Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan

Hall of Fame Debates: Matt Ryan

Matt Ryan's Pro Football Hall of Fame portfolio can be summarized as follows:

  • NFL MVP in 2016;
  • Led the Atlanta Falcons to a conference championship in 2016;
  • Led his team to the playoffs five additional times;
  • Named to four Pro Bowls (including 2016 of course);
  • Very impressive bulk career totals.

In other words, Ryan's portfolio is categorically that of a quarterback who will not be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Don't believe me? Let's check out Boomer Esiason's portfolio:

  • NFL MVP in 1988;
  • Led the Cincinnati Bengals to a conference championship in 1988;
  • Led his team to the playoffs one other time;
  • Named to four Pro Bowls.;
  • Very impressive bulk career-total statistics. When Esiason retired in 1997, he ranked ninth in all-time passing yards, precisely where Ryan ranks now.

Now, let's check out Steve McNair: 2003 NFL MVP, led the Tennessee Titans to one heartbreaking Super Bowl loss, led the Titans and Baltimore Ravens to the playoffs three other times, was named to three Pro Bowls, and accumulated impressive bulk passing and rushing statistics.

Did someone say Ken Anderson? One MVP award, one Super Bowl loss, four playoff appearances, four Pro Bowls, impressive bulk stats, and the best rate stats of any quarterback of his era. Anderson ranked seventh on the all-time passing yardage list when he retired.

If we ease back on the MVP requirement, we get Donovan McNabb: one Super Bowl loss, seven playoff appearances, six Pro Bowl selections, impressive all-around career stats, and one MVP-caliber year (2004, when Peyton Manning set a new touchdown record and won the award). We also get Drew Bledsoe: one Super Bowl loss as a starter, four Pro Bowls, four playoff appearances (one as a backup, of course), career passing yards that ranked seventh on the all-time list when he retired.

Perhaps we should stick with the MVP requirement though; after all, earning an MVP award is a Hall of Fame type of accomplishment. In that case, let's get nutty with Rich Gannon: 2002 MVP, one Super Bowl appearance, four Pro Bowls, six playoff appearances (three as a starter). Or we can go back to Roman Gabriel, the 1969 MVP who was named to four Pro Bowls, led the Rams to the playoffs twice in the era before wild-card games, and retired eighth on the all-time passing list.

Of the seven quarterbacks just listed, only Anderson is the subject of any serious Hall of Fame discussion, mostly because of his "black ink" accomplishments and role as a West Coast Offense pioneer. Ryan has had a better career than Gannon, of course, and cases can be made that he's better than several of the others just mentioned.

The problem is that Ryan clearly ranks somewhere among this "tier" of Quarterbacks Who Lost Super Bowls and Had One Great and Several Really Good Years, and it's a tier that is unequivocally below the Hall of Fame standard.


Big Stats/No Rings

Dan Marino, of course, also won one MVP award and lost a Super Bowl. Any Matt Ryan for Hall of Fame campaign would likely lean into Ryan's bulk stats and market him as a Big Stats/No Rings guy such as Marino, Dan Fouts, or Warren Moon. Jim Kelly and Fran Tarkenton are also Big Stats/No Rings guys, but losing multiple Super Bowls is a little different than losing one.

Ryan currently ranks ahead of Fouts and Moon in all-time touchdowns. He's about 1.25 decent 17-game seasons from overtaking Marino in yards. At a bottom-of-the-subreddit level, comparing Ryan to the all-time stat champs currently in the Hall of Fame works. But Football Outsiders readers like you are well aware that passing rates and offensive totals have been increasing steadily for over 40 years. Even a more casual observer can see that Ryan flunks the "black ink test" compared to the others:

  • Dan Marino led the NFL in passing yards five times, touchdowns three times and passer rating once.
  • Dan Fouts led the NFL in passing yards four times and touchdowns twice.
  • Warren Moon led the NFL in passing yards twice and touchdowns once.
  • Matt Ryan led the league in passer rating once.

Marino, Fouts and Moon can also lay claim to various "innovator" mantles (as can Anderson, Esiason, and perhaps others on the previous list). Ryan can make no such claim.

It's important to note here that Pro Football Hall of Fame voters are generally unimpressed by bulk stats at most positions on the field. In baseball, 3,000 hits will get you into the Hall of Fame, even if you hang around for six years as a designated hitter to get them. That rarely applies in football, but casual fans have a habit of thinking that all pro sports Halls of Fame are like Cooperstown and that all Hall of Fame arguments are baseball arguments.

Pick any random year and you will find non-Hall of Famers near the top of the quarterback leaderboards. I chose 2002 and found Vinny Testaverde ninth, Dave Kreig 10th, and Esiason 11th among the all-time yardage leaders. Kreig was also eighth in all-time touchdowns that year, Esiason 11th, and Testaverde and John Hadl tied for 12th; the touchdown leaderboard is more durable at the top than the yardage board, but not by much.

And now that the 17-game season is upon us, leaderboard arguments will only get worse. Joe Flacco is currently 19th on the all-time passing yardage list. If all heck breaks loose in Philly, Flacco ends up the starter and throws for 4,000 yards for a team that goes 5-12, he'll move up to 16th, passing Fouts and others (with, dare we say it, a Super Bowl MVP award and ring). And Flacco will stay among the top 20 for years: Russell Wilson should overtake him in 2022, but the next quarterback to pass him (assuming Andy Dalton and Cam Newton are fading fast) is Kirk Cousins, who is years away.

Bottom line: no one who takes Hall of Fame discussions seriously is going to take the all-time passing leaderboards seriously for a long time, especially since the Brady/Brees types at the very top will enter the Hall of Fame without discussion.


Making Exceptions

If I were trying to craft a serious Hall of Fame argument for Ryan, my goal would be to breathe life into seasons like 2013 to 2015 and 2018 to 2020. No no no, Hall of Fame Committee, I would argue, Ryan wasn't just racking up big numbers on weak teams. He was doing something unique and special.

That's a tough argument to sell. Unlike McNabb, McNair, or Gabriel, Ryan didn't spend his career with weak receiving corps and/or conservative coaches. Instead, Ryan spent most of his career throwing to Hall of Famers (Tony Gonzalez, probably Julio Jones) and other impressive receivers (Roddy White, Calvin Ridley).

The Falcons often fielded some miserable defenses over the last few years, but it's hard to claim that the organization was holding Ryan back in some way when they built two separate playoff nuclei. Perhaps 2018 was a stealth Hall of Fame-caliber season: 35 touchdowns and 4,924 yards for a Steve Sarkisian offense and a 7-9 team that lost by scores of 43-37 and 37-36. But it's hard to drag any of Ryan's other non-Pro Bowl seasons across the finish line.

Football Outsiders stats, which are not designed for Hall of Fame debates, would be of little help to Ryan's case. Ryan led the NFL in DVOA and DYAR in 2016. He finished in the top 10 in DYAR 10 times and the top 10 in DVOA nine times. That's impressive at first blush, but not particularly compelling, especially because Ryan had a habit of finishing fifth through ninth in both categories. "Fifth- to ninth-best quarterback in the NFL for over a decade" isn't exactly a rallying cry.

A Ryan Hall of Fame argument could be Frankensteined together by pointing out that he was statistically better than most of the quarterbacks such as McNabb who had similar playoff/Pro Bowl profiles but had better playoff accomplishments than guys who played forever and ended up near the top of leaderboards (Krieg, Testaverde). Also, he was cut off from the league yardage and touchdown titles, plus most of the trophies, by Brees, Brady, Rodgers, and others for nearly all of his career.

Again, pointing out that Ryan wasn't nearly as good as several of his contemporaries is an odd way to frame his Hall of Fame candidacy, but that's what we're down to.

Even that mish-mosh argument threads a very fine needle. Ryan may retire at about the same time as Rodgers and (heck) Brady, one or two years after Ben Roethlisberger, and possibly with Eli Manning still on the finalist ballot. (We'll get to Eli another time. Have patience.) By the time Ryan is eligible for the ballot, Russell Wilson's career will be winding down, and heaven only knows how many yards Patrick Mahomes will be throwing for each season. Under those circumstances, would anyone really find a "Ryan was maybe the fifth-best quarterback of his generation if you weigh the evidence a certain way" all that compelling?


Hall of Fair to Middling

Ryan could still have a late career surge, lead the Falcons to a Super Bowl, and punch his ticket to Canton, of course. But based on what we have seen so far, his Hall of Fame candidacy died on February 5, 2017, when the Falcons blew a you-know-what-to-you-know-what lead against you-know-who in Super Bowl LI.

It may not be fair to judge Ryan based on what his team did in one game. But it's the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Fair. It's for guys who helped their teams hold onto Super Bowl leads, or whose fourth-quarter comebacks in championship games (2012) didn't stall at the 10-yard line, or guys who didn't get stoned on a pair of quarterback sneaks (2011) and held to zero offensive points in a playoff game they were favored to win. Barring that, it's for guys who led the NFL in touchdowns or yards a few times or changed the way we think about the quarterback position.

Barring some resurgence, Ryan simply will not make the cut for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But at least he's in good company among the likes of Esiason, McNair, and McNabb: great players who shouldn't have to apologize for their Super Bowl losses.

Comments

139 comments, Last at 06 Jul 2021, 4:12pm

1 Fair to Middling

"'Fifth- to ninth-best quarterback in the NFL for over a decade' isn't exactly a rallying cry."

I'm by no means a "Small Hall" person but even in eras with a plethora of top-tier players, I find it difficult to put anyone in the HOF if they weren't Top 3 (maybe Top 5) at their position for at least a few years. My Hot Take up until a few years ago was that Brees was a borderline HOFer because through almost all of his tenure, he was at best the 3rd best QB on the planet. Should players be judged against the bad luck of being in the league at the same time as Brady and Peyton? Yeah, sorry they should. (Obviously Brees' continual greatness after 2010ish changed my mind on this.)

But this is why I think it's insane to even consider someone like Rivers: during an era of all-time great QBing, he was a B-level player. Grading on a curve may not seem fair but that's how these things should be considered, in my opinion. And Rivers has a far better shot than Ryan does.

3 If JJ watt played in the…

In reply to by xMRNUTTYx

If JJ watt played in the same time as Reggie White and Bruce Smith, he'd be a borderline hall of famer?

If Terrell Owens' career  had overlapped entirely with Jerry Rice and Randy Moss, that makes him a borderline candidate?

Elway by this logic was a borderline candidate because he was usually third best in the 80s and third best or worse in the 90s.

Im a small hall guy but that's an insane standard.

9 That standard also has the…

That standard also has the problem of the reverse situation; that during a weak period at a position, you could wind up with a "top 3 at his position" player who isn't deserving. I think "top x player of his era" (whether x is 3 or 5 or 8) is an OK piece of the puzzle, but by no means complete. 

12 The problem is it's hard to…

The problem is it's hard to identify weak versus strong in the NFL because so much of it is a zero-sum game. It's not completely zero sum but its enough of one that distinguishing it in the data or even visually is very hard.  That means in practice you can't tell A is a lot better than B because A is really good and B is slightly good versus A is just less terrible than B. A

In reality the Hall of Fame, putting the wins and rings to the side, comes down to how much better you were over average irrespective of the level of the average. And by better, its a balance between peak and longevity.

For Ryan its a hard no. But I think it gets interesting if you consider this. If we removed the rings from Big Ben and Eli, which isn't a totally unreasonable thing to do since both of their rings could have easily gone into losses and we look at this class, are all three making the hall of fame?

I think Eli is a definite no. He has a weaker case than Ryan does. I think Ben actually becomes a no as well and looks a lot more like McNabb from a career accomplishment point of view. Rivers I think is the borderline case because he had a couple seasons where he was in the all pro conversation. 

 

17 The fact that 2/3 of your…

The fact that 2/3 of your situations didn't happen says something. RE: Elway... see my comments about Brees, a pretty great comp in terms of where his rep was until later in his career. Lots of people were saying Elway wasn't HOF worthy until those last 2-3 years.

There are perfectly good, very recent examples of HOF position backlogging that Mike has written about quite a bit and it all falls very close to applying to my theory. Like it or not, players are graded on a curve of their contemporaries and if you're not going to claim "best in the world" for a year or two, it's not going to help your candidacy. 

18 Those were just one's I came…

Those were just one's I came up with to show the edge cases in your standard. More reasonable cases could involve someone like Marvin Harrison. Is he a hall of famer? By your standard, the answer is borderline to no.

Then consider the QBs competing in the era of Manning, Brady and Brees. Rivers and Big Ben are nos. Russel Wilson is a no as well. And for about half of Rodgers' career you could argue he was the third best qb as well so he might be a no too.

 

 

 

19 Rodgers was The Best QB on…

Rodgers was The Best QB on the Planet for like 5 straight years, even during overlap with Brady and Peyton. That gets him in. That's a no fucking brainer.

Also: yeah, Rivers and Roethlisberger don't get in in my world since I'm not sure anyone would say they were much better than 4th or 5th best in the league in any season of their careers. Wilson has more time to make a case but it's gonna be hard given the emergence of Mahomes and some other young QBs coming up.

RE: Harrison... again: there's a couple years there where maybe he was the best on the planet. That absolutely meets my criteria, which you don't seem to get and seem way hung up on the number "3" even though I absolutely didn't make that a hard number.

20 First of all, I didn't make…

First of all, I didn't make up the number 3. You did it. How am I supposed to jedi mind read that you don't regard it as a hard number when you yourself used it twice and then backed it up with an example of Brees being behind Brady and Manning. I am glad now that you are conceding that its purely an abritrary cut off divorced from any objective reality of quality. That the same player can be a hall of famer or not because of context way out of his hands is just absurd to me. 

And really that's my biggest problem with your whole premise. The hall of fame is now less about who is deserving independent of all factors and now who is the best based on some subjective point in time hierarchy? 

 

29 Wait, do we really think Roethlisberger is a "no" for the Hall?

I've been assuming for years that Big Ben was pretty much a shoo-in.  He's clearly AFTER Peyton, Brady, Brees & Rodgers on the "best QBs of the 2010s" list, but ahead of everyone else.  Given the normal ex-Steeler boost and the two Ringzz, he has seemed automatic to me.

Full disclosure, I am a Ravens fan, and I refer to Ben as "Rapistburger" when I post about him on Ravens discussion forums.  I am not a member of his fan club.

HOWEVER.  I think there was a period of time, a good solid 3- to 5-yr chunk, when he was the most dangerous 3rd-down QB in the league.  Just could not get him off he field when you had to.  Too goddam mobile rolling away from trouble, too goddam big to bring down easily, and too goddam pin-point with that playground shit in the scramble drill.

(Although, glancing at his PFR page, I'm surpised to notice there's less black ink than I expected.)

43 Why in the world am I the…

Why in the world am I the only one who sees "clearly behind 4 other guys" and says "then why do you think he's a Hall of Famer?"

I mean, jeez, you practically have to be the best linebacker or center of all freaking time to get in. And even "clearly behind 4 other guys at WR" would get laughed at. Overpopulating the Hall at QB isn't the worst thing in the world because there's only 1 of 'em per team, but... I just don't get it. There's just a massive gulf between Manning/Peyton/Brees/Rodgers and everyone else. It's crazy that we've even got four Hall of Fame guys over this period.

Seriously don't mean to ding Roethlisberger because in my opinion he was a damn good QB, but this is an era with epic QBs. So either he got super unlucky, or it's just easier to be a "damn good QB" nowadays.

47 John Elway is clearly behind Johnny Unitas

But that doesn't mean Elway isn't or shouldn't be a Hall of Famer.  So I don't see your reasoning about how "clearly behind four guys" is disqualifying.  Roethlisberger isn't quite an exact contemporary with two of the four anyway: Manning & Brady started their careers 6 & 5 years ahead of Ben.

Of course the other factor is, Manning & Brady blow the curve for everybody, not just Big Ben.

I like PFR's Hall of Fame Monitor as a good way to calibrate my intuition about candidates.  It's not the be-all end-all, but it's a solid starting point:
https://www.pro-football-reference.com/hof/hofm_QB.htm

Manning & Brady are so absurdly ahead of everyone else in "Hall qualifications", it's hard to wrap your brain around it.  You could split their careers in half – maybe even-numbered years and odd-numbered years? – and each half of their careers would be an "above-average" Hall-of-Famer. Even-numbered Peyton & odd-numbered Brady would be a little ahead of Hall of Famers Fran Tarkenton, Dan Marino & Steve Young.

So yeah, I don't particularly ding Ben for being behind Manning & Brady. 

50 Just to add on. Hall of fame…

Just to add on. Hall of fame isn't written explicitly that it's top 3 or top 4 or whatever. It's about play as compared to what the standard was set for hall of famer. Brees has 0 MVPs and a small amount of all pros, but everyone could see why. He's still an all timer. 

As for centers and tackles. The NFL has a major bias against positions that don't touch the ball. We should fix it not by applying a harsher standard on those who do touch the ball but by making it more generous to these other positions.

 

58 Brees has 0 MVPs and a small…

Brees has 0 MVPs and a small amount of all pros, but everyone could see why. He's still an all timer. 

Ha, Brees is a bad example: I wasn't saying "top 3 or top 4 or whatever." I was saying, if a guy is clearly behind other players, why are we talking about putting him in? And I can't say Brees is clearly behind Brady and Manning. I mean, you could try but I can turn around and argue "Brady has Belichick, and Manning's Super Bowls came when he had actually had a competent defense, and Brees had been fighting a garbage defense most of his entire career." I'm not saying I believe any of those points carry the day. But it's an argument. If I look at Brady, Brees, and Manning in DYAR, for instance, the 3 of them all danced around the top, and DYAR is noisy enough for me to believe that if someone came along and said "yeah, but X" that'd make up for the difference between them.

But I could never make that argument for Roethlisberger, and that's the problem for me - there's no way I could ever argue he's on that Brady/Brees/Manning level. So if there's an entire level of players above him... why does he belong in?

We should fix it not by applying a harsher standard on those who do touch the ball but by making it more generous to these other positions.

The key is to agree that it should be fixed, not which way you want to adjust it.

I just don't think people have wrapped their head around long QB careers yet. I mean, if a QB's career reaches ~20-ish years and you keep inducting QBs at the same rate as you do historically, you're going to be putting in guys who are just really, really weak candidates compared to their peers. 

 

63 I'm sorry, but...

...Drew Brees IS clearly behind Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.  Aaron Rodgers is also clearly behind Brady and Manning.  Brady and Manning are in the all-time inner tier of HOF quarterbacks, with Joe Montana, Otto Graham, and...probably Johnny Unitas and possibly Sammy Baugh?  I'm not 100% sure; it's a very small, select group and some legitimate all-time greats don't qualify.

My statement above doesn't mean Brees and Rodgers shouldn't be in the PFHOF.  They are clear Hall of Famers IMO, even if they weren't as great as Brady or Manning.

To me, the PFHOF argument for the various quarterbacks is about how great they were in absolute terms and relative to their contemporaries.  I'm not going to ding a guy if the position was deep at the time he played.

Quick rundown:

*IMO, Ben Roethlisberger is solidly a Hall of Famer, even if he ranks behind Brees and Rodgers (and more obviously Brady and Manning).

*Philip Rivers and Matt Ryan are near the cut line; I'd personally induct both of them, but it's a close call with both guys and I wouldn't have heartburn if one or both guys are not inducted.  Ryan in particular is very comparable to Kenny Anderson (who IMO should be in the PFHOF, though he's also just over the cut line).  Both Rivers and Ryan were extremely good for a long time, and quantity of high quality counts for something in every sport's Hall of Fame.  I personally think they were better relative to their era than Jim Kelly, who to me should not be in the PFHOF, whose stats weren't THAT great for his era, and who was propped up by Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed, and the Bills offensive line.  I'd also rank them ahead of Warren Moon, who to me is NOT a PFHOF based on his NFL career - he played in an offense that boosted his numbers but never even appeared in a conference championship game, plus he wasn't good at all for about 3-4 years at the beginning of his NFL career - but was close enough to the cut line that his spectacular CFL career puts him over the line IMO.  Guys like Bob Griese and even Troy Aikman, who won multiple Super Bowls but were on run dominated teams (and in Aikman's case, also supported by Michael Irvin, one of the top wide receivers of all-time), probably weren't as good as either Rivers or Ryan (though Aikman should be in the PFHOF IMO; don't really think Griese, as good as he was, should be though).

*Eli Manning to me is NOT a PFHOF; his two Super Bowls put him close to the cut line, but he was inconsistent and an average or below average quarterback for the majority of his career.  Even his handful of very good seasons were not at the level of Brady, Brees, Rodgers, or his brother.  He also didn't have the extreme high peak of someone like Kurt Warner, an even more inconsistent quarterback.  If you look at Eli's stats and compare them to his 2004 draft mates, Roethlisberger and Rivers, you'll have a hard time justifying putting Eli in and NOT putting Rivers or especially Roethlisberger in.  (I should note Rivers' stats are slightly better than Roethlisberger's, but Big Ben clearly gets the nod over Rivers due to his team's greater playoff success.)

67 You're welcome to think the…

You're welcome to think the Brees/Manning/Brady argument is cut and dry, but I could pull out non-idiotic stats that would muddy that decision quite a bit. That's my only point: there's just nothing you can do to put Roethlisberger at that level without falling back on "count the rings."

I guess the easiest way to think about what I'm saying is: ask yourself, what's the Hall argument going to be for this guy? Brady and Manning don't need arguments. We get that. But Brees's argument could be "Brees was redefining the NFL records all through the 2010s - an exciting race between Manning, Brady, and Brees to see who could claim them for all time, trading between all of them constantly." Which puts him squarely on the same footing as Manning/Brady/Brees.

I can't do that with Roethlisberger. It just ends up being goofy RINGZ crap. Or weird anecdotal/arbitrary stuff like "big huge guy playing QB very hard to sack." And again, this seriously isn't me dinging Roethlisberger. It's not a ding to say a guy's not a Hall of Famer.

There's just no way anyone can convince me it makes sense to have literally 9 Hall of Fame QBs active at the same time. At that point just induct everyone who doesn't completely suck.

103 I completely agree with this

I just don't think people have wrapped their head around long QB careers yet.

Yes.  I know I personally have not grasped & understood it yet.  Everything I learned about sports "analytics" over the past ~35 yrs or so, tells me that what we've seen from Brady & Brees & to some extent Rogers over the last several years, is impossible.  I don't get it.

One thing that helps restore me to sanity a little bit: I did a study last year using PFR's AV rather than "fantasy stats".  Even looking at just the recent guys, who seem to be blowing the traditional age curve – Manning, Brady, Brees, Favre, Rivers, Ben, Rodgers, Ryan – if you aggregate them, you do see something that looks similar to the traditional age curve.  A peak at age 28.  A "broad plateau" from age 25 to age 34, which is not unusual for Hall Of Famers, who tend to stay good longer than other players.  But it *DOES* trend down from age 32 (except for a weird spike at age 38).  It's just that the age-related decline is slower than we've been used to seeing.

Using AV instead of standard stats, makes it clear that these QBs aren't really getting better.  They're just declining more slowly than QBs used to.

I should update that chart with 2020 stats, see if the picture changes with an extra season of Brady & Rodgers.

57 Please explain to me how…

Please explain to me how Elway is "clearly" behind Unitas. They never played at the same time, which means there can never be a "clearly" better. Bring out all the statistics you want. Doesn't matter. Someone can trot out era arguments to argue against it (free agency being the obvious one).

I'm not saying Elway isn't behind Unitas in my opinion, but unless players play at the same time, "clearly better" is silly. Kurt Warner's career is fully contained within Peyton Manning's, for instance. No way to rank them anything but Manning first. 

I like PFR's Hall of Fame Monitor as a good way to calibrate my intuition about candidates.  It's not the be-all end-all, but it's a solid starting point:
https://www.pro-football-reference.com/hof/hofm_QB.htm

Here's the problem. If you go with something like the Hall of Fame monitor, it's very poorly "era adjusted" for skill players Functionally if you include "championships, All Pro, and Pro Bowl" as part of the metric, those are naturally era adjusted (but see below). But AV doesn't era-adjust, since the run/pass split is fixed.

If you just do something simple like plot Hall of Fame monitor vs. average year played and do like a profile plot you can very clearly see HOFm increasing over time. Part of that is also just because lengthening careers make counting stats (championships, All Pro, Pro Bowl, etc.) non-era adjusted as well.

I should say my opinion's actually not just "my intuition." Basically I look at a bunch of QB statistics in z-score space averaged over a few years, and put a cutoff (okay, that part's subjective) when the number of players past it starts to grow extremely fast. The cutoff isn't actually that subjective, since it's pretty damn obvious. 

Essentially, to me, Hall of Fame means they clearly stand out from peers, and to me Roethlisberger just doesn't (But, again, I'm apparently weird, since prior to the 2010 season I was iffy on Rodgers as well).

 

Manning & Brady are so absurdly ahead of everyone else in "Hall qualifications", it's hard to wrap your brain around it. You could split their careers in half

Of course you could! Because their careers are nearly twice as long as some of the others, and their peaks were almost definitely twice as long as most. Most of the "Hall qualifications" you think of are counting stats. You play twice as long, obviously, you'll just accumulate.

Am I really the only one that thinks it's not a coincidence that in a sport with a 70+ year history we suddenly think we have 4 "yeah just stop the argument" Hall of Fame candidates playing literally at the same time, at the same position?

81 We need more time to suss it…

We need more time to suss it out, but it's entirely possible that Manning and Brady look like outliers historically. 

By that I mean, they combined statistical excellence over a multi decade span with no prolonged periods of lull whatsoever. I'm not sure anyone else has managed that feat in NFL history. 

Maybe you could argue Brees. 

 

So that gets to my bigger point. If they are indeed statistical outliers, setting cutoffs against them seems unfair. 

The problem is also, we have no clear definition of what the hall of fame standard should be. 

93 And Kelly and Favre

And Jim Kelly. and Brett Favre. Favre and Montana don't overlap, but the rest do, even if they weren't all playing like HoF QBs all at the same time. So whether you're talking early 90s or late 90s, there were 6 or 7 HoF QBs playing all at the same time. So the Brady/Manning/Brees/Rodgers era isn't really any different than the 90s were in that regard. Don't think the fact that 4 clear HoF QBs playing at the same time as Big Ben should be a reason to keep him out. While he doesn't have a ton of black ink stats, his overall stats are very good, his teams have been consistently good (not just because of him of course), he made 3 Super Bowls, winning 2, and multiple other conference championship games. He should be in IMO.

Eli played really well in 2 postseason runs, but otherwise was an average QB throughout most of his career. If he gets in because he went on a Flacco playoff run twice instead of once, it would be pretty absurd. Rivers was a good QB, but if you play as long as he did, I'd like to see some SB appearances and more than one conference title game appearance on the resume (I know, I know, he was playing in the same conference as Brady, Peyton, and Roethlisberger, but still.) For someone like that, I'd want the stats to jump off the page relative to their peers (like a Fouts or Marino), or to be afraid of him as a fan of opposing team playing him, and I don't think either was the case. Ryan belongs in the Hall of Very Good. Good career, had one tremendous season to deservingly win an MVP, lost a SB his team should have won, and otherwise was consistently very good but seldom great. 

94 Montana and Favre did overlap

even if for just a little (91-94). Montana did miss 91 (and Favre played little) and didn't play much in 92 but 93/94 they both started a bunch. 

A bunch of HOFrs playing at once shouldn't surprise people since their all in their own specific timeline at different points in their journey. Starr, Unitas, Dawson, Jurgensen, Tarkenton, Namath, Griese, Staubach, Stabler, and Bradshaw, all (10!) played from 70-71. Pretty common. Include Tom Flores and the first 8 and that's a total of 9 in 1969. Adjust the years and similar things pop up. 

111 HOFs QBs play at the same time a lot

Can be hard to remember but fun to look back at in these discussions.

Even if we look at something more modern (without assuming who is and isn't a HOF right now), we can look at 1998 when future HOFrs Peyton and Warner joined. Along with HOFrs Favre, Aikman, Young, Moon, Elway, and Marino all still playing. That's also 9(!) now CONFIRMED HOF QBs playing at the same time. All in different parts of their journeys of course. Of course we can quibble with some of those names but the notion that it's so super locked up, only a couple at a time thing is patently false. Whether we like it or not. 

How many were playing in 2020? Well, that's the debate because we aren't 100% sure at this point. Maybe Wilson, Ryan, Rivers, Ben, etc. are, along with Brady, Brees and Rodgers. As we've pointed out, that wouldn't be a lot at all. 

119 As we've pointed out, that…

As we've pointed out, that wouldn't be a lot at all. 

Wouldn't be a lot for what? For a historical Hall comparison? Of course not! But that's what happens when you make mistakes and lower the bar for letting people in: it happens once, now it's a precedent, and then the next time lowering the bar more becomes a bit easier. And now the number of people grow. And grow.

And because the number of people inducted is fixed, you only deal with that by starving out other positions. And eventually, the NFL's history becomes the equivalent of backyard football.

know there've been that many QBs playing at 1 time before. It didn't make sense then. Doesn't make sense now. And only will get worse over time.

121 Don't disagree that QB is…

Don't disagree that QB is overrepresented in the Hall compared to other positions, given that there's only every one QB on the field, whereas there are multiples of every other position on the field. That said, it's also true that the QB position has outsized impact on the success or failure of a team compared to other positions as well. I mean, you can be as dominant at your position as a J.J. Watt, Lawrence Taylor, etc, but if your QB sucks your team is going to suck regardless, and if your QB is really good this can make up for deficiencies in the rest of the team that other positions simply can't. Maybe this is more true now than it used to be due to the proliferation of passing in the last 30 years, whereas pre-1980 there wasn't as much reliance on the QB since teams ran the ball so much more back then.

When I look at the QBs in the hall, there's really only a few that have decent arguments against their inclusion (I'm not including QBs that ended their careers prior to 1980, as I never saw those QBs play except for NFL Films videos and what not, except for watching an occasional old game on youtube or something), so I'll leave it to others more knowledgeable to determine if any earlier inductees weren't merited. Of the post-1980 QBs,

Stabler certainly  seems a reach, as others have pointed out

Warren Moon: Not really sure why he is in the hall. Certainly great stats for many years throughout his career, but never lead to anything except missing the playoffs or early playoff exits. At least Fouts got to some AFC title games. And it wasn't like the AFC was loaded with unbeatable teams throughout most of his career. I feel like his CFL years were factored in, which really shouldn't have been, because otherwise I can't really explain why he got in.

Kurt Warner is another one I don't really get. Only played for 11 years, did win a SB early in his career, lost another one late in his career, and in between there was a lot of meh. 

Troy Aikman: I don't really question his inclusion, because any QB who wins 3 SBs is going to get in regardless. But he was always someone I felt wasn't REALLY that good, but benefited from a great situation. Still, other QBs have great situations and don't take advantage, so have to give him credit.

Jim Kelly: For reasons other people have mentioned in these comments, if you look at Kelly's numbers, it seems his perception at the time was a bit different than reality. Still, it's quite a feat to take a team to 4 consecutive SBs (with help from Reich one of those years). So I don't really have a problem with his inclusion either.

So out of 26 QBs in the HoF, 10 played their entire careers post-1980, with a lot of overlap between them at various points in time. You could argue that 10 QBs over the last 30 years is too many, given that only 16 QBs (plus a bunch of QB/HB hybrids) were inducted prior to that, but I think that reflects the change in the passing game over that time. If Moon and Warner weren't in the Hall, maybe it would seem less lopsided.

Of course, this is all just my opinion.

122 whereas there are multiples…

whereas there are multiples of every other position on the field. 

I feel like I just need a GIF of a crying center to use all the time or something. Centers, constantly forgotten, never appreciated. You try facing off against a top D-line with some random free agent center calling protection!

But that's literally my list of "WTF" QBs as well, but I fall on the "no" side for all of them (save one, see below). Aikman's situation is just that his peak was too short, especially given his contemporaries. He was really good for a while, but it's just too short. Same issue as Warner, really. The Super Bowl argument just gets tossed out the freaking window considering Aikman (and Warner!)'s colleagues on those teams.

Then if you drop those QBs, the Hall starts to seem a lot more elite and consistent - you basically need to be either statistically on a shelf above or lead (and lead, not be on) teams to championships (both consistently). Which again makes it much easier to just look at the 2000-2020 (ish) era and say "yeah, Brady/Manning/Brees/Rodgers, why are we having this conversation."

*: Moon I usually don't mention because there are a lot of asterisks that go along with that one and I completely agree with them. It just makes it awkward because when you see a list of names and numbers, you forget asterisks. And the Hall obviously only token mentions those asterisks.

124 It's always been like that...

The HOF started in 63. I gave objective examples from 69-71 and 98. You just don't like that there's that many. But the HOF is always going to grow as years pass. Just say you want to remove some and add Big V

98 I think you're…

I think you're misunderstanding what I was saying: I'm not talking about what will happen with the Hall. I'm talking about what I would do if it were up to me. The 90s have literally the sketchiest QB Hall of Fame candidates out there, from a pure football standpoint, in my mind.

In the case of the 90s I think it was caused by a different problem. Statistically you had Marino, and then all these other QBs who had short peaks which were as high/higher than Marino. And Marino had no rings, and those guys all had bunches. So they just put everyone in, and then you just start getting sketchy candidates dragged in too. 

I mean, yeah, you can compare say, Kelly and Ryan and say "but Kelly made it to the Super Bowl three times!" But that's kinda my entire point - when you move past the "obviously better than the others" you have a ton of candidates. And then you end up just putting in guys for like, arbitrary random reasons. And then you get Mike Tanier picking the unlucky guys from that era to use as arguments for why Ryan doesn't get in.

To be clear - you actually forgot Kelly in that list, right? Which is partly my point. When I think about a football era, I don't think I should be able to forget Hall of Fame players from that era. But - again - this is just my opinion on how things should go. And to be clear, I'm not treating this as a "small Hall" situation - I just think quarterbacks in particular are held to way lower of a standard than other positions.

108 I DID FORGET KELLY!!

Though, understandable given my age, he wasn't Joe Montana, he didn't play in the Pacific Northwest, and I was born in 83.

104 Okay

Please explain to me how Elway is "clearly" behind Unitas. 

No problem:

  • Unitas 3x NFL champ; Elway 2x NFL champ (Elway dragged to one of them by league- and SB-MVP Terrell Davis)
  • Unitas 3x MVP; Elway 1x MVP
  • Unitas 5x All-Pro; Elway zero times All-Pro
  • Unitas 4x leading league in TD passes; Elway zero times
  • Unitas 4x leading league in pass yds; Elway zero times

Elway's signature "stat" when he was active, the thing he was especially famous for, was his penchant for 4QC wins.  Unitas had more seasons leading the league in that than Elway, and also more career 4QCs than Elway.

That's "hard" data.  Of course there's a "softer" element of HOF candidacy: famousness or historical importance or pioneer who changed the game or whatever.  All the "soft" stuff favors Unitas, hugely.  He played in the two most important games in NFL history.  He pioneered the 2-min drill.  He's noted as the first "modern" QB.  His most enduring record, the streak of consec games with a TD pass, wasn't broken for fifty years (Brees).

106 No problem:(bunch of awards…

In reply to by JimZipCode

No problem:

(bunch of awards that ignore the fact that they didn't play at the same time)

There's no way to "clearly" compare two players who didn't play at the same time. I mean, jeez, it's hard enough to do it when they are playing at the same time! But I can't compare MVPs from 56-73 to MVPs from 83-98. How can you? No free agency. League half as big. Seasons 25% smaller.

famousness or historical importance or pioneer who changed the game or whatever. 

That you literally can't compare at all! Once someone does something "first" it's literally impossible for anyone else to match that. I can't compare "amount that someone pioneered in a game" since pioneering clearly only happens once.

The entire reason fans loves to argue about "X is better" or "Y is better" is because there isn't a way to compare them straight up.

115 Um

Don't ask the question if you won't accept any legitimate answer. Just go ahead and stick your fingers in your ears and go "la-la-la-la" instead.

116 It isn't a legitimate answer…

In reply to by LyleNM

It isn't a legitimate answer! That's the entire point!

All of those awards he listed? They have the same name, but they're totally different awards. It's like saying "yeah, Unitas is a 3-time AP MVP, but I'm a 5-time MVP of my local intermural league, so clearly I'm better!" Or saying "Kurt Warner's totally better than Mahomes, Mahomes never won the NEA MVP, and Warner did!"

I mean, just think about how dumb this all is. He said "oh, Unitas is a 3-time NFL champ, and Elway's only a 2-time NFL champ." Except that's a junk comparison, right? Unitas is a 1-time Super Bowl champ. Elway's a 2-time Super Bowl champ. Crap! Now Elway's better!

People just arbitrarily decide that pre-Super Bowl "NFL Championship" is equal to a Super Bowl championship. Why? That's silly. Instead, you could just as easily make them conference championships, and just compare those. I mean, we literally call it a "conference championship," after all! Now Unitas is a 4-time conference champion, and Elway's a 5-time conference champion. Crap again!

And how do I compare MVPs? Unitas's MVP in 59 was on a 12-team league. Why is that the same thing as a 28-team MVP? Unitas's 2nd and 3rd MVPs weren't even unique - there's an AFL MVP too, after all.

Let me be clear, I'm not arguing Elway's better than Unitas. I'm saying that comparing players from different eras is just ludicrously dodgy, and has an entirely different class of problems than comparing players who played against each other.

Players are kept out of the Hall for not being the best active player at their position. That's fine. That's why I have massive misgivings about anyone other than Brees/Brady/Manning/(Rodgers depending on how you define the era) - because people are kept out of the Hall at other positions all the freaking time for that reason. But keeping someone because they're not the best ever wouldn't make any sense, because there's no way to compare. Fair comparisons literally don't exist.

117 If you start restricting the Hall that much...

The guy that doesn't fit in your comparison is Brees.  Per attempt Rodgers is in a league of his own, followed by Brady and Manning.  Per attempt, Brees is apx. equal to Russel Wilson.  But, of course nobody is keeping the counting stat king, Brees, from a first ballot hall entry.

That also doesn't get into the fact that we are entering into a different era.  Per attempt Mahomes so far is blowing EVERYONE out of the water.

118 Per attempt is not a "better…

Per attempt is not a "better" way to rate players by any means. Rate statistics naturally decrease as you increase usage. That's what you'd expect in any kind of an opposed sport - it doesn't make sense to focus attention on an unused resource. Multi-year averages on ANY/A with usage correction or DYAR put Brady, Manning, Brees basically a shelf above everyone else. Rodgers was there in the early 2010s too, and appears to be back there now.

 That also doesn't get into the fact that we are entering into a different era.

Brees, Brady, and Manning's careers essentially overlap, so that's not really a concern. Rodgers is a bridging quarterback between the two eras, so to me it's actually interesting to see what happens in the next few years, but 2020 kinda defined that the early 2010s wasn't the limit of his success.

2 Shrug. Won't get much of an…

Shrug. Won't get much of an argument from me, and I've been a Falcons fan since birth. I'm curious how the argument would be different, though, if blankety blankety blank-blank. Truth is, for almost all of his career, Ryan wasn't even the best QB in his own division, but I also think the defensive support was severely lacking in general.

7 "Ryan wasn't even the best…

"Ryan wasn't even the best QB in his own division, but I also think the defensive support was severely lacking in general."

Brees is (obviously) the better quarterback, but I think it's funny how the QB WINZ crowd is fine giving Brees a pass for his multiple losing seasons in the 2010's because of the Saints' terrible pre-2017 defenses, but won't give the same consideration to Ryan.

10 There is the minor detail of…

There is the minor detail of Brees having won a Super Bowl before that happened.  The ring gives the user Protection From Criticism +10.

 Whether or not that's fair is a different question, of course.

14 I have no time for QB WINZ…

I have no time for QB WINZ when evaluating a player during his career or predicting future performance, etc. But for a Hall of Fame debate? Why yes, I think it matters that a QB won lots and lots of games, because it's about what he did, not what he was capable of doing. 

15 #14

Matt Ryan currently ranks #14 in all time QB WINZ.

Everyone ahead of him is either HOF (Favre, Elway, Marino, Tarkenton, Unitas, Montana, P. Manning) or Slam Dunk future HOF (Brady, Brees, Rothlisberger, Rivers (okay, maybe a layup), Rodgers, E. Manning).  The next 3 behind him are also HOF (Bradshaw, Moon, Kelly).

To get to someone with the next most wins who probably won't make the HOF, you have to drop to Alex Smith, Drew Bledsoe and McNabb.

This is of course regular season WINZ, becasuse we're trying to make a case, playoff wins don't help his cause.    Patrick Mahomes already has more playoff wins than Matt Ryan.

 

 

 

 

 

22 I appreciate this! QB WINZ…

In reply to by andrew

I appreciate this! QB WINZ are a longevity and 16 (now 17 game) schedule "stat". It's actually a decent proxy for QB quality, but then so are "starts." 

25 Well obviously we can now do…

Well obviously we can now do Season Length Adjusted Winz (SLAW).

We could adjust to 16 since 17 is not yet "normal" in our minds, and shift to 17 once it does (when I look back at 1977 or earlier it takes a mental adjustment to rate a "12-2" or "10-4" season).   I only really started paying attention to standings in 78, though I had started watching games two seasons prior.  

So, for next season, we multiplyby 16 and divide by 17, so they will be worth 0.94 winz.  For the 14 game era, we multiply by 16 and divide by 14, and they will be worth 1.14 winz.    E.g., Tarkenton started the year after the NFL went from 12 to 14 games, then played in 14 game seasons his entire career until his final year (where he went 8-7-1).   So his 124-106-6 record becomes   116-99-5, becomes 132.57 - 113.14- 5.71, then we add 1978 back in for 140.57 winz, moving him past Rodgers (for now) and Rivers.    (side note do we count ties as half winz or ignore them)?   This obviously doesn't take into account the durability aspect of longer seasons on winz (e.g., Tarkenton broke his leg week 9 of 1977, presumably had that been a 16 game season he would have broken it the same week, so should his 6 wins that season really count for more?

As far as a proxy for quality, obviously you have to be good enough to start to keep starting and thus keep getting winz, but on some level that's not the same from franchise to franchise...  Not sure you could adjust for that.

 

4 Shouldve done Eli or Rivers first

and not a guy still going. If it's all QBs (if not, no Frank Gore is not a HOFr)

Anyway, seems disingenuous to just say "Led the Atlanta Falcons to a conference championship in 2016" when he also did the same in 2012. Whole premise seems to be multiple SB appearances which...idk. That's Jim Kellys entire case it seems because...idk what else he did that Ryan didn't. 1x AP 1st All Pro (and a couple other years other publications gave em a mention, 2010 and 17 for Ryan, 1990 and 92 for Kelly), no rings. Ryan at least got an OROTY, MVP, Bert Bell and OPOTY award that Kelly didn't, but I guess that's not as good as 3 more SB appearances (and losses)? IDK seems weird imo.

Kellys got 1 more PB too but other than that...at least Aikman won his big games. I guess I just look at some of the past inductees and come away not being that impressed. Wouldn't surprise me if Ryan ended up matching or exceeding Kellys PBs and then I'm even less impressed with Kelly wondering how he got in.

5 "no Frank Gore is not a HOFr…

"no Frank Gore is not a HOFr"

No argument there.  I remain confused about how Curtis Martin got in.

"seems disingenuous to just say "Led the Atlanta Falcons to a conference championship in 2016" when he also did the same in 2012. "

I think in this context "led to a conference championship" means "won the conference championship", not just a conference championship appearance.

6 I plan to wrap up the series…

I plan to wrap up the series with Eli. And then probably walk into the ocean and never return.

Matt Ryan only led the Falcons to one conference championship. He led them to a conference championship GAME in 2012 but could not engineer a fourth-quarter comeback, as noted in the artic

31 Would strongly suggest…

Would strongly suggest finding a gravestone maker very careful about kerning, because if those first two letters are too close together you're going to be distracting people at funerals for decades.

34 I just spent a minute trying…

I just spent a minute trying to figure out what would be distracting about "Idid it for the clicks", when I finally realized you meant the first two letters of "clicks", not of the whole phrase. 

21 Always start with Eli

or someone already retired. Much more complete discussion can be had without interference. 

Anyway, weird way to phrase it. I guess, imo, SB appearance sounds better while meaning the same thing. Even though winz is a cloudy thing to pin up. Ryan has multiple more in the RS alone (113) than Kelly does in the RS (101) + PS (9) combined. I may allow SB winz but CCG winz is a little much when you can't complete the run. Don't think many are touting Kelly winning 4 AFCCGs as opposed to the Bills losing 4 straight SBs.

64 Matt Ryan led his team to two conference championship games...

...which was two more than Warren Moon did.

In all seriousness, why is Moon considered a clear Hall of Famer?  One can easily argue Moon and Ryan are comparable in their respective eras and that Ryan was (clearly IMO) a little better in his era than Moon was in his.

To me, Moon was primarily a volume passer, someone who benefited from playing in an offense that emphasized passing.  He was very good for a number of years, but IMO he is NOT a Hall of Famer based on his NFL career.  I DO think he deserves to be in the PFHOF however because 1) he had a spectacular career in the CFL, even if that league is vastly inferior to the NFL (or even the USFL of roughly the same era) and 2) Moon is close to the cut line based on his NFL career and his CFL career, even though it only carries a small amount of weight in his overall argument, has enough weight to put him over the cut line.

66 Counter:

I actually agree with a lot of what you said but Moons got 5 more PBs than Ryan (both have an OPOTY). Which is more than double. Also got a WPMOTY award fwiw.

Although Ryan could reach that many if he sticks around as long as Moon did, hanging up at 44(!). A reason you shouldn't start with active guys!! Ahhhh. Sorry. Also Moon helped break some stingy barriers back then as well. 

101 I would argue Warren Moon's Pro Bowl selections...

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

...were at least in part a function of playing in pass-happy offense (relative to most other team's offenses of the time) that allowed him to post big passing statistics and the Pro Bowl voters of the 1990s couldn't see through that and ask "does this guy have impressive stats because he's efficient or does he have big stats because his offense allows him to pass a lot?"  I'll note Moon's passing statistics were NOT as much of an anomaly as say Dan Marino's in the mid-1980s or Dan Fouts at the peak of the Air Coryell era in the early 1980s.

From what I've said in my comments, it may come across as if I'm trying to belittle Warren Moon, and I'm sorry if that's the case.  Moon WAS a very good quarterback for many years, and was a significant part of the reason why the late 1980s/early 1990s Oilers teams were consistent playoff participants (seven straight appearances from 1987 to 1993).  I'm also not big on the whole political correctness discussion, but Moon face barriers as a quarterback whose skin happened to be black.  One can only wonder what his NFL career would have been like had he NOT been told he would have limited NFL quarterbacking opportunities as a pro rookie in 1978 and instead gone directly to the NFL that year.  He probably struggles at the beginning of his NFL career (as he actually did from 1984 to 1987), but perhaps he becomes a solid to good NFL QB by say 1982 or 1983 and the very good NFL QB he eventually became 1-2 years after that, extending his period as a good to very good NFL quarterback by at least another 3-4 years and strengthening his overall NFL career.

I just don't think Warren Moon is a clear-cut PFHOF player, which I have the impression many people believe he was.  He has a legitimate case, but he's right near the cut line for the PFHOF.  On the other hand there are other pro quarterbacks also in the PFHOF (Jim Kelly, probably Joe Namath, probably Bob Griese) who to me are even more marginal than Moon was and probably should not have been inducted.

107 Yeah

I've been arguing against Kelly because 1 more PB for Ryan and he matches Kelly. Except he had the vastly superior 2016 that was better than anything Kelly did and the argument for Kelly over Ryan is...CCG winz as the article describes? An MVP is really worth less than a team (stacked w/HOFs like Thomas, Reed, Smith) winning 3 more CCG? Not ringz, CCG winz. IDK how people can retroactively think that's a good argument but...I'm not trying to bash Kelly but man, CCG winz is what makes a HOFr now? That's absolutely wild and noisy. 

109 I think Kelly gets a pass...

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

because those Bills are "best dynasty/team never to win the Super Bowl."

 

And Kelly was their QB.

 

Not saying that's right.  But leaving Kelly out of the 90s football feels like leaving Aikman out (who I also consider borderline).

113 Yeah I guess

But at least Aikman won...thrice. Probably the two most undeserving QBs in, but Kelly seems on another plane of his own without the ringz argument (and fwiw they completely flipped their play level in the playoffs, when they were in the league together from 89-96. Kelly went from 5.98 ANY/A to 5.25 and 85.4 passer rating to 75, ok playoffs are harder but Aikman went from 5.75 to 6.86 and 83 to 96. Guess the argument is still supporting cast...but eh)

52 Jim Kelly's case is infinitely greater than Ryan's ...

1. Kelly played in Buffalo and the AFC East. Ryan played in a dome, had another road game in a dome and two more in relatively climate-friendly cities in Charlotte and Tampa.

2. Kelly had a HOF RB in Thurman Thomas. Ryan had nothing close to that in the backfield.

3. Kelly led one of the sport's most devastating offenses for a 2-plus year period with the K-Gun offense. He was also the last of the dinosaurs -- the last QB to exclusively call his own plays. Nobody will remember Ryan for anything close to that exceptional or unique.

4. Kelly's two USFL years are rarely considered -- yes, he played in a dome in an expanded season, but his numbers in that league were Marino-esque, and he was MVP of that league as a rookie.

5. Kelly played in an era in which QBs didn't receive anywhere near the protection Ryan did/does today, and it probably contributed to his retirement at 36.

54 Hmm

1. Do people really care about that stuff? That stuff only affects late season games...maybe. (and it is a/n dis/advantage for all, affects both teams playing)

2. Not sure how that's helps Kellys case here, seems like playing with non HOFrs makes Ryan look better, even at low value positions like RB (his best was what, Devonta Freeman?).

3. People remember that too, huh? Which years were that? '90 and...'91 I'm guessing, but even that was significant drop. 

4. Good point actually but are we holding the USFL to the same standard? Like an USFL has got to mean < an NFL MVP right? Same for OROTY right? Definitely include it but let's not act like they were on the same level. Sprinkles compared to the NFLs ice cream. 

5. Is that all it takes? Ryans been sacked more already. Both 2 per game. Both exactly 25 times in the playoffs ironically. Ryan rushed a little more. C Kent Hull (3x), LG Jim Ritcher (2x), LT Will Wolford (3x), RT Howard Ballard (2x), and LG Ruben Brown (1x) were all PB protectors for Kelly. Only RT Tyson Clabo (1x), C Alex Mack (3x), and LT Jake Matthews (1x) for Ryan. Ryan just entered the NFL 3 years younger than Kelly. He's actually entering the same age season that was Kellys last (36; really wish we saved Ryan for another da...year).

Feel like Ryan can/has reach/ed these anecdotes. 

24 good time for this subject

thank you for giving me something to think about other than UDFAs making the practice squad.

You make many valid points, I would also add(and this is to all sports) what is this strange world where every good player is a Hall of Famer? The idea is that enshrinement is for the all time greats, not just good and consistent. Let's all stop saying "he is a sure hall of famer" and replace it with "he is very good and I am happy I got to watch him play".

The constant media encouragement of entitlement is food for the trolls and divas. It allows long term personal grudges for ex players and mysterious feuds.

I really enjoyed watching Matt Ryan play. I never once sat down to watch his old film for personal entertainment. I still watch Marshawn Lynch highlights regularly.

26 I think it’s a combination…

I think it’s a combination of not being able to mentally reconcile inflated offensive statistics over the past decade or so, and Terrell Davis proving that the Hall actually is attainable for players with relatively short peaks. 

38 I wouldn't mind a Hall of…

I wouldn't mind a Hall of Fame with lots and lots of folks in it. I still think like a public school teacher. But that's not what most people say they want (right after they hold a rally demanding that their 12 favorite childhood heroes get in). And it is definitely not what the HoF is.

I think Twitter conversations about the Hall of Fame create this weird dichotomy: everybody wants to fluff every dude who retires as a HoFer to get some engagement and-or start a debate. They do the same thing when the "snubs" occur after the class is announced. And everyone assumes all Halls of Fame are the same and that Canton, like Cooperstown, has a wide-open ballot the waive in every dude with a long career (who didn't allegedly maybe once use steroids). 

42 Maybe we need a two-tiered…

Maybe we need a two-tiered Hall:  Hall of Fame, and Hall of Very Good, or perhaps Hall of Fine Career (how often do you hear a pundit say, "He's had a fine career, but he's not a Hall of Famer".)  The second tier would be like business class on an airplane:  not quite first class, but you can still tell yourself you're better than the plebian rabble in coach.

45 Really a lot of the problem…

Really a lot of the problem would be solved if the QBs were just sheared off (like non-players are, for instance). Maybe only induct QBs like, every 5 years or so to ensure you've got enough of them to fill the slots. But instead of just, arbitrarily trying to rank them relative to other players, just codify the thing.

I seriously don't know why it isn't obvious that QBs are going to become a problem for the Hall. After 2000, quarterback careers have been lengthening dramatically, likely due to some combination of sports medicine and rules changes. There were zero quarterbacks inducted from 2006 to 2016. That's the longest gap for QBs - wait, let me check... ever. Why did it happen? Because Favre's career went stupid-long - and obviously he was just the first, and not an anomaly. We've got another 5 years before it starts, but it's gonna be like a floodgate of weird QB arguments.

The Hall typically averages 1 QB every 3 years - so if a QB's career goes from, say, 10 years to 15 years, but you keep up the same rate, you're going to just start inducting lower quality QBs, relative to their peers. No way around it. Just math.

44 The problem is that the Hall…

The problem is that the Hall of Fame is really "Hall of Guys We Hear About All The Time." Which is actually where your "a rally demanding that their 12 favorite childhood heroes get in" comes from anyway.

Plus... I just don't understand anyway how to reconcile "value at position" to "value overall." Obviously you don't go with "value overall" since like, you'd need practically half the QBs in the NFL and centers/safeties would never get in (not to mention kickers/punters). But you also obviously don't go with "value at position" because, well, duh, the positional mismatch is there anyway.

Personally I tend to look at "how much does his team want to keep him around" for an idea of overall value. Yeah, there are obvious caveats (Manning's injury, for instance, or Brees's early career) but those are usually pretty obvious to tell. It's basically a question of "how easy to replace does the team think he is" - if the answer is "yeah, not at all," that tells you something.

To me, that would meld the two ideas. Still a problem for QBs, but makes a stronger argument that certain positions (center, linebacker, maybe even a kicker/punter or two) have been left out.

But, I mean, I'm crazy, after all, and would've been fine with Manning/Brady/Brees/(probably Rodgers) from the "2000-late 2010s"-ish era.

27 still using this argument

this site has been around for almost two decades now, and youre still reducing a Hall of Fame argument to the Super Bowl? A holding call really is the determining factor over whether or not Ryan is a hall of famer?
Ryan is significantly better than many of the guys you listed, especially former jets Esiason and Vinny. Even testaverde's best year in 98 wasnt close to Ryan's '16
the best comp for Ryan is another pocket passer from this era with comparable stats: Big Ben. and Ben isnt even debated, he's definitely going to be in the Hall of Fame. That is despite the fact Ben never beat Brady in a big game, nor has a great playoff track record since the Jets game a decade ago.

35 "...this site has been…

"...this site has been around for almost two decades now, and youre still reducing a Hall of Fame argument to the Super Bowl? A holding call really is the determining factor over whether or not Ryan is a hall of famer?"

It depends on what you're trying to do - say who you think should be in the HoF, or predict who will be in the HoF. (Or something in between I suppose.)

In this case, the article is trying to predict whether or not Ryan will get in... it doesn't necessarily mean that the writer agrees with the method or factors. And he also doesn't speak for the whole site I don't think - the writers opinions are independent. 

39 Yep, that's it. I've become…

Yep, that's it. I've become a semi-expert on how the actual sausage is made, Hall of Fame wise, by talking to so many voters over the years. Most will actually listen if I say "this guy led the league in DYAR twice" or something, but it's not something that will get a player inducted.

There's a Legends of DVOA series dropping soon where I talk more about some all-time STATISTICAL greats. 

28 Matt Ryan Hall of Fame??

I was so shocked before clicking on the article that there was even a consideration of this thought. Clearly the many comparable QB's that did not make it to the Hall of Fame seems to put a dagger in the thought of Ryan making it.

The stats accumulators no rings argument fails for Ryan too. I have a problem with the no rings argument period. The problem with the no rings argument, is that Rodgers and Brees are one loss away from being a member of the club. They must be in the Hall of Fame.

Does Terry Bradshaw belong in the Hall of Fame? When we go back in time year by year to 1970 what will DVOA and DYAR show? We can never separate him from Swann and Stallworth and the great defense.

It is so difficult to adjust for the era, if you look even further at how many of the top 50 QB's in passing yards are active, or of the modern era, it shows that this is a different game from years ago. Yes, even Joe Flacco gets mentioned in this article. Yikes!

Taking a contrarian view for a moment, if Matt Ryan was a top 10 QB for 8-10 years, then he was a top 10 player in the league for 8-10 years. What sport would not include a player of this stature in the Hall of Fame? Should we have a QB centric Hall of Fame? Maybe yes maybe not. Just a thought that I am throwing out there. This is the issue with the NFL now, the QB value is so important.

At this stage of the NFL, the defensive player of the year is never a top 10 player in the league, correct? Top offensive lineman? TE? Where would Jerry Rice rank? If you had to start a team and could have any player regardless of price, at what point would you not take a QB? If Jerry Rice played today at what point do you start your team with Rice over a QB?

32 Mcnabb was better

If you wanted to make an argument privileging game film over stats Mcnabb vs Ryan would be the comparison to make. So much of Ryan's film is throwing on rhythm to his 1st read, which is a wide open Julio Jones and so much of Mcnabb's is evading the 1st rusher and throwing a laser directly into the chest of some nobody who drops it.

33 Counterpoint:

In reply to by solfish

He won OROTY, went to his first PB (2010, led the league in 4QC and GWD fwiw), and -for the winz crowd- went 11-5, 9-5, and 13-3 before Julio arrived. 

Making the correct decision is also good imo, even if they have a HOF WR. Like Montana and Rice, Kelly and Reed, Aikman and Irvin, Peyton and Harrison, Brady and Moss (and Edelman?! lol jk about that), Young and Rice and TO, Warner and Bruce (and maybe Holt), etc.

Rebuttal is probably Roddy White (probably not a HOFr) but he didn't become an All Pro or Pro Bowler until Ryan arrived! 

65 As an Eagles fan, I can say...

In reply to by Raiderfan

...that your comment made me chuckle, and more importantly is definitely true.

Donovan McNabb's best attribute, besides his running ability, was his low interception rate.  There's something to be said for avoiding turnovers.  On the other hand, a significant part of the reason why McNabb had a low INT rate is he consistently threw the ball low.  (You can flip those two statements around too - because McNabb often threw low, he was able to have a low INT rate.)  His completion percentage while playing in Andy Reid's ball control passing offense was poor in absolute and especially relative terms.  Additionally, during the Eagles' greatest run of success in the Andy Reid era (2000-2004), the defense carried the team in three of those seasons (2000 to 2002).  To be fair to McNabb, he was great in 2004, the only year he played in the Super Bowl, but he wasn't more than a good to very good quarterback in his other stronger seasons (and much of his value and what made him dangerous, especially early in his career, was his legs).

36 For me the context of Ryan's…

For me the context of Ryan's environment is the determining factor in keeping him out. He played with some great teammates , in a dome, in the most pass-friendly era in history. A Hall of Fame QB should be expected to put up not just very good numbers, but continuously outstanding ones in such an environment. Like Drew Brees for example.

40 The number one reason to let…

The number one reason to let Ryan in is if Eli gets in. I don't care about Eli's Super Bowl WINZ, there's no way he deserves it more than Ryan. Kind of like putting Bradshaw in, and leaving Ken Anderson out. Also, if you think Bradshaw won't be worthy once we have DVOA, check out Swann and Stallworth's regular stats. I don't know how anyone can think they were better than Isaac Curtis.  But yeah, if you have the Steel Curtain ensuring you can make plays on Super Bowl Sunday, you should get in.

48 Some DYAR comparisons to consider....

Ok, lets consider Matt Ryan and 3 of his contemporaries that most believe are headed to the Hall of Fame, Russell Wilson, Big Ben, and Aaron Rodgers: Here is one comparison

QB 1
average career DYAR of 1038.15

QB2
average career DYAR of 793.89

Of the 9 years they have been in the league together, QB 1 has finished with more DYAR 7 times. Both have a combined 3 of MVP's, Super Bowl wins, and Super Bowl losses.

Which QB is more deserving of the hall of fame? QB 1 is Matt Ryan, QB 2 is Russell Wilson, fyi.

What about QB 3 vs Ryan? QB 3 has an average career DYAR of 893.94. Of the 12 years they have been in the league together, Ryan has bested QB 3 8 times in DYAR. QB 3 also has 3 combined MVP's, Super Bowl wins, and Super Bowl losses. You can probably guess that QB 3 is Big Ben - would you really say he has a better resume than Ryan?

Last, lets look at Rodgers (QB 4). Career average DYAR of 1087. In the 13 years they have both been in the league, Rodgers has bested Ryan in DYAR 8 times. Rodgers has 4 combined MVP's/Super Bowl wins. Clearly, the best resume of the group and better than Ryan's for sure - but his career average DYAR is practically the same as Ryan's, and I think a reasonable case could be made that Ryan's career resume trails Rodgers by less than Russell Wilson and Big Ben trail Ryan.

I think the real comp for Ryan is from the baseball world - Mike Mussina. Sustained excellence for many years, highly regarded by advanced metrics, a terrific pitcher but only very briefly considered at or near the all-time greats of his era, Maddox, Pedro Martinez, Clemens, Randy Johnson. He wasn't a first ballot hall of famer, but he eventually got in, just like I think Ryan will eventually.

60 I think the problem in your…

I think the problem in your assumption is forcing Wilson and Roethlisberger in, which just gets to my constant point of if you've got players who are clearly below a set of contemporaries (Rodgers, for instance, and then the end of Brees/Brady and beginning of Mahomes), if you talk about them as "clear Hall of Famers" you're just going to have a huge number of other guys that are super-similar.

Wilson and Roethlisberger both have the same "jumped onto the stage with a vengeance" bias. Wilson's career's still way young, but I have no idea why you would look at him right now and say "definitely Hall worthy." That's nuts, to me.

71 I also don't think "Look how…

I also don't think "Look how much above REPLACEMENT VALUE this guy was for years and years" is a very compelling data point for a Hall of Fame argument. Especially at QB it will just skew toward "long long career with lots of starts and attempts." 

74 Yeah, in my opinion it's not…

Yeah, in my opinion it's not that DYAR is useless, it's just that you need context. My dream stat would be something like the z-score of a 5-year moving average DYAR, and then look at the distribution of those among all players. Which seems weird because z-score is already normalized by the distribution, but you're looking for players that are just outside a normal-type distribution.

will say I'm probably alone when I say that I completely ignore MVPs. They're a totally useless award in my mind, because they're only for QBs anymore and they're just totally out of context - I wish it was more like an AP poll, for instance, where you can list the top 5 players or something and you combine it like that (Brees, for instance, finished in 2nd place 4 times, which is a big deal since voters only get 1 vote). 1st team All Pro + Pro Bowl works a bit better in my mind, since it at least gives you some granularity if you think about it.

76 Well, I didn’t use TOTAL…

Well, I didn’t use TOTAL career DYAR in my comparison with Rodgers, Wilson, and Big Ben, which would be somewhat a counting stat.  I used average per year.  What statistical measure do you think is a better measure of QB excellence for HOF merit than yearly average DYAR?  Also, doesn’t Ryan have the 2nd or 3rd highest playoff passer rating in history, even though the Falcons wasted his practically perfect game in the SB?

Also, do you agree Big Ben is practically a lock to get in? If so, why is he more deserving than Ryan? Obviously, Ryan’s career has not been as great as Brady, Peyton, Brees, or Rodgers.  But if anyone else  from his era gets in, it should be Ryan IMHO.

77 What statistical measure do…

What statistical measure do you think is a better measure of QB excellence for HOF merit than yearly average DYAR? 

Career averages get murdered by external factors. If you look at Rodgers, for instance, his yearly average is only so low because the latter half of the 2010s dragged it down. Early 2010s he was more around ~1500, which is Brees/Manning/Brady territory. Now, what you think those factors are that hurt Rodgers, that's up to you, but, y'know, jumped right back up to 1500+ last year.

So it's more like Rodgers was "elite" in the early 2010s and just "good" in the later 2010s, whereas Ryan was "very good" the whole time (kinda frighteningly consistent, actually).

78 Counting stat comparisons with Wilson are whack.

If you start looking at career rate stats then Wilson is some mix of Brees and Rodgers.  If you look at counting stats he's more comparable to a guy like Rivers.

The Seattle offense under PC is so far out of the NFL mainstream with run/pass ratio that it throws comparisons.  Finally, with Wilson you REALLY have to figure out how to work in his legs.  Because a QB that is a top 5 guy by arm that then ads 550-880 or so rushing yards and 8-10 TDs, as Wilson did during the first phase of his career, is really hard to capture with more of the traditional stats around here.

49 This topic is premature…

This topic is premature given Ryan is 36, which is still young in modern quarterback years. Almost no one would say Ryan is a HoFer if he retired today. I can't recall anyone even making a case or referring to him as a "future Hall of Famer." If he only starts 2-3 more years and they resemble his last few (decent stats but not among the league leaders, Falcons miss the playoffs), I think he'll go down as a player that was a franchise icon and who was very enjoyable to watch, but there won't be a serious HoF debate about him. However, if he starts until he's 42 and has at least one more season that approaches 2016 in terms of personal and team success, there could be a really interesting case to be made.

I think the article discounts the possibility of Ryan finishing very highly on the career passing yards and TDs leaderboards. Give him 5 more years at 4k yards and 25 TDs each and he'd likely retire 3rd in yards and 5th in TDs. That is far above Testaverde/Bledsoe territory and would probably be enough to get him in even without another deep playoff run.

59 I don't see the comparison…

I don't see the comparison of Ryan to Testaverde. Testaverde was far more of a compiler that only reached those heights on the career list because he played until he was 44 and retired at a time before the modern age of QBs had really taken over. Ryan has ranked in the top 10 in the league in passing yards 11 times and the top 5 8 times. Testaverde was in the top 10 only 4 times and the top 5 only once. 

72 What Ryan needs, unless he…

What Ryan needs, unless he plays until he's 45 and becomes some Blanda-like legend for it, is another 2016, as you intimate. Otherwise, the Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors, who are not impressed like baseball selectors by guys who hang around as DH-1Bs for six years seeking benchmarks, will consider everything from 2018 on as just padding, not something that will move the needle when he's one of 15 finalists seeking 5 slots. 

55 I think there are two main…

I think there are two main problems with this article:

First, it basically accepts the "Count the Ringz" argument, simply adding the caveat that if you rewrote the record book, like Marino or Tarkenton, you get a pass. But you are still setting the bar much higher for guys who didn't win a championship than for those who did. And given that, you are still judging guys on things that were, to a large extent, out of their control. If the Falcons defense had managed to make a single stop in the fourth quarter (or, hell, in the last 23 minutes of the game), Ryan would have his ring. Would that really make him a more deserving HOF candidate?

Second, you are (at least implicitly) accepting the idea that QBs should be held to a higher standard for HOF induction than players at other positions (who are rarely, if ever, penalized for not winning Ringz). This seems backwards to me. If anything, it should easier for "merely great" (i.e. great but clearly not in the GOAT discussion) QBs to make the HOF than for "merely great" players at other positions, since QB is by far the most important position (especially in the modern game), and surely, the more important a position is, the more heavily it should be represented in the HOF.

But it seems to be just the opposite. Compare Ryan's HOF case to that of Frank Gore, who is almost universally considered to be a HOF lock. Yet while Ryan has been consistently elite (Top 10 DYAR in 10 of 13 years, Top 5 in 5 of 13 years) at by far the most important position, Gore has generally been far from elite (Top 10 DYAR in 3 of 16 years, Top 5 in 1 of 16 years), at a much less important position. Hell, in 7 of his 16 years, Gore hasn't even been in the Top 20 in DYAR! Yet somehow, he is the "lock" while Ryan is the "close but no cigar" guy? Really? And it's not like Gore is an isolated example. You could say much the same thing about Jerome Bettis, or to a lesser extent, even Curtis Martin. Neither of them were any closer to being the "best of their era" than Ryan is, and again, they played a much less important position than Ryan.

Finally, if your reply is that you aren't saying that Ryan "shouldn't" make the HOF, but simply that he "won't" make it, then I am disappointed that you would choose to write that type of article. After all, FO's mission used to be to attack the flaws of conventional wisdom, rather than to defend them.

56 Both Gore and Ryan are going…

Both Gore and Ryan are going to end their careers very near the top of the all-time volume leaders at their position, in revered company. The difference being, as passing numbers continue to inflate, it is fair to expect several more QBs to catch Ryan in the coming years, whereas it may be a long time before we see any rusher approach Gore's numbers again (Adrian Peterson is the only active player remotely close). 

I don't think Gore belongs in the HOF, because (as you illustrate) he rarely, if ever, stood apart from his peers. His argument purely comes down to longevity. But if you do let him in, you probably aren't opening the floodgates to a host of other similarly questionable candidates in the coming years.     

61 Because the top of the…

Because the top of the passing and receiving yards charts have seen a ton of upheaval in recent years, it's easy to assume that will continue as the game becomes more passer-friendly. But then I look at the active passing yards leaderboard chart (https://www.pro-football-reference.com/leaders/pass_yds_active.htm), and there aren't too many QBs who I can see passing Ryan. Only three have a shot within the next ~10 years, I think:

Rodgers: 1 year older than Ryan, 4,500 yards behind. Most people probably wouldn't guess that Ryan is ahead of Rodgers in career passing yards, but Rodgers has been hurt by not starting for his first few years, not having as many attempts in most years as Ryan, and not being as durable (Ryan has only missed a handful of games in his career). I'd say this one will come down to who plays longer, but I'd slightly favor Ryan to end up with more yards (Rogers already has more TDs and Ryan has no chance of catching him there). 

Stafford: 3 years younger than Ryan, 10,600 yards behind. This one will again depend on how long both players can remain starting in the league. I'd say it's about 50/50 on who ends up with more yards. Most people probably will regard Ryan's and Stafford's careers similarly, though Stafford has yet to have a Ryan-in-2016-like season to elevate him. 

Wilson: 4 years younger than Ryan, 22,000 yards behind. As we all know, Wilson has never been a high-volume passer, so it's unlikely he would pass Ryan in yards unless he has an exceptionally long career. He has a much better chance of passing Ryan in TDs.

Beyond that, you get to the Mahomes/Watson/Prescott tier (all currently sub-20k yards) in which you have to do some serious projecting and wait a long time for them to pass Ryan.  

62 I would also add - QB might…

I would also add - QB might be the least context dependent position in the league outside of kicker and punter. A receiver can't accumulate numbers unless the QB reads him as open and then makes a catchable throw. A running back is very much a slave to the quality of his line and the game script(if he's paired with a bad defense, he's not going to get many touches). And then this goes on and on for all the other positions. In that respect, Ryan's top 10 performances may just reflect a greater control over his circumstances than Gore's.

I would also add - this has not gotten enough press - the game has undoubtedly gotten easier for passers, it has gotten much, much harder for running backs. Its remarkable how the top running backs do not age well at all, effectively like a 3-4 year window at most before its all over and they are washed up. Leveon Bell was talked about as the best runner in football 2 years ago and is a free agent today.  So even Gore's track record of middling seasons might actually be indicative of something, although I too think he's not a lock for the hall of fame and probably doesnt deserve to be in.

83 I have a big problem with…

I have a big problem with the idea that Gore was "unlucky" to play on bad teams.  I would say it's just the opposite.  Gore's whole "case" is based on putting up huge career totals, which he was able to do for two reasons:  he played forever, and he got a lot of touches.  If he had played on better teams, he wouldn't have gotten all those touches (on a lot of teams, he wouldn't have been anything more than a situational back).  Thus, he wouldn't have put up those huge totals, and without those huge totals, no one would be talking about him as even a possible HOFer.

73 At the risk of disappointing…

At the risk of disappointing you, Ryan both shouldn't and won't make the Hall of Fame. And suggesting that leading a team to a Super Bowl is a very worthy line item on a QB's HoF resume is "RINGZ" logic is missing the forest for the trees. Analytics are great for predicting what will happen, and perhaps at retroactively illuminating for what could have happened. Awards and honors are about what actually happened.  

Sometimes, it's important to attack the flaws in unconventional wisdom as well.

75 The problem with the …

The problem with the "unconventional wisdom" is that there's a difference between leading a QB to a Super Bowl win and being the QB on a Super Bowl win. I'm not gonna give Manning credit for his last Super Bowl win at all, and likewise Brady's 2003 win. Those were "QBs on a Super Bowl winning team."

But, like, Brees's 2009 win? Or Kansas City's 2019 win? That's totally a QB leading his team.

80 This is, in fact, what Hall…

This is, in fact, what Hall of Fame voters do, using not just their decades of experience covering teams on a daily locker-room level basis but the input (on and especially OFF the record) of former players and coaches and, yes, occasional feedback from analytics types. 

But they are still working from the accomplishments themselves. And the scrutiny must be applied uniformly and as objectively as possible. Line-item Vetoing a QBs Super Bowl ring because a team was defense-oriented is fine and peachy. Claiming Matt Ryan's 2011 season was Hall of Fame worthy despite his offense getting shut-out in a playoff game is certainly possible. But doing too much of both things is just as silly as basing every argument on "WINZ." It becomes contrarian for its own sake. 

At any rate, this series really will be about the voting process to a great degree. I think lots of fans, even those who love NFL history, don't understand the process much, understand what voters do and what they deal with, etc. 

 

99 To be clear I wasn't much…

To be clear I wasn't much criticizing Hall voters. In general I've only got minor issues with certain decisions they've made. I think Kelly, Aikman, and Warner were mistakes (Aikman and Warner for the same reasons, just too short). And I think multiple of (Roethlisberger, Rivers, Ryan, E. Manning) will get in, and to me that's just extra sketchy.

And the scrutiny must be applied uniformly and as objectively as possible.

I mean, Mike, let's be clear, you're using Esiason and Ken Anderson as counterexamples for Ryan, and... (glances at their careers) gee, I can't imagine anything they shared in common that's an unfair drag on them both.

84 The only reason Ryan didn't …

The only reason Ryan didn't "lead" his team to a Super Bowl championship is because his defense allowed the Patriots to score 31 points in less than 24 minutes.  Again I'll ask you:  If the Falcons had gotten a stop (for example, if Alford had managed to intercept the ball that Edelman miraculously caught), how would that make Ryan any more deserving of the Hall of Fame?  And if postseason heroics count for so much, why doesn't Ryan get any credit for his postseason numbers (advanced and conventional), which are way better than those of the supposedly "super clutch" Eli Manning?

Seriously, an article saying, "Sure, Ryan's had a great career, and he's probably better than a lot of QBs that are in the HOF, but he shouldn't get in because his defense got torched by Tom Brady" is the kind of thing I would expect to read on ESPN or FOX or any other run-of-the-mill website.  I expect better from FO.

86 I think Tanier was making…

I think Tanier was making the case for Ryan through the lens of the world we live in. And the world we live in celebrates a SB victory. And it's terrible I agree.

I mentioned this earlier but part of the problem is, no one can decide on exactly what the hall of fame theshold should be. It's also undecided how much peak is balanced with longevity. For some, they have both so it's easy. For others, it's harder. 

Is Wilson a hall of famer right now? He has never produced the best season in the nfl inarguably. For most of his career, he's usually been a top 5 to top 3 player, but never in that perennial MVP player.

 

95 Well, personally, the way I…

Well, personally, the way I balance peak vs. longevity is by looking at value.  If I'm trying to decide which of two players is more worthy of the HOF, I ask myself:  If I were a GM starting a team, and I could draft an exact "clone" of one of these guys, which one would I choose?  Of course, if that standard were adopted by the actual voters, it would result in far more QBs getting in than any other position, but I don't see why that's a bad thing, since QB is by far the most important position.  It's similar to baseball, where there are far more pitchers in the HOF than players from any other position, and nobody really questions that.  But for some reason, in football, a lot of people act like the HOF is one big All-Pro team, where every position should be equally represented.  I disagree.

As far as Wilson, if he retired today, I probably wouldn't vote for him.  But if he puts up a few more of his typical seasons, I almost certainly would vote for him.

102 If I were a gm and i were…

If I were a gm and i were starting a team and I had no idea about roster construction...

The list of names that a GM would take that would be no brainers isn't that long honestly.  Manning, Brady, Elway, Tarkenton and Marino are probably the first names everyone includes. But after that...it gets dicier. Is Montana a hall of famer if he gets put into the air coryel offense and never finds Bill Walsh? Is Steve Young a hall of famer if he never leaves Tampa Bay? Is Drew Brees a hall of famer playing in Buffalo?

I think even that standard still doesn't quite answer the question because theres still a number by which you say yes to some and no to others. Most gms would love to have Tony Romo as their qb. Hes not a hall of famer. 

105 You mention Montana and this…

You mention Montana and this 2008 editorial I ran across looking for something else fits in with some of that thought. ( https://bleacherreport.com/articles/92136-brett-favre-vs-joe-montana ). Basically it was an argument that Favre was better than Montana, written in 2008, so before Favres NFCCG with Minnesota which many think boosts his resume. He mentions that Manning and Brady will likely surpass them both and then leaves a one liner at the end that he'd take Elway over Favre or Montana.

I don't really agree with his arguments but it was an interesting look back at a point in time argument from 12 years ago. As to your question about Montana, I think he's a Hall of Famer regardless of where he ended up. He may not have the RINGZ but that man could play the game. Young is a better hypothetical about situation I think. Even Favre is a good hypothetical. If Wolf doesn't trade to get him out of Atlanta, if Majkowski has his second uninjured season, and if he doesn't have a coach like Holmgren who forced him to clean up his sloppy footwork (yes what you see is improved mechanics) where would he be?

I actually think the Goff and Stafford trade could be very illuminating about QB situations, though they are established QB's. I'm also very curious to see what happens with Wentz this year. I like getting more data about a QB that has a high ceiling moves and what happens. As much as I would like Rodgers back I would also be fascinated to see how he does on another team as well.

110 I never watched Montana so…

I never watched Montana so this is purely based on articles I read in the past. Montana was fortunate that Bill Walsh was A) A shrewd enough coach to craft an offense tailored to the strengths of his team, B) that he went to a team that had the talent to smooth over any initial rough patches.

When a coach basically knows he has a three year window to succeed or else he is going to personally get the axe, it becomes understable why they would stack the deck with as many pieces they are familiar with as possible. Why they bring in "their guys" and retool the scheme to match what they desire. To that extent, it removes any potential unfamiliarities. It takes a brilliant and reasonable coach who looks at the situation more hollistically and says..."if I can't get "my guy" or I can't run "my scheme", but I still have to win...then I will do X, Y, an Z instead"

I truly believe if Montana gets drafted as the number 1 pick and goes to a bad team with a coach hellbent on a different style of offense, he ends up the next bust. 

That;s not to diminish Montana. Its a bit like Tom Brady. You don't realy know what you have and you won't realize it until you let that player get some growing pains in him. The problem is, these coaches have short time windows and unless the team is good, its usually 4 games of mediocrity and 4 straight losses that relegates the QB to permanent bench duty unless the team is good. 

 

112 Fortune favors the bold

Sure Montana was fortunate. Most great players are. Just like you said with Brady, how good is he if he doesn't end up in his situation. Just like my point about Favre, if he doesn't get out of Atlanta he could have washed out of the league early too. I just think the type of people they are and the skill that Montana and Brady possess, that even without the systems around them they would have managed to shine, not as brightly as they did in great situations, but my opinion is they would have eventually succeeded. OK maybe not HoF level success because that does require skill + situation, but long careers and at least borderline. While I also think other QB's could have succeeded in the system in place of Montana I don't think they would have been as good as he was for it. But there is no way to really prove any of that, even with the great evidence you have with Steve Young. They existed on the team together pre salary cap so having multiple HoF caliber players at the same position for multiple years it's a thing that can happen. Montana executed the system at an amazing level. I think he would have executed other systems at amazing levels as well. But I can concede that it may not have been enough to make the HoF. I can say the same about Brady too, though I doubt that's the case either.

I'm not sure that Favre would have and I was a huge Favre fan. I'm one of the few people who still might take him over Rodgers (though getting to see Rodgers flourish under LeFleur has changed that a lot too) but that man needed external forces to help control his nature and bring out his best. He loved playing the game and part of the fun of watching him was that he treated it like a game. But in the NFL that is a weakness at times because it's hard to be good in the NFL. The it's just a game, I want to win yes because he was extremely competitive, but it's a game and unless someone forces him to pay attention the slop comes in and bad things happen, because the NFL is hard. Favre is a not a Hall of Famer without Holmgren he doesn't have that end of career shine without Childress getting on his ass (something he didn't need for HoF at that point, but something that certainly helps his case). Without Wolf trading to get him out of Atlanta he may not even end up being a starter. Not that Chris Miller was anything special but his attitude as a player had him on the outs with Glanville already. So when Miller blew out his knee in 92 Favre might not be on the field to replace him. Who knows. I would love to have the ability to see into alternate realities to answer these questions. (Another what if the Packers actually did do the trade for Archie Manning in the mid 70's instead of the situation that lead to that not happening and Hadl coming in instead, how different are those mid to late 70's Packers and Manning himself).

I also agree with Young too, if he is stuck with those awful Bucs teams does he just get destroyed for life? That's part of why I'm curious about what happens to Wentz. The few times I saw him play in 2020 he looked broken. It's possible he could be repaired because he does seem to have a high ceiling. I also don't have a problem with luck being part of the reason you make the HoF. Life isn't fair and while there are a rare few (Peyton Manning comes to mind) that can get there regardless of what you put around them there is no shame in being HoF because you were the perfect piece for a system either.

Anyway I don't really disagree with your premise. I mostly just disagree with what I think the results would be for Montana given my personal biases. And as has been pointed out by several people that's part of the fun of all this.

114 Lets not forget

As soon as Montana became the primary starter they immediately won a SB. After Walsh struck out with incumbent Steve DeBerg, going 6-18 as a starter the first 2 years (who didn't take many sacks but also didn't get many yards or TDs). And then of course the last chip won without Walsh. Which was after going 14-2 in the RS (10-6 the year prior) and then delivering, what still stands to this day, as the biggest SB blowout. No post Walsh to compare to though. He certainly helped Montana but lets give Joe credit for working hard and well, listening to Walsh (at the right time). Maybe he was a bit underrated as prospect (just a bit). 

Players > coaches for the most part. Same for Brady and Bill which this year provided a clear answer to (sorry but Cam is a talented QB and the signing confirmed no such thing as tanking, which ironically would've protected Bills legacy. And no the opt outs aren't as important as you'd like to think, you and I are able to attest to how Dan Vitale isn't really that much of needle mover). Heck as Packers fans seeing McCarthy stumble (again) without a franchise QB should speak volumes. And it's not like Dak got the big contract solely off of last year (but boy did it help). Dinking around with still not a HC again, Jason Garrett and producing as such with little time to prepare, was a great look for Dak. 

69 Gore should be in the HoF

Simple argument - if Gore doesn't make it, what do you want from an RB that would let you induct them?

70 Tons of others

But strictly speaking RBs (which we dont HAVE to force a specific position in), Peterson is clearly above, that shouldn't be contested whatsoever. Others from just his "era" can include Lesean Mccoy and Marshawn Lynch, also pretty clear but slightly less so. Other eras can include Roger Craig, etc.  

Gore was top 2 at his position maybe once (2006). His peak wasn't even near someone like a Shaun Alexander, another RB you could make a case for. 

89 Longevity over peak, and…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

Longevity over peak, and given the era, Gore's longevity is unbelievable.

Peterson, sure, but nobody is reminiscing about Lynch's time in Buffalo. Or McCoy's after he left Philadelphia.

In the current era of four year careers, Gore has no comparison

92 Absolutely not.

Getting lucky with no injuries isn't really a skill otherwise a ton of special teamers are in.

Lynch was a PB his 2nd year in Buffalo (and was rumored to join GB before Seattle swung in). LeSean was a 3x(!) PB in Buffalo then got 2 ringz. Lol. Sorry their Philly and Seattle careers were better than anything Gore did? Weird way to make that case when no one cares about Gore post Indy. Heck, post SF. Just a meme of being an old guy the last few teams. 

Getting a lot of carries isn't a reason to go to the HOF. It's completely unfair to great players because that did more award wise in less time because their bodies broke down earlier.

79 I want truly game changing backs...

Lynch, Peterson, etc.

Guys that were better then just 'good'.  The problem with Gore is what he's REALLY exceptional at is being healthy, which is the least fair measure of the highest physical impact position in the most physically impacting sport, in possibly the world.  Gore is basically the hall of lucky. 

 

The best comparison for Gore, at say QB, would be Donovan McNabb quality production for 25-30 years.

85 Exactly.  No amount of…

Exactly.  No amount of mediocrity adds up to greatness.

I would rather put Priest Holmes, or Jamaal Charles, or even Todd Gurley in the Hall of Fame than Gore. Not that I would vote for those guys, but they did at least have multiple seasons where they were dominant players.  Gore (just like Bettis) had one very good season near the beginning of his career, and then was basically a league average RB for a long time.  Big deal.

96 Whoa, hold on a minute. …

Whoa, hold on a minute.  When did I say I wouldn't vote for any RB from this century?  When I mentioned Holmes, Charles and Gurley, I was just naming three guys who have virtually zero chance of making the Hall, but who were all clearly more valuable players than Gore.

As far as 21st century RBs, there are a few (Faulk, Peterson, Tomlinson) that I would definitely vote for, and several others (Lynch, McCoy, Tiki Barber, Edgerrin James, Clinton Portis) that I would at least consider.  And given that, in the modern game, RB is not a particularly important position, there probably shouldn't be be too many RBs from recent years in the Hall.

97 It may be unprecedented, but…

It may be unprecedented, but it's not very impressive, because it's not very valuable.  RBs who offer Gore's level of production and efficiency are basically a dime a dozen.  Why would a team be better off getting that production from the same guy for 15 years, as opposed to getting it from 3 different guys for 5 years each, or from 5 different guys for 3 years each?

91 Also, this isn't a Jerome…

Also, this isn't a Jerome Bettis "pretty good for a fat man" situation. There aren't any caveats on Gore. He has put together a career over fifteen years at a time when every other "average" back is discarded after four

120 I pose this to Pat and…

I pose this to Pat and others who feel this way. Forget longevity vs peak. Forget whether the hall is too restrictive for other positions. Forget all of that.

The big debate comes down to this. Is a hall of fame player determined by his play in as close to a vacuum as possible? Meaning, if John Elway plays the same way in 1980 or 1990 or 2020(assume we adjust up or down his stats for the era), is he a hall of famer no matter what?

OR, if Jon Elway begins his career in 2005 and ends up spending the bulk of his prime competing with Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Aaron Rodgers - is he now a questionable hall of fame candidate? 

And just to clarify further. I am not asking is he a hall of famer based on how the hall of fame chooses to elect players(ie - rings, all pros, outsized mythology etc etc), but by objective quality standards of his play alone.

For the reconrd, I am in the camp that says you are a hall of famer by how good you are, not how good you are relative to how fortunate or unfortunate you got with respect to your contemporaries. I would go further. Tier 1 QBs are hall of famers. Tier 2 Qbs are hall of famers provided they play long enough at a consistent enough level. For example: Mahomes needs to play 3 more years like this for me to think of him as a sure fire hall of famer. Wilson right now is a borderline and probably needs to play at this level for 3 more seasons for me to think of him as a sure fire hall of famer. 

123 This statementnot how good…

This statement

not how good you are relative to how fortunate or unfortunate you got with respect to your contemporaries. 

is simply not compatible with this statement

(assume we adjust up or down his stats for the era)

You can't adjust stats for era without comparing relative to contemporaries. That's literally what adjusting for era does. The NFL does not have a "pace car." Statistically, you could view it as the entire argument is whether you adjust just by average or adjust by average and standard deviation. I think most people naively do the first (if average yards/season is 3000 in year X and 4000 in year Y, multiply yards in year X by 4/3), but I highly disagree with that. When teams pass more, for instance, the native separation between a good and bad quarterback increases. So in my mind you have to adjust it by standard deviation (z-score, for instance), which means it absolutely matters who your contemporaries are.

Another way to put it is this: if it doesn't matter who your contemporaries are, why are you looking at All Pros, MVPs, and championships? Only a finite number of those can be won every year, so you are absolutely judging players against their peers. Philip Rivers has no All Pro seat because they were taken for his entire career by Brady and Manning (well, up to 2018 and then it was Mahomes/Jackson). So do I say "well, he was playing against Brady & Manning, so I'll give him a pass on that."

It's just not possible to do what you're saying. You'd have to throw out championships, MVPs, All Pros, Pro Bowls, and then god knows what you'd do to adjust stats. Some fitted trendline or something? I dunno?

125 Value over average gets…

Value over average gets affected by the quality of your contemporaries, but not completely. In fact, with so many starters across a large number of years, its questionable just how much the mean moves if you swapped Peyton manning's career with Heath Shuller lets say. In that sense, maybe hall of famer should be determined by how far you are above the mean, not how far below you are from the max?

 

Agian, I'll turn it on you, is Elway a hall of famer? I think objectively he is even if hes going to be lacking all pros and mvps because some qbs above him keep taking them. 

127 Man, this is a long answer,…

Man, this is a long answer, because this entire idea is just immensely foreign and confusing to me.

If we're talking the late 2000s, you've got Brady, Manning, Brees, Warner, Favre and Rodgers all playing at the same time. That's 6 guys. Out of 32 teams. Now people throw Rivers and Roethlisberger into the Hall mix? That's a quarter of the league! That's not a "questionable" shift! I mean, you talk about adjusting for era, but if I throw out all those "possible/guaranteed Hall" players, the league average tanks. In 2009 that list would've eliminated 70% of the top 10!

 

Agian, I'll turn it on you, is Elway a hall of famer? I think objectively he is even if hes going to be lacking all pros and mvps because some qbs above him keep taking them. 

I so don't understand this question. If I imagine that there are quarterbacks far above everyone else in the 90s... why would I remember Elway? How wouldn't Elway suddenly be Eli Manning? If my answer to "hey, what do you think about Elway" is "he's no QB1, QB2, or QB3" where is this idea that he's Hall worthy coming from?? From what? His stats that now look far more average? The awards are gone, so the only thing left would be the championships, and I'm not handing the Hall to Eli Manning.

I mean, if you're saying "man, just the way Elway played, he's a Hall QB" - everything about that statement is peer-dependent. Eli Manning had six 4000+ yard seasons. Three seasons with 30+ touchdowns. He had 2 seasons where he had great postseasons and totally was a huge part of the reason his team won the Super Bowl. Elway had 1 4000+ yard season. Zero seasons with 30+ touchdowns. His postseason performances were mostly pedestrian (or godawful!).

Of course, that comparison is insane, because we know that 4000+ yard or 30+ touchdown seasons are common now because everyone his peers are doing it too. And looking at postseason performance is nuts, because it's all contextual and way too short (unless you're Brady or Montana, I guess). You can't sit here and say "well, we have to throw out Brady and Manning because they just bust the curve". Well, OK, if you do that, then Rodgers needs to be tossed too, he's pretty off the curve. Brees is out there too. And jeez, now you've just made Eli Manning look like a Hall of Fame player.

I mean, if you're trying to say "it's Elway, he should always be a Hall QB" - well, f'crying out loud, then he wouldn't be below other players. It's a game. That means everything's contested. Who cares if QB X plays the game in a way that you like - if someone else is better, it has to reduce QB X's reputation. The tough part about this is that you're using an actual player who most people think is a slam-dunk Hall of Fame player. So any arguments against him in Bizarro World look silly - but in Bizarro World you've literally made him more average.

If I just flat out strip Brady, Manning, Brees, and Rodgers, Eli Manning's DVOA ranks jump to 6, 10, 28, 6, 6, 11, 5, 6 from 2005-2012. He looks like a QB just outside the top 5 with 2 Super Bowl rings and 2 (deserved!) Super Bowl MVPs. Picks up 3-4 more Pro Bowl nods. Which is not far off from Elway. Yes, Elway statistically (in terms of rank) would still look a little better, but I said "not far off."

In other words, Eli Manning's peers are what's keeping him from being a viable Hall candidate. You can either say he was a great QB in an era of elite QBs, or you can say he was a mediocre QB and there's nothing special about this era. I tend towards the latter.

128 I agree there is a peer…

I agree there is a peer comparison system baked into the hall of fame, but its not entirely based on that. They interview coaches and defensive players to guage exactly what kind of player he was.

To that extent, perhaps Eli looks like a hall of famer if you remove Brady and Manning and Rodgers. But then the defensive and coaching qualifiers still hold. Elway, assuming on paper he looks a lot like Eli, is going to be regarded much more than Eli was(or maybe I have that wrong).

The point I am making is along these lines. I don't quite prefer a system that bases hall of fame merit entirely on how the peers at the time were. Why? Because then this system is punitive or benefiting entirely based on factors outside of his control(which are a lot to begin with).

I accept that some of this is just reality. Manning and Brady warped the concepts of what top end QB play is. Even Rodgers' career ups and downs are more in line with Hall of Famers than the consistent excellence year in and year out of Brady and Manning. To that end, I don't think that standard should now be the sword to hold against Big Ben or Rivers.

Consider Russel Wilson. He's considered the third best qb in the league and maybe a borderline hall of famer. If he were around the time of Big Ben, he'd be behind Manning, Brady, Brees, and Rodgers - landing him 5th(and even that's debatable - is he better statistically than Rivers was during that period?). So

Long winded way of saying, peer comparison should matter but it should not be completely prohibitive. 

 

 

129 They interview coaches and…

They interview coaches and defensive players to guage exactly what kind of player he was.

To that extent, perhaps Eli looks like a hall of famer if you remove Brady and Manning and Rodgers. But then the defensive and coaching qualifiers still hold.

This is still a peer comparison. If Eli's one of the top-5 QBs they ever have to gameplan for, obviously they're going to say "man, he was a challenge." Same diff. If there are a slew of other guys out there that are much harder, their opinion's going to shift down.

Why? Because then this system is punitive or benefiting entirely based on factors outside of his control(which are a lot to begin with).

Again - it's a game. It's competitive and zero-sum by design - someone wins, someone loses. And I don't actually believe that players have totally "innate" abilities anyway - they're a product of their generation, and "football strategic development." If Peyton Manning had been born in 1950, is he a Hall of Famer? I have no idea!

I accept that some of this is just reality. Manning and Brady warped the concepts of what top end QB play is. Even Rodgers' career ups and downs are more in line with Hall of Famers than the consistent excellence year in and year out of Brady and Manning. To that end, I don't think that standard should now be the sword to hold against Big Ben or Rivers.

Consider it this way: when QBs started becoming passing dominant, like with Air Coryell, West Coast, etc. - would it make sense to judge future QBs by prior year performances? Ignoring the high stats of those offenses? No, of course not! Because future quarterbacks were going to be more like the pioneers than the previous ones.

Brady, Brees, and Manning are basically at the end of their careers. Now look at the new QBs coming in. Are they more like Brady/Manning (ludicrously high-end consistent) or like previous QBs? Bit early to tell, obviously, but glances at Mahomes. 

I don't think Brady and Manning are some sort of crazy outliers. Not statistically, at least (Brady's ring count's a different story, but that's not about him as a QB). I think they're just the new normal.

 

Consider Russel Wilson. He's considered the third best qb in the league and maybe a borderline hall of famer.

I'm... just gonna stop here, because you and I clearly have extremely different opinions of Wilson.

131 I would say...

There are a lot of people that still believe that Wilson's relatively low number of attempts for the era says more about Wilson then say Pete Carrol. 

133 I think it's more that a…

In reply to by gomer_rs

I think it's more that a number of people are fixated on Wilson's early career performance and are dismissive of his more recent performance. Plus in both 2019 and 2020 he started out on fire so much that he was basically top in the MVP consideration, so it's hard to remember exactly how much he declined over the year. And like I said, in 2019 he actually still finished in what I'd call a top-5 performance, but... an MVP first half coupled with a top-10 back half is just not that impressive to me.

132 Overrating. I mean, "vastly"…

Overrating. I mean, "vastly" is a bit much, but me saying Wilson's in the back half of the top 10 and you saying he's the third best is "vastly" in terms of talking about the Hall of Fame, I guess. Even if I take out Brees, Rivers, Brady, and even Roethlisberger, that'd only get Wilson to about #5 in my mind, and after next year I might have some number of (Allen, Tannehill, Herbert, Murray) above him as well.

Wilson really fades over the year in the 4 seasons where he had "normal-ish" usage (16, 17, 19, 20 - 17 had a 'ramp up' as well). I mean, in 2020 you can fit a straight line to his decline in yards/attempt over the weeks. And while yeah, other QBs do decline (since passing in general declines), they don't decline by four yards per attempt. And it's funny because in 2019, he started off so high that even with the decline he ended up as a top QB, on average. But those declines make it so I can't brush off the low usage as Carroll's fault.

At this point I'm just super uncertain about Wilson - he's got a lot of people defending him with vague-y statements like "well, statistics just don't capture..." which... I've heard plenty of times before. His first 4 years were a lot better than his more recent ones (with the caveat that his decline in 2019 just makes me have trouble appreciating the early weeks).

I always try to caveat my criticisms of Wilson by saying "but he's still young" because I'm just positive anything will be received with flurries of "you just don't understand what Wilson brings" and similar.

134 We actually agree more than…

We actually agree more than you realize. I have been noted as a Wilson hater(and sometimes Seahawks hater somehow). 

I don't mind indulging a bit about Wilson. The complicating factor here is the subjective discussion about how to separate Wilson's warts from the offense's warts.

That aside, is he the third best QB? Well, depending some factors, he might actually end up the second best qb next year if Rodgers declines. We still don't know if Allen is better. I think most people would take WIlson over Tanny and Herbery and Murray are pure projections at this point. 

That's kind of my point btw. You are sitting here saying Wilson is not a Hall of Famer. But lets say he spends the next 5 seasons basically being debated among QBs next in line to Mahomes, then he's a hall of famer? Whereas if Manning, Brady, and Brees were still 25, he'd be solidly out of the top 5.

135 Even if you exclude Rodgers,…

Even if you exclude Rodgers, Roethlisberger and Brady as too old, Tannehill, Herbert, Murray as too young, you've still got Prescott, Jackson, Watson, Ryan, Stafford, and hell even Carr and Cousins who would be arguably around there as well. Note that I'm not saying Wilson's behind those guys, I'm saying those guys are at similar levels as Wilson. Yeah, maybe some people would list Wilson third, but on average he's not going to be third. And, I mean, I've dismissed 6 guys there - some of them are gonna decline, but all of them?

There's also a difference between asking "is he the 3rd best QB" and "is he the QB that people would take 3rd in some mega-NFL-redraft?" I think people still focus on Wilson's potential (based on his early years), rather than who he actually is

But lets say he spends the next 5 seasons basically being debated among QBs next in line to Mahomes

If we spend the next 5 seasons debating who's the next guy behind Mahomes, only Mahomes is the Hall of Famer. If Mahomes is heads and shoulders above everyone else, why bother with anyone else? If you're allowed to have eras with lots of Hall players, there need to be eras with very few Hall players.

For reference, I don't think we're going to spend the next 5 seasons debating who's the guy "behind Mahomes." One of (Rodgers, Allen, Jackson, Prescott, Herbert) is going to make an argument (or one of the other young guys we've already dismissed). Or (gasp) Mahomes is going to end up having off years too.

This is, again, entirely my point - I don't think Mahomes is this "OMG all time QB redefine the Hall of Fame" QB, just like I don't think Brady, Manning, and Brees are either. They're just what elite QBs are nowadays.

136 Pat is the point basically…

Pat is the point basically only elite (tier 1) / redefining excellence deserving of the Hall of Fame? Is that the standard for hall of famer? Consider defensive tackle. Absolutely no one in the last 20 years since Warren Sapp has played like Aaron Donald has. Does that mean therefore there should be no hall of fame defensive tackles?

Absolutely no one in the last 20 years has been as dominant a 3-4 end as JJ Watt. Does that mean there are no deserving 3-4 defensive ends?

138 Yeah, again, you're making…

Yeah, again, you're making statements here that I seriously don't agree with. Donald's a dominant DT but he's also a pass rushing DT primarily. He's not like, OMG so much better than everyone else at DT. He's just playing a slightly different position that gets a ton more attention. Much like Sapp did at the time. Do I put Aaron Donald a flat out shelf above every other DT? Nope. Cox, for instance, is a beast of a DT, but he's just playing it differently.

Watt's also not a "20-year" DE. You can't ignore the injuries - that was an epic 4 year run, but four years isn't a career. I'm not saying Watt's not a Hall of Famer (far from it!), I'm saying he's not so much of a shelf above that Julius Peppers wouldn't get in, for instance.

But you know what the funniest thing about this is? It sounds like you think this isn't the standard that's applied to other positions. Cuz I'd love to know what DT or DE who started in 2010+ who you think will get in. In fact, I don't think anyone other than Watt or Donald will get in. I mean, who? Chandler Jones? Cam Jordan? Hayward? Pierre-Paul?

DT's even worse, I'd bet money no one other than Donald makes it in as a DT from the 2010s.

--

I should point out that you seem to think that I've been advocating that this is totally what the standard should be. I'm not, actually. I'm fine with letting guys who aren't quite epic-all-time guys, but still phenomenal in. But the problem is that needs to happen at all positions, and the number of Hall slots isn't big enough for that.

So yeah, I tend to seem a little hypocritical because I'll argue against this position for guys like guards/linebackers/centers/safeties/defensive tackles, but I'll argue for this position for quarterbacks. But that's just because there's a massive disparity in what credentials you need depending on position, and the truth should be somewhere in the middle.

139 We've seen Mahomes before

I don't think Mahomes is this "OMG all time QB redefine the Hall of Fame" QB

I agree with this, because I think we've (the league has) seen players like Mahomes before.  Mahomes is the latest edition of the Bert Jones -  Dan Marino - Brett Favre model.  Huge arm, the air sizzles around the ball, daring passer, makes jaw-dropping throws that veteran observers swear they've never seen before.

His comps are Hall of Famers and an MVP, so it's not like I'm saying Mahomes sucks.  I'm just saying, Mahomes is not sui generis.  He's awesome in a way we've seen before.  He may be a once-in-a-generation player, but he's not a never-before-in-history player, if that makes any sense.  (Yeesh, is this hair-splitting.)

After 2019 the current QB who I woulda said is sui generis is Lamar Jackson.  Though maybe Randall Cunningham 1990 comes close.  Lamar appeared to take a step back last year (consolidation season!); but between no-OTAs and the Ravens OL troubles and Lamar catching covid, it's not clear to me that 2020 more accurately represents Lamar's "true level" than 2019 does.  We'll get more info this year.