing his feet like that? Isn't that one of the most fundamental no-nos? Sure he looks balletic, but if a toe grazes one misplaced divot of grass, down he goes, no?

#2, in the entry for Chicago (#27), did our statmaster/journalist really write "neither Griese or Grossman" instead of using "nor." Come on, my 5 year-old has that one down pat already.

by Kuato (not verified) :: Sun, 07/09/2006 - 5:59am

Re: 33

"#2, in the entry for Chicago (#27), did our statmaster/journalist really write “neither Griese or Grossman� instead of using “nor.� Come on, my 5 year-old has that one down pat already."

Did you really end a question with a "." instead of using a "?"? Come on, my 4 year-old has that one down pat already.

by Nate (not verified) :: Sun, 07/09/2006 - 6:51am

I know this is off-topic, but I figured this Extra Point would get a lot of hits.

For anyone that's interested in a great article by FO writer Russell Levine about autism awareness click my name.

Thanks Russell.

by Nate (not verified) :: Sun, 07/09/2006 - 6:58am

On-topic: I think that Denver is ranked right where they should be. Plummer is certainly one of the better starting QBs in the league and will have another very good year. I always laugh when people here claim that Van Pelt or Cutler would do better than Plummer.

by are-tee (not verified) :: Sun, 07/09/2006 - 10:58am

I can't believe you discussed the Jets' QB situation without mentioning the other "sixth round afterthought out of Wisconsin", Brooks Bollinger!

by admin :: Sun, 07/09/2006 - 12:03pm

Just to re-emphasize, the rookie QB projection system isn't created by me, it's created by David Lewin. He comments on it a few comments above this, and it is one of the highlights of this year's book. The "fallacy" which reader Moses criticizes is actually an important part of the system. As David points out, highly-drafted QB with many college games started don't flop because the scouts have much more information to work with, and the experienced seniors who won't succeed in the NFL drop to the second day.

If you liked the Koy Detmer description, I hope you liked the even shorter Derek Anderson description.

by centrifuge (not verified) :: Sun, 07/09/2006 - 1:05pm

34: Unless I totally miss my guess, it looks like he's finishing his drop.

by Curt (not verified) :: Sun, 07/09/2006 - 2:03pm

#21- Understand, but still disagree. As a unit I still say KC is better. If you're looking at the backup situation one of the strengths Brodie Croyle had was that he was the most "NFL ready" QB coming out. He played in a pro-style offense. Even though Cutler was drafted higher, Croyle has a chance to be just as good.

#7- Give me a break. As stated in another comment, the Broncos beat the Pats. All Plummer did was "not lose" the game for them. Trent Green has been at the helm of one of the most explosive offenses the NFL has seen in many years and puts up numbers that rival those of Peyton Manning, and he does this with Eddie Kennison and Samie Parker at WR. If the Chiefs had a D, Trent Green would have won more playoff games the past five years than Jake Plummer will win his entire career. Green does everything he possibly can with what he is given to work with.

by Sara (not verified) :: Sun, 07/09/2006 - 2:12pm

#19 - I don't know, I think Carolina's ranked about right. Remember, it's not about Jake Delhomme, it's about the whole unit. I love Delhomme's enregy, but my heart leaps out of my chest every time he throws the ball. And I will never be able to fully trust Chris Weinke after the 2001 season. I could see Weinke completing a game if Delhomme were injured (as he did in the Detroit game last year), but if he actually has to start for a few games...I'm very, very nervous.

(That just occured to me...the only two games Weinke's ever won were in Detroit. Hmm...)

by BillWallace (not verified) :: Sun, 07/09/2006 - 2:47pm

#38 The Derek Anderson comment takes the art of sports writing so that you can't possibly be wrong to a whole new level. A hack would take 600 words, many of them big, to vaguely take one side of the story, and then vaguely take the other, insuring that they can claim to have been right later on.

Hopefully your scathing critique of their work will change the art of sportswriting in our time.

by The Ninjalectual (not verified) :: Sun, 07/09/2006 - 3:41pm

FO is.

by Ruben (not verified) :: Sun, 07/09/2006 - 5:37pm

Awesome article, Aaron; kudos.

My one gripe is on the Cardinals' entry: no mention of the John Navarre/Rohan Davey shootout for the 2nd (this year)/3rd (next year) roster spot? One dirty hit by (insert 49ers DL), and we're looking at the SoftScrub All-Stars here (Green would be insane to throw Leinart in mid-season).

Furthermore, could it be that the owner of 3 championship rings will likely lose his job to the butt of one of the best FO jokes? No wonder all the Cards games are sold out this season...

by Matt R. (not verified) :: Sun, 07/09/2006 - 9:05pm

"Tom Brady is ten magic quarterback points better than Peyton Manning, but Jim Sorgi is fifty magic quarterback points better than Matt Cassell, then the Colts’ ranking will be higher."

Except you have to weight them on eexpected playing time.

Which is why MOST of this "its the unit not the player" talk is flummery. In all but the most prone cases it is the player not the unit.

by MJK (not verified) :: Sun, 07/09/2006 - 10:25pm

Tom Brady is ten magic quarterback points better than Peyton Manning, but Jim Sorgi is fifty magic quarterback points better than Matt Cassell, then the Colts ranking will be higher.

Ahh, but who is better at checkers?

by MJK (not verified) :: Sun, 07/09/2006 - 10:28pm

Question for Kibbles (or other Denver fans):

You say that on average Jake Plummer has been playing better in Denver than in Arizona. But wasn't Jake Plummer this past year astronomically better than Jake Plummer prior to this past year, even in Denver? That's what some of the sports talk radio folk around here were saying, but I don't see enough of Denver to know for certain. If so, did his improvement look like a fluke (he got lucky more), or did he actually improve some of his mechanics/decision making and take the next step to becoming a very good QB?

by MJK (not verified) :: Sun, 07/09/2006 - 10:31pm

Another reason for looking at the unit, not the player, even for QB, is that the second and third string QB's are important in practice. Remember, we see only about 1/16 of the actual things football players do in games. Having better backups will provide better practice to your backup offensive players, and also a better scout team for your defense to practice with.

by Daniel (not verified) :: Sun, 07/09/2006 - 11:48pm

I don't follow Denver that closely either. It just seems a bit excessive to dog on a guy that has steered his team to 30+ victories in 3 years and a spot in the AFC Championship game. In five seasons in KC Trent Green and the chiefs have made one playoff and lost. They have had two winning seasons. I just don't see how Trent Green is that much better than Plummer. Or how Brody Croyle makes their QB unit better than Denver's.

by mattman (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 12:27am

Re #45:

Of course you have to weigh them by expected playing time. If Sorgi was only 11 magic quarterback points better than Cassell, then the Pats would have the edge. (You know, the edge in my highly scientific magic quarterback points system.) Again, these FO rankings are based on a minor or nonexistent gap in starting qb, and a very wide gap in backups.

by zerlesen (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 1:35am

42: "The Derek Anderson comment takes the art of sports writing so that you can’t possibly be wrong to a whole new level."

So you might think - and yet I distinctly recall some Oregon State games in which Derek Anderson was not.

by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 3:09am

"It's hard to know what to think about the demoted Kyle Boller � our KUBIAK fantasy projection system seems to think he was ready for a breakout season"

This has to be the most shocking thing I've read. So if Baltimore had planned to start 2006 with Boller as the starter, would FO have been so bold as to put him on the cover of the Prospectus?

by steelberger1 (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 8:33am

RE 24:

"Jake Plummer did not beat the Pats in the playoffs. The Broncos did."

While I dont entirely disagree with you on this point, I would just like to point out that the same could be said for many of Brady's playoff wins, but for some reason Pats fans refuse to admit it.

"it certainly seemed to my (admittedly Patriots homer) eyes that Brady was the better QB in that game."

Point: to use New England logic...Plummer threw one less interception and got the win, therefore he was the best QB in the game.

by Playit (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 8:37am

So this will probably fall on deaf ears considering the hate for all things Bledsoe on this board. One need only look at the cartoons for proof. All the same...

It seems like 21 might be a little low for Dallas. Where is the injury risk for Bledsoe? The guy hasn't missed a game in 4 years and has been one of the most durable QB's in the league over his carreer. As for age, he's younger than 4 other QB's listed above him and isn't coming off major surgery like several other QBs.

As for his play, DB was one of the leagues top QBs through the first 6 weeks last season until lossing his franchise LT for the season. After that he still played well enough to land 14th in DPAR while only being sacked less than David Carr. He gave up an average of 2.2 sacks per game before losing his LT and 3.6 sacks per game afterwards. That's 66% more sacks per game!

To put this in perspective... Trent Green also lost his LT for part of the season last year. Willie Roaf played (not including the first game where he left in the first quarter) 7 games last season. In those 7 games Green had a 101 QB rating. In the remaining 9 games Green had an 83.12 QB rating. Green was also sacked 71% more often without Roaf. I'm not sure what his DPAR was (as I couldn't find it broken down by game) but I imagine the difference is equally stark.

Point being, Bledsoe is not injury prone and with his starting left tackle in the game was a top 5 QB last season. Bledsoe's stats with and without his LT. 100.36 QB raiting with and 72.99 rating without.

As for his backups, they don't have experience thanks to the health of the starters. However Romo has been in the same system for 3 years and has earned the number 2 spot against all challengers. He has looked good in the preseason the last two years and has played well enough for the Cowboys to have ignored all vet options this and last season. Henson played a full NFLE season and is very highly touted by the scouts for his potential.

Certainly not great, but considering the strong play of Bledsoe, seemingly better than a 21 ranking.

by RCH (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 10:57am

Playit - I generally agree w/you about Bledsoe, I think that he is still at least a top 15 QB. The problem is that his slow decision making (earlier in his career called toughness) leads to too many of the sacks that you cite. With a stud line he'd be much better.

by RedRob (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 11:01am

"After that he still played well enough to land 14th in DPAR while only being sacked less than David Carr. He gave up an average of 2.2 sacks per game before losing his LT and 3.6 sacks per game afterwards. Thats 66% more sacks per game!"

Don't you think being sacked so much might have something to do with making projections as to future health?

I agree with you that DB is a better QB than he's generally given credit for, but all the punishment he's gotten the past few years (and before with some very bad Patriots teams) has to catch up to him at some point.

by Harry (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 11:13am

I want to see a detailed comparison of Sorgi vs. Cassel. For some reason Aaron seems committed to proving that Cassel is mediocre, all last year he never missed a chance to denigrate the guy at every opportunity. Cassel's peformance in the Miami game wasn't bad - he played a good defence that was trying to win and almost brought the Pats back. What has Sorgi ever done?

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 11:22am

Pittsburgh at number four is dumbfounding. I completely agree with the argument that his injured face isn't as big of a deal as some of the other QB injuries. But touting a stat like net yards per attempt when the guy made fewer attempts last year than guys like Josh McCown, Marc Bulger, and Kyle Boller (all of whom missed even more time that Roethlisberger did) is a little ridiculous. Last year Pittsburgh was first in the league in rushing attempts and dead last in passing attempts. The reason for Roethlisberger's (I refuse to call him by one of the dumbest nicknames in sport) net yards per attempt was so high couldn't possibly be because he say more single coverage than most QBs because every single defense he faced was protecting against the run? Nah, that couldn't be it.

I'm not suggesting that he isn't a very good QB. He's definitely Top 10 material. But I think putting him #4 is giving him way too much credit.

by Playit (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 11:23am

Re: 56

I would be more concerned if last year was an abnormally high number of sacks for Drew, however Drew's sack numbers for the last four seasons are 54, 49, 37, and 49. If anything last year was typical in that regard. What is more encouraging to me is that according to his pre-losing-left-tackle-sack-average, Drew would have finished with only 35 sacks. The lowest full season total since 1997. Dallas had a very good offensive line before Flozell went down. Further beyond him, there is reason to believe every other spot across the line has also been improved this off season. I don't see any reason to believe that Drew is a higher rate of injury this year than last.

It just seems like a ranking of 21 is far outside what a resonable interpretation of the numbers would allow considering DPAR and offensive line performance. If the desire is to take additional factors, not accounted for the by the numbers, into account; then I would actually expect to see the ranking go up rather than down. Absent a bias against Drew that isn't supported by the numbers, I just don't understand the ranking.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 11:25am

...couldn’t possibly be because he say more single coverage


by Daniel (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 11:32am

I like Bledsoe also, but Tony Romo doesn't impress me. I think Bledsoe has a bad rep because he has a tendency to start strong and then fade as the season wears on. He is the best QB Dallas has had since Aikman, and if Parcells can win a Super Bowl with Jeff Hostetler he can win with Bledsoe.

by thad (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 11:36am

I think the problem with Jake is the lack of gaudy numbers. More spefically, the lack of td passes.
In two of the last three years he has thrown less than 20.
Now if you were to say....
look, he has cut way down on his int's as well, and Denver scores a lot of td's on the ground and have a very good offense...
well I would agree with that.
I just think there is a general perception that he doesn't make a lot of big plays and the arizona years are still fresh in everyone's mind.
I certainly think he has been a very good qb the past few years.

by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 11:41am

RE: 57

It's the eye test. Have you seen both of them play?

Sorgi in the Colts offense looks like a poor man's Peyton Manning. He may never been a good quarterback, but in our small sample size, he could outright win a few games controlling the offense.

Cassal looks young. When I've watched him he makes quite a few rookie mistakes. Some are glaring.

So at this moment, Sorgi looks better. Give it a few years, some more playing time, anything could change.

To say that using the small sample size of backups to make the argument of better unit is silly, makes sense.

To say Cassal looks better than Sorgi is just silly right now.

Unless.... (I'm a Colts fan, this sucks to write..)

If the Colts offense is better than we think, and Manning is worse than we think, that could explain why there is less of a drop off.

.... I pain inside.

by Daniel (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 11:45am

I think Pittsburgh is elevated because of Roethlisberger's won-loss record and Charlie Batch's presence. The Steelers have gone 31-7 over the last two seasons and Roethlisberger has been a big reason for that. Pitt has been among the league leaders in rushing attempts a lot under Bill Cowher, but they didn't win 81% of their games. He might not throw a lot, but when he does he completes over 60% (64.7%), and averages a very respectable 9 yards per attempt.

by jason (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 12:05pm

Re: #7 - Jake Plummer didn't beat the two-time defending champs - Champ Bailey, 2 ints, 3 fumbles and a terrible PI call took care of that - Jake was just there

Aaron - you actually quoted ron borges? how can you do that without feeling dirty? ;)

by Drew (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 12:19pm

The elaborate on #63, in addition to having better stats, Sorgi has, in fact, won an NFL game as his team's primary QB. (For the purposes of this discussion, I'm counting Arizona as an NFL team.)


by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 12:46pm

Re: 68
"I think Pittsburgh is elevated because of Roethlisberger’s won-loss"

That's absolutely why Roethlisberger (& Co.) have been ranked so high. And I also agree that when the rare instance occurs when the ball actually has to fly through the air, he has been very capable of making defenses pay. I just don't see how that is nearly enough to rank him as the 4th best QB in the league.

by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 1:04pm

Re: 52

I'm with you this one. If I had a projection system that was predicting a breakout year by Boller I'd keep in mind the riddle about what time it is when an elephant sits on your fence.

This line tells you all you need to know about how confident folks are in Boller - "But he's (McNair) still old and brittle, and will doubtlessly miss some games, which is why Baltimore isn't ranked higher."

If they really believed Boller was poised for a breakout year, McNair missing some time wouldn't be a problem.

by steelberger1 (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 1:39pm

Re 67:

Did you read the article? It isnt ranking him as the 4th best QB in the league (though why that bothers you so much confuses me, you cant argue with results). It is saying that from top to bottom the Steelers are 4th in quarterbacks overall.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 1:54pm

Re 69:

Did you read my post? That's exactly why I wrote Roethlisberger (& Co). And besides, am I missing something or isn't Pittsburgh's backup Charlie Batch. As far as backup's go, he isn't terrible, but he isn't exactly going to be challenging anyone for a starting spot any time soon either. And I sure a hell can argue with results, otherwise we could just rank everyone my their won/lose record.

by steelberger1 (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 2:10pm

At the end of the day isnt a win or a loss all that matters? It doesnt matter how you get there, just the result.

by steelberger1 (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 2:13pm

And by the way, to quote your post (#67).

"I just don’t see how that is nearly enough to rank him as the 4th best QB in the league."

That is what I was responding to in post 69.

by centrifuge (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 2:31pm

"The reason for Roethlisberger’s (I refuse to call him by one of the dumbest nicknames in sport) net yards per attempt was so high couldn’t possibly be because he say more single coverage than most QBs because every single defense he faced was protecting against the run? Nah, that couldn’t be it."

Actually, no. Yes, he throws less than anyone else, but when he does throw, it's often on obvious passing downs (3rd and 5+) or from obvious passing formations (shotgun, 3 WRs). Granted, the team came away from that in the playoffs, so maybe it will change next year.

4th seems fine. It's a combination of unit health, skill, and system mastery. Roeth is less uncertain than those below him at the first, and Batch is a solid 2.4 out of 3. If you think Denver should be ahead of Pittsburgh, I can't say I have a huge problem with that, but 4th is a good place for either of them.

by ben (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 2:39pm

Re 71:

Man, the Bears are ranked way too low. They've got a guy at third string that went 10-5 as a starter! They should be, like, number 8.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 2:52pm

At the end of the day isnt a win or a loss all that matters?

For the team, yes. In position by position analysis, no.

Does anyone track the wins and losses for, say, starting right guards?

by steelberger1 (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 3:03pm

Does a starting right guard touch the ball on every offensive snap?

by steelberger1 (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 3:05pm

74: Cute. Look, all I am saying is this...would you rather have your QB get 400 yards passing, 4TD 0INT and a loss, or more pedestrian stats and a win?

by steelberger1 (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 3:16pm

Hate it if you want but every sport has a position that is given the win or the loss...goalies in hockey, pitchers in baseball, quarterbacks in football... You cant fight it, it just is.

by 72 (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 3:21pm

re 33

Quarterbacks cross their feet during dropbacks in order to be able to stay facing downfield and ready to throw the ball, allowing them to read the defence as they drop back. Crosing their feet prevents them from skipping, which is the absolute worst thing any player can do. However this is the only time any player should cross their feet.

by ABW (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 3:29pm

Re: 78

But we don't have to buy into the fallacy that that position actually is responsible for the win, do we? We could rate quarterbacks on, say, per-play performance adjusted for situation and defense as measured by DVOA, and pitchers on WHIP or ERA+.

by steelberger1 (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 3:35pm

80: The fact is that that wins or losses are given to the position that has the biggest impact on the outcome of the game. There is no stat that reflects only on a QB. Passing yards, TD's, INT's, completion percentage...all of them rely on at least one other person, so why judge a QB's on those and not wins/losses?

by ben (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 3:41pm

I would say the first case with 400 yds and 4 tds indicates a better qb (assuming these are not meaningless 4th quarter yards against a horrible defense). The qb has little control over how well his defense plays or how well the other team plays on offense, rather important factors influencing the outcome of a game. Similarly, Roethlisberger can get credit for "winning his team a Super Bowl" even though he played atrociously in the big game.

However, I agree that the Steeler's ranking at 4 is justified because Roethlisberger has put up excellent stats. Also, when the team went to a more pass happy offense in the playoffs, Roethlisberger played really well in 3 of the 4 games.

by Daniel (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 4:09pm

What's the matter with Batch as the primary backup? He has starting experience and won games at the pro level. He has looked good as a stopgap in limited time for the Steelers. A lot of the teams have rookies or guys with very limited playing time backing up their starter. And very seldom is it a case of the rookie being better than the starter. Maybe Jay Cutler is another Roethlisberger waiting to bust loose when/if Plummer gets hurt. More than likely he will struggle to win games if forced into the lineup.

by Zac (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 4:22pm

Re: 81. No, wins and losses are assigned to the position perceived as having the biggest impact. Except when the kicker misses it. Then it's his fault.

I can't believe you're saying that wins and losses are a better judge of a qb's ability than passing yds, TDs, and the like. Or even worse, Super Bowl wins. Like someone has said, is Trent Dilfer really better than Dan Marino?

by mactbone (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 4:38pm

Re 83:
How many games has Batch started in the last five years?

He may have started and won games but that was when he was still on the Lions. He was adequate last year, but then he didn't play much. I'm not saying he's great, but there are a lot of backup QBs I'd take before him.

by Trieu (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 4:38pm

"Buffalo: Just a total disaster area."

Too bad Buffalo didn't have the opportunity to grab a great QB prospect like Matt Leinart in the 2006 draft.

Oh, wait.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 4:53pm

Re 77:

Are you're asking whether I'd rather have my team win despite having a mediocre QB (I'm definitely not calling Roethlisberger mediocre, I'm just using that description for argument's sake), or if I'd rather have a great QB on a losing team? Well, of course I'd rather have the winning team. But that is completely and utterly irrelevant to this discussion.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 4:56pm

Re 76:

Then I guess we can gauge how good a center is by their win/lose record?

by Oswlek (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 5:12pm

I think that people sometimes stretch the truth a little in an attempt to diminish the QB's affect on the game. While it is true that SBs aren't necessarily the best measure of the quality of one player, that does not mean that QBs, by and large, aren't the most valuable players for the team.

Let's look at the overused Dilfer example. Sure, Dilfer was never a great QB and the defense is what carried that team. But, as average as Dilfer was, he was certainly one of the top 5-7 players on the 2000 Ravens. I urge every one of you to check out how many offensive points were put up in Blake games vs. Dilfer games for the 2000 Ravens. I find it unlikely that an upgrade of any other position from 'poor' to 'average' would have as much of an impact.

Another example of the hypocrasy of the "QB is no more important than any opther position" argument is the number of people willing to discard Pitt's games without Roth. If Roth was no more important than any other player why aren't people clamoring to discount any numbers that involve the use of a backup WR, OT, safety etc.

Yes, people give QBs too much credit/blame. But that doesn't mean that one must swing the pendulum so far in the oposite direction in your rebuttal.

by Oswlek (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 5:19pm

Sorry for the (possible) double post. In #89, my point was that Dilfer was in the top 5-7 for impact on the team. He certainly was not one of the top 5-7 players on the team in comparison to peers ar the same position across the league.

Sorry for any confusion.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 5:33pm

Thanks. I tried dropping back at home and couldn't quite manage without crossing my feet. Why is hopping bad? Peyton Manning does it all the time--just before setting. Somewhere in an interview he attributed it not to happy feet but to never planting a foot before he absolutely has to so he can make last second changes and avoid having a "Carson Palmer moment."

(Can you tell I never played QB on any team with a coach and pads?) But the constant nagging by coaches ad infinitum to not cross my feet (which I passed on to many wrestling newcomers) was too much to ignore. Thanks again.

Actually, in warmup drills 30 years ago or so, I recall DB coaches having us switch our hip orientation back and forth while keeping our focus straight ahead, and feet crossed. Maybe it was just warmups and preparation for avoiding tripping ourselves up; another position I did not play.

by Daniel (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 5:38pm

I'm not saying Batch is a starter level player, just that he won't lose the game for Pittsburgh if called upon. I would rather have Batch as my backup than a rookie that has never taken a snap in the NFL.

by CA (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 5:42pm

Re: 78

Please, someone, correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding is that win/loss record is not an official statistic for QBs in the NFL, and win/loss record is an official statistic for pitchers in baseball and goalies in hockey. Although some people like to reference win/loss record with regard to quarterbacks, it is neither an official nor meaningful measure of individual performance. I believe that judging quarterbacks by win/loss record is antithetical to the way of thinking and type of analysis that Football Outsiders is all about.

by Travis (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 6:05pm

Re: 93

I don't know if the NFL has "official" statistics, but it prints the starting records of active QBs in its Record & Fact Book (see p. 368), and has been doing so for several years.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 6:17pm


The same arguement could be made for Kelly Holcomb and Kyle Boller last year. Their teams' pts/game dropped 3.9pts and 6.6pts respectively.

by Eric (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 6:31pm

Using passing stats (or better yet, DVOA/DPAR) is better than using win-loss record because passing stats do a better job of isolating the quarterback. Obviously, the passing numbers depend on receivers and blocking. However, wins and losses also depend on those factors, along with defense, special teams, and coaching decisions.

Asking whether a fan would rather have his team win or his QB perform well is beside the point. This article is intended to rank QB performance, not fan happiness.

by Bjorn (not verified) :: Mon, 07/10/2006 - 8:01pm

RE: 62

Don't forget that Plummer missed 5 games in 03 with a broken toe. His 15 TD's in 11 games project to 21.8 in a full 16. That's good enough, no? (In case you were wondering, his 7 picks in 11 games projet out to 10.2 picks in 16. 21-10 is pretty impressive)

by Kalyan (not verified) :: Tue, 07/11/2006 - 8:05am

The backups are a bunch of replacement-level guys, and if the first-string defense ever faces the third-string offense in practice, Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora may accidentally kill Rob Johnson.
I pictured the sight of strahan and Osi loving the idea of stacking away sacks and forced fumbles with the second and third string NYG QBs and suddenly found the entire sentence very funny!

by Jsaon (not verified) :: Tue, 07/11/2006 - 3:17pm

As a Packer fan I always thought Nall looked great when he played. Personally I'd rather have the Packers have Nall than Rodgers as Favre's backup. I think he'll do well in Buffalo if given a shot

by Yakuza Rich (not verified) :: Tue, 07/11/2006 - 6:02pm

So how is Bledsoe ranked below Eli? Bledsoe was every bit better than Eli at every stage last year and his game only became severely hampered when they lost Flozell Adams and tried to replace him with Torrin Tucker. Bledsoe excels at just about every possible QB stats compared to Eli last season. I'm not in the band of people that don't think Eli will ever be any good, but at this point I don't see how anybody can take anything he's done over the last two seasons as being better than what Bledsoe has done in the last two season. Not only that, he apparently can't hit the broad side of a Wal-Mart building.

by Catfish (not verified) :: Tue, 07/11/2006 - 6:29pm

re: 100
I think it mostly has to do with the way each player is trending. Bledsoe is expected to decline while Eli is expected to improve.

by 72 (not verified) :: Tue, 07/11/2006 - 7:27pm

Bobman: Skipping is bad as that involves both feet being off the ground at the one time and is usually followed by picking yourself up off of the ground. (officially I coach offensive/defensive line and it is real bad to do this here, although I have picked up some things about other positions). As for Manning hopping before he sets up, I have never noticed it before but will look for it from now on, I think he may simply be keeping his feet moving on the spot (to allow him to step up easily?)

The warm up drill you refer to (carrioca?) is used to warm up the muscles in your hips to allow greater ease of movement, which is exceptionally important for a DB.

by Yaguar (not verified) :: Fri, 07/14/2006 - 1:31am

#27: Really?

I don't get why anyone has confidence in the Bears quarterbacks at all. What is it about Rex Grossman that inspires so much confidence? His negative DVOA for three years running? His eight career starts? His completion percentage, which hovers barely over 50%? His large number of interceptions? The way he strikes fear into the heart of defenses by throwing the deep ball way over Mush's head?

I'd take Chad Pennington with two injured shoulders, blindfolded, over Rex Grossman.

by Mikey (not verified) :: Fri, 07/14/2006 - 12:02pm

I don't know how you can do an article like this and not take a position on Peyton vs. Brady. Isn't part of the point of FO to answer the tough questions objectively? To just shrug and say "Hey, they're both great" is a little weak.

Aaron, as one of the biggest Pats fans in the media, would you accept a trade of Peyton and Corgi for Brady and Cassell if you were GM for a day?

If so, would you feel comfortable saying to the press "It was a tough call, but the inclusion of Jim Corgi just made this too sweet a deal to pass up"??

Anyway, despite the cop-out at the top, good article overall.

by Yaguar (not verified) :: Fri, 07/14/2006 - 11:12pm

104: Corgi is a wussy breed of dog. Sorgi is a football player.

by nocal (not verified) :: Sat, 07/15/2006 - 12:31am

Make formations with Vick AND Schaub lined up in the backfield. Be so fun to watch.

by Yaguar (not verified) :: Sat, 07/15/2006 - 3:09am

#89: Dilfer was one of the top five to seven players on the Superbowl Ravens? Are you kidding me? I'll give you a dozen names.

Ray Lewis, Rod Woodson, Jon Ogden, Jamal Lewis, Sam Adams, Michael McCrary, Jamie Sharper, Peter Boulware, Priest Holmes, Shannon Sharpe, Chris McAlister.

I don't think a lot of people realize just how good that defense was. Think of the best run defense you know last year. If you go by DVOA, it was Tampa Bay at -18.4%. The 2000 Ravens? -41.9%. Yards per attempt yields similarly incredible numbers. (It also helps to put into perspective just how phenomenal that DVOA is.) The 2005 Bucs allowed 3.5 yards per rush. The 2005 Steelers allowed 3.4 yards.

The 2000 Ravens? 2.7 yards per rush.

Dilfer can still be used in an argument to prove that the QB is extremely important. The proof is how good the rest of the team was. If your team has to be that phenomenal to make up for a weak quarterback, it's obviously the most important position in the game by far.

by Marko (not verified) :: Sat, 07/15/2006 - 12:07pm

103: "Mush" is what you say to the dogs in the Iditarod. "Moose" is Muhsin Muhammad's nickname.

by Kevin (not verified) :: Wed, 07/19/2006 - 2:12pm

re 107: The 2000 version of Priest Holmes was no big deal . . . He got less than 600 yards that year . . .

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 07/19/2006 - 3:59pm

In terms of DVOA, Holmes was the 4th best RB in the league in 2000, if that's no big deal, I don't know what is.

by Justanothersteve (not verified) :: Thu, 07/20/2006 - 3:48pm

#61 Parcells has already lost a Super Bowl with Bledsoe.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 07/21/2006 - 1:10pm

Just in case anyone was wondering (and I'm sure all of you were), here's how I'd put the top 10:

1) Indy
2) NE
3) Sea
4) Den
5) Philly
6) KC
7) Pit
8) Cincy (no injury = #4)
9) Car
10) Jax