A look at Quarterbacks over the last three years

Good stuff, promoted to front gladly. -Kevin

Over the 4th, a friend and I were arguing about how much better our QB’s were that the other. He’s a Giant fan, as was going on and on about how much better he is that Rodgers because of his "clutch factor." I pointed out that being clutch can also mean that one is simply making up for the mistakes made during the rest of the game. He ignored that, saying that his guy has the rings to prove it, and his rings were over Brady, making his 3 inferior to Manning’s two, you know, the same old same old. He said stats are deceiving and you’ve got to look at everything. I gave up on him, knowing it was impossible to deal with such blind stupidity, so I went and dug up some facts.

I looked at the QB’s that have been mainstays over the last 3 years as well as the emerging rookies from last year and did a comparison of 4 stats that I feel are very important indicators for being an effective quarterback.

I looked at Brees, Rivers, Brady, Rodgers, Eli and Peyton Manning, Schaub Big Ben, Flacco, Romo, Carson Palmer, Ryan, Hasslebeck, Cutler, Sanchez, Freeman, Fitzpatrick, Alex Smith, Stafford, Vick, Newton, Dalton, and Palmer – basically, those guys who are either the undisputed starters of their franchise, or solid guys with proven track record.

The first stat I looked at was total passing yards. People who put up big number passing all have certain qualities in common. They’ve all got strong arms, good vision, ability, and a proven track record. Their coaches trust them to sling the rock and not screw up, as well as having the durability to do so. This stat hurts the rookies, and the guys like Vick and Peyton, who haven’t played the last 3 seasons, but it also shows that the rookies haven’t proven themselves over and over, as well as those guys with question marks about injuries and such.

Top guy is Drew Brees with 14484, following Rivers, Brady, Rodgers and Manning in the top 5. Schaub, Big Ben, Flacco, Romo, and Palmer round out the top 10. Cutler 13, Peyton 15th, Alex Smith 18, Stafford 19. It is of note, that Brees is nearly 1000 yards beyond the next player, and nearly 1500 yards beyond Rodgers. It is also of note, that Peyton Manning in 2 seasons is quite close to being in the top 10, only 600 yards away, with more passing yards than Freeman, Fitzpatrick, Alex Smith, and Stafford, and only 9 yards shy of Sanchez.

The next stat I look at is how many passes it takes for a quarterback to throw a TD. This shows effectiveness, precision, and skill, both in the pocket and on the run. This runs hand in hand in getting the ball to the playmakers and giving it to those playmakers in a position to make a play on the ball. This stat has no bearing on overall time of play.

Rodgers dominates this category with one TD pass every 14.74 passes. Brees and Brady are in the 16.2 range, Eli Manning, Romo, Rivers, Stafford, and Peyton Manning are all a tick under 19. Everyone else is above 20. Freeman and Dalton are above 25, and Matt Hasslebeck is over 30. Andy Dalton is higher than Jay Cutler, Mark Sanchez is a step over Cam Newton.

The third stat is TD/INT. Effective players are typically in the 2-2.5 range. It is an indicator of accuracy, proper decision making, and eliminating mistakes. This stat again, has no bearing whatsoever on time of play. It’s all about doing the best with the opportunities given to you.

Again, Rodgers dominates this stat, throwing 4.29 TD’s for every interception. 103 TDs with only 24 interceptions is phenomenal. .75 points below Rodgers is Brady in second. Romo, Brees, and Matt Ryan round out the top 5, but they are all more than 1.5 points below Rodgers. Schaub, Big Ben, Rivers, and Peyton Manning are the only other ones higher than 2TD/1INT. Eli is 14th, with 1.54TD/1INT. Cutler is 16th with 1.285. The worst QB here is Hasslebeck, who does not even have 1TD for every INT.

The final stat is yards per attempt. It’s an indication of arm strength, vision, the ability to see someone open before they’re open, and a certain amount of daring. Once again, Rodgers leads the way with 8.57 yards per pass attempt. Rivers, Big Ben, Brady, and Schaub round out the top 5, all with more than 8 per pass. Romo, Vick, Brees, Eli, and Cam Newton all have over 7.8 and round out the top 10. Peyton Manning, Cutler, Palmer, Flacco, Stafford are in the top 15. Not necessarily suprising is the poor stats from Matt "checkdown" Ryan, who scores lowest with 6.17.

So in order to give them a rating, I compared 23 QB’s. I gave #1 25 points, #2, 24, and so forth ending at 3 points for the lowest rated quarterback. A perfect score then is 100 points, and the lowest possible is 12. Here is what I came up with for my top 10 quarterbacks for the last three years.

#1 Aaron Rodgers – 13002 yards (4th), 14.74 passes per TD (1st), 4.29 TD/INT ratio (1st), 8.57 yards per pass (1st). Total points 97 – Clearly deserving the top spot, these 4 are indicators of ability, vision, desire, drive, and skill. AR12 excels in every way.

#2 Tom Brady – 13533 yards (3rd), 16.19 passes per TD (3rd), 3.55 TD/INT ratio (2nd), 8.11 yards per pass (4th). Total Points 92 – Not his best year stretch of his career, but it still shows how excellent he has been throughout his career that during a random point.

#3 Drew Brees – 14844 yards (1st), 16.16 passes per TD (2nd), 2.4 TD/INT ratio (4th), 7.93 yards per pass (8th). Total Points 89 – All those checkdown passes to his RB’s hurt Drew as does slinging it more than anyone else. He’s also prone to interceptions, having the most INT’s in the top 7, and the second most in the top 10. If he would limit those, he’d fight for the top spot.

#4 Philip Rivers – 13588 yards (2nd), 19.928 passes per TD (6th), 2.02 TD/INT ratio (8th), 8.44 yards per pass (2nd). Total Points 86 – I thought someone else would show up in this category, however, over the past three years, the stats don’t lie, and nobody is within 5 points of him. Yards and yards per pass are his strong points. His failures as a QB are more team failures than anything else, as they’ve underperformed for quite some time. Stat wise, however, few are better.

#5 Tony Romo – 10232 yards (9th), 18.9 passes per TD (5th), 2.615 TD/INT ratio (3rd), 7.96 yards per pass (6th). Total Points 81 – I guess the retired Giants WR who said Romo was better than Eli statistically wasn’t lying. What surprised me the most about him was how excellent he has been with TD/INT ratio, higher than all but Brady and Rodgers. I thought he made bonehead mistakes all the time. If you could take his quarters 1-3 and Eli’s 4th quarter, you might have someone who can compete with Rodgers for the top spot.

#6 Matt Schaub – 11619 yards (6th), 21 passes per TD (12th), 2.09 TD/INT ratio (6th), 8.02 yards per pass (5th). Total points 75 – Another surprising placement. I thought he didn’t have anyone but Andre Johnson to throw the ball to. Still, the stats don’t lie, and aside from losing out on some short TD passes to Arian Foster, he performs very well, consistently 6th in the other three categories.

#7 Ben Roethlisberger – 11605 yards (7th), 21.98 passes per TD (14th), 2.07 TD/INT ratio (7th), 8.25 yards per pass (3rd). Total points 73 – Despite having a few guys ahead of him, my eyes wouldn’t think should be higher, Ben is in the right spot in my opinion. Like Schaub, he suffers statistically from a team philosophy of running the ball.

#8 Eli Manning – 12956 yards (5th), 18.82 passes per TD (4th), 1.58 TD/INT ratio (18th), 7.91 yards per pass (8th). Total points 72 – Elite? The guy is good no doubt, however, with such a poor touchdown to interception ratio of 1.58, there are too many mistakes there. In fact, nobody has thrown more interceptions over the last 3 years than Eli manning. That isn’t elite. That is terrible. If he threw less interceptions, the rest of his stats show him to be in the elite status, but he’s got some work to go.

#9 Peyton Manning – 9200 yards (15th), 18.94 passes per TD (8th), 2 TD/INT ratio (9th), 7.36 yards per pass (16th). Total Points 61 – Peyton definitely would be higher if he wasn’t hurt, however, being hurt and losing an entire season lessens your value in my eyes. This is indicated in the questions that loom over his ability. We don’t know how well he will play.

#10 Mike Vick – 6321 yards (25th), 20.39 passes per TD (9th),1.95 TD/INT ratio (9th), 7.95 yards per pass (7th). Total points 57. Somewhere in here should be rushing yards when considering Vick and Cam Newton because they are such threats in that manner. That being said, Vick is about where I’d place him. Yards are short because he sat behind McNabb for a year, and has been injured for some of his time as a starter. He makes up for it in the rest of his stats however, and makes the top 10.

The remainder of the QBS are as follows.

56 points – Matt Ryan

53 points – Joe Flacco

52 points – Jay Cutler

50 points – Matt Stafford

45 points – Carson Palmer

39 points – Tie Alex Smith and Mark Sanchez

35 points – Cam Newton

34 points – Ryan Fitzpatrick

29 points – Josh Freeman

27 points – Matt Hasslebeck

25 points – Andy Dalton

21 points – Christian Ponder

So am I insane in making this argument? Your thoughts below.

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